What is a SWOT analysis? As experienced C-suite types can attest, it’s simply an established technique for understanding a situation, whether professional or otherwise. Marketers and executives often use it to determine how to improve and strengthen their offerings and features in leadership and management programs in various industries.

The analysis breaks performance down into four categories:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Once complete, a SWOT analysis will tell you:

  • How well your event is positioned to succeed
  • What inherent weaknesses you have to consider
  • The opportunities you’re poised to seize
  • All potential threats to overcome

Events don’t exist in a vacuum. The market, timing, trends, weather, and plenty of other factors influence them. A SWOT analysis helps you put your event in context and assess its chances of success.

Table of contents

List the strengths of your event

Be honest about your event’s weaknesses

Outline potential opportunities

Confront event threats

Put your SWOT into practice

List the strengths of your event

Your first task is to consider what’s going right with your events. What do guests, vendors, and sponsors respond most to? Look at all aspects of your event: the planning and organizing stages, the event itself, and the post-event resolution.

Here are some ways to describe the strength or potential of your event:

  • A new idea, which could prove groundbreaking or attract particular interest
  • An experienced, motivated team with a record of success and the resources they need to achieve it
  • An existing social media following that will serve as a powerful marketing platform
  • A financial plan indicating potential for healthy revenue and substantial profit

Sell yourself with a bold list of your strengths, even if it may seem like a minor or secondary part of your event. Even the ability to maintain strong relationships can be an important part of any improvement strategy, so be as thorough as you can.

Be honest about your event’s weaknesses

It’s equally important to be honest about your weaknesses. Identifying where you can improve provides the foundation for more effective events and substantial growth. As with your strengths, look at all aspects of your event.

Weaknesses might include:

  • Lack of funding and/or high expenses for things including outreach and venue rental, limiting marketing and capacity potential
  • An event team that’s enthusiastic but inexperienced, slowing processes and missing opportunities for upgrades or savings
  • Lack of technology you’ll need to run an efficient event, leading to glitches or disconnections that can disrupt the experience for event-goers

Acknowledging your weaknesses with complete transparency is part of the motivation for listing them. Stakeholders and investors must know what they’re setting themselves up to contend with.

But there’s also an opportunity to discuss how you’ll address these weaknesses. For example, you don’t have much capital, but you have a plan for approaching investors. Or your team is inexperienced, but you’re planning to enroll them in free online event-management classes.

Outline potential opportunities

The “opportunities” part of a SWOT analysis looks at factors in the community or market that could positively impact your event.

Examples of this include:

  • There’s a significant LGBTQ+ population in your city, but no festival specifically directed toward this community — yours would be the first.
  • With the revitalization of the urban waterfront scheduled to finish by June, it’s the perfect timing for a block party.
  • There’s been an increase of family farms in your county, and a lot of buzz around eating local. The time is right to launch an annual farm tour that ends with a farm-to-table dinner.

Once your list of opportunities is complete and you’ve decided on a new event to launch, prepare your event planning checklist to stay on top of every detail.

Confront event threats

Threats are possible occurrences that could disrupt your event or business in some way — including bad weather or a business risk such as supply chain breakdowns. But for every threat, there lies a resolution. By doing a SWOT analysis, you identify the threat and can prepare the solution.

The threat

  • Bad weather will derail your music festival
  • Another event will provide direct competition
  • You won’t find enough sponsors to cover the cost

The contingency plan

  • You’ve found a “rain or shine” venue where the show can go until lightning strikes. And if that happens, your PR team knows how to handle the fallout.
  • You’ve got a rockstar marketing plan in place and will lock in your majority audience with early bird ticket sales.
  • Your budget has some “optional” line items you can drop if the expense isn’t covered. But you also have a solid plan to approach impressive sponsors.

You can’t control every possible outcome, but being prepared can minimize the impact of unforeseen calamities.

Put your SWOT into practice

Once you’ve aggregated all this information, use it to position your event potential. Ultimately, your SWOT should validate your event ideas and help you convince important stakeholders to support you.

Your SWOT can be a standalone exercise or part of a comprehensive business plan. Download The Event Business Plan to Launch, Grow, and Propel Your Event ebook for a step-by-step guide.