Market research provides relevant data to help solve marketing challenges that a business will most likely face--an integral part of the business planning process. In fact, strategies such as market segmentation (identifying specific groups within a market) and product differentiation (creating an identity for a product or service that separates it from those of the competitors) are impossible to develop without market research.
Key Ideas: Each business is unique and that there can be no formula for achieving competitive advantage; firms should adopt a flexible planning and review process that aims to cope with strategic surprises and rapidly developing threats; management's focus is on how to deliver superior customer value; highlights the key role of marketing as the link between customers and the organisation.
A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market. A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. The functions and components of a marketing plan include the following:
The U.S. Census Bureau website also contains valuable information relevant to marketing. The Bureau's business publications cover many topics and trades--such as sales volume at furniture stores and payrolls for toy wholesalers--and are useful for small businesses as well as large corporations in retail, wholesale trade, and service industries. Also available are census maps, reports on company statistics regarding different ethnic groups, and reports on county business patterns.

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