Barney stated that for resources to hold potential as sources of sustainable competitive advantage, they should be valuable, rare and imperfectly imitable. A key insight arising from the resource-based view is that not all resources are of equal importance nor possess the potential to become a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The sustainability of any competitive advantage depends on the extent to which resources can be imitated or substituted. Barney and others point out that understanding the causal relationship between the sources of advantage and successful strategies can be very difficult in practice. Barney uses the term "causally ambiguous" which he describes as a situation when "the link between the resources controlled by the firm and the firm's sustained competitive advantage is not understood or understood only very imperfectly." Thus, a great deal of managerial effort must be invested in identifying, understanding and classifying core competencies. In addition, management must invest in organisational learning to develop and maintain key resources and competencies.
It is essential that the internal analysis provide a frank and open evaluation of the firm's superiority in terms of skills, resources or market position since this will provide the basis for competing over the forthcoming planning period. For this reason, some companies engage external consultants, often advertising or marketing agencies, to provide an independent assessment of the firms capabilities and resources.
One of the best public sources is the business section of your public, or local college or university, library. The services provided vary from library to library but usually include a wide range of government publications with market statistics, a large collection of directories with information on domestic and foreign businesses, and a wide selection of magazines, newspapers and newsletters.
Service providers; for example those related to finance, foreign market trade and investment promote a variety of information and research opportunities to online users. In addition, they provide comprehensive and competitive strategies with market research tools, designed to promote worldwide business opportunities for entrepreneurs and established providers. General access, to accurate and supported market research facilities, is a critical aspect of business development and success today. The Marketing Research Association was founded in 1957 and is recognized as one of the leading and prominent associations in the opinion and marketing research profession. It serves the purpose of providing insights and intelligence that helps businesses make decisions regarding the provision of products and services to consumers and industries.
The trick? Find the right influencer in your niche so that you're targeting the right audience. It's not just about spreading your message. It's about spreading your message to the right consumer base. If you can do that properly, then you can likely reach a sizable audience for not much money invested when you think about the potential profit it can return.
Strategic analysis is designed to address the first strategic question, "Where are we now?"  Traditional market research is less useful for strategic marketing because the analyst is not seeking insights about customer attitudes and preferences. Instead strategic analysts are seeking insights about the firm's operating environment with a view to identifying possible future scenarios, opportunities and threats.
The Internet has increased the prominence of affiliate marketing. Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program whereby websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a reviewed or discussed product to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made. In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay for performance marketing program where the act of selling is outsourced across a vast network.