You need data on the internal and external factors that influence production and sales to formulate an effective marketing strategy. Obtain detailed market intelligence by conducting market research using methods such as online and telephone surveys. Source demographic data from the U.S. Census website, or buy it from research companies and solicit feedback from former and existing customers by mail. Compiling the information into a comprehensive market research report guides you in developing your small business' marketing strategy.

Environmental Analysis

Understanding the external environment is a vital step when you conduct market research to form your marketing strategy. Include in your market research report findings from the analysis of various factors that influence your marketing, such as the political and economic climate of the area in which you operate. For example, political factors could include government regulations affecting advertising content, which would determine the media channels you use. Economic factors, such as an active manufacturing industry, could affect the size of your potential marketplace.

Target Market Analysis

Your market research report provides details of your primary and secondary target markets, as well as the market segments you identify on which to focus your marketing strategy. The report presents a visualization of your ideal customer, including demographic information and distinguishing characteristics. Based on the analysis of the customer’s needs and wants, lifestyle, values, interests and behavior, the report makes it possible to craft a marketing strategy that speaks directly to specific market segments using the media they typically consume.

Competitor Analysis

A comprehensive marketing strategy requires the planner to have a thorough analysis of the competition, including details of other suppliers of similar products that compete for customers’ money. Your market research report contains details of each company’s unique selling proposition and the competitive advantages enjoyed by any of them. Include information on the prices they charge, their sales strategies and the amount of market share held by each competitor.

Internal Factors

Examine the internal strengths and weaknesses of your company and product, and insert the findings into your market research report. Your analysis should tell you whether you have competitive advantages to exploit in your marketing strategy, such as strong brand positioning. Factors that influence your marketing strategy could include inventory storage space, for example, because this will affect the stock levels. Ordering or producing products in bulk typically lowers the unit cost of a product, which may influence your marketing strategy.