How to Find Underserved Markets Through Sales Territory Mapping

In the midst of expanding into new areas, every business hopes to strike gold and discover an underserved market desperate for the goods their company provides. Not only does the discovery of an underserved market allow these areas to gain access to the products and services they have been lacking, but it can be a lucrative opportunity for businesses. There is a chance this phenomenon could happen organically, but usually, the best strategy for braving new territories is through data analysis and rigorous location planning.

You probably already have the location-data of your current customer base, but when it comes time to direct your ventures into new regions, how can you know the best place to start? Where are the consumers who need your products and services, but don't currently have access to it?

From healthcare providers to legal or insurance offices, industries of all kinds have areas where there are gaps in coverage, and tapping into them is all about knowing where you need to look and using the right tools. Incorporating data mapping software is the most surefire way to determine where underserved markets exist in your industry — and to bolster your business expansion plans with the use of powerful location analysis.

Finding Underserved Markets and Mining Those Opportunities

Underserved markets are everywhere and exist in every industry. Imagine an area where dog owners lack affordable housing due to a dearth of pet-friendly economy apartment complexes. It could be that in certain regions there aren't enough restaurants for people with allergies or food intolerances. You may find a territory where there isn't an eye doctor for miles who accepts a specific insurance plan.

So what does it mean when a market is underserved? In a broad sense, it means that the market or territory has fewer goods or services available than there should be. Based primarily on their geographic locations, sometimes these markets are relatively obvious, while other times they catch marketers by surprise. Consider these three similar yet distinct situations.

  • There is a pervasive need among a given population that existing retailers and providers are not addressing. We might consider these markets obviously underserved.
  • A product is absent in a given ZIP code while being widely enjoyed by markets of similar consumer demographics in other locations.
  • There is one single provider in a particular area who offers a service that people need, leaving the population at the mercy of non-competitive prices and a restriction on the options available.

While these situations are slightly different, each one offers a valuable opportunity for sales teams from relevant industries to enter the market and fill the void. Underserved niche markets are the secret weapon that even startups can take advantage of because, despite having monopolies in a specific region, huge companies can't always provide everything for everyone. In these cases, a market may be underserved precisely because the available options are limited.

Depending on your line of business, there is a niche population somewhere looking for the exact solution you provide. All you have to do is find it, and there are several ways to start the process, the most effective of which is sales territory mapping. Once you've broken into a new market, nothing can stop you from reaping a substantial return.

Why Finding Underserved Markets Give You a Competitive Advantage

As with many other business endeavors, finding an underserved market is all about identifying a problem and coming up with a tangible — and profitable — solution. More than just creating an innovative product, nailing down the niche demographics that would benefit immensely from that product is how you expose opportunities.

Here are a few reasons why finding and targeting specific groups in critical, well-aligned sales territories is one of the best ways to create a stir and streamline your brand success.

  • Enhanced customer coverage: Reducing or eliminating an under-capacity situation in a specified territory resolves the pent up demand of high-potential customers, thereby increasing sales for your business. The resulting vendor-to-customer relationship benefits both parties, establishing win-win transactions that occur over and over again.
  • Lower levels of competition: If an area has never been sold to by your industry, your business will have all the advantages associated with free reign in the market. These perks can include lower expenses for prime real estate, reduced travel costs and faster access to new clientèle due to routes unobstructed by competitors.
  • Higher office morale and fruitful customer relations: A sales team that is continually producing new business and exploiting profitable leads will feel much more rewarded for their hard work than a team stuck in an area with low potential. Similarly, when customers are finally receiving the services, products or rates that they have been lacking, you can expect their satisfaction and your overall approval ranking to grow exponentially.

So how can you and your business break into these advantageous markets? There are a few different methods for identifying the underserved and crafting a plan to successfully sell to them.

Brainstorming Steps to Uncovering the Needs of an Underserved Market

Before you can effectively break into a new market, you need to craft a plan. The first part of planning is all about painting a picture in your mind for what your business strategy will be. Here are some tips on brainstorming product and business ideas that can help you determine a starting point for addressing an underserved market.

Step 1: Pinpoint a problem that your business can address.

You may be entering a fresh market as an entrepreneur, or you may be expanding your current business into a new area. Either way, your focus will need to be on uncovering an issue that your product or service is sure to solve. It may take some digging. You will be exposing customer pain points.

Maybe there is a lack of awareness about a particular need, and the target group doesn't even realize how their lives could improve. Maybe there is a structural problem. Perhaps there is a monopoly that people consider equivalent to your services but is actually very different from what you offer. Whatever the case may be, you need to determine how you can help.

Step 2: Focus on the customers the industry has overlooked.

Populations that offer the most lucrative opportunities will be the groups of people that profit-oriented enterprises have ignored. The deficit they experience through their unmet need will result in a sizable gain for the entrepreneur or sales manager who takes a people-minded approach to alleviate the issue.

Figuring out who these groups are and how you can best help them may involve going out in the field and conducting some research. Talk to people and ask relevant pain questions about whether they notice the same issues you have and what they would like to see change. Their answers may not be what you expect and the insights will be useful for developing a business plan.

Step 3: Identify the unique attributes and values of that market.

Different markets operate and think differently, and they will also have unique price points and product preferences that you will need to uncover to determine if your launch in that area will be successful. Consumers partner with companies whose missions align with their own, so the best business strategies involve some form of determining whether respective values align favorably.

Understanding the interests and demographics of your target audiences is critical for your marketing, but another significant factor is whether the market offers the right accessibility, size and potential for growth. A useful strategy to learning which areas provide these benefits is incorporating business and census data through a web mapping tool like MapBusinessOnline. Business mapping tools like MapBusinessOnline provide the ability to create ZIP code demographic profiles that define success and visualizations of markets that help you pinpoint the most strategic ZIP codes for expansion.

Step 4: Research the Competition.

Often, identifying a problem and coming up with a fix is the easy part. The real challenge may lie in setting yourself up as the best and most reliable solution to ensure that your plan is workable and has the potential for growth and scalability in the long run.

Identify what gives you an edge over any potential competition. Be sure you have the budget and have made the appropriate preparations to launch your campaign. With the right plan, you will bring changes to the market while preventing any competitors from feeding off of your groundwork. Account for the possibility of making changes to your strategy along the way as new circumstances arise.

After crafting a well-thought-out and malleable plan, it's time to start to determine the perfect place to begin influencing the market. That's where the right mapping software can come in and help you find your niche in an underserved market.

Tips to Employing Market Mapping Software for Sales in Underserved Regions

Sales teams and sales managers can reap enormous benefits by using a map software to highlight marketplace areas that will offer the best return on your sales investment. In fact, identifying underserved regions is one of the top uses for business mapping software among marketers. Another is creating sales territories across target regions that balance sales loads based on area demographics and offer guidelines for efficient route planning.

Here is an example of how using business mapping software such as MapBusinessOnline can help you find and target underserved areas successfully.

  1. Data mining. With MBO, you can access use the U.S. Census NAICS data to gain an understanding of the business and demographic makeup of the parties you are trying to reach. Using these data points, you can calculate ratios and design your own formulas.
  2. Visualizing your calculations. Once you've determined the demographic make-up of your target market, such as the ratio of female population to median household income, you can apply these formulas in, for example, a color-coded heat map designed to highlight the zip codes that are ripe and ready for you to explore.
  3. Evaluating locations. MapBusinessOnline's data analysis features let you view opportunities based on input factors like facility costs, so that you can look at a variety of properties and weigh them to find the most cost-effective opportunity.

Having accurate visualization of underserved markets and sales territories has never been more accessible, and you will see the benefits of having your plan laid out in front of you. Once you have the picture in your mind, you will be able to start taking steps toward getting your foot in the door in these markets.

Research-Proven Factors to Ensuring Success in Untapped Markets

After you enter a new market, the work to make your venture a success has only just begun. Navigating the next steps after your arrival may pose some unforeseen challenges without a solid business plan. Research has narrowed down five factors that determine whether you will succeed once you arrive in an underserved region or if the problems you identified will remain unsolved.

1. Collect relevant data to identify opportunity and avoid pitfalls.

To start out, mapping tools and data analysis can help you gain awareness about facility costs and the affordability of properties. Once you have established a strategic location, your mapping software will continue to provide demographic information that is useful for both considering ethnic populations in key neighborhoods and for creating efficient sales or marketing routes.

2. Cater to the realities within the new territory.

It's essential to continually adapt your business model when encountering new markets. What is an effective marketing strategy in one territory may not communicate the same message in another. You may find that your team needs to adjust product features, pricing options or distribution approaches to fit into the mold that your new market requires.

3. Adjust internal incentives and objectives to reflect the market's potential.

Behaviors among your employees should reflect the needs of your new market, so you might consider incorporating incentives and objectives that take you in that direction. For example, you may want to shift the focus from profit margins and start rewarding work related to total sales volume to promote intentional business-building. Similarly, there may be attitudes or assumptions that you will want to address to change your staff's mindset so that it matches your business goals and the values of the new region.

4. Establish partnerships and alliances to deepen your reach within the community.

Research is clear that when entering an underserved market, one of the best things a growing business can do is partner up with other brands and organizations that locals trust. Non-profits, businesses and government agencies are fair game for helping you reach new customers and workers. You can also set up strategic alliances with suppliers and other market participants to increase your profits.

5. Become an active member in improving local environments.

If the enabling environment, including the laws that affect business success in a particular area, is playing a role in keeping a market underserved, then it may be your responsibility to help make changes happen. Collaborate with other businesses and advocates to target current problems, and you may find that your sales benefit from the work that you've put into making a difference.

Ready to start serving the underserved? MapBusinessOnline can help you do the research you need for your business to take off and soar.

Successfully Expand Into Underserved Markets With MapBusinessOnline

Thanks to the innovative tools at MBO, the fastest-growing business mapping software in the country, you can start visualizing your plan today. With our intuitive tools for designing demographic and sales territory images, you will be equipped to assist your previously underserved customer base. If you need us to lend a hand, you can contact us or refer to our library of support articles and video tutorials to help you find your way.

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