Serial Armed Robberies & the Power of Map Visualizations

Opening Theme

From March 20 through April 11, 2018 the metropolitan area surrounding Portland Maine, has been subject to a series of armed robberies.  Directed at convenience stores, coffee shops, and small restaurants, the robberies were conducted by an armed white male with a height of between 5′ 7″ and 5′ 11″ high.

Needless to say, this criminal spree has been upsetting for local citizens and must have been terrifying for people working alone at these stores. The robber was cautious and kept himself masked. He was generally covered up in winter wear and gloves. He worked predominantly in the evening hours after sunset.

The robberies proceeded daily for at least a week.  The locations were at first distributed across the metro area over a radius of roughly 15  miles, but eventually that radius expanded to about 25 miles.

Map Business Online Get’s Involved

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 8, a local online news article published an address list of all the robbery locations. I copied the list into an Excel sheet, opened up Map Business Online and imported the address list in my business mapping software.

My task was to narrow down the area where the perpetrator lived so that traffic cams could be set up to capture pictures of possible perp getaway vehicles. (Law & Order Noise.)  Just to be clear, this was my idea. I assigned the task to myself. No authorities were involved.

You’re welcome.

Preparing the Data

While my point in this blog is the power of map visualizations which reveal patterns in data, I also believe the process of setting up a map itself focuses the amateur sleuth mind on anomalies hidden in a criminal process or perhaps a business situation. I compiled key elements of the robbery data into my spread sheet:

  • Robbery incidents – AM or PM
  • The times of the robberies
  • The names of the targets, which pretty much identifies what the businesses are

What do all these locations have in common? Why would the robber travel all the way to Old Orchard Beach for one robbery – a fifteen mile drive as the crow flies? How often were these robberies occurring? What was he going to wear in the summer months? Questions filled my mind.

I anxiously uploaded my spreadsheet.

My Map Visualization

Looking at the robbery location points spread across the Portland Maine metro-area I immediately noticed that the robberies were weighted heavily over the city of Westbrook.  It made me think that the perpetrator probably lives in Westbrook.  The spread indicated he was using a vehicle – he’s not simply walking around robbing places.

I turned on the city limits layer and, just interested in the outline of Westbrook, I created a territory out of just Westbrook and adjusted the transparency to keep it highlighted slightly against my aerial image with streets background.

Full on CSI now, thinking about time of day, I noticed in the first week of incidents the masked suspect robbed these business, one per day in the evening – mostly in the 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM time frame. But there was an odd exception. On Thursday, March 22 our cautious bandit robbed two stores, one in broad daylight the other in the evening as usual.

This shift in patterned caught my eye. I zoomed into the area.  I was familiar with it.  Why would he rob the Good Things convenience store at 1:00 PM in the afternoon?  The road is a connector road between two major commuter routes.  The store is a sleepy neighborhood convenience store. The Google street view map showed practically no signage. Whoever robbed this place, was familiar with it. They must live nearby.  A careful culprit would only take the daylight risk if he had an easy walk or ride back to his lair.

I drew a red circle with a .5 mile radius around the Good Things convenience store.  I was pretty sure the perp lived in that area. I lit a cigarette with a match, my eyes squinting the smoke away as I shook the match out. (Law & Order Noise.)

[I don’t really smoke and SpatialTEQ does not condone smoking – it’s just cool for true crime stories]

For the next ten days local citizens watched with concern as more armed robberies unfolded. The robbery pattern of one per day continued, until late last week when we saw three robberies in one day.  Copy cats? Perhaps.

The Morale of the Story

On Friday April 13th ((Law & Order Noise) the Westbrook police arrested a suspect, a previously convicted felon, tied to the April 6th incident. The arrested man lived on Mechanic Street in Westbrook right in the middle of my red circle.

Upon reading this news I initiated a high-five slap with my wife’s hand, but she kept hers glued to the arm of her chair. Thirty-five years and I’m still trying to impress her. Maybe I should rob a store?

The morale of the story is, crime doesn’t pay and if you’re going to commit a crime realize the police have business mapping tools and easy access to locations-based data like the home locations of previous offenders. I bet their maps were a lot more detailed than mine.

My favorite song about robberies.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com

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MBO Market Analysis – Comparing Two Data Layers

Last week a multi-user, team subscription customer contacted me to ask for advice. EverCare Medical (a fake name) said they had a list of roughly 1,000 ZIP codes that represented a group of new clients in their three-state area. They needed to assure their new customer that the EverCare Service Network had locations within 20 miles of most of the new clients.

My contact wanted to know if and how Map Business Online Could provide that critical information. To make it easier for my customer, I asked to review the data, and I set up the query myself. Below is a description of what I did.

MBO Market Analysis Tool

Comparing two datasets is a task for the MBO Market Analysis tool – the orange and yellow target icon currently located seven buttons in from the left. This is an advanced application of business mapping software. We’ll be focusing on Market Analysis (MA).  MA views the Service Network as “store locations.” MA views the New Client data as “customers.”

Market Analysis is available only for MBO annual and team subscribers.

Review & Import Your Data

Always take a moment to review your Excel or CSV spreadsheet before import. In this case the data itself was fine. I noticed one client with the ZIP code missing but it was in Canada which was out of scope for this analysis because the Service Network is focused on Iowa and Nebraska.

I did notice the client spreadsheet was nationwide with thousands of addresses and it had labeling and descriptive info taking up the top few lines of the spreadsheet. MBO won’t like that, so I deleted those narrative lines and saved my data to a folder on my desktop.

Next, I imported both the client and service network data sheets and gave each set a unique symbol sized, at between 25 and 30% for easy identification on my map. I used black triangles for the service centers and blue dots for the clients. I like simple yet clearly differentiated symbols on my maps. I keep them just big enough to see and not clutter. I hate map clutter.

Filter Service Location Data

Because we’re focusing only on three states, I needed to filter the EverCare Service Locations data down by state. In the Data Window, I selected the new client data and hit the Filter Button (funnel icon). I chose to Filter by State and used a ‘One Of’ modifier on the left side of the filter entering IA, KS, and NE. I clicked Filter and got 574 filtered records. I then clicked the Create New Marketing List icon and named my new layer and clicked Filter Data on the Map in the upper right to limit the clients shown on the map to my three-state area. The filtered data shows as a subset of my original import.

At this point, a quick visual assessment of the map tells me that EverCare has great coverage for this project.

Running Market Analysis

With my data layers established and filtered, I clicked the Market Analysis tool. One could use the first or second option for this kind of query. But the first analysis puts circles on up to 200 locations records and my target was 574 locations so, I chose the second analysis option – “Find the Nearest Store or Pick-up locations.”

In the analysis set-up, I chose EverCare New Clients as the customer locations, and I chose EverCare Service Locations in IA, KS, NE as the store location data. Note: this was a drop down underneath the parent service location layer. Be sure to look for the little drop option to find the subset data layer. I input 20 miles as the distance requirement and I set a data sheet view label for the service locations. I kept the number of nearest stores at quantity 1. A user could search for up to 5 nearest based on the options. I then processed the query by clicking next.

The processed results show in the Data Window view of the EverCare New Client list.  There is now a Distance to EverCare Srvc Locations column.  The records that display “-1” fall outside the 20-mile limit.  By clicking the top of the columns a few times and you will sort the data and see only records outside the limit.

There was only one client outside the 20 mile limit.  Problem solved.

Steps Outlined:

  1. Import the spread sheet of client ZIP codes
  2. Import a spreadsheet of Service Provider addresses
  3. Filter the Provider list by state
    1. In the Data Window select the Service Provider list
    2. Click the Filter Button
    3. Choose to Filter by State, Modify the Search in the upper right choosing “One of” and typing in IA, NE, KS
    4. With the resulting 574 records in the Data Window click the Create New or Existing Marketing List button and save as a Subset of Providers (Providers IA, KS, NE)
    5. Check the Filter Data on Map box in the upper left of the Data Window to just show those local providers
  4. Select the Market Analysis Tool
    1. Choose number 2 of the five options
    2. Select EverCare Clients as “customer locations
    3. Select Subset Service Provider list as Store Locations
    4. Set the distance at 20 miles
    5. Enter Text as EverCare Provider Locations
  5. The result lists of all the Clients and their distances to the closest provider. In the Data Window select your EverCare Clients again
  6. Those Clients at greater than 20 miles show a result distance of “-1.”

MBO Market Analysis has additional tools:

  • Place multiple circles and search data around up to 200 records
  • Query records around multiple locations and total related numeric data
  • Summarize demographic data for multiple locations (up to 3 categories)
  • Append imported data with Map Layer names (ZIP, county or state)

Now back to Maine, I think spring arrives this afternoon…

________________________________________________

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com

 

 

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Business Maps are for Sharing

Business mapping software is a tool kit. In your business you might only use a few of the tools available from business mapping, but they are helpful none-the-less.

Some of our customers use the tool to simply visualize customers on a map and share that view for sales related activity. Such shared business map views could be part of a selling process, a technical support follow-up, or even a bill collection process by a call center. Different departments benefit from business mapping in different ways.

The critical element for a Map Business Online buying decision maker, is to understand how many of your users are going to be map editors and how many just need to view a shared map. Purchase map subscriptions for users who are going to create and generate shared maps.  The rest can live off the low-cost shared maps that MBO subscribers send to them.

Maps are for sharing and communication. Because of this, we’ve made it easy and affordable for users to share the maps they’ve constructed with their constituents. Map creators should consider what map functions a shared map can offer their work associates.  How can a shared business map help someone do their job?

The list of functions may surprise you.  Here’s a list of MBO features available through a free or low-cost shared business map:

Optimized Routing – Map viewers may access multi-stop optimized routing tools through their shared map. They will be able to create a new route or edit shared routes. That route button will give the map viewer access to shared and exported route files.  By using a polygon or circle search/draw tool the map viewer can even create route avoids.

A route can be used as a simple distance analysis tool – to find the distance along the road network going from point A to points B and C.  Time windows are also enabled, expanding the route inquiry use into the dimension of time. Pretty powerful, for free.

Pan & Zoom – What ever map is shared with your free viewers, they will be able to pan and zoom all over the world. Your map viewers are allowed to zoom into building foot print detail or pan back out to view the entire world in one field of view. They can visit and view anywhere in the world.  Turn on the satellite imagery and zoom into far away places.

Measuring Crow Fly Distance – A simple ruler tool bar button allows the map viewer to measure distance too. Such measurements are handy for fast assessments of how far apart two or three things are on the map. Line segments may be applied. Distance measures come in handy for crime investigations, planning sessions, and ballpark driving assessments.

Spatial Queries – MBO’s free viewer allows spatial queries of imported datasets – both within the map object or outside the map object (polygon or circle) queries. This is quite a freebie. Your constituents can query a list of location points, save that subset results and export that list for use outside the application. All queries include the option of searching within or outside the map drawn object or shape.

Save a Map Image – A free map viewer always has the option to click the Save the Map to an Image File.  Any view they choose is save-able and sharable as a JPEG file or a PNG file.  And there is a print button as well for standard WYSIWYG print outs.

Collaborative Team Map Editing

Beyond shared maps for viewing are maps shared for collaborative editing. These team maps for shared editing are a more complex process. Instead of a shared view only web map, collaborative maps are saved to the Maps Shared with Me folder in your MBO map library – that’s the file folder toolbar button to the far left.

These “publically” shared maps are powerful problem solvers. Shared map editing allows two or more people to focus on a shared map and actively edit that map, leveraging more minds to explore complex challenges. An MBO user, authorized to collaborate, opens the map in the Maps Shared with Me folder and begins to edit. Don’t forget to save your work! Shared map editing requires all parties to be annual or team MBO subscribers.

MBO team mapping and shared editing is being used by large retailers, federal government planners, medical services organizations, chemical manufacturers, franchise businesses, banks, and many other industry types. Team administrators manage roles and assignments.  Editing and viewing allowances are tightly controlled so even externally shared maps are secure.

If business maps are for sharing, leverage your business maps to solve problems. Engage your best minds towards a more competitive future.

________________________________________________

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com

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How to Create a Demographic Based Coverage Map

Map Business Online users, new to business mapping, often come to the application with a unique perspective on what they need. Based on conversations they’ve had internally they may think they need a heat map.  That same map to another user might be referred to as a coverage map. And yet another customer might call that very same map a territory map.

We understand that it can be difficult for new users to know exactly what they are looking for in a business map. Different chaps use different snaps for maps – which may not be a thing, but it started here.

Business mapping users shouldn’t worry. A little trial and error with a business mapping tool will uncover the possibilities and lead to a map that provides all you require. Feel free to hit that contact us button and ask clarifying questions along the way.  And our YouTube video library is searchable by keyword.

Your Business’s Coverage Area

If you were searching for a tool to create a coverage area map based on ZIP codes which were color-coded by population demographics, someone might send you off looking for a heat map. “That’s a heat map,” they might say,  “Go find yourself a heat map. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”  And they would be partly right. Some map users call color-coded ZIP code maps heat maps. But that doesn’t fully address your coverage area requirement.

Plus, a Map Business Online heat map applies a color intensity layer over a map background that looks more like a weather map than a demographic analysis by ZIP code.  It derives that color shaded intensity overlay from a numeric column within in your imported location data. It’s cool and may be useful to your business but It’s not what you want in a coverage map.

State Your Map’s Purpose

Try writing down what your map requirements are in one paragraph; a few key sentences. This will keep your first map project on target. Keep it simple. If you find multiple types of maps listed, start again. In our example the paragraph might read like this:

We need a territory or coverage map based on ZIP codes. The ZIP codes should be color shaded based on Census population. It would be nice to show total coverage area population as well.

Try to keep the map focused on no more than three business map elements – in the above case, coverage area, population, and ZIP codes. You may be able to add more elements, but begin with fewer. Maps are for communicating – simple maps communicate better. I learn very little at large family gatherings so I focus on gatherings with just a few family members. Free advice. (You’re welcome.)

Coverage Maps Vary by Application – Here’s One Combined with a Heat Map

Coverage Area or Territory

For a first pass map of your businesses coverage area, either approach works, a simple collection of ZIP codes using a polygon search tool or an imported territory. If you have a list of ZIP codes with territory names included build a spreadsheet and import them. Or simply grab a polygon tool from the set of Search Tools and drag a line around your coverage area of ZIP codes. It doesn’t have to be perfect on the first pass. Editing ZIP codes from a map object is wicked easy.  Create that coverage area and name it.

To get those ZIP codes color shaded by population (or any other Census category) either use the Three-Piece Puzzle icon or hover over the ZIP code layer in Map and Data and click the Edit Gear. Choose Color Code Map, select and adjust your Demographic category and tweak the range scope and the number sequences.  Colors are controllable by you as well. Click Done.

To see the color scheme by population through your coverage area, hover over the Territory layer in Map and Data, click the Edit Gear and under General move the Transparency scroll bar to the right. This will expose your shaded ZIP codes.

Add Demographic or Imported Totals to Labels

We’ve got one more goal for this map based on our mapping requirement assessment above. We want to show territory label totals. To do this select the territory label itself, click the Edit Gear, choose the label Tab and Click Format labels.

You’ve got five flex fields you can fill with data in the label. Only add what your map viewer needs to see. Don’t over do it. In this case, Select Number 1 and choose Demographic Data in the drop down. Then select population.  Add a little prefix text if you want, maybe “Pop – .” To post the label click Change labels.

For this particular map, I might consider going back to the ZIP code layer, clicking that Edit Gear, and editing the Custom Label, as opposed to Auto labels. This would enable a pop-up label when you hover over a ZIP code which could include demographic data

related to each ZIP. Just a suggestion. It’s a convenient reference if population is always a concern in your business.

Fine Tune Your Map

Now go get a cup of coffee or go home for the day.  In the morning take a fresh look at your map. Do the colors look appropriate? Hot colors for high population, cool colors of low population. That’s a suggestion. Are labels big enough for all to read?

Will the map make sense to your map audience?  Are there some things missing?  For instance, it doesn’t take much to plot the company address on the map. Always a nice touch. Is the map legend succinct and meaningful?  Make sure the legend adds value to the map – get rid of superfluous legend content. It’s distracting.

Armed with your new coverage map, take it to a colleague or bring your new map right to the boss for feedback. But be prepared for a request for yet another map view. That’s normal. Think of it as a little job security.

Thinking geographically is not something everyone does. So, this business mapping stuff just might give you an edge in your own personal game of thrones. Just don’t end up like Little Finger (GOT reference for the uninitiated).

________________________________________________

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com

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Thinking About Zip Codes

Do you ever think about ZIP codes? Well I do.

ZIP Codes are a location element we’re all familiar with. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest most of us know the ZIP code we currently live in and the ZIP code we grew up in. For some of us, that could be just one ZIP code. For me, it’s two.

While ZIP codes may seem static to most of us, ZIP codes do change from time to time. ZIPs get added and deleted depending on US Postal Service mail delivery changes. Postal routes get added and deleted and that impacts ZIP codes. 

It’s good to keep in mind that no mapping application is perfect. Any mapping services you subscribe to will have address, ZIP code or general map errors from time to time. Microsoft MapPoint was obsoleted in 2014. I don’t believe Microsoft updated map data and ZIP codes for at least five years prior to 2014. At least, I can’t find evidence that MapPoint provided updates in their final period. #Epicfail Microsoft.

Anyway, as a whole system ZIP codes can cause some confusion.  Here’s a list of basic facts that might help some users reconsider the lowly ZIP codes in their lives.

·         The ZIP code system was implemented by the US Post Office in the 1960’s to help systematize mail deliveries and improve efficiencies. ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan

·         ZIP codes areas are not defined by the Post Office but are instead developed by multiple third-party geography providers and can sometimes vary slightly. While we common folk think of ZIP codes as areas the USPS really sees them as delivery routes. 

·         ZIP codes come in several types including Point ZIPs (military facilities, skyscrapers) and Boundary ZIPs. Read more here

·         Realtor.com says that the hottest real estate market ZIP code across the USA is 17618 Watauga TX.   Really?

·         ZIP code 79936 is the highest populated ZIP code and is located in El Paso Texas with 114,734 people. What’s with Texas and ZIP codes?

·         ZIP code 12345 belongs to GE’s Schenectady, NY office and is a point ZIP code located with in boundary ZIP code 12306

ZIP code maps are a common use of Map Business Online. ZIP codes are used in business mapping software for a territory mapping base-map layer.  ZIP codes are a great geography for the segmentation and display of demographic data. Many MBO users import customer data by ZIP code, a practice I generally frown upon because full addressing is much more accurate.

ZIP codes are often color shaded, sometimes referred to as heat mapped, to reflect numeric break points in imported data or demographic data. A common example of this is election results by ZIP code – did the ZIP code go Blue or Red?

I took the liberty of analyzing MBO Demographic Data by ZIP code to share some interesting stats in this blog. Here they are:

·         The ZIP code that will spend the most on alcoholic beverages in 2017 is 90231, Culver City, CA, at $1,736 on average per person per year. They out-spent the runner-up ZIP code 45848 Glandorf, OH by quite a bit 

·         ZIP code 10025 in New York had the highest projected expenditures overall all at $2,437,347,908. Yup. Interestingly, Culver City CA didn’t even place, comparatively. So, we dug into that. Turns out Culver City is mostly Hollywood movie studios. You tell me what they do with all that booze?

·         Finally, I know you’re dying to know which ZIP code has the most people over the age of 85. The winner is 85351 in Sun City, AZ home to some 9,871 octogenarians and older in 2017

So the next time you’re putting an address on a package take a moment and consider the lowly ZIP code, without which the mail would take longer to deliver and Christmas would be ruined.

________________________________________________

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com

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How to Create SWOT Analysis Maps

In my experience, when a company officer or high-level manager announces her or his intention to conduct a SWOT analysis, I know it’s time to polish up my resume. The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis should probably be conducted in good times too, it’s just that usually, businesses remember to test the life boats as the ship is sinking.

For the uninitiated, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The idea is to identify lists of business realities under each of these four key areas and develop strategies to move the organization forward in light of the SWOT analysis results.

Business maps are a critical tool to bring to bear during a SWOT analysis. They add a visualization component and the ability to study relevant location-based datasets that may reveal elements about your business never before understood.  Think of a SWOT map as first step to understanding more about your business:

  • Why are our profit margins declining?
  • Why is this area offering more opportunity than others?
  • Why are Internet-based companies replacing local merchants in your industry?

Strengths

Strengths refer to aspects of the business that are going well.  This could be a list of products or services that are generating income and achieving goals. Strengths could be financial, labor related, or position in the marketplace.

A business map analysis of strengths might involve identifying areas in the marketplace where sales are at or above goal.  Understanding why product or services are selling well in certain areas is an obvious key to expanding that success into new areas.

Strengths could also be related to resource and asset placements with respect to key markets. Middle ages England, for centuries the backwater of civilization focused on the Mediterranean, suddenly found itself in an advantageous position as the voyages of discovery determined the world was round and nations started competing for opportunities in the New World.

Good location-based strength datasets might be:

  • Company warehouse locations
  • Top-25 customer locations
  • Top selling products by location

Weaknesses

Many would say weaknesses are the opposite of your strengths. Perhaps, let business maps help guide your decision-makers to a more proactive stance on weaknesses. Typically, the ZIP codes where you’re not selling are weak areas for your sales team. View a business map detailing your sales by profit margin year-over-year. Add in sales personnel locations with estimated daily driving times and overall cost of sales included.

These cost-based numbers will help illuminate where your costs to market are eroding profitability.  Weaknesses might not be resolved by throwing more sales and marketing at the problem. Maybe it’s a distribution issue and you need to consider changes in logistics.

Weakness can be readily exposed by creating an infrastructure map. A weakness could be the rising costs of doing business. As companies grow they reach plateaus in scalability where investment may be required to achieve the next growth milestone.  Look for location-data within your business related to shipping and warehouse systems.  Consider uploading location-data that reflects shipping costs and shipping cost trends across the nation.

Energy costs may be a concern. A comparison of all company facilities by location with the top five associated expenses may be helpful.  See if there’s an industry standard for some of these expenses. Include analysis of productivity by employee at each location. Expose those facilities that are outperforming others and find out why.

Opportunities

Opportunities are probably more than just new sales prospects. While prospects should be included, opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. Opportunities might be hidden in marketplace details:

  • Color code jurisdictions (city limits) by tax rates
  • Conduct a labor analysis across all locations and profile other metro areas for alternative labor sources
  • Are there similar businesses to yours, for sale in other areas of the country? Maybe you should be an Internet sales organization; selling online can provide a serious tax break

Be sure to ask critical questions that expose new ways of thinking:

  • Who would buy us out, if they could?
  • Are we better served from more shipping locations or fewer shipping locations?
  • What are the five best labor markets for our business across the nation? What do our markets look like surrounding those cities?
  • Are their areas in our market coverage with serious overlapping sales support?

Threats

Threats are wicked important. It seems to me the whole point of a SWOT analysis is coping with threats. An obvious location-based threat layer are competitors.  So make sure to import a list of competitor addresses.  Perhaps dig a little deep on competitors for your SWOT analysis. Consider multiple levels of competitor threats:

  • List by name the locations of all major and usual competitors
  • Classify competitors by type – online, big-box, local, overseas, direct
  • Pull in distributor locations by address – color coded by competing products offered

Import multiple and relevant location-based datasets to your SWOT map to expose more business patterns. For SWOT maps, and specifically for threat exposure, consider these datasets:

  • The location of traveling sales employees
  • Shipping locations for web-based competitors exposing brick & mortar threats
  • Critical supply sources for retailers and manufacturers
  • Electrical utility supply rates by supplier site across the nation
  • Known bottlenecks in the supply chain by location

Create your SWOT threat map by importing threat layers and viewing them over key business layers. View them with an associate to get more opinions and ideas about what your map should include. SWOT analysis is not a place for rugged individualism; it’s a team sport.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog titled How to Create a Business Marketing Map. Many of those same rules apply to SWOT maps, mainly:

  • Get clear on your map’s purpose and keep this in mind as you develop and present
  • Do not turn on all layers on – be selective
  • Use heat maps to make the most critical point, if possible

With SWOT maps I would strongly suggest that you utilize several maps. Perhaps one map for Strengths and Weaknesses and another for Opportunities ands Threats. If you have a lot of data, consider four element maps (SWOT) and one highlights map that reviews the critical elements of your SWOT analysis.

Remember, you can always build a map template first with most of the layers included. Begin new maps from that map template, saving them in the My Maps folder. Process would be:

  1. Create a Map Template
  2. Create a subset My Map folder Strengths map
  3. Do the same for other SWOT categories
  4. Have your meeting and adjust maps as necessary

SWOT analysis are often painful. Bring map visualizations to the process can speed up the analysis, exposing critical issues sooner, rather than later. Bad news sooner beats, bad news later every time.

________________________________________________

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson

 

 

 

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How to Impress Your Boss Through Business Mapping

Unless your company’s management team is made up of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialists or you work for a cartography business, creating a carefully designed business map is a great way to score points with your boss.

Business mapping software provides unique and valuable insights into your business, especially in the realm of sales and marketing. If you are the one that brings this cool new data visualization tool into your organization, you could make somewhat of a name for yourself.

We all want to impress the boss. Certainly, we all hope the boss views us as competent and contributing employees. But impressing busy people can be a challenge. You need an eye-catching tool that helps improve the business.

Business mapping software can provide immediate and significant value to any business through market analysis, territory mapping, or strategic planning visualizations.  If your company hasn’t applied business mapping, you’ve potentially got a clear pathway to impressing the boss.

Because a business map combines visualizations of address-based data with the ability to quickly and easily append business datasets to demographics and resource data, your business planning sessions will be suddenly enhanced by introducing business maps to your team’s brain storming sessions. Examples of impressive business analysis might include:

  • Market potential maps that describe your best-selling ZIP codes and identify similar ZIP codes around the country that promise additional sales
  • Competitor analysis maps clearly depicting where your major competitors are located and where they are not located, further indicating areas of potential growth
  • Expansion planning maps that suggest the best locations for new stores or facilities based on likely customer locations, labor availability, or other forces specific and relevant to your industry

Armed with business map information your company will make faster and better decisions. Consider your boss impressed that you’ve uncovered such a valuable resource.

The Evolving Map Organization

Sales organizations utilize territory mapping software (frequently available within any decent business mapping tool) to create territory maps that define sales accountability and as a platform for sharing sales results. By applying shared territory mapping at sales meetings, your sales team will begin to coordinate more effectively, reduce overlapping areas of responsibility, and achieve and surpass results more often.

At the risk of repeating myself, territory maps clearly define accountability. And because your team is viewing these maps together (in virtual or physical meetings) each team member will naturally strive to outdo one another. You’ll be encouraging the sales team to use these map meetings to share success stories and tales of disaster.  Maps encourage story telling which will help speed up the learning curve of new employees, and hone a best practices approach across your org.

Hey! Wait a minute. Who brought this business mapping tool into the business anyway? Oh, that’s right. You did.  High five!

CRM Utilization

Remember when the team convinced the boss to invest in CRM software? It wasn’t cheap, so it took some convincing. And today there’s still some sales people who don’t use the tool effectively. Think your boss doesn’t know that? Think again.

Over the years I heard many CRM implementation disaster stories. I heard two, just yesterday. Always the same issue. Only a couple of the modules available were in stalled so X doesn’t communicate with Y. Rarely does a full CRM set of modules get installed.

Fortunately for you, business mapping software improves the utilization of CRM software in most organizations. That’s because the sales department naturally warms up to territory maps and starts to depend on a CRM tool as the accurate source of customer and sales data for sales planning, forecasting and prospecting.

All sales data imported into a territory mapping tool, rolls up into aggregated sales by territory. Prospects are disseminated through the sales territory map as well. With accurate sales results posted and shared, and prospects distributed, that sales territory map becomes the key to sales commission happiness.

Get the picture? CRM generated sales and prospect data informs sales territory maps which drive sales and make commissions achievable. If you can connect CRN utilization to sales growth through business mapping, you are a water walker.

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

Best Practices for Impressing the Boss

Business maps, once discovered, are exciting to present. It’s easy to get carried away trying to make an impression. Many people, new to business mapping, create crazy, colorful maps with multiple layers and large symbols, in perhaps a subconscious attempt to grab attention.  This can often backfire as the maps become less meaningful.  Consider a process for creating your boss-impressing business maps.

  1. Know Why – Get clear about the business reason for creating your business map. Use the tools to define one major problem or opportunity that can, at least in part,  be supported by location data (addresses, ZIP codes or lat/lon data.) Don’t try to solve all problems with one map.
  2. Find Relevant Data – Seek out relevant data for your map project. Find internal data with addresses or Zip codes. Consider customer data, vendor data, product shipment records, sales data by customer, and relevant industry data to your business. Import these data layers but only turn a few key datasets on for viewing. Consider purchasing data from www.RealDatasets.com
  3. Keep it Easy-on-the-Eyes – Use subdued colors and smaller symbolization when developing your map. Try to not overwhelm the map viewer. Avoid obnoxious or large symbols that monopolize the map view. An attractive, simple, clearly defined map impresses. Cluttered maps fail to achieve their objective. You want people nodding their heads in agreement, not squinting their eyes, trying to comprehend the mess you’ve shared.
  4. Know Your Audience – Present subjects you know the boss is interested in. Highlight one or two key data layers that support your main point. Use the Heat Map color-shading tool to display your most critical layer. Use text and label placement carefully. Make sure any data you present is accurate. Posting inaccurate data is asking to be dismissed.

The Follow Up

At some point, that boss of yours is going to see you in the mail room or at lunch and she’s going to mention that mapping software you brought to the business. One reason may be the nagging thought that you cost the company a lot of money to put that tool in place. Imagine the relief and the impression you’ll make when you assure her that the company spent less than $500 on the tool and a few industry specific datasets.

You’ve made your mark. The next time there’s a challenging project in the offing the boss is going to ask about that business mapping software person.

So, don’t be on vacation when that happens. OK? No more vacations for you.

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Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson

 

 

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Kardex Remstar Chooses Map Business Online for Custom Territory Maps

CORNISH, ME (February 27, 2018) — SpatialTEQ Inc., publisher of North America’s fastest growing business mapping software, announces that Map Business Online has been selected by Kardex Remstar LLC. to create custom built sales territory maps for their North American sales organization.

Www.MapBusinessOnline.com is a cloud-based business mapping software utilized by large and small businesses to conduct sales and marketing analysis; sales territory management; customer and competitor map visualizations; optimized multi-stop vehicle route planning; as well as operational and strategic analysis.

Kardex Remstar, formally a Microsoft MapPoint client, selected Map Business Online as an alternative to MapPoint after the tool was canceled by Microsoft in late 2014. With business expanding rapidly, Kardex Remstar contracted with Map Business Online to take over the creation of territory maps on their behalf.  “Map Business Online took our territory mapping to the next level,” said Thomas Meader, US Business Analyst for Kardex Remstar North America.

Map Business Online sourced key target market NAICS sector business data from RealDatasets and applied them to Kardex Remstar territory maps. Map Business Online territory design tools provide a location-based platform for:

  • Customer visualizations that display where customer activity is strongest by geographic area
  • Advanced territory mapping, complete with regions and divisions, for clear accountability
  • Sales projections and sales history aggregation by ZIP code, county or territory for results sharing
  • Drive time estimates surrounding the sales teams’ home addresses for efficient sales planning

Map Business Online created fully functional sales territory maps importing Kardex Remstar provided territory data. Up-to-date sales territory maps are now available for secure viewing and easy sharing, hosted securely in the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Image is not a Kardex Remstar map – Protected through confidentiality

About Kardex Remstar

Kardex Remstar, LLC, a company of the Kardex Group is a leading provider of automated storage and retrieval systems for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, offices, and institutions. For information on automated storage and retrieval systems, call 800-639-5805 or visit www.kardexremstar.com.

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Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson

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How to Create a Marketing Business Map

Marketing Maps are a common application of business mapping softwareMarketing maps provide a variety of business perspectives, any one of which holds value to the company creating and using the map.  Marketing maps can identify market potential, define threats and opportunities, or just outline a marketing campaign geographically. But these map perspectives can get a little overwhelming at times, especially to new users of business mapping software or audiences who are not used to viewing maps.

Keep in mind, business maps are a composite of a variety of visual data. As such, these maps can quickly reach a layer-over-load stage if not managed appropriately. In Map Business Online you can bring twenty plus layers to bear on your map pallet. Try to use each layer judiciously.

Here’s a few of commonly used maps layers that add value to market analysis maps:

  • State layer – An MBO map layer, typically with the state fill turned off because this layer is often used for reference and orientation
  • ZIP code layer – An MBO map layer used to designate areas of interest, territories, and for color shaded visualizations of demography or other imported data
  • Demographic data for color shading – included with MBO covering multiple years and hundreds of categories from the Census Bureau
  • Imported user data – customers, prospects and sales reps – anything pertinent to your business that has a location component in the data
  • Imported industry business data – NAICS industry segment data or industry group data – see RealDatasets
  • Imported territory data – spreadsheets of counties, states or ZIP codes – preassigned to a territory name. Territory mapping can at times constitute a marketing map.

Preparing to Create a Marketing Map

When creating a business map for marketing analysis give some consideration to that array of data you have available or can procure.  Look over the data layers to make sure location components exist and are accurately assembled. Look for columns in your data that you can use on the map to create color shadings, point/symbol color codes, or heat map layers.

Think about the reason you are creating your business analysis. What are your goals?  Getting clear on why you want to invest time and effort into building a map can help you create a more valuable map. Keep your goal in mind through out the process of creating a marketing map.

Think about who’s going to view your marketing map.  What kind of viewer are they? Are they patient and inquisitive? Or are they pressed for time and looking to get spoon fed information quickly.

To the Map! Batman

Back at Map Business Online, start importing your data layers. Import as many as you feel are relevant. The upper limit on the number of separate datasets per map is twelve. You can import up to 100,000 records per map. So, try to consolidate like datasets – such as customer files. Avoid importing a bunch of smaller, separate customer files – consolidate.

As you import your files, make them map worthy by adjusting a few things:

  • Assign Readable and Politically Correct File Names. In MBO click on the imported data file in Map and Data and adjust the name of the dataset so it reads well on the map. When your boss is reading your map, you don’t want a weird name to show up on the map. So, change names like: That Stupid Map File I Hate to read something more like YTD Registered Users.
  • Make your map easy on the eyes. Choose a symbol you feel good about and adjust its size so that it is easy to read but doesn’t cover up other stuff on the map. Tweak the colors to match your map view. Avoid bright and obnoxious colors. Loud colors and huge symbols distract from your map intent.

Imported data points are likely to be critical for your map’s purpose. Consider using a key imported data set to color shade a map layer instead of a point layer.  Rather than show all sales for 2016 as points on the map, it might be wiser and easier on the boss’s eyes, if you color shaded the ZIP codes based on imported sales data. Just consider it. It may not work for your map. It’s easy to try in MBO. Ask a colleague what they think.

Save your most important numeric layer for a Heat Map layer. Heat maps are all drama. So, if there’s a layer of your data that just screams, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” save it for the heat map layer. That’s the layer that says, “Hey Boss! See all this color and intensity? Pay attention or we’ll all lose our jobs.” Let the map scream the drama, not you.

Dumb It Down

Most people, when they first build a map, love showing it off. They’ll turn on every layer, with bright colors and thick borders. Their proud of their work and they want the world to know it. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t care. Remember – What’s the reason you built this map? Stay focused.

Consider turning off most of your map layers. Let the map tell a story as your turn on layers for your audience. Let that skunky suck-up point out you’re missing a key layer, and then you just click it on. “Oh, Snap! That’s where those sales are.”

Try to tell your marketing map story by only using a few of the layers you’ve imported.  Keep the others in reserve for follow-up questions or more detail. Remember, too many layers can undermine your map point. Especially if you’re presenting to a larger group. Keep it simple.

Practice your map presentation. Make sure you understand what all those layers represent and how they relate to the geographies you’ve chosen.  By this I mean, if your business uses ZIP codes to define territories, then by all means build your territory maps using ZIP codes. If you import demographic data into your ZIP code map, think about the demographic totals and their relationship to the ZIP code. Population is usually presented as people per ZIP code. Income can be average incomes per ZIP code. Ages may show as the population of a certain age by ZIP code.

Build Another Map

If your marketing map is getting too crowded, you may simply require more than one map to achieve your goal. For instance, your territory map by ZIP code may be critical to the conversation. But you also want to show product distribution and customer distribution by county. It’s may make sense to have two separate maps. Or save your first map as a template, then create an offshoot of your first map for differing views.

It’s easy to create new maps and templates in MBO. Take advantage of the application.

Add Text to the Map

Map Business Online provides plenty of places for your marketing map to describe itself. Text on a map helps people understand what they are seeing.  The MBO map legend is entirely editable. Adjust your data labels to reflect marketing categories and names. Eliminate redundancies in your legend. Delete empty values like other.

Add a map title text to the map – relate that title to your reason for building the map in the first place.  Map titles are located in Map & Data – click the menu edit gear, you’ll find map title control there.  You can also add map notes using the Draw Tools – see the button labeled “ABC.” Best of all, you have five flexible fields associated with all geography layer labels, including territories. The flexible fields associated with map layer labels adds places to aggregate data or pull labels from imported data fields.

Share Your Marketing Map

Maps are for sharing. MBO has a variety of ways to share maps. The most useful sharing technique for marketers is the interactive map sharing capabilities. Publish your map through MapShare and provide your viewers with a marketing map they can review at their leisure. They’ll simply click on the link you send and launch a simple version of MBO. They’ll be able to pan and zoom, query, and route – but they can’t edit the map.

Marketing maps help businesses plan for future growth. Marketing maps are important. Use your best judgement when building your marketing map. Don’t overwhelm the viewer. Experiment with a variety of symbolization and map layering schemes. Treat each marketing map as a small step toward achieving company objectives.

And remember what Don Draper of Mad Men said: “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.”

So now, your map is OK.

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035

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How Do Businesses Apply Map Business Online?

Considering business mapping? How would you apply Map Business Online in your business? Listed below are a few ways in which business users apply business maps. We’d love to add your business applications to our growing list of applicators. Oh, and one of these “industry examples” is fake news. Can you guess which one?

Banks – Conduct risk assessment and loan portfolios by metropolitan area. Consider critical retail and other business address placements that help define current economic viability by region. Use ZIP code and Census Tract demographic classifications to expose prime house flipping areas and thereby minimize loan risk.

Delivery Services – (Bottling companies, fuel delivery& other services) Conduct optimized route assessments of common routes and route alternatives. Share routes across your traveling network. Develop route avoids in emergency situations. Import stop lists with arrival and stay times assigned. Periodical create business maps of the delivery service network to access growth or new requirements.

Dentistry Firms – Dentists are everywhere, which means they have lots of competition. Competitors maps can help dentist and orthodontist firms plan for market expansion – either seeking new customers for a current location or exploring the idea of office expansion. Drive time queries coupled with demographic analysis can answer questions about which ZIP codes are within reasonable driving distance and contain the highest percent of kids ages 10 to 19, in families with reasonably high income. In short, marketing maps help dentists grow their business.

Field Technician Operations – Assign specific territories or areas of responsibility to each technician in the field. Build sales territory maps. Create resource maps that show technician locations at start of day, include skill set data for color coding/visualization purposes. Assign client rosters to field techs for route development and coverage consistency. Place special notes on the map if there’s a scary dog at that house.

Franchise Company – Build franchise territory maps that define franchisee coverage areas based on population, income or other Census Bureau Demographic statistics.  Display your franchise territories by ZIP code or county or even Census Tracts, depending on how dense you’d like your coverage to be.  Color code sold and unsold franchise territories – Red for sold, Green for available. Share interactive web maps with potential franchisees to help get them on board.

Hospital Systems – Create business maps of critical healthcare services for entire communities. Develop competitor systems maps that help clarify areas for strengths and weaknesses that inform strategic planning. Establish field medical operations that support the elderly across the metro-area through mobile hospice or home care support.

Insurance Companies – Visualize field claims requirements across your geographic network. Establish claim management territories. Show home locations or start of day locations for all agents in the field. Develop portfolio maps that group high risk insurance coverages by ZIP code or County. Consider all location-based assets and risks in strategic planning maps. Color classify critical areas based on a risk index.

Large Enterprise Business – Signed up for an enterprise wide license agreement, multi-national organizations will apply business mapping across the organization, including C-Suite strategic planning maps (competitor analysis, sales territory alignment, full market analysis, and future growth analysis maps.) REPLACE MAPPOINT! Cross-department problem solving groups are set up using team mapping capabilities where collaborative map editing helps leverage and coordinate the best company minds. Sales planning and optimized routing capabilities are provided to all traveling sales people. Call center maps, affordably share maps across a network, help technical and sales team quickly organize their inbound call support.

Marketing Agency – Build business maps that define market potential based on imported business location-datasets. Create customer visualizations that can be developed into map actuals of your clients best performing ZIP codes which can then be converted into best ZIP code profiles. Build really informative maps about your client’s coverage areas, products and services.

Manufacturing Sales Department – Replace Microsoft MapPoint with Map Business Online! Create sales territory alignment maps that clearly define sales territories for a growing salesforce. Use shared sales territory maps a way to define accountability and display sales goals and objectives.  Sales territory maps are great for sharing results and as a center point for sales discussions, inculcating company sales rules and sharing what works and what doesn’t across the sales team.

Music FestivalBluegrass music festivals utilize business maps to visualize where all of the acts are traveling from and their mode of transportation. This helps them plan for local accommodations which are also mapped out. Patron home addresses of more than 9,000 names are mapped to analyze where attendees come from and to help assess the total dollars the festival brings to the state every summer.

Non-profit – Visualize your full donor base based on address databases.  Conduct demographic analysis to define the areas and demographic segments most likely to generate future donations.  Define your operating areas and consider territory assignments to organize field work. Use business mapping to plan your next event – create invitation segment campaigns from imported member data.

Pharmaceutical – We’ve noticed more and more pharma companies seeking business mapping to conduct sales planning with optimized routing. They also like to conduct strategic planning analysis with business maps outlining current and future business retail locations, and competitor maps.  Flu Shot tracking by customer address can provide some critical information for influenza mitigation effectivity studies, year over year.

Rental Agencies – Car, truck, and equipment agencies love Map Business Online for market analysis and sales planning. They’ll also use the tool to monitor inventories of aging equipment by location and in preparation for auctioning.

Retail Business – Drive-time studies reveal the scope of your target audience surrounding your store. Understand how many people in what demographic live within 30 minutes of your establishment. Based on drive-time results invest in advertisements in easily drivable ZIP codes. Connect demographic ethnic, income based, or age-based population segments with product release promotions.

Trades Contractors – Plumbers, electricians, and carpenters need to grow their markets too. Business maps are a great way to track jobs with an eye toward future referrals. Targeted post card marketing can be achieved through ZIP code analysis of homeowner databases. Track ads placed in local periodicals to determine new areas of business possibilities.

Ok. You probably guessed the fake news item above. Here’s a hint:

How do you create a $1 million dollar bank account? Invest $2 million in a Bluegrass Music Festival.

Send us your unique business mapping application, we’d love to do a story on it.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to Map Business Online in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035

 

 

 

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