6 Easy Spatial Searches to Enhance Business Intelligence

Let’s all agree, right upfront, that the term “Spatial Search” is intimidating.

I first ran across the term when I was learning about Geographic Information System software (GIS) at DeLorme in the early 2000s. At the time, I was also busy understanding my new role as a national sales manager and all that that entailed. So, grappling with spatial searches conducted using our low-cost GIS product was about all I could do before giving up and heading home for the day, exhausted.

Fortunately, I’ve grown up a little since then. A spatial search is simply a search for data within a specified area on a business map. That area could be 3-dimensional, and often is in the GIS world, hence the term spatial or ‘within space.’

A Spatial search may also be referred to as a spatial query, a geospatial search, or phrased as a question: “Melvin, How many addresses are there in that circle thingy?”

But for MapBusinessOnline users, spatial searches are just a search for data within a map object or a drawn shape on a digital map. In many ways, a spatial query is the foundation of business mapping software. Spatial searches enable customer maps, territory analysis, map visualizations, and optimized routing. In MapBusinessOnline, these spatial search objects could be any one of these designated map areas listed below:

  • A ZIP code or a group of ZIP codes
  • A County or a group of Counties
  • A State or a group of States
  • A City Limit or a group of city limits
  • A School district or a group of school districts
  • A Congressional District or a group of congressional districts
  • A Census Marketing Statistical Area or a group of MSA’s
  • A radius/circle search
  • A polygon search
  • A free form shape search
  • A drive time search
  • A driving distance search
  • A territory search
  • A Region or Division search (Pro only based on a group of territories)

For this blog, we will not discuss MapBusinessOnline Pro spatial search options, which include the options in Standard.  We can also leave out School Districts, Congressional Districts, and MSA’s as rare search targets. This leaves us with six spatial search options to consider.

Import Data or Choose a Map Layer

To conduct a spatial search, you’ll need to search for something – usually business data. So, create map data from Excel and import it, or choose a map layer like ZIP codes to search. In MapBusinessOnline, you could also search for Demographic Data or Business Listings.  So, get some dataset targets on your map and in your head.

Good. Now read on.

  1. The Radius Search

Let’s begin with the Radius Spatial Search. These are very popular. A map user might desire to find all ZIP codes within 100 miles of a point. A radius search in MapBusinessOnline can begin in one of three ways:

  1. Type an address into the Address Bar (Upper left blank space above the Master Toolbar) following the format noted there, then click the Binoculars to the right. A center point is now on the map at the specified address with an associated mini toolbar
  2. Choose any single point from an already imported dataset. There’s that min-toolbar again
  3. In the Draw Tools select the Point Marker and drop a point on your target center spot on the map. Once again, a center point is now on the map at the specified address with an associated mini-toolbar
  4. You could also conduct a radius search by selecting the Radius Search option in the Search Tools and then placing your cursor on the map at a center point.  Set your radius distance from that center point. Notice the mini-toolbar next to the dropped point

From any of the above point related mini-toolbars, the user can choose to create a radius search by clicking the Circle Button, or in the case of the Radius Search tool:

  • Enter the desired radius distances and process the Radius search
  • Scroll out or Zoom out to see the extent of the search. You will find a new mini-toolbar associated with the circle map object
  • Click the mini-toolbar’s Binocular Icon to search the Radius induced Spatial area
  • Choose the dataset or layer to search and then click Next (only one dataset is searchable for any spatial search)
  • Name the Data Results and view them in the Data window, which pops-up like an old buddy

That, my friends, is a spatial search. Not so intimidating after all, is it?

Under the Market Analysis button in MapBusinessOnline Standard, you will find a pathway to conduct multiple radii searches at once – up to 200 radii. That’s advanced work, but it’s there when you are ready. Here’s a video describing multiple radius searches.  See how quickly one spatial search becomes multiple spatial searches? See, you are a Jedi Mapper already.

2. A Polygon Spatial Search

A polygon search works similarly to a radius search, but  the polygon spatial search has no center point. Instead, the user chooses a Polygon search tool from the Search Tool dropdown and then uses their Mouse Cursor to drag a line across the map. Lift the cursor point and drag again to change direction.  Eventually, bring the last polygon line back to the beginning point. A polygon will then show as selected on the map with an associated toolbar. Click the binoculars to search and save the result, just as you did with the radius search.

A polygon search is a quick way to grab all the data you want in a specified area. Maybe you need a quick list of ZIP codes? Create a polygon and search the ZIP code layer.  A polygon search is an easy way to collect all the ZIP codes within a County. Just follow the county boundary with a polygon tool. Now search the ZIP code layer and save it.

3. A Driving Time or Driving Distance Polygon

This search begins, like the Radius Search, either from a point on the map or in the Search Tools. So, go ahead and either select the Drive Area Search Tool option with its jagged shape or plot an address on the map and select the Drive Time search there.

With Drive Area spatial searches, you will need to specify either Driving Time or Driving Distance search is preferred. Input your time or distance preferences. Also with Drive Time preferences, please realize that you can note the time of day which will bring traffic considerations to bear on the analysis results. Drivetime mouse moves like this are popular with the younger set.

Conduct your query on the data target of your choice. As always, view and export your data from the Data Window that pops up as the query finishes. By the way, the Export Button is at the far right of the Data Window toolbar.

Multiple Drive Time and Driving Time spatial queries are only available in MapBusinessOnline Pro Market Analysis.  Upgrades to MapBusinessOnline Pro from Standard are pro-rated, protecting your investment in Standard and maintaining your subscription time periods. Click in Subscription to find a price and upgrade to Pro.

Drivetime Polygons

4. Freeform Searches

Freeform spatial searches work the same as polygon searches. Freeform allows the user to create a curved shape. So perhaps when generating a quick and easy map object to query Freeform is the tool for you. I prefer polygons, which I’m sure says something about my twisted persona. “Very interesting, Geoffrey. The father’s impact on an impressionable child often leads to a preference for polygon spatial searches, later in life. Take two Wellbutrin and call me next summer. By the way, I don’t take Cigna. You’ll have to pay out-of-network.”

I want my mommy.

5. Spatial Searching of Map Layer Objects

I can tell you are getting sleepy. Let’s lump the Map Layer objects together. Map Layers in MapBusinessOnline are City Limits, Congressional Districts, Counties, School Districts, MSAs, States, and ZIP Codes (both 3 and 5 digit). Anything with a boundary. Map Layers are checked on and off in Map and Data. In the Data Window, you can view the data associated with these geographic layers.  For instance, you can see a ZIP code’s associated town or place name.

MapBusinessOnline lets you conduct a spatial query of a Map Layer Object like a ZIP code by selecting the object with your cursor, or by gathering up multiple map objects with a Search Tool – like a ZIP code radius search.  Once selected, there’s that Mini Toolbar again presenting its menu of services including, a Binocular Search button. Just click that Search Button selecting the layer of Data you want to search.  Save the results if you like them.

Collecting a group of map layer objects like ZIP codes into an area of interest like we’ve described above is very much like, in fact, exactly like creating a Territory.

6. Territory Spatial Searches

Whether you’ve created a territory through a free form or polygon search tool or imported a spreadsheet of territory data, you’ve now got a territory layer in Map and Data. Your map view includes a couple of territory areas color-shaded per your requirements.

Probably the most straight forward way to query all the data within a Territory map object is by selecting the territory with your cursor and once again clicking the Binocular Search Button on the associated mini-toolbar.

Summary Searches

For any map object ZIP code, State, polygon, or drive time polygon, the mini-toolbar also includes a Summary button.  That Greek symbol Sigma (a sideways M) is the Summary Button, which lets the user quickly select up to ten categories of demographic data associated with that selected area or spatial search. The summary button is a quick and easy way to grab demographic data for an area of interest or a territory. “Julie, could you get me stats on population and income for these six ZIP codes?” “Sure, Boss. It’s in your email inbox now.”

Choose Columns

MapBusinessOnline Territories provide even more spatial analysis if you include a view from the Data Window.  In the Data Window dropdown, select the Territory layer and drill into any a specific territory by right-clicking the associated Blue Arrow. Now the data window presents the analysis information associated with that territory. In the lower right-hand corner, click the Choose Columns button. This button opens up a powerful data management tool that lets the user move data in and out of the territory analysis. Read more about Choose Columns here.

Single Territory Blue Arrow Access

Through the Choose Column database management panel, a user can move imported data, demographic data, download business listings, and calculated data columns sums into their territory analysis. In this way, a view of an isolated territory creates a drilled down view of all that territory’s associated data.  Territory analysis is equivalent to a spatial search result. Another advantage of a territory analysis view using Choose Columns is the ability to import and segment multiple datasets at one time in the territory object.

Spatial Search Applications

Any business can benefit from a spatial search. Because any business will occasionally need to answer the question, “Which customers or prospects live within this area?” Example statements by a few sample industries might be:

  • Insurance – I need a list of all claims within the 25-mile hurricane impact zone
  • Restaurant – Can I get all of the deliveries by address that we’ve made to these three ZIP codes since the Pandemic started?
  • Retail – How many single-parent households exist in this neighborhood?
  • Public Safety – We’ll have to notify everyone who lives within 15 miles of that fuel tank.
  • Non-profit – How many grocery stores are there in Scranton?
  • Manufacturing – How many of that car model were sold into this section of Miami last year?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a spatial search or query is all about, at least in MapBusinessOnline. You may run across its other names like Geospatial Query, Spatial Analysis, and Space Cadet. Hold on. Space Cadet that’s my college nickname. Scratch that.

Please access MapBusinessOnline via the downloadable Map App: https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Apps.aspx

The Map App installation is fast and easy. The App is a cloud-based service. After you’ve loggedin you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience and provides access to more features than the Web App. The Flash-based Web App is still available through this link https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Map.aspx  until December 15, 2020.

The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for non-subscriber map sharing.

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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6 Easy Steps to Your First Business Map

Being new to business mapping is never be an obstacle to creating your first business map. View the challenge of mapping as an opportunity to learn something new like paddle boarding or Zoom meetings.  We’ll help you through the first steps so you’ll be on your way. For most users, MapBusinessOnline is an easy territory map  and a wicked easy radius map.

The MapBusinessOnline platform or dashboard includes three major map control sections that enable map creation and later map optimization:

The Master Toolbar – A ribbon of 23 buttons that you will find stretches across the top of the mapping platform. The Master Toolbar includes the New Map button, a Save button, an Open button to retrieve saved maps, a Print button, and all sorts of map options.  Read about the Master Toolbar.

The Map & Data Box – Map and Data is a light blue box that floats over the map and contains a CheckBox list of all the map layers, like ZIP codes and States. Map and Data also controls any datasets you’ve imported, as well as the Map Background options. Hover over any layer or dataset with your mouse cursor and click the Edit Gear to tweak the look and feel of a map layer. Read more about Map and Data.

The Data Window – The third button in from the left on the Master Toolbar is the Data Window. It opens up a world of easy-to-use Database Management. On the left side of the Data Window, notice the dropdown option. This dropdown provides access to any map layer or imported dataset. Drop down to a layer and view the data or manipulate the data for your business map’s benefit. Read more about the Data Window.

At the bottom of this blog, I’ve listed some additional links to blogs that describe basic processes for map construction for first-timers.  Each link in this blog will contain written instructions and videos that can help you navigate your first few business maps.

Five Basic Steps to a Business Map

  1. Register and download the Map App – MapBusinessOnline is a cloud-based service. You will access the tool by logging in with your email and a password. The Map App is a simple, quick download that includes a button for launching MapBusinessOnline either from the Windows Start menu or from the Mac applications folder.  You can create a Task Bar button for launching MapBusinessOnline from the Map App.
  2. Create a New Map – With MapBusinessOnline launched, use the map template presented by the application or Click the New button on the left of the Master Toolbar along the top of the application to start a new map. Choose your map template, usually the USA, and view your base map within MapBusinessOnline
  3. Use the Map and Data Box to turn on the ZIP code layer or Postal layer for Canada maps. Edit the layer to adjust the fill transparency and boundary lines by hovering your cursor over the layer and clicking the Edit Gear. Turn county and state layers on and off as necessary and edit those layers in the same way as ZIP codes.  By turning these layers on and off, adjusting boundaries, fill-color, and transparencies, you have optimized your map visualization. Think about your map audience as you do this – How can you optimize your map viewer’s experience?
  4. Import an address-based dataset of your business customers or clients and thereby creating a basic Map Visualization of your business data. This process is initiated from the Dataset button un Add to Map on the Master Toolbar. There’s a dialogue included in the process to help you import your business data:
    1. Import a list of ZIP codes with additional columns for sales or other data – Create a ZIP Code Map
    2. Import a list of address points or LAT/LONG coordinates and Create Radius objects around each point – Import an Excel Sheet
  5. Color-code your imported dataset – To represent numeric values or text records in your data, click the Symbol Color Coding button on the Master Toolbar and select your data. Assign symbols, colors, sizes to your critical data column. Import your customer symbols through the options listed at the top of the Color Code dialogue
  6. Save your map as a My Map or as a My Template.  With your map started and gaining form be sure to save it using the Save Button on the left side of the Master Toolbar.  I often recommend saving maps in the MY Map Templates option of the Save dialogue. A template is useful because it protects the map work you’ve already invested.  Open up new maps from your base map Template to address various business issues. Intrigued? You should be.  Read more about Map Templates.

These five simple steps outlined above will help you to create your first Business Map. Most first-time MapBusinessOnline users follow a similar process with their first business map – what we often refer to as a Map Visualization.

Using Drive Time Visualizations to Analyze Shipping Patterns

Now Add Value to Your Map

Below are multiple business map options you can add to your new business map to significantly increase its value:

  • Color-code the map layer areas based on imported numeric data values. Use the Boundaries button on the Master Toolbar to select your imported data and assign colors and ranges based on your data column. Read about Color-Coding map layers.
  • Create a Heat Map – Heat maps use numeric values in your imported data to display location data intensity. Click the Heat Map Button on the Master Toolbar. Select the target numeric value column in your imported dataset. Adjust color and intensity scroll bars as required. Read about Heat Mapping.
  • Create a Territory with the Search Tool – Polygon Search – Select a group of ZIP Codes and save them as a territory. Adjust as necessary by selecting more ZIP codes with your cursor and the shift key. Here’s a blog about Where to Start with Sales Territories. Read more about Editing Territory Maps. Read all about creating Sales Territories in this deep dive blog.
  • Create a Territory from an Excel Sheet – Import a spreadsheet of territory information data, such as ZIP codes and Territory Name. Use the Add to Map Territories button on the Master Toolbar. Here’s a video describing Importing Territories.
  • Optimize Your Map – Use the map adjustment tools in Map and Data to optimize your business map and make it speak clearly to your map audience. Read about map optimization.
  • Use the Summary button associated with Map Objects, like ZIP codes or polygons, to access Demographic Data for your business analysis. Or access demographic data through the analysis panel of any Territory view in the Data Window. Just click the Choose Columns button in the lower right.

Additional recommended reading:

The MapBusinessOnline blog is searchable, as are the Help Docs and the YouTube help videos.  Pretty much every subject we know of is covered in these self-help tools.  But we’re also available through Chat, Email, and over the Phone.

There’s just no reason why you can’t create your business map today! Unless the power is out or there’s a global pandemic, or wildfires, or murder hornets, or something.

We recommend users access MapBusinessOnline via the downloadable Map App.

The Map App install is fast and easy. The Map App is a cloud-based service, once you’ve logged in you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience and provides access to more features than the Web App. The Flash-based Web App link will remain available until December 15, 2020.

The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for free non-subscriber map sharing.

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. Read what our customers have to say about MapBusinessOnline on one of our review sites. Capterra.com and ShopperApproved.com 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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The MapBusinessOnline Master Toolbar – An Overview

The Master Toolbar in MapBusinessOnline provides access to most of the basic map functions required to create compelling and useful business maps. If you are new to MapBusinessOnline, perhaps an overview of the Master Toolbar buttons would be helpful.  Or maybe you’ve been away from your maps for a while and could use a refresher. It happens.

The Address or Location Search Bar

First, just above the left section of the Master Toolbar is the Address Search Bar and four smaller buttons to its right. The Address Bar allows user input to search for a ZIP code, an address, or a place. The formatting must be Address, City, State. You must include commas. You are allowed to input just a ZIP code if you prefer.

The Address Search Bar: 19 Norwood Avenue, Rockport, MA

The blue arrow buttons to the right of the Address Search are Undo and Redo buttons for some of the major processes in MapBusinessOnline. Hover over them to get a message stating what will be undone when you click the arrow.

You’ll also find a new Edit Gear here. It’s a short cut to Map and Data options. Click to adjust some of the basic map options around ZIP code type, territory options, and other map functions. It’s a quick way to get your Map Legend back when you accidentally turn it off.

That tiny little black dropdown arrow lets the user make the Master Toolbar disappear and reappear. This dropdown button is helpful when seeking a clean map image capture.

The Master Toolbar

Create a New Map

On to the Master Toolbar now, starting with the leftmost button – New. Click this button to start a new map. Pay attention to the templates offered. While the USA or the USA and Canada are the most popular options, you may find other templates useful. When you click this button, you will be asked to save your current map, if you haven’t saved it yet. Hint: Saving your map is a good idea.

Open

The green file folder button is where your saved maps and templates are stored. When you save a MapBusinessOnline map it is stored here for as long as you are a subscriber and for about a year after you accidently let your subscription lapse.  You must save your map for it to be stored. A Web Map or web browser access will cache a view of your last map. Do not confuse that cached map view in a browser window with a saved map. It’s not saved until you click the Save button.

For Team Sharing and collaborative map editing, this is where you access shared maps between Team Subscription members. Drop down to Maps Shared with Me.

Save

You guessed it.  The save map button. Save your map work either as a Saved Map Template or as a Saved Map. You’ve invested a lot of time building your map and you may plan to create other maps from the work you’ve completed; make sure to save it as a Saved Map Template.

Share

Map sharing is wicked easy in MapBusinessOnline.  This Share button lets you share maps publicly – for view-only maps – and privately for team collaborative map editing.

To share publicly with nonsubscribers, make sure they download the Map App first.  Then generate the web link, checking the Enable MapShare buttons, and paste it into an email. When your nonsubscribing map viewer clicks the link, MapBusinessOnline starts up.

Dataset – Plot Data

Use this button to import user address datasets. There is a step-by-step dialogue process outlined in the plot data process. Importing location data is critical to your business map process.  Here are some important blogs that can help with data import:

Territories

There are multiple ways to create territories using MapBusinessOnline Standard and Pro. Including lassoing map layer objects (ZIP codes) with a polygon tool (see Search Tools), using a drive time polygon, and using MapBusinessOnline Pro to create more than one easy territory at once.

Use the Territories button to import a spreadsheet of territory names and the designated map layer column(s).

Map Layers

There are some supplemental map layers you can select.  This button lists them and lets you add them to the map. Here is where you will find ZIP 3 Codes, a Highway Layer, and City Limits, and more.

City Limits Layer Against State Layer Background

Analysis or Market Analysis

Both Standard and Pro versions include Analysis buttons. Pro has more advanced features including the ability to conduct multiple driving time or driving distance queries at once. Standard does include the ability to create one drive time search at a time and multiple radius search capabilities.

Many MapBusinessOnline users subscribe to conduct market map business or market analysis.

Color Coding Buttons

The next five buttons are all about symbolizing and color-coding your imported data. Circles lets you turn your points on the map into circles of variable size and color based on the numeric values in a column of your imported data. You can even display numeric values as part of the symbol.

Symbols assign icons or images to your data points and then let you color-code those symbols based on one thematic theme. Charts allows the map-maker to match fields of data to Charts or Bar graphs. Great for showing variations in data from day-to-day. Heat Map lets the user assign levels of intensity to locations on the map. Sales activity can be displayed as brighter and more dense shades of color. Boundaries allows the user to color code map layers, like ZIP codes, based on imported data. Color-code ZIP codes, counties, and more based on the numeric values of your data. Some people refer to shaded ZIP Codes as a heat map.

Finally, there is a Clear button to the right of this section of the Master Toolbar that deletes any color-coding or symbolization processed. Undo it!

Search Tools – Business Listings

The Yellow Pages Book icon is for finding, purchasing, and plotting business listings and placing their location points on the map.  MapBusinessOnline lets you search business listings by ZIP code, City, State, polygon, radius search, or by industry and business name. The listings include basic business infographics and contact data. All listings data are exportable.  This is a paid service that starts at $0.15 per listing. All subscriptions provide free Business Listings Credits to test.

Search ToolsMap Object

MapBusinessOnline search tools in addition to Business Listings include a search by map objects or shapes on the map. You can search by radius/circle, polygon, drive time polygon, or by a free form drawn object. Create your object and then use the associated mini-toolbar to affect your search.

Drawing Tools – Text

The drawing tools are similar to Search Tools by map objects. The difference is, that the drawing tools are primarily used to place an object on the map for visual reference. Searching is still possible, but it requires another click.  Drawing tools also include a few more options including a text box, a point placement options, straight and curved line drawing tools.

Drawing tools let the user highlight an area of the map for viewer edification. Concentric circle maps use drawing tools.

Drawing Tools – Distance

This button is a digital measuring line used to quickly display a line on the map with distance measurements, as the crow flies. Select the tool, start drawing. Click your cursor once to change direction and continue drawing. You can always delete and start again.

Print Map

Printing a map to an attached printer for fast 8 x 11-page printouts is achieved through the top option. To save maps as a PDF file for larger print jobs, such as a wall map, use the lower options in the button.

Export Image

Save a map view as a Jpeg or a PNG file. PNG files are good for PowerPoint slides. I use Jpegs and smaller files for emailing. I also use the Microsoft Snippet tool to capture images that include the Data Window, to wit.

Data – The Data Window

This button has a lot of powerful applications. It provides analysis of your imported data and allows filtering and database management of your various map layers including sales territories and imported datasets.

The Data Window enables data editing for both location properties and data record adjustments. Use the Data Window to balance sales territories, view demographic data analysis, view business listings, extract ZIP code data, or to filter and isolate territory views. The Data Window also includes a button for exporting data like business listings, demographic data, or filtered imported data – the far-right button on the Data Window toolbar.

Route

MapBusinessOnline included the ability to create vehicle routes of up to 150 stops per route.  These optimized routes include support for time windows and are exportable in a variety of formats. Users can create one route at a time per map. Routing in MapBusinessOnline is a popular tool for sales planning.

Help

Help is a link to our application help documentation.  Support is always available through Chat, Email (Contact button), or by calling (800) 425-9035. Here’s a link to MapPoint related help docs.  Check out our YouTube video library and weekly application blog.  Don’t hesitate to request a web demo.

Please access MapBusinessOnline via the downloadable Map App: https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Apps.aspx

The Map App installation is fast and easy. The App is a cloud-based service. After you’ve loggedin you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience and provides access to more features than the Web App. The Flash-based Web App is still available through this link https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Map.aspx  until December 15, 2020.

The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for non-subscriber map sharing.

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

 

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How do I Add Map Place Names to an Imported Dataset?

MapBusinessOnline Customer Request: I need to import a dataset of ZIP codes, with Sales by ZIP code included, and then export a list of ZIP codes that include Town or City names as well as the Sales Data included with the original import.

The above customer requirement includes a couple of aspects of ZIP code mapping worth reviewing in our Business Mapping Software blog.

My solution requires that I first open a MapBusinessOnline new map of the USA using the “New” button on the far left of the Master Toolbar. I choose the USA Map Template and proceed.

Get Your Data Ready on the Map

Next, in Map and Data, MapBusinessOnline’s layer control, I check on the ZIP code layer.  This layer is a Boundary ZIP code map layer.  It does not include Point ZIP codes.  Read more about the difference between Boundary and Point ZIP codes here.  Understanding the difference between the two types of ZIP codes is critical if you require accurate reporting by ZIP. MapBusinessOnline integration with the USPS is a necessary element in successful business mapping.

I also imported to my map the included Public Data set of the complete USPS ZIP codes. This ZIP code point layer, located in the Plot Data dialogue under the From Server option,  including all boundary and point ZIP codes, plus a few extra columns like the sought after Placenames.

Next, I imported a “Customer” ZIP code dataset with sales data that would be typical for any MapBusinessOnline client.  The spreadsheet includes a column for ZIP code and a column for specific client data as noted below:

ZIP Codes Client Sales Data
01966 $719.21
02134 $578.50

You could certainly include more data columns in your data. You could import total addresses (a column for Address, a column for City, a column for ZIP) and include a column for client name, or the number of times visited. So far, no MapBusinessOnline customer has ever exceeded the number of additional columns allowed. Go for it. Expand your data.  Read more about importing customer datasets.

Importing user datasets into MapBusinessOnline is one of the most popular functions of the tool. The results of the import provide a map visualization of client locations with MapBusinessOnline pin orientation providing a color-coded thematic layer.

 

Cities and Towns are Place Names 

In MapBusinessOnline, cities and towns are presented in multiple ways and places. Both the ZIP code map layer and the Public Data ZIP code point layer include a Place Name column. Those place names are cities and towns. In a few places across the USA, a ZIP code place name may not be a town. At such places, a traveler may find only a few tumbleweeds and a dangling broken gas station sign. Pigeon Cove, MA is just such a desolate village, only a few years away from becoming a dogtown. For the most part, place names are towns.

A Boundary ZIP Code Filter

A quick approach to the original client problem above is to filter the “ZIP5Codes” boundary map layer in the Data Window.

  1. In the Data Window dropdown to and select the ZIP5Code map layer of boundary ZIP codes
  2. Click the Filter Button – that’s the funnel icon on the Data Window toolbar
  3. In the left panel of the Filter Window note in the dropdown all the layers available for filtering. Select the imported ‘customer-generated’ ZIP code sample dataset with sales figures.
  4. Select the Sales Data column on the left side and move it to the right side using the Blue Arrow.
  5. Click the “Change Columns” button in the lower right to update the analysis

Now the sales data has been added to the analysis. Place Names, AKA towns, are included too.  You can export the data by clicking the far-right Export Data button on the data window toolbar. Pretty slick.

Point ZIP Code Layer

Now, we still have that Public Data ZIP code layer included in our map.  We could use that layer to develop a more inclusive list of ZIP codes. Remember, the Public ZIP Code layer includes all point and boundary ZIP codes. So, in addition to the usual ZIP5 boundaries you get major military installations, congregate homes, hospitals, and skyscrapers – to name a few of the major point ZIP codes. A Point ZIP code is a place where multiple addresses or offices receive bulk mail delivery to one location ZIP code for distribution.

If I review my business map, I can turn my public data ZIP code point layer on and off and see that I have a few Point ZIP codes in my target area of interest. That’s one of the neat things about business mapping – when in doubt go to the map view.

To query the Public Data ZIP code point layer you need to first create territories or in this case, one territory.  On the Map select all the ZIP codes where you have data. You can do this incrementally by selecting a ZIP with your cursor and holding down the shift key, or by lassoing the group with a Polygon Search tool. Here’s a video on Territory Creation.

Territory Map View

What you are going to do is search that huge list of all ZIP codes – points and boundary type – by territory. This is a spatial search in GIS terminology, so add that to your resume. To conduct that search of the total imported Zip code point layer by your territory or area of interest:

  1. In the Data Window select the ZIP code point layer, labeled “ZIP codes 2020(May.)” Now you’re targeting the entire list of boundary and point ZIP codes across the nation, so you won’t miss any
  2. With the ZIP codes data layer selected, click the Yellow Puzzle Piece Search Territories button in the middle of the Data Window toolbar
  3. Choose from the three reporting options:
    1. Search data within selected territories (Choose which territory to search)
    2. Search data outside of any territory (this is a neat option you may need someday)
    3. Search data inside all territories (Append your ZIP codes 2020 layer with the corresponding territory info.) I choose this third option
  4. Process the report and export the file to CSV format using the far-right Export button on the Data Window toolbar

The advantage of this report is that you can feel confidant you’ve captured all ZIP codes in the USPS system, and you’ve got them assembled by Territory, which can be helpful for sales analysis.

To review, this simple customer request led us to a variety of functions using MapBusinessOnline:

  • Created a new map
  • Imported customer or user data
  • Imported the full ZIP code dataset from Public Data
  • Filtered the ZIP5Code Map Layer
  • Created a territory
  • Conducted a spatial search by territory

A word about accessing MapBusinessOnline

We recommend that our users access MapBusinessOnline via the free, downloadable Map App: https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Apps.aspx  

The Map App accesses the mapping tools just like the web app you may be used to. The install is fast and easy. Since it’s a cloud-based service, once you’re connected through your login you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience overall and provides access to more features than the web app.

The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for non-subscriber map sharing. Best of all, the Map App avoids Adobe Flash Player which is scheduled for cancelation in December 2020. The Map App works for both Mac and PC computers.

You can still access MapBusinessOnline through a web browser by using this link: https://www.mapbusinessonline.com/Map.aspx This link is scheduled to expire in December when Adobe Flash Player support is scheduled for termination.

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline or contact us with an interesting use case, in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

 

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How to Adjust Your Sales Territory Map Using MapBusinessOnline

MapBusinessOnline is often used by business map users to create sales territories. Sales territory management tools in MapBusinessOnline enable territory creation in multiple ways:

  • Incremental administrative district (city, county, state, ZIP code) selection – Pick ZIP codes one-by-one
  • Freeform or drive time/distance polygon tool lasso of administrative districts
  • Excel spreadsheet territory data import
  • Data filtering of the ZIP code layer
  • Other creative user approaches to developing territory areas

Once a MapBusinessOnine territory has been created, map creators have options for adjusting the look and feel of the territory map.  I’ve written about tweaking territory map settings before, but we often discover new approaches to territory management worth mentioning in a blog.  Let’s talk about your sales territory realignment  options.

Map and Data Tools

As with all map layers in MapBusinessOnline, easy territory map adjustments can be achieved readily through the Map and Data box. Hover your cursor over the territory layer and click the Edit Gear when it pops up.

Under the General Tab you will find adjustments for several aspects of your territory map’s look and feel:

  • Line Adjustments – These ‘lines’ are your territory’s boundary. Change their color, make them thicker or thinner. I like darker outlines but that’s up to you.
  • Hide Internal Boundaries – This checkbox will hide any internal boundaries for your territory. If your territory was based on ZIP codes, this checkbox makes those ZIP code boundaries disappear. This creates a cleaner, more focused territory map.
  • Fill Adjustments – The checkbox turns the color fill of your territories on or off. The transparency scrollbar, to the right, adjusts your territory fill from opaque to transparent.
  • Color Code by Data – This option provides the ability to color-code your territories by imported data values or by demographic data.

Use these tools to better define your territory’s look and feel. Make it plain and simple without internal boundaries. Or, reset the territory with no internal fill at all, just a nice thick territory boundary in blue or red or whatever color works best for your map audience.

Map and Data Labels

Also, in Map and Data, you’ll see the Label Tab along the right.  Click into the Label area and explore the options within the map labeling software. Here you will find the ability to adjust text size, text color, text centering, and boldness. Text controls help emphasize key aspects of your map. You’ll also find:

  • Format Labels – Click here to append data to your territory labels. You see you can add up to five flexible data fields. Append MapBusinessOnline demographic data or your imported data. Numeric data will aggregate or sum by territory. Data appending labels are great for sales reporting through map sharing.
  • Color Code Display by Label – This tool lets you color-shade the actual territory label by a color-code scheme.

Use these label controls to add aggregated data values to your territory map or to inform your map audience of demographic characteristics associated with your territory areas.

Where did Map and Data go?

 

Map and Data Territory Options

The Map and Data Territory Options tab let map creators allow or disallow territory overlap. To identify overlapping territories MapBusinessOnline color-shades  those areas with a user-defined color. Map viewers will know that overlap exists for territories when they see a stand-out Bright Red or Black. You decide.  The map viewer can then click on the territory to explore ownership further.

Other Map Layers

In Map and Data, the map user can adjust other map layers (ZIP codes, counties, states) just like the territory map layer adjustments outlined above. All map layer adjustments work the same. Try some adjustments to other layers, keeping in mind that too many layers and labels can detract from your map’s core purpose. Keep it simple.

Adjustments from the Map

MapBusinessOnline users can also access map adjustment tools from the map view. Looking at your territory map, notice the Territory Label.  Click the Territory Label to access tools.

The selected territory label launches a mini-toolbar. It includes six buttons.

  1. Add to Territory – Use this Blue Puzzle Piece button to add or subtract administrative districts from a territory.
  2. Search – Conduct a spatial search for data within your territory.
  3. Summarize – Create quick data analysis accessing demographic and imported datasets.
  4. Zoom to – Quickly Zoom in. Use the back button on the Navigation Scroll Bar to reverse the zoom action.
  5. Properties – Change the territory name, adjust the territory fill color, and access Label formatting.
  6. Delete – You guessed it. Delete the territory.

Tweaking the Territory Scope

To add or subtract one or more administrative districts from a saved territory, click the target ZIP code, county, state, etc. Hold down the Shift Key to select more. When ready, click the Blue Puzzle Piece button. Now select the operation you wish to apply: Add, Remove, Update, Intersect. The Data Window pops up to confirm the selection.

You could also conduct a new Drive Time/Distance or Polygon search around the territory center point and perform the same update. In this way, a map creator could shift their territory construction from simple polygon lasso to a drive time-based query.

Whichever method you use to reselect administrative districts, the Blue Puzzle Piece button makes it happen.

Additional References for Territory Map Management

Here are links for more details on sales or operational territory creations and  management:

Here are two key videos around territory creation:

MapBusinessOnline provides all the tools you require to create or manage your territory mapping. It’s the best replacement for MapPoint available.

______________________________

Are you using the MapBusinessOnline Desktop App for MAC or PC? It’s hipper than Instagram and it comes with your subscription. Read about the latest updates to the Map AppNow with Viewer App for non-subscriber map viewers.

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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MapBusinessOnline Releases Downloadable & Free Map Viewer App

CORNISH, MaineAug. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — SpatialTEQ Inc., publisher of North America’s leading business mapping software Www.MapBusinessOnline.com, announced today the release of a free Map Viewer App, part of the MapBusinessOnline Map App download.

The Map Viewer app is for non-subscriber access shared business map views per year. The downloadable Map Viewer is free for anyone desiring access to shared maps. The MapBusinessOnline Map App now includes an in-app registration process for easy set-up.

MapBusinessOnline business mapping software provides affordable yet advanced map-based market analysis, map visualizations, sales territory mapping tools, with access to business listings and a comprehensive library of demographic data for general business users across the USA and Canada.

The MapBusinessOnline Map Viewer provides a set of features, in addition to map views including:

  • Point-to-point optimized vehicle routing for up to 150 stops per route
  • The ability to conduct geospatial queries on shared data
  • The ability to export geospatial query results
  • Jpeg and PNG map image save and export functions
  • Optional password protection

All MapBusinessOnline subscribers can share maps for public viewing as part of their subscription. The Map Viewer is included with all Map App downloads and is available at no charge at the MapBusinessOnline.com website. Shared Map Viewer sessions can be password protected for added security and to limit data access.

Updates for the Map App and Map Viewer occur through the included Map App Updater or from Map App launch. The MapBusinessOnline Apps, once installed, are in the Windows Start Menu or the Mac Applications folder.

The MapBusinessOnline Viewer is one of five apps packaged within the MapBusinessOnline Map App download. The newly released Map Viewer is available at no cost for both Mac and Windows PC machines. The tool provides non-subscribing users with interactive map views of business visualizations, sales planning maps, and territory alignment, independent of web browsers.  All Map App applications are cloud-based services and require Internet connectivity. The complete list of apps included in the Map App download is Compatibility Test, MapPoint Map Conversion Tool, MapBusinessOnline application, MapBusinessOnline Viewer, and MapBusinessOnline Updater.

About Map Business Online                                                                            

From the creators of BusinessMAP, www.MapBusinessOnline.com has been providing sales & marketing professionals with affordable and intuitive cloud-based business mapping software, for Mac and PC users, since 2010. Design, edit, and share maps that reflect your business. Create and manage sales territories that drive accountability into your sales force. Conduct map-based market analysis. Generate location-based business intelligence. Replace discontinued Microsoft MapPoint with MapBusinessOnline. Access optimized multi-stop routes to drive down travel costs. No other mapping software solves so many problems for such a small investment.

Contact: Geoffrey Ives   245148@email4pr.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

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9 Common Business Problems Solved with MapBusinessOnline

Every day we speak with MapBusinessOnline users about how they solve business problems with our business mapping software. Below are some common and interesting applications of the tool.

My Company Needs to be More Aware of Our Competition

A simple import of a location-based spreadsheet will provide a map visualization of your competitors which you can share with your constituents as required. You can compile that address list of competitors in several ways:

  • Have an associate go online and collect all the addresses of major competitor locations into a spreadsheet. Be sure to have a column for Name | Address | City | State | ZIP | Other. Import that spreadsheet into MapBusinessOnline and view the arrangement of competitor locations symbolized to stand out from your location(s). Include home location for traveling salespeople, major customer locations, and any other critical resource locations
  • Search for the competitor in the MapBusinessOnline Business Listing service. Business Listings search is included in MapBusinessOnline but the data download of listings is paid for at $0.15 each. These listing include contact info and some basic sales and employee data for each company.
  • Travel to each competitor’s location and collect latitude/longitude points. Pull that data into MapBusinessOnline. Be sure to dress incognito and if questioned, speak with a heavy Romanian accent

With your competitor map published, you can share the map with your associates.  Have your associates download the free Map App which now includes a Map Viewer App for non-subscribing Windows or Mac map viewers.

Our Traveling Nurses are Crisscrossing Paths During the Day

Sales territory assignments clarify account or client responsibility, reducing inadvertent crisscrossing of paths, and allowing for 25% more face-time per client.

Travel efficiency is a major problem for companies that service people in the home or require salespeople to travel from account to account. Travel costs and traveling clinician time drive expenses up. It’s important that nurses, salespeople, or service techs are not crossing and recrossing paths all the time. That sort of redundant travel expense can put a company out of business, fast.

Use MapBusinessOnline territory management tools to assign clear accountability for clients and account based on ZIP code or County territories. MapBusinessOnline territory management software addresses common challenges like overlapping territories, aggregated sales totals, travel metrics by territory, and demographic analysis by territory for workload balancing.

The tools come complete with editing capabilities for easy and fast territory adjustments to accommodate business changes. Access optimized routing for efficient sales planning. MapBusinessOnline is easily shared through a free downloadable Map Viewer App – one of several apps available through the Map App. Shared maps include the ability to route for Map Viewers.

I Need a Map Displaying all our Customers for a Strategic Planning Session

Probably the most common applications of business mapping are related to customer visualizations. Import your customer address list and view plotted points on the map with assigned symbology. Adjust symbols as required and consider color-coding symbols based on sales, client status, or some other value metric.

Importing an Excel spreadsheet of customer addresses requires no more computer experience than working with spreadsheet software or using and Internet web browser applications like Chrome or Firefox.

We’re Planning on Expanding. What Cities are our Best Options?

Market Analysis is a more advanced use of business mapping software. MapBusinessOnline Standard or Pro editions provide excellent map-based market analysis tools for defining current markets and extrapolating the success gained in a known market towards the best options for success in new areas.

The first thing I would do is create a territory around a current known business location. Add key demographic data categories to the territory analysis view that you know best defines your current sales success. These demographic categories could be population, income, ethnicity, or gender-based. You choose.  Try different demographic subjects. Import many of them and then view the Data Window analysis in MapBusinessOnline, adjusting the view for different layers arranged from largest to smallest values. Some of these demographic options can be combined using MapBusinessOnline’s Calculated Data Columns. This will stimulate discussion of your market and help to define what makes your current business successful or not.

With all this information now at your disposal, add the City Limits layer to your map. Assign the winning demographic categories to your city limits layers view to find the optimum cities. Duplicate your home-based analysis over the target cities. Or, if you already have a list of possible cities, focus on that list and choose the top three.

I Need to Share Sales Results by Salesperson

Building on the territory mapping tools outlined above, MapBusinessOnline sales territory mapping provides a sharing platform within which a map creator can upload sales results by account and then aggregate results by territory for display.  Map viewers have access to the Map App which includes the Map Viewer App.

By merging periodic sales reporting with sales territory maps, the entire sales team is informed about goals, progress towards goals, and has access to account information.  The sales territory mapping platform of MapBusinessOnline offers a chance to focus a sales team on a shared view of the business, defining accountability, comparing results, and sharing success and failure experiences.

We Need to Select a Group of ZIP Codes and Export the List with Population Data

Selecting a group of ZIP codes is easy in MapBusinessOnline. It can be achieved in multiple ways:

  • Create a radius map using the Search Tool – a Circle Button on the Master Toolbar. Grab that circle and drop a point on the map, set a radius, and Go! Choose the ZIP code layer to search and name that resultant marketing list
  • Input an Address into Address Bar (blank white space) in the upper left-hand corner of the application. Click the Binocular button to the right. Note the Map Point on the map, choose the Circle button in the mini toolbar presented
  • Import a list of ZIP codes and then Color Code the ZIP Codes based on your imported data
  • Import a list of ZIP codes as a territory import

There are many ways to group ZIP codes. Once you have them grouped, select the group and from the associated mini toolbar choose the Summary Button, better known as the Greek letter Sigma (a sideways M.) This lets you select any Demographic Data Category with population at the top of the list. Export the resultant data as required.

Summary Options

If you created a territory out of your ZIP code list, go to the detailed territory view and use the Choose Column button in the lower-left to launch a simple but powerful Database Management tool.  Grab Demographic Data in the left-side dropdown and push that Data to the right to load up your territory analysis with population, income, ethnicity, or other demographic categories. Once again, export as necessary. Read more about Radius Maps for Population Data.

My In-laws are Coming to Visit – I Need a Quiet Places to Hide

Whenever my in-laws threaten to visit, I pull up a MapBusinessOnline map and change the base map layer to National Geographic.  This layer outlines rural and urban park areas. These tend to be places where wild animals lurk. Mothers-in-law are generally frightened of wild animals and thus they avoid regional and national parks. These areas have quiet pine needle strewn walking paths, perfect for quiet reflection about why it was you got married in the first place.

Forested paths are often unmarked or unclearly marked. It’s easy for older folks to lose their way. There are often large roots across the walkways that are easy to trip on. These trails can be slippery when wet. It could be dangerous for in-laws to travel on these nature trails. So, be sure to warn them away.

Or maybe not.

My Boss Wants a Coverage Area Map Describing Our Two-State Service Area

Coverage maps are used to communicate the areas covered by a business service such as:

  • A sales organization
  • Traveling medical practices
  • Delivery services
  • Rental agencies
  • Mobile marriage counseling

In MapBusinessOnline, a coverage map could be established by ZIP code, county, state, or city limit. Coverage area maps tend to be ZIP code maps, but a state map is easily done.  MapBusinessOnline offers a State Filter button in the Map and Data box. Simply select the Filter button on the Map and Data toolbar and choose the states you need. In that way, you’ve limited the scope of the coverage area map to your selected states and you could still overlay ZIP codes or other map layers by manipulating the transparency and boundary options for each layer in Map and Data.

Coverage maps can be shared through the new Viewer App for non-subscribers to view. The Viewer App is included for free with the Map App download.

How Can I set up a Variable, Shared Data Record in MapBusinessOnline?

This workflow is designed to allow an A or B input, adjustable by a set of map users.  It would require a shared MapBusinessOnline Team Subscription.  In this example, the map user client is a mobile healthcare organization. They want to confirm a visit has taken place by looking at a recent map view. See  the video to visualize the workflow.

  1. Create an Excel address spreadsheet of Clients/Patients.
  2. Include a column for Visit Status. Prefill a Column of Status records as required. Have at least one record of each possible response in the column. In this example: Required or Visited.
  3. Color code the Point Layer by the two record status options for the variable data column.
  4. Make sure teams members  are set up in a shared MapBusinessOnline subscription and with access to the shared map
  5. Team members access the map after Visiting the client. They select the address record and in the Data Window view, edit the Properties and Data of the record to now read Visited as opposed to Required

The required Variable text is user-defined. Use Yes or No or some other convenient descriptor appropriate to your business operation.

Send us your cool applications of MapBusinessOnline.

______________________________

Are you using the MapBusinessOnline Desktop App for MAC or PC? It’s hipper than Instagram and it comes with your subscription. Dump Adobe Flash Player!

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline or contact us with an interesting use case, in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

 

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Four Ways to Arrange Labels on Your MapBusinessOnline Business Map

Last week a ex MapPoint customer asked a question via chat: How can I arrange a label so that it doesn’t overlap other info on a ZIP code map?

While the options for controlling label placements in MapBusinessOnline are easy, the answer to the above question is more complicated than just ‘click here and select an option.’  There’s more a MapBusinessOnline user can do to optimize label placement.

Call Out Adjustments

MapBusinessOnline labels are associated with map layers, imported points, and territories. Imported points receive a Call Out label. These can be turned off selectively – one at a time – or they can be all turned off or all turned on.

To rearrange a Call Out orientation, simply click into the Call Out label and click the little Edit Gear in the right-hand corner of the label – between the Route Car icon and the Close option. Here you’ll find a clock face upon which you can select the call out position around the clock. You can also choose Compact Call Outs in the Map and Data imported data layer.  In Map and Data hover over the layer, click the Edit Gear, choose the Label tab and then find the Compact Call Out option.

Map Layer label options include the ability to adjust the font size and to choose the Zoom Level at which most of the labels begin to appear. Select the layer in Map and Data as noted above, then under Label, scroll to the bottom of the panel, and under Auto Labels try a few different options for size and Zoom level.

The above instructions are two quick ways to optimize label placement. But, for a detailed business map, that you’ve invested your precious time into, you may want to consider a few more points of optimization.

Zoom Level

The map Zoom Level, controlled in the upper right-hand corner of the application, can always be adjusted. Zooming in on the map will reveal more detail, and ZIP code labels will become more numerous as the map displays larger ZIP code areas but a fewer ZIP codes overall.

This zooming-in process requires your review in terms of Map Clutter. Are your labels still effective at this Zoom level?  Are there too many ZIP code labels displayed or is it just right?

As mentioned above, all labels have an adjustment that controls and defines the Zoom Level at which a set of labels appear. In Maps & Data choose the layer you want to edit, click the Edit Gear – Label – Auto Label.  Here you can set County labels, ZIP code labels or other map layer labels to appear at specific zoom levels.

Remove Superfluous Labels

Consider adjusting County labels and State labels too.  Do you even need a state layer label turned on?  States are largely referential and perhaps just a light state boundary is all that is required.

In general, less is more on a business map.  Chances are good, your executive team is filled with busy people who may require spoon-fed reporting and business map reviews. Don’t make them hunt and peck for information. Get your business map point across quickly and efficiently. Bad mapping probably won’t ruin your reputation around the office, but a solid business map, ripe with the right content, will be remembered.

Get the MapBusinessOnline Desktop App for MAC or PC? Enjoy the new Map App capabilities and watch for more advantages in the future. Escape Adobe Flash Player now!

Map Layer Transparency

Each map layer includes boundary and fill transparency controls. Accessed through Map and Data under the General Tab, these controls let you decide exactly how much color you want to display on the map and that fill layers opacity.

In general, I follow these “rules” for map layer adjustments.

  • State layers do not require a color fill or a label. A boundary is sufficient to define a state. If your map viewer doesn’t recognize a state boundary, send them back to elementary school. States are generally used for orientation only.
  • Counties are optional and usually only add value if the territories have some county-level basis.  Still, on certain maps, like COVID-19 maps, counties may be the focus map layer.
  • ZIP codes are generally the key map layer and should be color-shaded to reflect your map’s core purpose. Always allow as much transparency as you can without losing meaningful definition.
  • You can always apply different background maps. Be sure to try background map options to determine which background adds the most visual value.

These rules are just guidelines. Play with the tools to get used to the options you can apply.

Think ‘Easy on the Eyes’

Assume that your map viewer just woke up with a vicious hangover and the first thing they’re going to do is look at your business map. Keep the colors subdued. Make borders obvious, but not too thick. Always support your business map’s intent when adjusting the look and feel of your map. Don’t make your map viewer have to think too much.

I like to use pastel shades and colors. I tend to avoid bright colors unless I am highlighting something to make it obvious and critical to the map viewer. If your map is a territory map, and you’d like to add some drive time polygons to support your analysis results, consider developing a second map that focuses on drive times.  Do not try to solve all problems with one map. That’s a classic rookie map move.

Cloropleth Map

Business Maps Provide Situational Awareness

Remember, your business map serves many purposes.  Business maps provide map visualizations of business realities or possible business futures. Business maps serve to communicate concepts present facts to a business audience.

Business maps should be a thorough analysis of business situations designed to make constituents aware of periodic results or strategic threats and opportunities. Business mapping services provide reporting to update business teams with tracked results or project statuses.

Labels and call outs are critical elements of any business map. Choose their placement wisely and help those labels to emphasize your map’s purpose.

______________________________

Are you using the MapBusinessOnline Desktop App for MAC or PC? It’s hipper than Instagram and it comes with your subscription. Dump Adobe Flash Player!

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline or contact us with an interesting use case, in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Pandemic Mapping & the MapBusinessOnline Viewer

2020, the year we all realized our lifestyles were precious and subject to forces outside of our control.

I suddenly realized it on a Friday evening in mid-March 2020, as my wife and I walked across a few streets in Portland, Maine on the way to our favorite Chinese restaurant, Empire. I pay close attention to the news, and I thought to myself, “This could be the last time Barb and I go out for dinner for a year or more.”

Although we have actually gone out to dinner since then, as restrictions in Maine were relaxed, dining out is no longer normal. All Maine restaurants must serve diners outside, with adjusted menus, and in many cases, plastic cups for beer. A plastic beer cup isn’t a disaster, but when you live in one of the craft brew capitals of the world, it kinda sucks.

Fortunately for us, the reported case and death rates for COVID-19 have been comparatively mild in Maine. Early intervention by the State and general compliance with the Governor’s latest rules on the part of Mainers, have kept casualty rates low.  I know this is very tough for certain Maine businesses. After all, tourism is our largest industry.

Work at MapBusinessOnline has proceeded without restriction. Business has hung in there well, thanks to our loyal customer base and the fact that our business occurs almost exclusively online.

But it is interesting to watch our customers shift their use of business mapping software as a tool for pandemic mapping. What are the application challenges MapBusinessOnline customers are approaching with business mapping software during the greatest epidemic the world has experienced since 1917?

Equipment Tracking

As companies return to business as usual, or close to it, many businesses need to track down where all their equipment is located. Delivery services, rental agencies, and businesses supporting all kinds of field services were shut down on short notice.  Many projects and service operations were simply dropped where they were. Equipment may have been left on job sites all over a particular area of interest.

Business maps can help gather a list of equipment last know locations. These lists can be geocoded or plotted on a map by address or latitude-longitude coordinate. Equipment location visualizations are nothing new to MapBusinessOnline.com.  It just another business reality that can be managed using mapping software.

Job sites and equipment locations are often imported into MapBusinessOnline as latitude/longitude coordinates.  MapBusinessOnline includes a background map option for “Satellite Imagery with Streets.”  I like this view for job sites because it includes a view of building and building footprints. The imagery isn’t always ‘satellite’ imagery. It is usually fairly recent aerial imagery compiled by municipal or state government entities for planning purposes.

Equipment maps can be shared with non-subscribers.  Try the new MapBusinessOnline Viewer app.  Have your target constituent map viewers download the Map App (no charge.)  You’ll find all the MapBusinessOnline Apps now listed in the Microsoft Start Menu as you scroll down to the ‘M’ section of the list.

To use the MapBusinessOnline Viewer all your map viewers need to do is take the link you send them via email and click the link.  A web page will launch offering a choice to use the MapBusinessOnline Viewer or to install the Viewer if it is not yet installed. The MapBusinessOnline Viewer does not require Adobe Flash Player.

Read more about the MapBusinessOnline Viewer in this month’s MapBusinessOnline Newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter let us know via email or chat.  We always interested in suggested features of an online mapping tool.

Tracking Sales Activity

Tracking and comparing month-by-month sales results from 2019 to 2020 is on a lot of peoples’ minds. Sales results are easy to track on a business map. A simple import of a list of transactions by address viewed against a business map provide insight. You can import these records by month or as a year-to-date compilation. All location-based transaction data can be aggregated by ZIP code, county, state, or territory.

Such data aggregations mean that all the dots you see on the map representing company sales values will be summed by your choice of area. Most often our customers do this summation by sales territory. But the type of map layer focus depends on your business.  A Retailer might prefer to see results by ZIP code groups or by City limit.  While a manufacturing sales organization will be focused on nationwide sales results by region or division (available in MapBusinessOnline Pro).

COVID-19’s impact on sales results varies from business-to-business. Food services and airlines have been decimated. Internet Service Providers and cleaning services are booming. It’s more important than ever to have a complete grasp of accurate sales reporting.

Challenges like managing overlapping sales and or exposing gaps in sales coverages are well suited to business map visualizations. I will note that sometimes, new users expect to be able to replicate complex sales structures on a basic business map.  A full GIS application may be better suited than a business map for visualizing three or more overlapping sales coverages or product lines. But I always recommend that map creators keep their sales territory maps as simple as possible.

Additionally, during a pandemic online shopping has become a primary way to shop for basic goods – even groceries. Online mapping and route planning software can help you track deliveries and monitor delivery times.  Are your vendors or your own delivery services providing the best customer experience possible.

Creating a basic map to communicate sales results and account responsibilities will go far towards instituting organizational sales achievement. Maps with too many data layers, themes, and colors, difficult for the average salesperson to decipher, will be confusing and are likely to demotivate your team. Keep it simple. If necessary, build multiple maps to drive home more than one critical business idea.

Map Symbolizations

Symbolization is a pretty big word. But it covers an important concept. A dot or a triangle displayed against an accurate map of the USA can mean many things. In MapBusinessOnline, those symbols are available in the symbol library through the import and color-coding processes.

It’s possible to apply colored circles variable by value. For example, your colored circle can change from orange to red to reflect higher sales or more intense concentrations of  COVID-19 cases.  The circle can also vary in size, adding more visual cues for your map viewer.

A Dot Density Map Visualization

The application even includes Chart and Graph Symbols which I use to show value variations over time – by city county, state, or ZIP.

Sometimes a basic dot density map works wonders for exposing patterns across wide areas.  Importing large datasets, 5,000 or more records, and symbolizing the data with medium to small size dots can reveal concentrations of key criteria. Potential customers, epidemic outbreak locations, or just good old sales accounts can bunch up by city or business park leading to more effective contact or mitigation strategies.

I encourage experimentation with symbolization options in any business mapping tool. Mapping your business is personal. Based on your business’s sales pace, product price points, and industry type, certain symbols will optimize communication. Listen to your map viewing audience.  Over time you’ll learn what works best.

Avoid loud colors and overbearing symbols.

Mapping COVID-19

We’ve been tracking the spread of COVID-19 deaths by state and county.  I’ve tried to keep that focus consistent. I was very concerned about the Trump administration’s attempt last week to redirect hospital virus reporting away from the CDC. I am very much in favor of keeping data consistent and widely available.

Other organizations may require tracking of the virus by different factors. As long as the data provided has a location component – an address, lat/long, a ZIP code – it can be displayed on a map. MapBusinessOnline customers in the health care and health insurance industries have tracked the virus by hospitalizations, seeking to calculate risk as realistically as possible. COVID-19 risk factors impact hospital preparedness, PPE requirements, staff requirements, and insurance claim planning.

Coronavirus caseload statistics can swing rapidly over a ten-days. What a hospital system data analyst might hope is just a tick up, could turn into a full-fledged hot spot over a few days. A well-designed business map can depict those ups and downs visually, providing trends based on a period of days or weeks, valuable in triage planning sessions.

MapBusinessOnline can display the progress of the virus by jurisdiction and expose trends through color-coded or heat mapped ZIP code areas and counties.

So keep those cards and letters coming about how you use MapBusinessOnline during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Let’s make sure we document our pandemic experiences for our great-grandchildren, dealing with their pandemic a hundred years from now.

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We recommend users access MapBusinessOnline via the downloadable Map App.

The Map App install is fast and easy. The Map App is a cloud-based service, once you’ve logged in you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience and provides access to more features than the Web App. The Flash-based Web App link will remain available until December 15, 2020.

The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for free non-subscriber map sharing.

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline or contact us with an interesting use case, in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

 

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Two MapBusinessOnline Pro Features You Might Need Someday

MapBusinessOnline Business Mapping Software is used to solve a myriad of challenges.  Below are two specific problems that come up every once in a while.

ZIP Code-to-ZIP Code Driving Time and Distance Queries

Every so often a business contacts us with two lists of ZIP codes across which they would like to conduct driving time or driving distance queries from all ZIP codes in one list to all ZIP codes in the second list. So this is a complex twist on a ZIP code map.

We’ve always called this use of business mapping a ZIP-to-ZIP query.

Companies desire  ZIP-to-ZIP queries to derive a sense of what transportation costs might be from one ZIP code to another ZIP code across their vehicle routing network. This information can be critical for a business to accurately project expenses, monitor staff time on the road, or to develop delivery and visitation pricing for clients.

I’ve seen ZIP-to-ZIP queries used in the real estate business, in healthcare, in retail, and food services. ZIP-code to ZIP-code driving distance and driving time queries are estimates because a specific address not applied to the query. The point-to-point analysis is made from the Centroid Point or weighted average center of each ZIP. So ZIP-to-ZIP estimates may be used to ball-park a service call or delivery stop’s route time.

MapBusinessOnline Pro provides stock tools for this analysis in the Market Analysis button on the Master Toolbar. The Pro Market Analysis button provides the import process for placing both ZIP code datasets on the map and then continue with the analysis process.

Click the Market Analysis button. Scroll down to Market Analysis Batch Calculate Distance and Time Between Two Datasets, which is the Market Analysis option to apply. The results are generated as a spreadsheet in the Data Window.  The Pro map user can apply the Add Columns tool button (formerly More Data) to edit the columns in your query result to simplify the exportable report to match your audience’s needs. E.I., don’t overwhelm the boss with data. She hates that.

One thing to remember about driving time and driving distance queries – they cost money. Each Pro subscription comes with route/driving time credits but for large driving queries credits will be consumed.

Step-by-Step Instructions for ZIP-to-ZIP

  1. Import two separate ZIP code spreadsheets. These ZIP code lists can be imported, as usual, using the Plot Data button, or in the Market Analysis Batch Calculate Distance function itself. Either way, the resulting data import places two sets of points on the map. Each ZIP code from each dataset is represented on the map by a ZIP centroid point or central dot.
  2. Still in Market Analysis Batch Calculate Distance and Time Between Two Datasets. Carefully select which dataset is the Origin dataset and which is the Destination dataset. Usually, a store location, factory, or warehouse is the Point of Origin. Give this careful consideration before you run your query.  Remember, these queries cost money
  3. In the ‘Measure‘ dropdown select the type of distance or time analysis you’d like to apply:
    • Straight line distance
    • Drive time
    • Straight and drive distance
    • Drive distance and time
    • All distances and time
  4. If you want to get fancy you can set Time-of-day. This can come in handy when considering commuter traffic. MapBusinessOnline can apply traffic modifiers to the driving time and distance calculations based on time-of-day.
  5. Select a word or phrase that will describe your ZIP-to-ZIP exportable result. For Example: ‘Bus Route Time Estimates’
  6. Click Next, to generate the report. The results will be viewable and exportable from in the Data Window
  7. While in the Data Window, map creators can click the Choose Columns (formerly More Data) in the lower right. This opens an easy-to-use data layer management tool, which I would suggest you use to fine-tune your data before export:
    • Move columns around for optimized viewing
    • Delete superfluous data columns
  8. Export final results using the Export button on the far right of the Data Window toolbar

These multiple driving time and driving distance queries are not new to the world of mapping. What’s different about MapBusinessOnline Pro is that such analysis is available at an affordable price with results generated in a matter of minutes. Typically these sorts of GIS queries are expensive, require a level of expertise, and involve long wait times.

Setting Up a ZIP-to-ZIP Query

Enrich Your Imported Business Data

Another capability of MapBusinessOnline Pro is the ability to enrich data that you’ve imported into the application. An example was presented to me this week through a support Chat.  A user wanted to import a list of addresses with no ZIP codes included, only addresses.  Then he wanted to find the ZIP codes, add them to the data and export the list including ZIPs.

This is entirely doable in MapBusinessOnline Pro.

Scroll down to the Enrich Dataset button, the last option under Pro Market Analysis.

Import or Select your address data. In the dropdown select the Map Layer you’d like to explore for data – County, ZIP, State, etc.

Finally, choose whether you want to add Demographic or Geographic data to your dataset. In this case, it is geographic, because you want to add ZIP codes. Select ZIP codes. Click Next and then Done and the Data Window will display your enriched dataset. Export and take a bow.

The above two scenarios are just two examples describing how MapBusinessOnline Pro can provide unique and useful geographic solutions to business problems.

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Are you using the MapBusinessOnline Desktop App for MAC or PC? It’s hipper than Instagram and it comes with your subscription. Dump Adobe Flash Player!

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

Win a $20 Gift Card! Refer a business associate to MapBusinessOnline or contact us with an interesting use case, in exchange for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

 

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