Two Popular Data Extractions from Map Business Online

Extracting data from a business map shouldn’t be difficult. If it is, call and complain. In Map Business Online, downloadable data is generally viewed in the Data Window. The Data Window is a tabular view of data – your imported business data and our shared geographic map layers and demographic data. They all live happily together in the Data Window.

The Data Window is accessed by clicking the Spreadsheet icon on the master toolbar in Map Business Online.

Think of the Data Window as your map-based spreadsheet. Within the Data Window are many functions including:

  • The ability to sort data columns – Click the header of any column to shift the sort arrangement
  • The ability to filter data – Click the Funnel icon on the Data Widow toolbar to filter data column records by modifiers. Filter sales records by dollar volume or customer addresses by sales rep. modifiers include >, <, =, contains – all that good query enhancement stuff
  • The ability to select from a drop-down any map layer or data layer from the business map. View ZIP codes, imported data, or marketing lists
  • The ability to add relevant demographic data or imported business data to your map analysis using the More Data tab
  • The ability to manage, edit or delete territory alignment and territory analysis
  • The ability to extract ZIP codes from an area of interest or a territory
  • The ability to total data columns
  • The ability to copy and paste data rows into third-party applications
  • The ability to filter map and data views on by map view
  • The ability to extract data out of Map Business Online as a .CSV file

It is the extraction of imported business data or included MBO data that I am interested in discussing in this blog.

Data Extraction

Map Business Online users extract data from the application in a variety of ways. Sometimes the application acts as a search/filter tool for querying imported location-based data. These data results are turned into marketing lists or query results that can be exported as a CSV file using the right-most button on the Data Window Toolbar. Read more about filtering in Map Business Online.

A popular data extraction action in Map Business Online is a ZIP code list defined by an area of interest. That area could be a selected county, a group of counties, a territory or simply a map object, like a circle or a polygon.

ZIP code extraction is complicated by the fact that in business mapping, ZIP codes come in two flavors:

  • Boundary ZIP Codes – Geographic areas defining a five-digit ZIP code. What most of us think of as ZIP codes
  • Point ZIP Codes – Large facilities that are a single drop-off point for mail – Hospitals, Universities, etc.

Map Business Online users have two possible paths for ZIP code extraction. One exports all types of ZIP codes: point and boundary ZIPs. The other is more basic and simply extracts boundary ZIP codes. Any sales organization tracking sales will want to extract the Point & Boundary ZIP codes to capture all records

Extracting ZIP Codes by Map Object (Polygon or Circle)

To export just boundary ZIP Codes associated with a map object, follow these steps:

  1. Draw a Map Object and note the Search Data pop-up menu
  2. Select the ZIP5 codes layer (visible or invisible)
  3. Name the ZIP Code list and click Create
  4. Export using the Data Window Toolbar’s Export button on the right

Video: Extract Boundary ZIP Codes by Map Object (Polygon or Circle)

To export all point and boundary ZIP Codes within a map object, follow these steps:

  1. Import the complete set of USPS ZIP Code points
  2. Click the Plot Data button
  3. Choose the From Server option
  4. Select Public Data and scroll down and select the most recent ZIP Codes dataset listed
  5. Import the points
  6. Follow the above instructions for Map Object ZIP Code extraction, but select the ZIP codes 2019 layer instead of the ZIP5 codes

Video: Extract Boundary and Point ZIP Codes by Map Object

Demographic Data Extraction

Another popular data extraction exercise among the Map Business Online user base is the demographic data pull. The easiest way to achieve a demographic data extraction is to select an area of interest or a map object (circle, polygon,  a blob) and click the sideways M on the mini-toolbar associated with the area.  That’s the summary button.

Clicking the summary button opens a dialogue that defaults to our Demographic Library of data layers. Select up to ten categories for your pull.  Move those layers to the right panel, Click Next and save your data.

When conducting territory analysis, the Data Window’s More Data button will allow even more demographic layering and more filtering and query options. Once you’ve derived your demographic  results, export by clicking the right-hand button on the Data Window toolbar.

Data extraction in Map Business Online is easy.  And it beats tooth extraction, that’s for sure.

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

America’s best geo mapping software.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

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The Top 10 Map Business Online Help Videos for New Users

This blog/document is designed to provide a quick help reference for new users to Map Business Online.  It could also be useful for those of you who may struggle with technology. You are not alone. Plenty of successful people find themselves overwhelmed by technology today perhaps from lack of training, a stressful environment, or just by being born before 1990.

The below linked videos represent the basic business map processes most users conduct with Map Business Online.  

Getting Started with Map Business Online – An introductory video that is intended to familiarize the user with the basic functions of an online business mapping software.

How to plot data in Map Business Online from an Excel Spreadsheet Most Map Business Online users quickly attempt to import an address spreadsheet during their first session using our business mapping software. This video gives you the process from Spreadsheet development to map placement

How to create territories from scratch using Map Business Online – Territory mapping is a major use case for Map Business Online users. This video describes how to create a territory from scratch using your cursor and clicking on the map itself (as opposed to importing data to create territories – see next item)

How to create territories from an imported spreadsheet – This video walks the user through importing a spreadsheet of ZIP codes, counties, or states to create territories. ZIP codes and territory names are all you need for that map layer. If you build territories on counties, you have to include a State layer. Counties aren’t unique, like ZIPs

Drop a point, create a circle, gather demographic data using Map Business Online – Our chat support histories show this process to be a common request across the growing Map Business Online user base

Extracting ZIP code lists from within a county or group of counties – Another commonly requested technical support subject, getting ZIP codes exported from a county-based area or territory

Printing your maps using Map Business Online – Printing maps is as easy as printing a word doc, but can be a little tricky when you want to print a wall map.  Large format PDF files for plotter printing is totally doable in Map Business Online, but it takes experimentation. Try various approaches to get the map extent and the level of detail you require

What is a business map? – Tips on how to adjust your map’s look and feel so that your map audience gets your map point. Become the map master of your organization and rule the world! Or a map of it anyway

Searching for business listings in Map Business Online – This year we added business listings to Map Business Online. This video shows you how to access that data

Using the Map Business Online downloadable apps – Sometimes accessing a business map through a web browser has issues. Map Business Online downloadable apps lets the user create maps free of cumbersome web browsers. The Windows and Mac apps avoid Flash Player, so your IT department will like this

Bonus video: The Features Most Often Used in Map Business Online This video is a half-hour long. It covers a lot of basic ground. grab a cup of joe and settle in for some serious Map Business Online tips.

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

America’s best geo mapping software.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

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The Business Map Sales Incentive

Motivating a sales team is always a challenge. Every sales representative is different. Some are motivated by SPIF programs, others are turned on by longer-term big payoff incentives like an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise or a trip to Paris.

Selling incentive programs are great for certain types of salespeople, but they do not always work for the whole team. These programs tend to split the sales team into winners and losers, damping collaboration and fanning discontent.

Perhaps selling contests aren’t the best way to motivate a sales force? In many cases, SPIFs and contests can be a distraction to the company’s real goal – growing sales. A trip to Disneyland is a nice perk but competing for a trip to Disneyland often leaves most of your sales team feeling left out, as legacy accounts, personalities, and plain old luck, puts a winner over the top. About half your team will compete, and eighty percent will have sour grapes.

The most appropriate selling incentive program I know of is a crystal-clear understanding of the organization’s sales expectations and regular updates on the sales team’s progress towards those goals. Nothing incentivizes a sales team more than a clear understanding of what their supposed to be doing and the tools to get the job done.

A clear understanding of company sales goals is the best way to focus a sales team on what they need to do to achieve their quota. And the best way to share that information is with a sales territory map.

Sales Territory Maps Keep the Team Focused

Sales territory maps are map visualizations of a sales team’s coverage area. They visibly display the critical elements of a sales team’s goals and results:

  • Sales Territories by Area – usually ZIP codes or counties – define the boundaries of a sales rep’s responsibility. That’s accountability, a critical element to sales success
  • Sales Goals by Territory are displayed as trackable monetary values, labels associated with each territory or map layer
  • Progress Towards Goal can be displayed right below an overall goal, making progress towards goal an obvious and known quantity for all to see
  • Territory Maps by Rep or by Company – The ability to view one rep at a time or the entire company at a time is important. At times it makes sense to display all territories and drive the company forward. At other times more discretion may be required, and single territory maps may be more effective
  • Account Distribution – Some companies prefer to show sales reps just the accounts they own or customer maps, a business map can provide the tools for sharing all accounts or just specific accounts

Sales territory maps are easily and affordably shared either as sale meeting presentations or emailed links for more intimate sharing. Monthly or quarterly sales meetings are a great place to use business mapping tools to share success and failures in the field.

If there’s one thing we can count on in sales, it’s that circumstances are constantly changing. Markets fluctuate, products change, and customer requirements shift. Competitors rise and fall. Use territory maps at sales meetings or online discussions to describe sales account strategies that succeed and recount sales strategies that fail.  This is where salespeople learn.

Business Map Planning

Business Map users with geo-aptitude will find Map Business Online a valuable tool for sales planning and market analysis. Let’s face it, in today’s social media wrapped reality we’re all marketing analysts. In addition to territory mapping, business maps enable those with fairly basic technical skills to conduct their own analysis:

  • Review existing sales and marketing results against an accurate web map
  • Conduct demographic analysis by ZIP code or city to determine core customer characteristics
  • Search for and import specific prospect locations as business listings – access business listings from within Map Business Online
  • Search for new areas of opportunity based on past success

Now, why would your salespeople bother playing with maps?  Because it just might help them break through barriers to selling, explore new product opportunities, and learn more about the company’s perfect customer.

Not Everyone is a Map Geek

Be sensitive to the variety of personality types that constitute your sales team. Don’t expect everyone to take to maps naturally. Just as some people aren’t motivated by trips to Aruba, not everyone wants to spend time tweaking maps. You’ll be able to forward all reps interactive web maps for free with Map Business Online. For special cases who struggle with technology, you can send map image files via email. But for those salespeople who show serious interest in mapping, buy them a subscription to Map Business Online.

Go ahead and set up incentive contests if you want. Just make sure while your two or three sales wizards are rocking Cancun there’s still sales activity going on at home.

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

America’s best geo mapping software.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

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What is a Retail Business Map?

Retail stores live and die based on foot traffic. A successful retailer may sell online or even deliver products, but it’s the people who walk in the door that make or break the sales goals at retail.

A retail manager or owner must do all they can to:

  • Locate the store in the best possible location for walk-in traffic
  • Sell products or services that cater to the surrounding community
  • Advertise to the local retail audience with effective messages

Business maps are a cost-effective way to support each of those key retail requirements with regional business intelligence for optimized business decision-making. These process start by importing location data into a geo mapping software program like Map Business Online.

Where to Locate My Store

Locating a retail store in the inner city is a no-brainer because that’s where the people are. But there are always subtle characteristics that differentiate a good enough placement from the optimum store location.

  • Vehicle and foot traffic patterns
  • Neighboring retail store types – Red Light districts vs. residential neighborhoods
  • One-way or two-way streets
  • Where are all my competing retail stores located?
  • Other factors specific to the type of business

Beyond the immediate surroundings, retail store placement should take into consideration the surrounding demographic make-up of the neighborhood.  Within a two to three-mile radius, how many households exist? What are the general demographic characteristics of the surrounding community? The area’s ethnicity, income, and age characteristics are important considerations, depending, of course, on what you are selling. Creating a demographic map is a key step in the retail location process.

One example might be opening up a Chinese restaurant in China Town; which might make sense. But locating the fourth Chinese restaurant in a plain old downtown business district might be too much of a good thing for the market to bare. A retail business map with restaurant business listings plotted could help identify saturated markets.

A business map can assess the surrounding demographic characteristics within a given radius or within a certain driving time distance along the road network. This market analysis can quickly match a local clientele to products and services offered. By comparing various location center points using the same demographic analysis, optimum alternative locations can be considered.

Driving time polygons display the distances in all directions that a vehicle will travel along the road network, from a central point, in a given amount of time. Retailers typically want to understand driving time polygons of 20 minutes or less. Larger stores may be capable of sustaining customer interest across longer driving times. But in busy downtown shopping districts, driving times of more than fifteen or twenty minutes could be deal killers. People are busy. Traffic happens.

Driving distance polygons shift in shape dramatically when they include access to major highways. A five-mile home to store ride could be relatively quick when a two-exit highway jaunt is all that’s required. These are factors to be considered in a retail market analysis. How close is the store to a highway exit? How does using the highway impact driving times?

Who Will Buy These Wonderful Roses?

Likewise, a demographic assessment goes a long way to determining viability for planned products and service offerings. New product plans should take into account regional and local demographics to ascertain whether or not a viable market exists for the product.

High-income households are a usual suspect in the search for viable markets.  But other relevant Census categories may help fine-tune a retail market’s potential. For instance, furniture items planned for stock or blow-out sales could be more strategically placed where certain age brackets are plentiful within a twenty-minute driving time.

  • Recliners – Which ZIP codes contain the largest population of 60 to 85-year-olds within a 20-minute drive time of my store?
  • Love seats – Which ZIP codes hold the largest population of 30 to 50-year old females within a 15 minute drive time of my store?
  • Big Screen TV Stands – Which suburban communities contain the largest populations of NFL fans and Stoners, with incomes higher than $75,000 per year? (OK, those aren’t Census categories. Yet.)

Similar demographic market assessments could be applied to an overstocked product analysis. Chain stores with heavy inventory commitments might want to move product between stores based on customer demographic trends by neighborhood or ZIP code.

Communicating with Demographic Groups

Once a market’s viability has been established, the retailer must reach out to the intended audience. Marketing messages are presented to potential buyers through a variety of channels. Business mapping software can provide critical business intelligence supporting many channels:

  • Radio advertising covers large line-of-site antenna coverage areas. These market areas are approximated by Census MSA’s or Nielsen DMA coverages, combing area targets with demographic categories and historical response rates for specific classes of customers.
  • Printed media and newspaper fliers are distributed in conjunction with retailer offers. Periodical readership and ad response rates can be tracked by ZIP code and retail store radius areas, lending relatively exact measurements of specific message and offer success. Test, measure, and mail!
  • Retail stores are rolling out online offers to passing cell phone traffic to gauge the effectiveness of real-time offers as people shop.

Understanding the demographic DNA of your surrounding community is critical to retail placement, product offerings, and marketing messages. Viewing your business from the perspective of driving time distances helps to develop a realistic assessment of the local market.

Retail business maps are the X-Ray vision glasses retail managers need to succeed.

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

America’s best geo mapping software.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

Posted in Business Mapping Software blog post, Sales and marketing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is Maine Really an Incubator for Geospatial Business?

You bet Maine is an incubator for geospatial businesses. Map Business Online is incorporated in the state of Maine, just outside of Maine’s largest city, Portland.  Our building is located forty miles west of Portland, in Cornish, ME. But Maine has been an incubator for geospatial technology for decades.

Known for lobsters, rocky beaches, and the craziest ex-Governor on the planet, Maine is also an incubator for location-based services, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GPS devices, and business mapping software. Who knew? It has a significant GIS history with an offshoot community of business intelligence software companies to-boot.

In the very beginning, Maine’s acceptance into the Union as a state was very much map related.  The state was added to the United States as part of the Compromise of 1850. The state of Maine offset an additional slave state, preserving the peace for the Union during the decade right before the Civil War.  Thanks, Maine!

Future Maine Governor Joshua Chamberlain standing before a map of the Gettysburg battle

Roll it forward a hundred years and one David DeLorme, a Yarmouth Maine native, just back home from a tour of duty in Vietnam, convalescing after suffering a serious wound on patrol, decided to go to northern Maine and get some fishing in. In so doing he found the published fishing maps available were completely inadequate for in-vehicle or on-foot navigation. That was all it took. “I can do better than this,” he thought. And he did.

Gathering all the published maps and government-issued maps he could get a hold of, and working with ground-truth of his own making, David created the first Maine Atlas & Gazetteer, launching DeLorme Mapping. Eventually, DeLorme became one of the premier mapping companies in the world, creating the first digital street map database of the whole USA on one Compact Disc – Street Atlas (quickly knocked-off by Microsoft as Streets & Trips.) DeLorme also developed early personal GPS devices for in-vehicle navigation, and especially off-road travel and recreation. Famously, Delorme’s Yarmouth Maine facility boasted the world’s largest rotating globe named Eartha.

Yours truly (me), cut his GIS teeth at DeLorme from 1998 until 2011, where I headed up the business mapping division for a few years. XMap, DeLorme’s professional map making tool, was used by many energy industry field-services organizations to track assets and create compelling and informative map-based data visualizations. A key XMap innovation was enabling team map editing and GIS support for less than $1000.

In 2016, DeLorme was purchased by Garmin Inc., the GPS device giant. Garmin still maintains the Delorme building in Yarmouth, ME. Eartha’s magnificent blue brilliance continues to light up Route 1 for travelers headed North into Maine through Yarmouth.

The now Garmin lobby containing Eartha, the world’s largest rotating globe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As DeLorme grew, so did other GIS and map-based companies in the state of Maine. Esri, the big Kahuna of GIS worldwide, opened up an office in Portland Maine in the mid-2000s to take advantage of the growing geospatial talent-base. Esri geospatial software development takes place there in support of a variety of markets around the world. Many of those GIS developers working at Esri Portland are ex-comrades of mine from DeLorme.

Further north in Central Maine at Hallowell, www.BlueMarble.com  is a geospatial software development company focused on geodata translation.  BlueMarble publishes Global Mapper, an affordable GIS offering 3-D map development and support for Lidar collected point clouds. Once again, ex-Delorme geospatial developers can be found at BlueMarble. Notice a pattern?  One geospatial company in an area will beget many more.

Vetro Fiber Map is another Maine-based GIS company servicing the entire USA. Vetro Fiber Map grew out of the need for a map-based visualization and planning tool describing complete telecom fiber networks with a focus on expanded high-speed Internet access for all communities.  The tool supports fiber installation contractors, town planners, and consumers as the country seeks to expand Internet access to all rural areas, providing improved healthcare support, access to better-paying jobs, and all the information you can Google. Vetro Fiber Map is the shared brainchild of  Will Mitchell, an old DeLorme vendor, who sold MapInfo back in the day.

Moving up the coast of Maine to Camden, a traveler will uncover yet another pocket of geospatial software development. Penn Bay Solutions focuses on internal facility or indoor GIS in addition to classic geographic mapping. Penn Bay caters to federal government opportunities and is a long-time Esri Gold partner.  These guys are taking the concepts of location-based services indoors. Think hospital mapping and military installation mapping.

Even business maps are fun

There are plenty more businesses in the State of Maine focused on GIS and business intelligence.  Here at Map Business Online, we’ve helped Tyler Technologies to manage shared map intelligence across their internal network.  Maine is home to an array of aerial imagery and LiDAR collection and processing companies providing GIS services for businesses and government organizations nationwide. And of course, there are a plethora of small GIS consultants around the state catering to municipal and general business geospatial requirements.

Although Map Business Online is not the first company software company to turn imported address datasets into intensity heat maps or customer visualizations we’ve done a great job making those tools affordable and easy-to-use.

At Map Business Online we get calls every day, from all over North America, from business mapping users seeking a replacement for MapPoint territory mapping or Delorme Street Atlas in-vehicle GPS tracking. We do our best to fulfill the geospatial nd mapping analysis needs with our services or send people in the right direction to get their requirements met. But it’s kind of nice to stop and consider how the State of Maine served as an incubator for the geospatial industry in its own unique way.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

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Plot a Point – Draw a Circle – Query the Population

When you get two or three inquiries for the same business mapping software functionality on one day, either the same person is requesting help over and over again, or the functionality is suddenly popular.  Either way, I figured that the repeating request was worthy of a blog post for Map Business Online users.

The requests for help came in over our new chat system and also via our traditional tech support email service. “How do I create a radius search from an address and derive the population density for the circle’s area?” There were slight variations in these tech support requests, but the gist was exactly the same for each one.

The fastest way to achieve the end result of population within a circle area is presented at the bottom of this blog post. But, all the requests asked about plotting a point, creating a circle, and then collecting the demographic data, so I wanted to follow that process first.

Placing the Location Point

Placing a point on the map in Map Business Online is achievable in three ways. They are, in order of complexity:

  1. Address Bar – In the upper left-hand corner of the application input the address for the center point of the desired circle or radius search: 19 Norwood Avenue, Rockport, MA (Zip code is optional). Press the Binocular icon and notice the point plotted on the map with an associated mini-toolbar
  2. Plot a Draw Tool Point – From the master toolbar, seven buttons from the right, drop down to the bottom option and select the Drop a Point feature in the draw tools drop-down. The button turns Green to denote a selection is active. Click on the map to add a location. You will have to add that map point to an existing point layer or create a new one. Follow the Add or New dialogues. Once saved, a pin symbol will appear. Notice, once again, the associated mini-toolbar next to the plotted point.
  3. Import a Spreadsheet of address or lat/long locations using the plot data button five buttons in from the left on the master toolbar. All of the imported points will have the associated mini-toolbar when selected. Simply follow the dialogues presented on the map to achieve this.

Select the Radius

In business mapping, we refer to often refer to maps with circular map object as a radius map. To select a radius and draw that circle, look to the mini-toolbar I mentioned three times above. That little toolbar is hanging off of your plotted point.  You will notice a Circle button, and a jagged Polygon button (which is a Drive-time button.)  Choose the Circle Button.  After making your selection, choose a radius distance for the Circle and then click Add to Map.

Now you have some options to consider with regard to the circle-shaped map object you just created. You will find a Circle dialogue box on the map that will enable:

  • Adjustments of the radius (You can also select the map object and rag it bigger smaller or to a new location)
  • Boundary or line controls for adjustments to color and thickness
  • Fill color and transparency options for the overall map object
  • Map text options to associate a label or text with the map object
  • Change the order of database layers on top of the fill area – for easy data selection when you’ve got data on top of or underneath the map object’s color fill

Try each one of these options to get a sense of how the radius tools work. You will find all the map objects you create in Map Business Online work in a similar fashion.

Querying the Population

Now you have dropped a point on the map and created a circle with a specified radius. Nice job!

With your circle Map Object placed on the map, select the circle with your cursor and click the Summary Button – a sideways M on the mini-toolbar. The summary dialogue will appear, presenting data options for the user to apply to the area of the circle. You can pull ten demographic selections into this proforma spreadsheet table. Map Business Online’s demographic categories and layers are right there for you to choose from.

Population seems to be the popular Demographic category for this point/radius/query request. But there are many options in the Map Business Online library. Please note the various options listed for population:

  • 2018 demographic categories are on the top. Drill down for older years. 2018 and 2017 (our two most recent years) are projections from a third party specialist
  • Population options include the overall population, population density by square mile or kilometer, and then further down are population by age, ethnicity, gender, and whether most people in the area are dog or a cat people. (Just kidding on that last one – we all know everyone’s a dog person)
  • And certainly, there are boatloads of other demographic categories available to add to your query. Just scroll down the list.

A map user in this situation may also select imported data and calculated data from the data drop down options.

A Radius Search

Export or Add to the Map

Once your summary list of data layers is set, click Next and decide what to do with your data. You can export the data or add it to the map as a map note. You can also copy the data and paste it somewhere else.

Use cases for a quick radius search of population are many, but I’m guessing most users want a quick assessment of an area population to determine:

  • If the area justifies sending a salesperson in to make sales calls
  • If the area is the right place for a new retail store, bank, or service location
  • If a retail kiosk makes sense on a street corner

Manually Drop A Radius Search

Perhaps even easier than dropping a point and drawing a circle is selecting a Radius Search tool from our set of search functions located eight buttons in from the right.

  1. Select the Radius Search tool – it displays selected when it turns green
  2. Place a Point on the map with your cursor
  3. Select the radius distance desired
  4. Select the circle’s mini-toolbar Summary Button – that sideways M
  5. Choose the Demographic data layers associated with population that suit your analysis

Quite a few options to choose from, but all using parallel pathways and providing extremely fast ways to define an area and collect the corresponding population data.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

Posted in Business Mapping Software blog post, How to instruction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What is a B2C Map-Based Market Analysis?

Map Business Online provides a series of location-based tools that can be used for a variety of market analysis tasks:

  • Expansion Planning – Decision making and planning around new retail locations, new warehouse locations, or new health care centers offering medical services to an underserved community
  • Competitor Analysis – A thorough study of where your competitors are located and the markets they cater to, throughout their field of operation
  • New Market Identification – By combining location intelligence containing existing transactional sales data with demographic information associated an existing coverage area, new market profiles can be developed that suggest the most lucrative areas to replicate sales success
  • Imported Data Proximity Searches – Compare Store addresses to Customer addresses to determine groups of customers with X miles of a store. Append distance measures and demographic data for more insight.

Depending on what your business is up to, these various business analysis tools can be brought to bear and will be useful in moving your business forward.  Below are some general steps to take when setting up a map-based business-to-consumer market analysis, exposing the best potential growth areas for the future.

Import Transactional Location Data

The first step in the market analysis process is to consider the location-based business data you’ve got on hand and import it onto a map. Look to your accounting office for this transactional data. It should be sales data associated with an address. Viewed against a map, sales data describes your current theater of operation – it’s where you do business.

Market analysis develops from an understanding of your current theater of operation.  Viewing sales data on a map defines your area of operation.  Is it national, regional, or local?  Is it defined by states, counties, city limits or ZIP codes? Some companies understand their area of operation, others not so much, but a map view is always eye-opening.

An airline’s area of operation will be defined by states or countries. Airlines could be more regional, but the business of flying doesn’t make a lot of sense at a ZIP code level.  Whereas, a waste management company makes perfect sense at a geographic analysis level of city limits, ZIP codes, or counties. What is your company’s geographic base unit – ZIP code, county, or state?

Define the Character of Your Area of Operation

Where you do business may be the result of happenstance, or perhaps it was deliberate planning. Regardless of how your business got there, to begin with, it is now your area of operation and it has a character or a demographic make-up.  Your business caters to certain types of consumer customers who make decisions based on their interest in your product or service. Demographic data associated with your company’s geographic base-unit will expose:

  • Income levels high enough to justify a consumable expense on your product
  • If the population of your area of operation is enough to justify the business offering
  • If the population interested in the offering is identifiable by ethnicity, gender, or age
  • One or two consumer spending categories that correlate with sales of your product or service

The magic of using Census generated demographic data is that the myriad of data categories offered can all be arranged and analyzed by ZIP code, county, city or Census tract. This is extremely powerful for market analysis.  It means your business’s area of operation can be described by its demographic breakdown. Demographic categories that can be directly associated with your existing sales success are the tell-tale signs of where your success will be replicable in other areas of the nation. “That’s Gold Baby!”

So, think about it.  A general magazine stand, to be successful, requires a large population of people walking by.  A store dedicated to male fashion magazines requires a lot of men passing by. A kiosk selling jewelry is going to want exposure to a large female audience. Know your business’s top three demographic signatures – and remain open to new ones.

Create a Baseline Business Map

To properly conduct market analysis, expect to build a couple of maps. Use the first map to establish your existing theater and area of operation.  Consider it a baseline map – a worksheet to develop your market analysis.

Use the first map to describe your existing business geographically. Import your sales data, review various demographic categories that impact your business, and develop the extent of your area of operation.

Drive time polygons are extremely helpful in developing areas of operation for B2C business maps. Drive time queries generate polygons from a central point. The polygon represents travel in all directions along a road network for a given time. Retail stores, home delivery operations, and service organizations often depend on limited drive times for customer convenience, delivery timing, and minimizing the company’s travel expenses.

Test a few polygons based on ten-minute up to thirty-minute drive times. Take some population measurements at each time increment. Pay attention to the density of your imported customer location points on the map against the drive time polygon boundaries. Select the polygon area that you feel represents your core area of operation. It should include the densest areas of customer locations. Don’t fret about stragglers in outlying areas. Think – “How far will the average customer drive to get to our store?”

If drive time seems difficult to consider due to heavy commuter traffic times, or geographic obstacles like rivers, mountains or parks, consider a simple radius search instead. Sometimes a simple five-mile circle is adequate in defining an area of operation. Don’t over think this. Cover 80% of your customers.

Experiment with Various Views

Be patient as you build your business analysis. Take the time to review a variety of area options, demographic categories, and geographic map layer options. Remember maps are an approximation; there will never be a perfect map of your business. The executive board will look for certain data layers, the sales team will want to see their own key metrics.  Keep your map audience in mind.  Read more about building compelling business maps in other blog posts. Remember the focus of this map is developing a baseline for further market analysis.

Create a Territory

Once you’ve got a sense of your rough area of operation, select the drive time polygon or radius search you just created and click the Binocular icon on the associated toolbar.  Choose a map layer to search – usually ZIP codes – and name that Territory or area of interest. The resulting “territory” will define your realistic area of operation by ZIP code, enabling a thorough market analysis view in the Map Business Online data window. ZIP code selection based on a polygon or radius will inevitably encompass a larger area because ZIP code boundaries will overlap random polygons. Consequently, your final area of interest will include a little bit more of your imported customer locations.

From the Data Window Territory view, Click More Data, in the lower right.  Access imported data, and demographic data on the left panel drop down and pull those key demographic layer columns into your map analysis by moving those data columns on the left to the right. You can create summations of demographic layers and formulas out of demographic data layers using Calculated Data Columns and access those in More Data once created.

Feel free to adjust your polygon to better reflect your operating area. Run your business map by a few different people in the business to get their sense of optimum coverage. Once your primary operating area map is established take note of the demographic characteristics that are associated with your most successful areas of transactional business to date.  You will use these demographic categories in the next map to establish the best operating areas for expansion. You’re halfway there!

Baseline Market Analysis Map

Build a Market Analysis Map

Now it’s time to create your second business map, designed to expose the most lucrative areas of potential for growth. Starting a new map keeps things clean and the original analysis is saved for later reference.  You know, like when the boss slams the table and asks, “Who the hell decided we should use that demographic for our analysis?” #Workingforaliving #BlameBenny

For a broad market analysis choose map layers like ZIP codes and City limits. Take some time and build demographic data into your market analysis map. In both the ZIP code layer and the City Limits layer:

  • Create calculated data columns that combine age, income or other category layers that best reflect your target demographic
  • In the Data Window review both the ZIP code map layer and the City Limits map layer. Use More Data to pull key demographic data categories and calculated data columns into each map layer of the analysis. Don’t overdo it.  Three or four categories are plenty to analyze.

I like to start with City Limits as the first pass analysis. Find the cities that make the most sense for your business. City Limits is an Additional Map Layer retrieved from the Blue Earth icon Add Map Layers button on the master toolbar.

In the Data Window, select the City Limits layer and use More Data to add demographic layers by House Hold Income, Population, or a more relevant layer to your business.  Filter the cities by the key demographic layer, applying a user-defined value that will return a full list of lucrative cities. For instance, filter for cities with a High-Income population of 50,000 or more. Try to filter this list down to the fifteen or twenty candidates.

Tweak your filter quantities in the Data Window to adjust the returned data to your liking. Remember, demographic data varies. People in your business may expect to see Chicago on that list. If it’s not there, understand why it’s not there. Review the data and use your head.

Export that City Limit layer to achieve a point layer and re-import this data using Plot Data. Use this imported data to set up a Market Analysis layer with circles around the center of each city. See video. You can use Map Business Online Market Analysis (option 1) to create up to 200 circles automatically.  (Sometime in April/May 2019 drive time polys will be automated too.)  Use those inserted circles to create territories from the circle impacted ZIP codes.

Pull up that first Territory in the Data Window and using your business’s critical demographic categories for the Territory Layer (pull from Demographic data or set up in Calculated Data Columns) add those layers to the territory using More Data. Now continues making ZIP Code territories in the centers of those City areas. All territories created will include the demographic data you just set up in territory one.

Once you feel you created enough territories, review the demographic make-up of each area territory.  Does the data make sense? Are there other categories you want to include in the analysis? Pull up the Territory Layer in the Data Window so all the territories are listed. Filter that Territory list for the most important demographic category in your analysis (in your opinion.)  For example, look for all the Territories carrying a median household income level of more than $100,000.

Now all those territories that fall into that demographic filter will be listed in your Data Window view.  These will likely be your top opportunities.  You should filter based on other demographic factors too.   Do this to make sure you haven’t missed a key city or two. Consider each result:

  • Do all cities come up with each filter few? Should they?
  • Are there cities missing that your company has been discussing? Why are they missing? Figure it out.  Don’t wait for a meeting to have the results get panned.
  • Have you missed a key demographic category? If so, go back and fix that.

Try to include an existing area of operation in your analysis for comparison purposes. Create one territory based on the location of your existing facility of facilities. Highlight it on the map.

Generate an Excel Report

Once you’ve finished tweaking your market analysis you will want to generate an Excel report. Export the Data Window view of all the best-proposed territory areas. Map Business Online will export this data as a .CSV file.  Convert it to an Excel format to match the format most of your viewers will use.

In your Excel file or in an attachment include some textual content explaining your business logic in generating this report. Encourage alternative ideas and be willing to rebuild the map as necessary.

Highlight your existing territory in Yellow for comparison purposes.

Take time to review the report and remove data that doesn’t add value.

Now present your findings to the powers that be.  Good luck!

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

 

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How to Append Data to Labels in Map Business Online

Importing a spreadsheet of relevant business addresses is pretty easy to do in Map Business Online.  That first map view of your business data, neatly arranged and labeled against a map of the USA or Canada, is pretty thrilling for most first-time users of the tool.

But the next step most users want to achieve is appending those imported point labels with information that is important to their analysis – however simple or complex that analysis might be. Map creators often seek to:

  • Append their imported points with demographic data provided by Map Business Online
  • Display relevant business data they’ve also imported underneath map labels
  • Display a critical data element that may require adjustment by users
  • Add information to a map layer label such as a ZIP code or a county

Customers want that ability to append data to labels for a whole bunch of good reasons. Some maps are for sharing across a business system and several key demographic categories may be important to decisions making.  An example might be a call center making determinations on repair or replacement orders.

I had a guy this week who wanted every imported address label to display the number of registered vehicles associated with each local. Another user had interest in noting the number of interns hired by each Senator across all Congressional district layer labels.

Labeling can pull appending information from imported data, demographic data, and Map Business Online’s Calculated Data columns.  Calculated Data Columns is a function in Map and Data available within each Map Layer (county, state, ZIP) that lets the user create a calculation across two or more columns. The formula options include summing, subtraction, and ratios.

I’ve had customers who would like to append summations of demographic data, such as the population older than age 65 years, or a formula combining high household incomes divided by the number of children of elementary school age.  This calculated data can be referenced in map layer auto labels (explained below) or used as a basis for color shading.

Callouts and Auto Labels

In Map Business Online we refer to imported data labels as Callouts, and map layer labels (ZIP codes, counties, states) as Auto Labels.  Callouts are labels associated with points on the map.  Auto labels are labels associated with map layers like ZIP codes or Counties.

Label management is accessed either by selecting an imported point Callout/Auto Label on the map itself or by selecting the targeted layer in the Map and Data box.  When you select a point’s Callout, a menu pops up. Click that menu’s Edit Gear and then click Format Callouts. This opens up a panel that will allow the Map Business Online user to:

  • Adjust the Callout look and feel
  • Append imported data columns to the Callout
  • Append color coding data values to the Callout

The Callout label is associated with imported address or Lat/Long data only.  You can change the imported dataset name at the Map and Data box or the Data Window by hovering over the layer name and clicking the Pencil icon.

By selecting the Callout label a mini-menu is generated. Click the Edit Gear on the mini-menu to append data to the Callout. In the resulting dialogue, a user will find a General tab and a Callout tab.  Use the General Tab to adjust symbol sizes and colors. Down below in the General tab is the user’s opportunity to edit the data associated with that Callout.

Under the Callout Tab a business map user can adjust the position of the symbols, format the text of the callout, and to edit the fields of imported data used by the Callout label. Click Format Callout to access the data options. You’ll have five flexible fields that can be filled with data, supplementing the automatically included Name and Address info associated with the Callout.

Auto Labels

On the business map, as mentioned above, the user also has customizable control over map layer labels or Auto Labels. This gives the map creator the ability to pull from imported data or tap into included demographic data and append that information to map layer labels.

Appending auto labels with demographic data means business map layers, like ZIP codes, can be color shaded to reflect a major demographic theme, such as median income, while the labels for each ZIP code could display up to five additional demographic category values such as:

  • Male population
  • Hispanic population
  • Number of rental units
  • Consumer expenditures on beauty products
  • Number of housing units of a given decade

Or the map creator can mix it up by appending some fields with demographic data and other fields with imported data.  Whatever floats your map’s boat.

This label flexibility lets the map creator spoon-feed their map audience the data most relevant to the map’s purpose. It could be critical data for a customer presentation or simply referential to strategy discussions around the conference room table.

Auto Label Formatting

To access Auto Label tools, go to Map and Data. Hover your cursor over the target map layer and click the Edit Gear.  Choose the label tab along the right vertical.  There are two functions here.

Along the bottom of the dialogue are Auto Label controls for text color, font size, and bold controls. Here you can choose to show auto labels or not.

Please notice the “Start Labeling From” option. Pay close attention to this option.  In the associated drop down the user can adjust the map zoom level at which the labels appear. This lets you maximize the presentation of labels at a given zoom level. It allows the map creator to turn on as many ZIP codes as possible at a full USA view. Experiment with the zoom level option to get a feel for when your map layer labels show up.

In the same dialogue, you will also find Format Labels.  Click into format labels to append data. Make sure on the top tabs you’re clicked into Auto Label.  The Custom Label option works the same way as Auto Labels but controls pop-up labels when the map viewer hovers over a ZIP code or county.

When you click into Format Auto Labels you will find the five flexible fields listed in order. Check the #1 option and use the drop downs to access available data for appending the labels. Tweak the Prefix as required.  Just like the Callout function, auto labels formatting provides up to five fields to append data to.  Click Change Labels when finished.

Auto Labels and Callouts pepper a business map with information. Always tweak the settings and consider appending fewer data. Ask yourself if the data you’ve appended adds significant value or if instead, it detracts from the map view. Business maps are a balance between too much data and not enough data. Find the sweet spot in the middle. Tweak sizes and colors. Ask a colleague for their opinion.

A business map with a little extra time and tweaking will serve your map purpose well and emboss your name in the annals of cartography.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

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Printing Options in Map Business Online

Chances are, your business map is carefully crafted. You’ve spent time thinking about visualizing your business, adding a variety of layers, and importing the key elements of location data that support your map purpose. Now you want to print or save map views for sharing.

With Map Business Online you’ve got a variety of options. You will find the below options available when using Map Business Online:

  • The print button on the master toolbar – Print to your desktop printer or save as a large format PDF
  • The save map image file button – save as either PNG or Jpeg files
  • Windows Snippet or Mac capture image tools
  • Interactively share the map view with constituents as public or privately shared maps

I suppose you could conduct a screen capture using your Print Screen button, but so many of us have multiple screens these days, making this happen is a time-consuming option.

Your Print Orientation is Landscape

Map Business Online printing or image file views are by nature, landscape views. That is, the map layout lies across your screen as a rectangle, long-side down.  So, to maximize your printing area output you want your printer settings set to landscape. By approaching all print operations as landscape first, you will save time and paper.  Every so often a state view like California or Texas may require a modified portrait view, but that will be an exception.  Keep things set to landscape.

Printing to 8-1/2 x 11 sheets of paper to your desktop printer should be pretty easy.  Click the print button and choose the top option, “Print current map view – the Printed map will fit to printer paper.” Once the print file is rendered and a map title is selected, Map Business Online hands the file off to your desktop printer. That’s where you control the process on the printer side – be sure to set up the landscape layout option.

Wall Maps

The lower option within the Print button is to create a large format PDF file for a plotter print.  This approach requires some experimentation and patience. We’ve included this because it gives the Map Business online user the ability to generate wall maps.

I’ve outlined this process in detail in this earlier blog post. We’ve tried to make this large format process as intuitive as possible, but it is complex. Take your time. follow the instructions and experiment with the following settings to get things to your liking:

  • Center on Current map View or map Area Defined – try both.  I prefer center on current map view.
  • Map zoom level – how far zoomed in you are, makes a big difference. Try it at over zoom and under zoom levels.
  • Paper sizes – You can go up to 60″ x 60″ or 5 feet by five feet. you see the Custom options. And here you can tweak the sizes to force a portrait or more landscape perspective.

Remember the large format PDF process saves as a PDF. It takes a few minutes for a large wall map file to format. But then you’ll be able to tell if its right for you by reviewing the PDF – as opposed to printing a humungous print job. If it ain’t right – delete it and start again.

And for printed maps of Texas or California, the large format print options with the totally customizable paper sizes may be your best way to go.

Image Files

To the right of the Print Button in Map Business Online is the Save as Image File button.  Use this option to save your map view as a PNG or Jpeg image file.  These files are great for email attachments or presentation graphics. But keep in mind, these image file views do not include Data Window or Map & Data shots. MBO image files only display the map graphics.

If you want an image file to include a Data Window view, use the Snippet tool or the Mac equivalent. Set your map up with your data component as desired and then create a Snippet shot. That’s what I use when I want to show you images of the Map Business Online user interface in my blog.

A Snippet file insertion

Data Window Copy & Paste

You do have the option to copy the Data Window tabular views into an Excel document. Simply pull up the data window and then click the Copy Past button in the lower right; just to the left of More Data.  That opens up the copy options.  Click copy when ready and paste into Excel.

Sharing Maps

If sharing static map images isn’t the best solution for your business, perhaps sharing an interactive map would do it. Map Business Online allows a vast amount of free sharing options designed to get interactive maps in front of your constituents quickly and efficiently. These shared maps do not necessarily require subscriptions, every Map Business Online user gets to share 100 map share sessions a month at no cost. In addition, these shared maps include routing and the ability to print maps. Read more on map sharing here. 

Printing maps is really just another way of sharing your work. Maps are for sharing and communicating concepts and business plans. Enjoy your map work.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

 

 

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What Is a Business Map?

A business map is a geographic visualization of a business’s key elements for the purpose of planning or analysis. Business maps generally employ administrative map layers, such as ZIP codes or counties, and may or may not include a base-map background.

The key business elements of a business map will vary, but often include:

  • Customer sales activity by address or lat/long coordinates
  • Prospective customer locations
  • Brick and mortar locations of key resources
  • Demographic data through data append, color-shading or labeling
  • Sales territory alignment
  • Relevant location-based industry data
  • Transportation and route data

Key business elements are relevant to the map owner’s specific business realities. A clothing retailer will build a very different business map from a hospital system’s planner. In this way, business maps are subjective and dependent on their owner’s specific business systems and challenges. Their creation should be approached with care, an awareness of the map’s specific purpose, and a strong sense of the map’s viewing audience.

The Business Map Creative Process

A business map is a visual platform that derives unique perspectives from organizational location data.  Maps for business are used to communicate concepts that benefit growth or stave off disaster. Each business map has a specific purpose. Know your map’s purpose.

Business maps encourage the discussion and analysis of business challenges. Your map’s purpose will be along the line of solving problems. Here are a few examples:

  • To analyze and adjust next year’s growth strategy
  • To display the baseline sales territory alignment structure of a business
  • To expose new market opportunities based on current successful sales activity
  • To create the most efficient route for Area 9’s delivery services
  • To expose bottlenecks across a nationwide delivery network
  • To clearly define the operating areas of major competitors

With the map purpose firmly in mind, the map creator begins building a business map.  Keep it simple is the rule. Avoid adding map layers that do not support your map purpose.

Be aware of your map audience. Presenting a map to the management team is radically different from posting a map for the warehouse crew. Know the difference. For instance, don’t include salaries on warehouse maps unless it’s your last day.

Map Layer Choice

Your map may benefit from the use of administrative district layers like ZIP codes or counties. Think about your business. Are counties or ZIP codes referred to often? Do your salespeople travel within specific ZIP code areas or farther afield in county areas? It’s possible they cover various states.

Turn on only those layers you feel are most critical to representing your business on a map. I like to turn the States layer on for reference only – to make the map viewer feel oriented. I leave state boundaries on with dark colors, and the color fill set to off. In general, I turn state labels off to avoid clutter because most people know what state they are looking at.

Color choices for map layer fill, and all map object filled areas, should be understated. Make your map easy-on-the-eyes of your map audience. Pastel colors inform. Bright colors scream. Obnoxious colors and overbearing symbols detract from your map’s purpose. Save the brighter color for one, maybe two, key highlighted areas – if they are related to the map purpose.

Demographic Data

Demographic data is Census collected and processed data that is optimized for geographic map applications. This data lets the map creator color-code ZIP codes or counties based on population variations, median income increments, household statistics, consumer expenditure records, and many more business-related characteristics of modern life.

There are hundreds of categories and variations of demographic data available for map analysis. Choose your categories carefully. Avoid posting too many demographic themes and overwhelming the map viewer.

Color-shading ZIP codes or counties by demography should add relevant meaning to your map analysis. Color-shade based on the most relevant layer. Append demographic data to labels only if they add value to your map purpose.

Use understated colors.  Build graduated colors of red, green, or black to make a point with color.  Typically, red is associated with deficits, black with surpluses, and green with good stuff in general. Stick with traditional color associations. Don’t make your map audience have to reinvent common associations to comprehend your map. Always keep it simple.

Not relevant telephone data

Imported Data Layers

Importing customer and prospect sales data by address into a business map is a critical element for a candy machine company making a business planning map.  Importing billboard locations for a marketing firm managing billboards is a critical element for a marketing map. Neither of those businesses would require an imported dataset of hospitals because it is not critical to their business purpose. Only import data that is relevant to your map purpose.

Imported data layers will require symbols on the map. If you have thousands of data locations, consider using small dark dots sometimes referred to as a dot density map. Dot density maps show clusters of locations across your operational coverage areas.

Keep symbols small but visible. Useless obtrusive colors to avoid clutter and distraction. Make sure map symbol colors standout from background colors. If you’ve bothered to import data or to include a map layer such as ZIP codes, we already know it supports your map purpose, so make sure the map audience can see it.  Towards the completion of your business map, make it is not unusual to take fifteen minutes to tweak color shading and symbols choices.

Alternatively, you can express the numeric value columns of imported data as a heat map layer. Heat map layers on a business map express numeric values as color intensities. Heat maps depict business activity as gradations of hot or cool colors across an adjustable area. A heat map layer is a great way to show how sales patterns or where most deaths from the plague occurred in 1347.

Map Background

Map background options vary widely. Try the options available. Based on your business map goals what background options best serve your map’s purpose? Background map options include:

  • Standard street level data
  • Topographic and land cover maps
  • Satellite and aerial imagery data
  • Plain color shaded backdrops
  • Nothing at all sometimes referred to as ‘nudie kazoo’

Labels & the Map Legend

All text and labels on a business map need to be succinct.  No one wants to read a missive on a map. If they see lots of crowed small text, your presentation is over. Restate all data layer labels, map text, legend lines with as few words as possible. Abbreviate where possible. Just make sure the required identifications are readable, sensible and relevant.

  • Use a map title to pull together the entire map purpose
  • Make sure the legend layers are necessary – there’s no need to have a legend line for a State layer used for reference
  • Make sure all text on all labels, legends, and text notes are sized and color shaded to be readable
  • Use background colors on text boxes that enhance readability
  • Make sure text box colors do not conflict or blend in with the underlying map area colors

Are you getting tired of reading about your map purpose and keeping maps simple, relevant and readable?  Good.

Tweak It

I know you’ve been working on your map for a while. You’re excited about it and you want to go public with it. But take a moment to review the map and adjust things. Here’s a list of adjustments I will make as my map nears completion:

  • Are all the various labels across my map consistent? Imported data labels are usually oddball filenames not conducive to map communication. Tweak them
  • Does the map’s demographic color shading interfere with other aspects of the map? Tweak it
  • Are labels the right size font, and bold for this map? Tweak them
  • Are the legend layer text layers succinct? Are there layers listed that add no value? Tweak
  • Try turning map layers off to see if their absence degrades the map. If not – leave them off
  • Try various colors for a plain map background to see what looks the nicest

Perhaps reading this business mapping blog overwhelms you.  If so, take heart. Working with business maps is fun and rewarding. Few big wigs are going to want to build compelling maps, so it’s a great way for you to enhance your value to the organization by creating business maps that add value to decision mapping processes.

Typical USA White Male Corporate Big Wig

Remember, a business map is used to communicate business concepts visually. keep it simple, focused, and relevant.

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.  Discover Map Business Online – tools for making maps by map makers.

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

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