What Good Are Concentric Circle Maps?


Like a circle in a circle, like a wheel within a wheel… The Thomas Crown Affair understood business mapping and concentric circle maps. Well, at least the theme song did.  And I preferred the Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway version. A concentric circle map is a map with a series of circles of varying radii all based on the same center point. Grammerly is going to torture me for opening with this paragraph.

A business map describes your business or aspects of your business in relation to an accurate map of the world. It could reflect a sales territory, an enterprise strategic plan, or  an emergency buffer zone. Your map could be a drive time area with demographic estimates of how many people may be attending the school fair next week or a block-by-block political polling campaign. In the same way that a MapQuest map might describe your vacation plans, a business map describes your organization’s  business.

Radius Map

A common and basic type of business map is the radius map.  Although junior high geometry defined radius as the line segments from a circle or sphere’s center to its perimeter, in business mapping a radius map is simply a map with circle map objects layered upon it.

A radius map is useful for gather information about an area defined by the circle. The drawn map object, in addition to visually depicting an area of the earth, defines a specific confined area in the form of a color shaded and outlined circle. That shape can be used to search or segment imported data or application data layers.

In Map Business Online users can access radius draw tools in two locations along the master toolbar.  Both radius buttons are located to the right of the Clear Color Coding button, just right of center.  Use the first drop down to search for data more directly.  Use the further right draw tool option to simply draw circles on the map for reference – you can always use the Binocular button to search a drawn object after creating it.

Search Circle

To search for data, select the left side Draw a Circle option. Upon mouse hover the button reads, “Search Data in Circle.” Click to activate the button which will now display a Green selected status. (If you do not have imported data to search for this search option will alert you because it wants to look for data.) Drop a point anywhere on the map. A dialog pops up asking you to define the radius distance of the circle you’re about to draw.  Change the number to match your desired radius and hit return. Your business map now has a circle on it.

All imported data layers will now be displayed as options for a data search. Choose one data layer to search, name it and save the result. The Data Window will pop open showing your result.  Export the data in CSV file format by clicking the far-right button on the Data Window toolbar. At this time only one data layer at a time is searchable.

Looking at the drawn circle, you will note a small toolbar located close by. This mini-toolbar provides tools for editing, zooming to, deleting or adding data to your circle. You will note:

  • Binoculars Icon – look for more data in your circle
  • Summary Button – Quickly create a demographic analysis for export based on your circle. This is a handy tool for fast market analysis
  • Zoom Button – Zoom the map view the circle map object
  • Edit Gear – Adjust circle fill color, line thickness and color, change data order, transparency
  • Delete Button – Delete and start over

Draw Circle

This time use the Draw Circle on Map  Button to the right, by clicking the drop down options.  Typically, an ABC icon (Add Text to Map) fills the button, but it could also be the icon that represents the last Draw Tool applied. Click the Draw Circle option. Once again click anywhere on the map and add your circle.

Concentric Circle Map

Concentric Circles

Concentric circles are one or more circles layered on top of another circle with varying radii (the plural of radius, don’t you know) but using the same center point.

You can accomplish this in several ways.  Draw your circle as noted above. When done, click the Circle tool again and drop a point right on top of the last center point. Choose a different radius. Now you have two circles on top of the same center point. You are a now officially concentric circle user.

Another way you can approach the concentric circle operation is to begin by entering an address in the address bar. Try it. Above the master tool bar, left side, enter 80 Main St, Albany, NY.  Pres the Binocular icon. Your map will zoom to that address. You’ll notice a mini tool bar under your placed map point. To create a circle, click the Circle Icon. Adjust your radius distance and press return.

In this case, to create a concentric circle of varying radii, click the map pin to get the tool bar to reappear. Now press the Circle icon again and adjust and repeat as necessary. More concentric circles.

Business map users use concentric circles to define gradually increasing areas of coverage for:

  • Defining territory responsibility
  • Communicate delivery fees by zone
  • Store locations & coverage areas

Congrats on your new membership in the concentric circle club. We’ll bill you later. Right now the gang has a Hula-Hoops of Varying Size party to attend.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.

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How Do Corporations Apply Business Mapping Software?

Large and small businesses seek new perspectives, business intelligence, and improved operations through the application of business mapping software. Enterprises do this for both strategic and tactical reasons. Enterprise mapping enhances business processes across the organization.

For years, corporate America has been well served by Microsoft MapPoint as a tool that provided business maps for enterprise and corporate planning. But with MapPoint’s cancelation, most business mapping services are now cloud-based, easy-to-use and completely affordable. And I assume you realize all that old MapPoint map data is more than a decade old. It’s time for corporate planners to start researching their options for business mapping tools that help maintain a competitive edge in sales and marketing, while improving efficiencies across the entire organization.

Strategic Applications

Business mapping provides strategic advantages because business analysis supplemented with geographic views can enhance strategic planning with location intelligence. Corporate managers come and go. Strategies tends to shift based on who’s calling the shots – we’ve all experienced this. But location intelligence anchors your strategic decision-making process to Earth-based realities. A zip code will reflect specific sales volumes, Census based demographics, patient activities by zip code, and competitive presence in zip codes – these are realities that don’t shift when the latest Guru shows up. By leveraging that location information across a network of zip codes, strategic direction can be quantified, goals set and progress measured against goals.

Strategic plans based on location intelligence are definable –easily explained to your team. Consider the difference between this:

  • Folks we believe you can grow the business by 25% next year by redoubling your efforts.

And this:

  • We’ve identified our best performing zip codes across the USA and established a preferred zip code profile in areas where we do not currently sell product. By focusing in these specific prospect areas, we believe we can grow our business by 25% next year. Here’s the list of zip codes with the highest potential.

Enterprise level strategic processes that can benefit from business mapping include market analysis, competitor analysis or even business expansion planning. A true strategic plan should always include location intelligence at some level. Virtually any analysis related to customers, facilities, prospects or staff can be enhanced through business mapping.

Communicate Accountability with Clarity

Business maps are visual. They provide a visual assessment of a business plan that can be instantly understood if the maps are created carefully. Business maps are also easily shared and are therefore excellent tools for gathering feedback or simply communicating the strategic or tactical message your teams need to understand.

Business maps drive accountability because they offer real, often physical boundaries that define responsibilities for field workers, teams, and managers. By establishing clear lines of territory control and accountability, perhaps with company sanctioned overlapping highlighted, managers are taking the guesswork out of field work flows. Reduce ambiguity through business mapping.

The Tactical

Business mapping software is applied tactically by large enterprises to effectively manage field teams in operations such as home care staff management, insurance claims management, field technician coordination and basic field sales planning. Corporate departments and teams use mapping tools to visualize groups of customers or prospects for contact or visits. Insurance companies visualize claims, ATM companies visualize bank machines, billboard advertising firms visualize billboard placements. Sales departments across all business create sales territory mapping.  The list goes on. Route planning tools are available for folks who travel and to organize field work around areas of responsibility.

By defining coverage areas and territories, business managers assign tasks and objectives related to physical addresses or points on a map. As mentioned above, territory maps help define areas of accountability. Optimized routing drives efficiency. Planned business routes dovetail with time schedules and offer an opportunity to contact other prospects in a defined areas. If your technician gets done early, is there another home he can visit to make his trip more efficient?

Drive time analysis can be applied to explore the proximity of all potential customers or businesses in a target area. By adding a drive time polygon to a business map, a manager can visualize every potential customer within a 90-minute driving time of a facility or store. There is power in that map time-based view:

  • Drive time can define sales potential – There are X number of accounts with a 90-minute drive in all directions
  • Drive time can limit wanderers – You will get no credit for activity outside of a 30-minute drive time polygon
  • Drive time can define coverage areas – We may want to add a sales rep in the Grand Junction area because it falls outside of our usual drive time network

Enterprise use of business mapping is often related to sales and marketing processes.  Large industrial corporations and service enterprises use business mapping to supplement marketing and sales processes across their organizations.

Corporate users apply business tools tactically toward market analysis in several ways.  Marketing departments segment marketing campaigns geographically, testing various areas by message or offer. Marketers also like to derive campaign results geographically, tracking results for future campaign development in other areas or for other products.

Marketing mapping is really just managing and visualizing huge amounts of address based data sets against a map.  Subscription management, marketing agency work, retail sales analysis are all areas that benefit from the application of business mapping software.

Competitor Map

Supplemental mapping analysis for large firms that focus on consumer product sales will by enhanced by the addition of demographic data.  A business map acts as a database management tool easily merging demographic data categories with map administrative district layers, and even imported business data pertinent only to the user organization. Once again, an easy affordable solution for deriving a multi-layered visualization that helps corporate decision makers move processes forward.

Developing better business processes and new business strategies is just the constant way of things. Business models are made to be broken. Surround your business with the tools to analyze results, expose new patterns, and communicate effectively. Stop delaying replacing MapPoint. Experience and re-experience the power of location-based visualizations.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.



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Map Business Online CloudTrust Rating & Customer Reviews

This week Christmas came early to my Map Business Online office here in Western Maine. Outside the landscape was yuletide ready with a solid six inches of snow on the ground and well below zero wind chills, forcing me to stoke the wood stove with a few extra sticks of wood from the woodpile.

Last week ,we sent out December’s email newsletter – Your Business Map. In addition to features and tips it highlighted several critical new elements in our business mapping software evolution.

The Map Business Online website now includes a dedicated security section that talks about all the things we do to keep imported user data, and users in general, safe and secure while online. This includes our recent certification by the Skyhigh Networks CloudTrust program. Skyhigh performs an independent thorough review of enterprise level cloud service candidates and we are proud to be welcomed into their fold. In 2016 Map Business Online was also reviewed and approved by Veracode at the behest of a top ten property and casualty insurer, through static and dynamic code scans.  Security is a top priority at Map Business Online.

This week also marked the publication of our Business Mapping for the Enterprise landing page.  Here we describe many of the reasons large and small businesses should consider Map Business Online for their business mapping needs.

But my real Christmas gift was this. Our most recent newsletter invited customers to review Map Business Online through Capterra’s software review platform. We got a little less than one hundred reviews – although they are still coming in. Read them here: http://www.capterra.com/gis-software/

These customer reviews repeated four aspects of Map Business Online that both large and small business should pay careful attention to:

1.       MBO is a great replacement for Microsoft MapPoint, especially if you’re managing territories or conducting market analysis

2.       MBO is very easy to learn and use. And if you get stuck we’re standing by to help

3.       You won’t find a more affordable solution. Go ahead. Try. Let me know if you find one

4.       Territory managers, marketing folks and sales planners just love MBO

A growing list of MBO users are applying team collaborative mapping  tools to their business challenges. Sharing maps for co-editing can be a game changer for some organizations or simply a more efficient way to manage a team of map creators in other companies. Which ever category your company falls into, it may be well worth your while to try collaborative map editing.

And now, let’s all try to take a break from mapping and online business for a few days. Enjoy your family and friends over the holidays.

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.



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Why Does Geographic Data Segmentation Matter?

Business mapping users generally import customers, prospect, patient or client addresses into a business map application for visualization and possible segmentation of their data. We’ve talked a lot about data visualization. There’s real value in seeing your customers or patients spread out across an organized business map. But what is the value in segmenting your address databases?

Divvy Up the Work

The most obvious answer for this question can be related to email or direct mail marketing. Segmenting your lists geographically creates manageable chunks of data that are more easily assigned for distribution, follow-up, and results analysis.

Think of it this way. If you’ve got a list of ten thousand names and addresses you’re probably going to divvy that up among a group of sales people or associates for follow-up. No one person is going to contact ten thousand people in a reasonable amount of time. It’s so much more manageable to hand a list of several hundred names to a sales representative and ask them to contact people and record results, then it is to overwhelm them with 5,000 names.

Geographic segmentation of lists makes sense because:

  • States, counties or zip codes are easily queried, generating quick segmented lists for work and review. Segmentation of some sort, is required for marketing tests
  • Geographic groupings may reveal commonalities across customers, patient, or prospect lists. Commonalities can help with messaging. Geographic commonalities could be: weather, sports teams, vernacular, gas prices, epidemics, product interest
  • Geographic segmentations easily incorporate Census demographic statistics, enhancing market comprehension and revealing consumer patterns
  • Travel and delivery related scheduling can be better managed and analyzed through geo-segmentation.


Another way to segment imported data is by filtering.  Sure, you can filter your data in Excel, but Excel doesn’t display those filtered results against a zip code map of the USA.

Filtering can be a good way to manage an assignment. Let’s say you’ve been instructed to reach out to every contact in a zip code list. In a business map, you can import your list, then filter by zip code. Maybe you can contact fifteen people in an hour. Filter your data by a few zip codes that approximate an hour’s worth of calls.  This limits the list on the map to just those zip codes. Do your work and color those complete records as done – use whatever symbol and color you’d like to assign.

Later you can view the map to see how much progress you’ve made and how many green dots are still left to contact.  Notes on each the contact discussion can be included in the map data.

Market Analysis & Profiling

Filtering and segmenting supports testing your marketing lists. Everyone in the marketing business knows the mantra “Test, Test, Test.”  Business mapping software provide wonderful segmentation tools that let you test markets with applied science.

For instance, based on your existing list of patients, you could establish a zip code profile for your most challenging or expensive clients. Those zip codes will include demographic characteristics that will, upon review, expose patterns. In this way, you can determine your business’ optimum and worst performing zip codes, establishing a profile by zip code. Your zip code profile establishes optimum demographic criteria for you business. Armed with this information you can look for new target areas to conduct market tests in.

Business mapping software will visually expose demographic areas of interest based on your target profile. Pick three areas and send an email or direct mail piece into each area. Analyze the results. Double check the demographics. Are there new demographic categories to consider? Glance over your data by zip code. Look for anomalies in the data and ask yourself, “Why?”

An example of geo-segmentation and area profiling is an outdoor retailer from Maine. They sought to sell products outside the state of Maine. Through testing and demographic analysis they found similar markets in northern sections of Minnesota and Wisconsin which helped to rapidly expand their retail presence across the whole USA.  Business mapping enables the construction of a demographic market or customer profile which can then be pasted across the entire country.

Zip Code Demogrphic Profile

Arrange Your Business Data

With business mapping, users can segment their address data based on their own data classifications.  Any business data you import into a business mapping software should include columns of data that can be color coded on the map.  Area color shading can be applied to numeric data like sales dollars, gross profit, or record counts. Color shading can also be applied to descriptions by type or category like customer type, product preference, or lead source.

In this way, your data can be segmented on the map view by color, symbol type or even color shaded geographic districts. You could still filter your imported data to show only certain records. For example, you could filter for only those records associated with customer type “house account.”

Filtering your imported data by your particular business classification adds value to your map analysis. In addition to geographic segmentation, zip code demographic profiles, by applying your work’s custom classifications you are leveraging information only your company has available.

You could learn that a specific demographic segment tends to purchase more of product X during the fall time-period, in this section of the USA, or through retailers. There’s a lot of business intelligence to unpack there. But you may find that by using a business map you’ve discovered new questions to ask about your business. Questions your competitors may or may not be asking yet.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.

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Large Format Map Printing – Paper, Toner & Patience

Business mapping software is a visual tool. Its purpose is to add value and meaning to business analysis through imagery and maps. Those images can be shared as digital files (JPEG, PNG files), interactive webpages, or they can be printed.

Printing maps is more art than science.  Map printing has been happening for thousands of years now. These days the maps we print are ready in a matter of minutes. We’ve come a long way since the days of Columbus and Magellan when maps could take decades to produce. Back then, checking the printer queue involved horses and the iron maiden.

Today printable maps can still be quite challenging to produce despite the application speeds we experience. Printing a large format map for wall maps is not a quick click-a-button and you’re done process. Plan to spend some time making your map print job match your desired output.

Map Options

Printing a typical photographic image, like a picture of your child, entails setting a few options but in large part, the process is straight forward.  Crop the image, tweak the color and contrast, then print. Map printing can be quite a bit different from picture printing.

Printing a map requires forethought. You must ask yourself, “What map layers do I want to show in this picture?” Options might include:

  • A street level detailed map back ground
  • Topographic detail
  • Satellite or aerial imagery
  • Cites or towns
  • Rivers and water bodies
  • Zip codes, counties, Census tracts, states or other district layers
  • Demographic data
  • Imported business data layers
  • Additional draw layers pertinent to your business – market analysis, territories, lines & points

Simply deciding you want to see a given layer doesn’t solved the problem. In digital mapping much depends on your area of interest. You must ask yourself, “What is the map extent I desire for my printed map?”

Your Map Extent

Let’s explore this further. Your map extent will typically be defined by a rectangle. That rectangle could be your map application’s screen view or a drawn rectangle you place on the map defining your map area of interest. If you want to include zip codes on your map and your map extent includes New York city, you need to consider how large an area you can accept before those inner-city zip codes become invisible. The further back you pull the less detail you’ll achieve in your map result.

Mapping applications are designed to provide a variety of zoom levels for the map viewer. As a map user zooms out they see more geographic area and less map layer detail. As they zoom in they see more map layer detail and a smaller area of view.  For map layers like zip codes, the mapping application is designed to optimize the map viewer’s visual experience so that information is presented in a readable fashion at any given zoom level.

Zip code labels are a great example of how mapping application manage map layer data views. At a contiguous USA wide map view, if zip code labels are all turned on, the application must decide which labels it shows. It cannot show all zip code labels because they would overlap, creating an unreadable mess. That’s why Columbus always left the zip codes out of American maps.

The map application must control the visual presentation.  A map user can tweak the map layers to encourage more zip codes to appear, but there will be a limit. To optimize your view try to:

  • Zoom in as far possible while still maintaining the desired map extent
  • Adjust the zip code label font to the smallest possible setting
  • Avoid bolding your text

What is the shape of your area of interest? This matters a lot. The full USA is a natural landscape view, print rectangle that fits fairly well in your business map field of view. States like California, Texas, or New Jersey may be less optimal for full views. We’ve had multiple customers desire a map of Texas that displays all county labels. This is a tall order because the size and shape of Texas doesn’t optimize the map application’s field of view. California is a vertical object that doesn’t not optimize well in a landscape field of view. These states just don’t fit well into a typical map application screen view.

Business Analysis Map

This means the business map user who desires a printed map should consider map layer options and target area shape and size as they prepare to print. For instance, make sure your printer settings are set to landscape view for business maps. It just makes sense to match the map application field of view to the printer parameters.

Print Button Options

Map Business Online includes print options in the Print Button functions. When you print to your desk top printer your print image will reflect your screen map image exactly. That’s a What You See Is What You Get image.  Use this for straight ahead print jobs on 8.5 x 11 pages.

But if you want to capture more map detail, try large format printing by saving your map file to PDF.  Print from that saved PDF file either to a desktop printer’s larger page size options or to a plotter printer.

The large formatting options in Map Business Online provide several additional options for your print output:

  • Print…center on current map view – Zoom your map view in well beyond your regular field of view. Now play with the paper sizes to optimize your map to print shape and make your output bigger – up to a 60” x 60” wall map
  • Print…defined by rectangle – Let’s you define your maps rectangle, then proceed to paper and size adjustments

But here’s the key to map printing: it’s not a cookie cutter experience. It really requires experimentation and patience. So if you’ve got a map print job ahead of you, remember to think about your options and allow time for experimentation at the end.

Remember, Columbus would have killed for a map in a half hour. Plus all the limes and lemons you require to avoid scurvy are a short drive to the grocery store. And no one is getting keelhauled at your business today. I hope.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.



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Why Use Business Mapping Software?

Business mapping software, as a category fits between basic navigation software and geographic information system(GIS) software. Although business mapping software incorporates aspects of both navigation and GIS software it is distinctly separate from both.

Business mapping adds the ability to incorporate the user’s business data to the navigation background map and it stops short of providing the comprehensive database management capabilities of a full featured GIS software.

Where navigation software like MapQuest, or even Apple Maps on your iPhone, appeals to just about everyone, business mapping software is designed to support business people. And just as GIS software can provide rich and intricate data layers supporting complex scientific, municipal and utility systems, business mapping software focuses on one or two data layers pertinent to the business user; who, by the way, shelled out a modest fee for a mapping tool that they expect to be relatively easy-to-use.

There’s a sweet spot market for business mapping software and it’s made up of everyday business people. It’s not as large a market as vehicle navigation and travel mapping, nor is the market as expansive as the Geographic Information Systems software market.  GIS software can cost agencies, businesses and organizations tens of thousands of dollars per license. Navigation software is often provided at no cost with devices or services. But business mapping might be Goldilocks’ favorite mapping tool. For a regular business oriented gal, it fits just right.

Business Intelligence

Business mapping software merges basic business software processes into a visual presentation that drives better decision-making. Those merged processes include address enabled customer spreadsheets, prospect data, or competitor location data; the ability to generate optimized vehicle routes; object creation or drawing tools; demographic analysis; and a variety of base map views.

By combining these technologies and data layers into an affordable cloud based offering, business map providers have created a sensible access pathway to advanced business intelligence for companies around the world.  Many small businesses and organizations have never made the investment in time or money required to develop new and strategic perspectives on their business marketplace.  After all, it’s hard enough to simply run a business. Why add the complication of analyzing the business?

Here’s one reason, your competitors are very likely to be developing and applying business intelligence and analysis to their businesses.  The numbers are all over the place, but it appears that slightly less than half of all businesses apply serious business intelligence analysis of some kind to their processes today. But that number is on the rise, especially due to the proliferation of cloud based software services that offer an astounding variety of low-cost software products – affordable, easy-to-use and with no maintenance required. These services are kind of hard to resist and your competitors may be caving. Business mapping software is one of those cloud-based software services you should consider.

Location Intelligence

Few businesses have the luxury of zero competition. It’s only a matter of time before your competition gets a leg up on you through some level of business intelligence. Maybe they go whole hog or just start with business mapping to derive some basic location intelligence. Location intelligence is information about your business derived from your business data that includes a location component. Simply stated –address lists, coverage areas, best performing zip codes by demographic break down, housing inventories, real-estate portfolios, product sales by county or state, sales numbers by territory. These are all location-based data sources that can be leveraged to drive location intelligence within your organization.

A business can learn a lot from basic location intelligence.  A customer address list imported on top of an accurate base map will display:

  • Heavy concentrations of customers – areas where your business excels
  • Areas where your business has not successfully reached the market
  • A general idea of how far your customers are willing to drive to reach your product or service
  • Your best performing zip codes and clues as to why

Add some extra information to that customer address list and your map will now show:

  • Where specific products perform the best
  • Which customers purchase the most products
  • Who is your best sales performer
  • Which patient sucks up the most services and clinician time
A Sales Map

A Sales Map

Business mapping software is the affordable ramp up to complete location intelligence for businesses that choose to secure a competitive edge on their competition. By leveraging the power of location any business will begin to improve their position in their marketplace, improve process efficiencies, and drive accountability into field and sales teams.

Business mapping analysis exposes new perspectives. Sales trends emerge as location-based product sales data is presented against various base maps and data layers. Medical field service maps can reveal the proximity of critical health care services for patients most in need. Coverage areas and markets areas of interest are viewed from a variety of demographic perspectives. Business mapping defines market areas and connects product opportunities to populations, ages, incomes and many other demographic categories. Businesses can even choose to establish groups of collaborative map editors that work as a team to solve business challenges.

A small business can begin their business intelligence journey by using business mapping software. As the business grows new operational realities may warrant an expansion into advanced business intelligence – tools like GIS or big data analysis tools. Allow the power of your existing location data drive your business into the future.

Think business mapping.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.

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Why Would I Use Census Tracts in Business Mapping?

Business mapping users apply a variety of geographic layers to their map analysis. These layers include cities, zip codes, counties, states and Census tracts – among others. Geographic map layers display boundaries that define specific administrative districts. A defined zip code boundary on the map represents a specific area associated with specific demographic values. Other values can be assigned to districts as well, like user define business data or external data layers such as hospitals, businesses or natural resources.

In business mapping, these defined geographic areas are used as a basis for creating territories, areas of interest, focused market analysis, demographic analysis, coverage areas, as well as business process and planning maps.

Census tracts are geographic districts defined by the US Census Bureau as, “Census Tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county or equivalent entity that are updated by local participants prior to each decennial census as part of the Census Bureau’s Participant Statistical Areas 

Census tracts, as boundaried areas, are used in business mapping as a base unit for the creation of map analysis. Census tracts offer advantages to map users such as granularity in urban areas, direct relationships to published Census demographics, and an alternative to zip codes in map layer color shading.

Census tracts can be tricky. Unlike zip codes, Census tracts are not unique. Note the definition includes the words “relatively permanent.” I can find a Census tract labeled “1104” in CA, CT, FL, GA, IL, MN, MO, NY, PA, TN, PR, and UT. And there are lots of Census Tract numbers.

If I told my wife I was going to be “relatively permanent” for this upcoming Holiday season, I’d be eating Chinese take-out in a flea-bag hotel room on Christmas morning. Just saying.

What this relative permanence means is, if you are looking up a Census tract number to locate an area, build a territory, or create an area of interest, you’re going to need to specify the State or FIPS code as well. A FIPS code helps to appropriately identify and locate Census tracts in mapping.

A FIPS code is a five-digit Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS.) FIPS codes are intended to uniquely identify counties and county equivalents in the USA. Within Map Business Online, FIPS codes identify which state and counties contain the Census tracts you may be interested in.

In MBO, sales territory creation by polygon search or draw tools works for Census tracts in the same way it does for zip codes or counties. First, make sure the Census tract layer is turned on. Simply select a search tool and draw an object on the map. Choose Census tracts as the searchable layer. Name and save the territory. Easy-peasy.

However, if you are importing a territory dataset using the Create Territories button, you’ll need to pay attention. As you import your data, in the dialog drop down for Census Data make sure you choose the FIPS code option. This will appropriately identify the state as you import your Census tract based datasets. Once the process is completed you should find your territories color shaded by Census tract and territory name.

MapPoint Users

If you have created territories in MapPoint and you want to convert these for use in a new business mapping application’s territory mapping tool, make sure your export includes columns for: FIPS, Census Tract, State and Territory Name.

If your business has been a MapPoint territory map user Map Business Online may be able to assist in your conversion process. MapPoint offers the ability to export your territory datasets as an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file. In some cases, you may be able to import that data directly into Map Business Online for territory creation. But if it’s got Census tracts involved there may be some issues to contend with.

For one thing, your MapPoint subscription is based on old data. Not just because they obsoleted MapPoint in 2014, but because Microsoft stopped updating geographic layers years prior to 2014. Using MapPoint for territory management today is like asking your aging parents where to take your wife for your anniversary dinner. The Blue Plate special at the Agawam Diner is simply not the place to respark the old magic.

Because MapPoint data is old, there are several iterations of FIPS and Census tract updates that are missing in the data. This means your territory assignments will require adjustments. You can certainly adjust those Census tract assignments manually, but if you have hundreds of territories an automatic conversion can save time and accuracy.

Map Business Online is happy to process this conversion for a reasonable fee, which we can estimate through a review of your data. Please let us know if you would like some help with a MapPoint conversion.

Once your territories are established in MBO you can simply select a Census tract or a group of tracts to adjust your territories to your liking. Again – easy, peasy.

Moving Forward

Census tracts offer advantages for map analysis and territory management. In heavily populated urban areas Census tracts typically represent smaller areas with a lot more people living in them. From a mapping perspective Census tracts offer a tighter segmentation across the map view. Busy traveling field staff who found zip codes too wide an area to manage might plan more effectively using a Census tract based territory map.

Likewise, analysts that seek more detail on population or other demographic data distributions often turn to Census tracts as an appropriate base layer for their area of interest. In extremely populated urban areas like Los Angeles or New York City a zip code breakdown of data may simply be too big a picture.

In short, Census tracts are a good choice for business mapping applications that require more detail than zip code or county based maps. They offer better options for finer control of territory coverages. If your business spends a fair amount time wondering which street in neighborhood is next, consider Census tracts as your base unit for area of interest map development.

Tracts & Zips Where I Grew Up

Tracts & Zips Where I Grew Up

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.




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Can Business Mapping Help With Our Annual Business Planning?

The answer is decidedly ‘Yes’ – business mapping software can provide critical intelligence that enhances plan  development. It can also help to clearly communicate key components of your plan.

Whether you’re running a small business or managing a department you’ve got goals and objectives to meet. By this time in the annual business cycle, you’re starting to plan on next year’s goals and objectives. This may be your first planning ‘rodeo’ or you may have been through the annual planning process dozens of times.

Regardless of how often you’ve conducted business planning and goal setting exercises consider adding affordable business mapping software to your quiver of arrows, the list of tools you can count on to inform your business planning and effectively communicate your plan’s details.

The fact of the matter is business mapping software is predominantly cloud-based now, which makes it readily available, easy-to-use and very affordable. There’s little pain in your taking a business mapping tool for a spin to see how it can help plan strategically. Have an administrator or assistant manager sign up for a free trial. All they’ll need is access to the mapping software and an address spreadsheet of accounts, patients, properties or donors – whatever location-based data your business typically generates.

MapPoint Replacement

In the past, many organizations purchased Microsoft MapPoint’s desktop mapping software. A great tool in its day for about $300. Sadly, MapPoint was canceled by Microsoft in 2014 leaving thousands of users scrambling for a replacement – like Map Business Online – and seeking a solution at a similar price point.

MapPoint provided tools for sales territory management, sales planning and field technician optimized route management. It offered marketing analysis tools and demographic map analysis that supported competitive analysis, strategic planning, and basic business visualizations that can expose business trends and shed light on what’s working and what may be a serious problem in your business future.

Microsoft MapPoint also gave a way a lot of advanced functionality like fleet tracking and GIS analysis which may force some users to turn to significantly more expensive solutions.

For most users, business mapping software remains an affordable option for supplementing strategic plans, building basic business analysis, route planning, and sales territory alignment.

Next Year’s Business Plan

If you’ve never applied a business mapping software to your business planning or daily business analysis, “Darling, your luck’s about to change,” to steal a film noir quote from the Big Easy.

Any plan worth a bucket of compost will look at the past and project the future.  This is a basic component of a business plan. Even if that plan simply says, “In the past we failed. Now we’re moving forward.”

Business maps can clearly display sales activity on a map – point maps showing specific account by account sales activity, heat maps showing hot spots of field support activity, or perhaps county or zip code color shaded maps to reflect the number of donors each area over the past year.  It all depends on your business. Just import a location enable dataset. Location enable means you have columns for addressing, or even just zip codes. Import all the extra data columns you need to create maps that support your plan.

Business maps can be manipulated to reflect demographic break downs of major areas of work concentration – by zip code, city, county or other jurisdictions. Demographic data, presented as a color shade or as an actual numeric figure, can support significant changes in business approaches, making the selling of your plan an easier task.

For example, a business manager for a field medical agency might want to adjust staff placements across the state based on changes in the organization’s patient census. A demographic map view can support that plan’s implementation by displaying a growing population of 65 to 99 year olds across the coverage area along with dots or symbols of your choice representing actual patient locations (no identities of course.)   Your business plan proposes a change, outlines the process, and supports the concept with a business map view.

Heat Map View

Heat Map View

Maps for Research vs. Maps for Communicating

Working with a business mapping software opens-up a world of spatial assistance. Many business planner use maps to conduct research. Once again, demographic analysis can display trending opportunities or threats. By importing some of your key address-based business data layers your map will incorporate your particular business reality.  In this way, your business map will help to flesh out your business plan, informing your analysis about obstacles that may block plans or perhaps exposing paths to achieving results in-spite of obstacles.

These research maps could include multiple layers of data, perhaps two or three map iterations of the same area highlighting different data layers on different map views. Your imported data is a critical element. By adding product, sales, staff, or even competitor data to these map views, your expanding your business awareness. Though this business mapping exercise you are trying to expose areas of commonality, obvious duplications of field effort, surprise areas of sales success and perhaps the lack of presence in critical areas. Let your mind wander over your business map.

Use these research maps to assist in developing your plan.  Then pick and choose some map views to help communicate your plan.  Make sure those map views are focused on the issues that most support your plan. Avoid too much data or map clutter. A complicated map can detract from you plan while a focused map with a couple of keep data sets can make a striking point for the right audience at the right time.

Map Sharing

You’ve got three ways to share maps in your business plan.

  1. Save map images or static map views and embed them in Power Point Presentations or similar software. This is a great way to emphasize points in your plan. Simply save the map image as a PNG or JPEG file. You can also use the MS Snippet tool to grab full map images or map sections.
  2. Set up interactive web map URLs of your plan maps. These web maps will be available at the same URL for as long as you require them – all year if necessary. Your associates can click into these maps for reference at their leisure for no cost.
  3. Use the application itself – Live! You’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with the business mapping application, but this can be a powerful way to support your ideas and your business plan. Think how those interactive electoral maps add value when watching the latest poll breakdowns on TV. Just make use you’re ready to use the application in front of an audience. I saw an epic fail electoral map presentation on The Today Show last week that was not pretty. Know your application before you go live, use static maps in the interim.

Be the Map Hero

For companies who have not been using maps for business planning, or who let mapping software go a few years back, here’s a little secret: executive decision makers love maps. By bringing a focused, uncluttered business map to the planning process, one that answers a few critical questions, you will enhance your position in your organization. Managers and business owners are always looking for people who bring solutions. They want problem solvers. Maps address problems, maps communicate. Be a hero.

A carefully considered business mapping analysis could lead to your new position at work. Napoleon was in his twenties when he suddenly became a general. At the time, he had just been appointed to the cartographique section of the army.  “Mon dieu!” Be the map hero, before that other dude is.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.


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Routing Enhancements & Time Windows for MBO

This month Map Business Online was upgraded to include enhanced routing features. (Updates like this occur automatically in a Cloud-base software service.) Although Map Business Online has included 100 stop optimized routing for years, with the demise of Microsoft MapPoint in late 2014, many customers were asking for a more robust replacement routing functionality to supplement their business mapping requirements.

As of this month Map Business Online includes:

  • Support for time windows – Schedule stops based on preplanned arrival times, estimate stop duration times, and estimate total route times with all travel and stop times included
  • Create and export route files for sharing – Save and export route files in .pdf, .html, .csv, .gpx, and .itn formats. This lets user move route files from MBO to navigation devices.
  • Create No Drive Areas or route barriers based on your aware of route usability. Users can define where the bridge is out or the off ramp is closed and consider that in route calculations
  • Historic and real-time traffic patterns are considered in route estimations

MapPoint gave a way a lot of functionality for $300.00. For that reason, users who used the tool for fleet tracking and advanced route planning applications, like multi-vehicle management and more than 100 stops per route, will be forced to find alternative vendors like Telogis at prices an order of magnitude higher than MapPoint’s required investment.

However, for basic business mapping users, supplementing their market analysis and territory mapping, with optimized route creation, Map Business Online enhanced routing may be just the trick.

Sales Planning

The traveling sales person can now view their territory coverage areas, assign customers to a route plan and include appointment times and visit durations in their route estimates. This means your whole day can be planned with more accuracy. Sure, cancellations may still occur but you’ll know exactly how much time that leaves you to fill in with a substitute prospect account.

Some sales planning users use Map Business Online as a contact planning tool, storing key contact information in map tags or the data window. Remember – you can even take notes into your location database through the map point callout tags.

Field Service

We supply business mapping services to many field service operations. From hospice and home care, to fuel delivery, ATM management, physical therapy services and appliance repair technicians – all these business types benefit from the application of business mapping software.

Medical clinicians and aides require a time window schedule for the delivery of their services. When they arrive at a home to find a patient is not there their entire day could be thrown off.  They may have traveled hours to get to that service point. Time windows allow the route user to confirm the appointment time and reroute as necessary – rescheduling in the event of a cancellation or accommodate additional appointments.

Product delivery services need to track their efficiencies as closely as possible. Delivery schedules need to be adhered to. Truck issues and traffic conditions can affect schedules or drive up costs while lowering productivity. MBO time windows helps maintain order in the chaos of every day travel for work.

Time Wiindows

Repair Technicians

Now you can use MBO to preplan lunch and work breaks during the day. Estimated stop times can be built into your daily plan based on the planned jobs for the month, week, or day. Develop time estimate templates for typical repairs. Refrigerator repairs, furnace cleanings, dog grooming, geriatric PT, and even pizza oven adjustments can all be categorized, symbolized on the map and tracked by route file for accurate future planning for your business.

Field managers now have the ability within Map Business Online to generate a route for new field technicians and export that route as a GPX or ITN file for use within their Portable Navigation Device. This is the best way to get newbies up to speed and on the road in short order. Perfect for retail display services.

MapShare Routing for FREE!

And remember, Map Business Online includes MapShare – the ability to share interactive web maps of your business coverage maps with your field people AT NO CHARGE – up to 100 web sessions per month, 1200 per year for free.   In addition to being able to pan and zoom all over the map, click on points, view tabular Data Window views of shared data, query data and export results, your users can generate their own multiple stop routes – free of charge.  You will not find this capability available for free in other mapping applications.

So – Remember and compare – MBO Routing with Time Windows:

  • 100 multi-stop optimized routes now with Time Windows
  • Share route files
  • Create route barriers
  • MapShare free viewing with routing
  • Standard MBO business map features like: Market analysis, Territory mapping, Customer visualization

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.

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Creating a Demographic Map – The Mystery of Trinity County

Last week I created a new Map Gallery posting for www.mapBusinessOnline.com .  The process, as usual, was quite easy and interesting. I thought I’d share my business mapping work flow and link to the map for people to see how I did it.  Demographic data is used in business mapping software to reveal business trends and tendencies in selected areas of interest.

First, I combed through the latest demographic data update in Map Business Online. This update was released during the last week of July, 2016.  There’s a whole group of new categories available and the existing categories were updated.

I noticed a set of new US Census Bureau categories that seemed interesting:

  • Families (2014) Male households, no wife present (Families/Male)
  • Families (2014) Female households, no husband present (Families/Female)

I wanted to explore this new category a little. So, I decided to create a ratio for Families/Male (dividend) to Families/Female (divisor), figuring the ratio would likely be a decimal quotient in most cases and thus easy to display on the map. I was right, for the most part, but interestingly there actually where areas where the males headed families outnumber the female headed families by a wide margin.

Calculate Data Columns

To build my ratio for color shading I needed to first calculate data columns. I did this in Map & Data, selecting the zip code layer and choosing Manage Calculated Data Columns.  I named my resultant layer and chose the Families/Male category of Census Data over the Families/Female category, select the “divide” option in between them.

Next I choose the Color Code Map option along the master toolbar and selected the zip code option. In the top drop down I selected Calculated Data and the Male/Female Fams option I had just created in the above step.  To keep things simple, I chose a range of 3 color groups:

  • Orange – for ratio result 0 to .75
  • Red – for ratio result .75 to .99
  • Blue – for result 1.0 to 21

As I applied the color code options MBO presents the low and high numeric range by zip code. I found it odd that 21 was shown as the top numeric range in the data. This means that based on the data and the selected map layer the zip code with the largest ration number across the nation holds 21 Families/Male over Families/Female.  But we’ll look at that more in a minute.

With my color coding processed I decided to edit my Map Legend a bit. You just click the little Edit Gear in the upper right of the Map Legend to edit. I took out all legend layers except the zip code layer. Why leave superfluous layers in there? I also removed the “Other” color group category. Always keep your map focused. Never give the “I always ask a lot of questions” person, the opportunity to interrupt your presentation.

Finally, I decided it might be useful to include some additional demographic data for reference in the Zip Code label – both on the Zip Code label itself and in the pop-up balloon which occurs upon cursor hover. So I appended the zip code label with population, Families/Male and Families/Female totals, and I included the calculated ratio results for each zip as well.  References like this do add clutter to the map, but they also provide an immediate reference that might answer questions in the map viewer’s mind.

The actual Male Families no wife present – Map

Investigating the Odd

Getting back to that 21 number in the color coding range. When Map Business Online presents the expected range it is saying to the user (in this case), “The largest number I see across the entire USA Zip Code layer for your ratio per zip code is 21.” And this was true for a zip code in the County of Trinity in Northern California.

I could tell this was true because I used the Data Window as an investigation tool. Selecting the Zip Code layer in the Data Window, I clicked More Data. I then added all the pertinent data layers I’d been working with to my Zip Code layer, including the Calculate Data Ratio – Male/Female Single Parent Families. Once the data was set, I simply clicked the Heading in that Calculated Data column to arrange the data in descending order. There were a bunch of blanks because the Female Single Parent households showed as Zero and we all know anything divided by Zero freaks gives a null answer. But after the nulls,  the first number to come up was in fact the 21 associated with the town of Hyampom in Trinity County, CA.


That “21” means, as you can see in the row of data, for that zip code Male Headed Single Parent Families with no wife present, out number Female Single Parent Families with no husband present, by 21 to 1. And the next level is 13.5, in just one zip code over! That’s just weird to me.  You can see on the map the across the nation most zip ratio results are between 1 and 2.

I tried calling Trinity County but they could not justify my number for me. On http://www.countyhealthrankings.org I found an interesting statistic. Trinity county leads California in premature lives lost before the age of 75 with a rate of 10,300 per 100,000 people. That’s a lot.

I’m wondering if, based on the family stats we were working with, those deaths may be disproportionately affecting women?  Or perhaps the Census Bureau data for those two zip codes are simply wrong? If you follow the Wiki link above to the Hyampom town write-up there’s a discrepancy in the Census data.

No answer yet, but this entire mapping exercise serves to show that maps expose trends. And the moral of the story, check your data. Question your results before you submit your map.

Map Business Online – Easy, affordable, advanced and we’ll help.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

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

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or at the Salesforce.com AppExchange.

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