For people who own or work in small businesses, time and resources are at premium. Obviously, software is a big part of their business – whether they know it or not. Today small businesses use an array of Internet accessed, cloud-based software tools to make conducting business as easy and as affordable as possible.
We all use tools like Google Analytics, Twitter and LinkedIn for free or for a fee. Some of us subscribe to services like eRelease, WordPress or Join.Me. Without doubt all of us are constantly accessing search engines through web browsers. Even our phone systems are becoming Cloud services. These Cloud-based tools have gradually become the platform upon which we all conduct business.
Online software tools have streamlined traditional workflows. I used to be a purchasing manager. My career spanned the time of entirely paper-based (1982) procurement process to the web-based workflow (2000). Web software has significantly shortened the typical purchasing workflow. It used to take weeks to source products and services. Today, accurate procurement analysis is often completed in a matter of minutes. Order placement and invoicing is virtually instantaneous, once decisions have been made. Thanks Google!
These affordable and accessible cloud software tools help small businesses to be more efficient and thus more competitive. New Internet-based business models present opportunities for small businesses that were unimaginable just five years ago.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to keep up. Yet, “Keep up, we must,” said Yoda, just before hand-wave dropping a hot water heater on Darth Maul.
I respectfully recommend the introduction of one more tool that will serve your growing small business very well. Cloud based business mapping software can provide your organization with a new perspective on customer lists, help define market coverage areas, and will inform your strategic plan.
Apply business mapping software to your small business work flows to:
- Learn more about your customers and their buying habits
- Explore a variety of market areas and segments
- Affordably expand business intelligence in support of strategic planning
- Create a cool shared map that shows where all the best lunch locations are
By importing your small business customer address list and viewing it against a map you will begin to understand the extent of your sales coverage areas. You’ll be able to import up to 100,000 location records per map, more than enough for most small businesses. That initial basic view of dots on map may be enlightening just in terms of displaying customer concentrations. You may find the densest concentrations to be no surprise but pay close attention to the lower levels of customer concentration. What are they telling you? And are there places with no customers at all? I’m sure you know why you have no customers there. Right?
Business map views will display where your customers are and where they are not. Demographic mapping is just a few quick clicks away adding income levels, ethnicities, age levels, and other critical people-based perspectives to your customer map.
You don’t need to hire The McKinsey Group to develop demographic profiles of your business anymore. Business mapping tools offer this analysis at a fraction of the cost and with none of the endless preparatory meetings. Yawn.
Map Business Online has a variety of map related analysis tools that display your customer data layer and add value to it. Once you’ve considered customer densities try color coding your customer locations by customer type, sales dollars, or some other pertinent detail. Heat maps can be applied to identify areas of greater and lesser activity based on sales dollars or other numeric values. Census tract focus areas can help identify and characterize deep urban pockets of customer coverages.
Think of the different customer related address databases you could bring to this analysis. Ship from locations, ship to locations, customer referrals, retail stores, dealer locations, sales rep locations, and patient locations. The list goes on and on.
Ok, so you’ve identified a hot-spot. Do you know why it’s a hot-spot? If you did you could probably find more of them. Business mapping enables the creation of market areas of interest out of zip codes or Census tracts. Any market area of interest will include related data in tabular form. For example, you could establish a list of zip codes for the assigned area, add demographic data and customer sales information. Now your imported data has become a market analysis. Export the data out as a CSV file for use outside of your business mapping tool.
Armed with your market profile, the Map Business Online users can conduct a market profile analysis across the nation seeking zip code areas that match your best customer segmentations. Armed with this information a business might drop a mail piece, try an email campaign, place ads in local periodicals, or send in a sales person. You decide based on your small business model.
In a small business, especially one that is growing rapidly, efficient communication is a critical factor. Business managers need ways to communicate effectively – quickly and clearly. Business maps are extremely effective communication tools.
A business map is customizable so that you can highlight your business priorities. Think of all the places you can display information on a map:
- Color coded points to reflect customer types, prospects or competitor locations
- Shaded districts to reflect territories, market areas or demographic opportunities
- Map legends that display key map details based on your company vernacular
- Map titles and map text to highlight nice-to-know realities in the field
- District, point and territory labels appended with referential data for easy and fast decision-making
- Tabular data sheet views for deep dives into business data
With your map optimized to reflect your issues, try sharing a business map as a web URL. In Map Business Online this is an easy way to generate a clickable link your constituents get via an email or text. We call this Public Sharing. They click and launch a non-editable yet interactive map view. Viewers can query or route on the shared map view, but they cannot edit that map. Subscribers get 100 sharable maps per month at no fee. That’s usually plenty but you can buy more share sessions if you need them.
Users can of course go old school and embed PNG or Jpeg files of static maps into a Power Point presentation, or simply print a wall map. You choose.
Private Sharing in Map Business Online is the coolest of all. Imagine solving a nasty business problem by leveraging multiple departments through one shared and editable business map. Team editing enables cross-group map sharing for collaborative editing purposes. Direct your finest minds towards problem resolutions using shared mapping tools. Maps inspire ideas, shared maps inspire solutions.
Who Are Small Businesses?
Map Business Online users vary from single person applications, like a sales person, to large corporate user bases, like insurance companies. As you might suspect, small business of all types use Map Business Online to improve their understanding of their business environment. Here’s a few examples:
- Dentistry businesses – We get a lot of dentists using Map Business Online for market analysis, expansion planning, and market campaign planning
- Physical therapists – This is a vibrant business right now. PT’s might use Map Business Online to plan home visits or build coverage territories to minimize business overlap
- Flower businesses – Not always a small business, florists and floral distribution companies use Map Business Online to plan distribution networks, create and manage sales territories, and conduct market analysis
- Act! & Salesforce.com CRM users – Lots of lone wolf sales people who use business mapping to plan sales trips, visualize customer locations and track sales
- ATM Machines – Somebody’s got to do it. These people use Map Business Online to plan routes for cash machine updates, to track existing business locations and to plan for market expansion
- Bill Board companies – Clearly market analysis is one application, but they also like to map each sign location and include details about each advertising program associated with every sign – and then share the map
- Marketing consultants – These guys love to share market analysis maps with clients. They’ll often display market penetration by area and product
- Franchise businesses – Divvying up their zip code territories is always popular with franchise operations, but they have strategic planning issues as well solved by maps
- Financial firms – Banks and investment firms love to view bank locations and customer locations against a map. They’ll use as much demographic data as they can get to better understand like opportunities
- Field tech businesses – Plumbers, swimming pool companies, HVAC techs – you name it, field technicians need to plan their routes and visualize where field techs are located
- Home Hospice & Home Care – Same as field techs above but sharing information about available skill sets, patient care expectations and info about destination quirks, like that big dog you hadn’t expected. MapShare web sharing is critical for shared route tools
- Call centers – Sizes vary but sharing business maps via MapShare web maps allows zip code look ups for easy and fast market area designations while taking notes on the map
Small Business and the Cloud
The fact that a business mapping tool is cloud-based is important for small businesses too. Cloud services keep software prices low and software functionality high. This means small business owners get better efficiencies, advanced capabilities, and easy access to all sorts of software at low cost. And your IT people don’t have to scramble with installations, software updates or server support.
Cloud based services like Map Business Online update map data and demographic data at odd hours. You never even notice the change. And software enhancements are provided automatically – no upgrading required. I’ve been selling cloud software services since 2011 and uptime has been outstanding. It totally beats Microsoft and Apple automatic updates, which I love like I love traffic jams, hangovers, and cleaning up after my dog.
We want to hear about your small business – your business mapping needs, your success stories and your largest challenges. Help us, help you with 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 email@example.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866