Know Your Map Audience

Color Shading Your Subjective Map – The Webinar

Last week I gave a Map Business Online webinar. Putting on a webinar is not the easiest thing in the world to do. There’s a lot of technology that comes together to create a webinar. I struggle with it. Maybe it’s the realm of people younger than thirty?

For a person who grew up with the Three Stooges on Sunday morning TV and Captain Kangaroo being harangued by Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose on weekday mornings, webinars are difficult.

At any rate, this time I shared my “browser window” instead of my second monitor. This meant my additional browser views were a blank screen for most viewers.  So, I re-recorded the Webinar with the appropriate views and I have it attached above.

Thank you for your patience as I learn by trial and error. Hopefully, we’re all learning something about business mapping despite my Circa 1965 grasp on technology. Somebody is going to drop a box of ping-pong balls on my head.

But let’s talk about our map audience. We all have them…

Your Map Audience

Who is going to be viewing and working with your business map?  This is a critical factor to keep in mind as you create map-based business models. Creating an effective business map entails knowing the answers to these three critical questions:

  • Why are you creating this business map? What is the map’s purpose?
  • Who is going to be viewing and using your map?
  • How are the map viewers going to be applying your map?

By understanding these three aspects of your business mapping audience you will become a better map creator and more of an asset to your organization.

What is the map’s purpose?

The reason for a business map could be simple or it could be complex. It could be a basic map, displaying a basic coverage area for field-work. Perhaps your map is a selection of ZIP codes that are color shaded. Or it could be a complex sales territory map that combines a coverage area map with of regions of accountability and sets up company goals and objectives for monthly results meetings.

The two maps I described above could cover the same set of ZIP codes, but their purpose and use are completely different. The complex map will require more mapping skills to build an effective map. it is likely the more complex map will require more map layers. You’ll need to be clear in territory assignments and you’ll want to include goal definitions in labeling. Map Business Online will help you do all of that.

The purpose of the first map is simply to display a coverage area to a random map viewer. Pretty basic.  For the second, the more sophisticated map audience requires more information. The map needs to be informative with more detail but with no distracting messages and minimal clutter. Text labels must be succinct. The map should be easy-on-the-eyes.

Who Will Be viewing the Map?

At times understanding the exact person viewing your map could help, like if it’s the president of the company, but for the most part, think of your map audience as a group. Examples of map viewing audiences might be:

  • The executive team – These people are short on time and will want to get to the point quickly. They appreciate well thought out proposals but will sour on inaccurate data or pointless and long presentations.
  • A sales team – These guys will want to see sales and customers. Sales goals may or may not be critical to the map. They will use your map as a platform for sales discussions. Encourage team-building through your map statements unless the company culture prefers competition between participants.
  • Customer purchase decision makers – This group will be wary of a sales pitch. Keep map statements honest and fact-based. Do not bash the competition. Be crystal clear with any price discussions – no approximations. If you can’t be clear and concise on a map, don’t put it on the map.
  • Engineers – These people think they can create a better solution than you. Make sure your data is accurate. Stick to one or two main points. If you over complicate your map they will have fun poking holes in your presentation. (Don’t marry an engineer or a person with an engineer father unless you want a personal life filled with instructions.*)
  • Call center – Your maps should be helpful to their process. Call center reps are measured on performance; focus on making their lives easier and more productive.
  • A town meeting – Maps for this audience should be basic, with no room for interpretation. If you’ve been called in to present for a town meeting, refuse. If you accept, bring mace.

The above examples are audiences that could be reading your map or viewing your map as a presentation. I am sure there are many more types of audiences you could be catering to. Seek to understand a little about what motivates them before you build your map.

How Will the Audience Apply Your Business Map?

Ask questions about how a map will be used. Will the map be an online reference for a ZIP code lookup? This is a common call center application.  In the above ZIP code case, your map should minimize the presence of other map layers, keeping things focused on a ZIP code level.

Will the map be used for sales meetings and account discussions? This could mean that a presenter is using the business mapping application itself to display a shared map. Here your map should contain pertinent data layers that can be turned off but still remain at the ready in case they come up in discussion.

By aggregating sales data in map layer labels and territory labels, progress towards goals can be easily shared and digested by your team. Don’t try to present too many details – let the account managers bring their own details to their discussion. Your job is to present an outline that will stimulate discussion.

Is your map providing business analysis for a strategic plan for a group of business decision makers? Once again, bring major themes to the map but don’t go too far into detail.  Import what supporting location-based data you can to address critical areas, leaving most layers turned off at presentation time.

In the subjective process of business mapping, apply your understanding of your audience and your business, to your map work. Make your business map a statement on your professionalism and your value to the organization you work for.

*With apologies to my wife’s family of engineers.

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Contact: Geoffrey Ives or Jason Henderson

About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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