In preparation for our product release – Map Business Online Pro, scheduled for the fourth week of September, consider how Map Business Online is already used as a marketing mapping tool.
The current release of Map Business Online has a Market Analysis button on the master toolbar. It is that set of market analysis tools that will be enhanced by the release of Map Business Online Pro. Users who upgrade to Pro will find multi-center point analysis by driving time and driving distances, as opposed to simple radius searches and straight-line distances measures. Map Business Online Pro users will also be allowed to import up to 250,000 location records per map, among other cool features.
Marketing professionals across North America use Map Business Online as a platform for displaying marketing areas of interest. Often those maps utilize the ZIP code and county layers included in Map Business Online. But the Add Map Layers button also offers a Census Bureau/OMB district layer called Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSA’s.
MSA geographies were created by the United States Office of Management and Budget to represent major urban areas around the USA for market analysis. More specifically:
The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined 384 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for the United States and eight for Puerto Rico. The OMB defines a Metropolitan Statistical Area as one or more adjacent counties or county-equivalents that have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.
MSA’s provide map users with standardized major metropolitan areas to build sales territories or analysis around. These districts can be used to develop market analysis for business expansion. Map Business Online demographic data is preformatted for analysis by MSA. This can help streamline market analysis around a city without the added pain of pulling in all the major jurisdictions for that urban area.
Think of it this way. An area like Washington DC, or Minneapolis/St. Paul is not made up of one big city. They are often an area made up of multiple cities, boroughs, or neighborhoods. Analysis by area then requires a step dedicated to consolidating those city components into a territory or marketing area. In which case, MSA’s are already available for exactly that type of analysis.
Demographic Analysis by ZIP Code or MSA
Market Analysis often relies on demographic data. Census Bureau demographic data is a broad library of statistics about how people live and work here in the United States. While Map Business Online doesn’t provide every Census layer yet, the library of demographic data options available in the tool is significant and growing.
These demographic layers provide critical information about your business’s customers: who they are, how they live, and where they live. Just the brief exercise of mapping your company’s most lucrative ZIP code and then overlaying a few key demographics can be an eye-opening experience. If you haven’t conducted that market analysis, you should.
Maps are Just Cool
It’s nice when every so often you get reminded about how cool the mapping software you sell is. I was on a call with a customer this week. A talented young lady whose job title is Franchise Development Manager. She works for a franchise company and uses Map Business Online to create map visualizations and franchise territories supporting their franchise selling process.
In discussing her use of our business mapping software, she made one of those obvious statements that you wished you’d come up with. She said, “Map visualizations, equal sales.” For a franchise sales business, a business map helps close the deal.
Visualizations Equal Sales
This truism for business mapping software is very powerful. Converting a complex business operation into a business map can be transformative and informative at once. If your business system lends itself to a geographic view, map visualizations can make that sale. Not all business models will present with obvious geographic elements, but map visualizations can be extremely useful none the less.
Because sometimes the presentation you have coming up, or the public meeting you’re attending this week or even your boundary trampling in-laws, can benefit from a succinct and well-positioned map visualization. “Mom, Dad. We love you, but if you stop over before 9 AM on a weekend morning one more time, this section of the map, right under my cursor here, color-coded in blood red, is where you are going to be buried. And much sooner than you think.”
A well-constructed map visualization of a business system, that lends itself to geographic descriptions – one that uses address data in some way or considers coverage areas in terms of ZIP codes or counties – becomes a powerful sales and marketing tool. A carefully crafted business map carries authority. Maps are convincing.
Maps can equal sales. And marketing maps can drive conversions.
Maps Build Awareness
And gosh darn it, people like maps. You can do a variety of cool things with Map Business Online. In addition to creating sales territories and identifying the number of white male geezers (Google Definition: informal, derogatory, an old man) that reside in ZIP code 90210, a business map user can:
- Turn on the satellite map background and fly to your favorite childhood home or grandparent’s residence, for a bird’s-eye view that didn’t exist when you were a kid
- Plan that extensive summer-time mountain hike for next year, that your significant other promises to do, but never really seriously intends to even attempt
- Or create weird looking marketing maps like this one
Maps are always surprising humans. Mapping technology has advanced rapidly over my lifetime. As digital maps became ubiquitous, people became more engaged in active mapping. Users complain when addresses are wrong, ZIP codes are incorrectly placed, or when points-of-interest data are not accurately represented. Maps, made by humans, are never perfect. But map users demand better maps every day. And they will get better. Just look at Columbus’ maps.
Maps have improved awareness so much that today maps are regularly used to solve crimes. A case in point revealed as I wrote this blog. If you plan on committing a crime, make sure to take mapping software advances into account.
So keep those marketing maps coming, and have fun with them. Because most of us have in-laws. And map visualizations can keep them at bay.
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