There are many reasons why businesspeople invest in business mapping software, GIS, or location-based tools for solutions to common and sometimes advanced problems. Let’s take a turn in the business garden, shall we?
Stagnant Business Growth
Grow or die – it’s the American way. I’ve lived through tremendous growth periods and survived three periods of seriously dead sales activity over my four decades. 2008 with the economy at a complete standstill, I sat in the boss’s office and listened while he screamed at me for the sales decline. What fun. One thing I’ve learned is that luck matters. But so does careful consideration of the situation, which is where business mapping analysis comes in.
Viewing mapped customer locations overlayed onto a relevant demographic map can be idea-generating and sometimes earth-shattering. Conducting a thorough location-based market analysis, supplemented with customer feedback, helps to refocus marketing decisions and leads to test-market scenarios that can provide real breakthroughs in sales.
Business mapping analysis is work. It requires thoughtful planning, good data, and often a map geek or someone who can organize the map development. But the results are usually surprising, more than just reaffirming some questionable assumptions. Examples of market turnarounds I’ve seen in business:
- Market Expansion Mapping – Develop a list of the top five major urban areas to invest in based on demographic characteristics and competitor locations.
- Product Release Planning – Product release prioritization by state based on historical sales in states with similar demographic and recreational patterns.
- Site Selection – Facility location planning when incorporating commuter driving habits, major physical obstacles, and key demographics.
Planning is generally more successful when location-based data is considered along with other business factors.
A Need for Deeper Customer Insights
Who buys your products and why? Hopefully, you’ve got a good grip on that question. But the answer changes over time as products morph, competition rolls in, and economic condition shift. We’re all prepared for the advent of AI. (Gulp.) Things change, and you must reassess your markets.
Business mapping software helps your marketing and sales professionals develop a baseline set of properties or elements that roughly define success for your business today. You can turn to industry groups for business data related to products, customers, and industry trends. Often these internal and external elements have location components. Example location components are neighborhoods, addresses, ZIP codes, city limits, and counties.
Once imported into business mapping software and optimized for map viewing, these location-based business elements can suggest obvious and subtle suggestions about strategic initiatives, marketing campaigns, and perhaps new facility locations. For instance, if an analysis of all location-based marketing showed zero sales for any customer who lived further than a 30-minute drive time from a retailer, then marketing outreach for those products to that set of customers could be limited by geography and the savings spent on other campaigns.
There is robust information locked in ZIP code-level data analysis. Do you realize that all car parts are tracked by area? The registry of motor vehicles in your state has an up-to-date record of all operating vehicles by year, make, model, and vehicle ID. These records include car mileage reported annually. A good marketing team knows exactly how many tires of which brand, size, and style will sell in each ZIP code this coming year.
Not all businesses are blessed with this level of detail. Still, if you dig, you will likely find demographic, business facilities, or other relevant data that can help you plan for growth over the next decade. MapBusinessOnline includes access to business listing data (for a small fee) that includes firmographic information for analysis.
Engaging Your Sales Force
Sales teams need leadership, and companies go through periods where leadership is wanting. It happens. Sales leadership is a delicate balance between implementing company goals and objectives while developing and incentivizing your sales team. Some people are born to sell; others grow into it slowly. And some people should have stayed in the warehouse.
I firmly believe that business mapping software provides the perfect platform for gathering a sales group and refocusing their efforts toward achievable goals. Sales territory maps are compelling visualizations of the sales team’s day-to-day business. A good map is easy on the eyes. It offers the focal point for a sales meeting – great for presenting numbers, discussing tactics, and suggesting new markets.
An overlayed customer list can generate intense and informative discussions about products, sales approaches, and problem areas. Talk about team building. Build an informative business map. Share an area of interest at your next sales meeting and ask for feedback on sales potential – see what happens when you use a map for the presentation.
Strategic planning generally involves many different but related initiatives. Expansion decisions, hirings decisions, sales forecasts – the list goes on and on. Some of those initiatives will require critical location components.
Decisions around facilities and expansion will involve dealing with new municipalities. Resources critical to your business must be understood before any commitment is made. Business maps help organize significant moves. Micheal Corleone would have killed for a business map for planning the family’s move to Las Vegas.
Competing businesses need to be mapped and ranked. A SWOT analysis must consider how the competition is approaching the marketplace. Where are their offices and warehouses located? What is their business center of gravity? Imported location data overlaid on competitor maps include:
- Competitor facility locations.
- Customer and prospect locations.
- Sales representative start-of-day locations.
- Key vendor warehouse locations.
- Critical industry locations.
A fully functional competitor map provides a theater of operations view of your business’s competitive landscape. Now strategic decisions can be weighed with critical elements visualized and ranked.
New Market Analysis
Online business mapping software is particularly good at displaying where sales are brisk, and customers are plenty. Once the customer activity data is imported into the map view and territories are constructed, the viewers can get a good solid eye-full of where they are doing it right. And this is very important because where you are doing it right points to where you could be doing it right in other places around the nation.
A well-designed and uncluttered map visualization will display ZIP codes or counties that generate the most revenue for your product lines and services. Those areas have business and demographic characteristics that need to be identified. The market analysis process will expose population levels, ethnic concentrations, age densities, and other possible demographic traits associated with your best business areas.
For B2B sales organizations, NAICS/SIC industry code firmographics can expose industry trends by business name or industry type. Extract business listings by industry using MapBusinessOnline business listings search tools.
These are a few reasons businesses turn to location-based analysis to help with effective decision-making processes. While any business software costs money and involves a learning curve, we apply these tools because they help our businesses succeed.
MapBusinessOnline Standard and Pro are affordable software tools that make it easy to:
- Create, balance, and manage sales territories.
- Develop customer maps for analysis and sharing.
- Conduct location-based market analysis.
- Optimize and present
When you sprain your ankle, you use crutches. As you age and your vision blurs, you get glasses or contacts. When you get interested in buying a car or a house, you go to the Internet to get a sense of the market.
It is the same with business growth and decision-making; you seek new tools. One of those tools should be business mapping software. Keep in mind if you don’t use it, your competitors very likely will.