Map Business Online Blog

Read about business mapping and how it can help your business succeed.

Sales Territory Mapping for Elvis


I’m a MapPoint refugee and I decided to try this Map Business Online as a MapPoint alternative. I need your business mapping software to create and manage sales territories for my company. So I spent the day building territories with your tool. We have a couple of hundred territories overall. Some of our sales territories are already assigned and I track them by spreadsheet. Others need to be reworked or newly formed. The company is changing and growing fast. I can hardly keep up with the territory growth! A good problem I guess. I was never happy with the way MapPoint’s sales territory mapping worked.

Our sales territories are assigned by zip code. I see that web-based Map Business Online lets you build territories by zip code, zip 3, county, state, city limit, MSA or Census tract. Pretty cool.

One problem I have is that the boss allows our territories to overlap. He says it’s a legacy issue. If it was up to me I’d institute a no overlap policy, even if it means Kenny will quit. Kenny’s our top sales performer, and that’s only because he’s got all the sweet accounts. And he married well, if you catch my drift. However, because we allow overlap I have to accommodate overlap in my territory tool. I believe Map Business Online does this through the territory options control. Once again, pretty cool.

The first thing I do is go into MapBusinessOnline and set up the territory options. I allow overlap and show overlap in Red on the map. Then I click the transparent check box so I can see through my territories to the map data below. Nice recent map data too! MapPoint’s map data was like Woodstock era data. Woodstock is where Kenny met the boss’ daughter whose name at the time was Still Flower. I call her Shrill Power.

Moving on, I import a list of those pre-assigned territories we have already assigned and that don’t change. It’s an Excel spreadsheet with one column for zip code, another for state, and one for territory name. I process the territories into MBO using an Import Territories button. The territories came in fast and easy. Within three minutes I was looking at over one hundred territories placed and named accurately on my map. Slick. I noticed right off the bat that my spreadsheet had assigned a borderline zip code to the wrong territory. I selected the zip code, hit the little Blue button that pops up, and moved it to the other territory faster than you can say, “Kenny’s a suck up.”

Then I wanted to try building a new territory. I grabbed a polygon tool from the tool bar and drew a rough line through all the zip codes I intended to include. Upon completing the polygon all the way back to the beginning point, a Save File dialog pops up and I name the territory. And there it is – a new territory using a draw tool. I notice as I look at each of my territories, the zip code data is displayed in the Data Window. The Data Window also has a Color Box that lets me adjust colors as necessary for appropriate territory differentiation. I can also read how many zip codes I have in each territory, and export those zips as a spreadsheet. This tool is wicked awesome and saves me lots of time.

Even better, I noticed I could add Demographics by zip code to a territory and when I do, those added data layers become the default data for all territories in that map view. And that demographic data is exportable too. You guys are going to get the Nobel Prize for best freakin’ mapping software some day.

Kenny stopped by and I showed him the territory map so far. He, of course, wanted even more zip codes. I let him point to which zips he want and selected them with my mouse. If I held down the shift key, I could add each one to the list as he pointed. Then I rolled my eyes and added the list to his territory with one click. I exported Kenny’s ‘proposed’ territory additions and sent them to the Boss for approval. Then I went out to the parking lot and let the air out of Kenny’s tires. He hates that.

Later we imported all of Kenny’s key accounts that existed in other reps’ territories. We were able to query this list by territory and review those assignments. That’s really going to let the air out of his tires.

Gretchen, a rookie, wanted her new territory set up her way. “I know all the zip codes I want. They are in numerical order.” I was about to tell her the Jerk Store called and that her order was in, but then I thought, “why not try it.” So we opened up the Data Window. I selected the zip code layer – the one that includes every zip across the country. Next I filtered that layer using modifiers. Show me all zip codes >= 90000, and <= to 92547. In two seconds the Data Window presented the list to me. Along the tool bar was an option to Create or Edit a Territory. I clicked it and just like that I had Gretchen’s territory submitted for review. “Make sure Kenny doesn’t see this,” I quipped.

Well, it turns out I lied at the beginning of this email. I didn’t spend a whole day creating territories. It was more like an hour. I spent a day getting caught up on everything else I had to do, thanks to Map Business Online. Losing MapPoint has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Excepting the time when Kenny moved to Las Vegas to explore his Elvis impersonator aspirations. His side burns were fake and fell off when he over-gyrated, so he came back.

My question is, do you guys employ ex-Elvis impersonators?

MapPoint users – please consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+, g2crowd, chekkt , or Best Vendor


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Map Business Online’s Hidden Feature Gems

Map Business Online is gaining quite a following among business mapping software users. The combination of affordable price point with an outstanding feature set seems to be a winner. Who knew?

There are a lot of hidden gem sub-features in MapBusinessOnline that users might not realize exist upon first glance. These come up here and there as I speak with customers and I thought it worthwhile to share them as a list.

Did you know that when using Map Business Online you can:
• Use the Print Screen button on your keyboard and quickly paste your map view into a PowerPoint slide?
• Build sales territories by selecting first one zip code or county and then, simply hold down the Shift key as you pick the rest? Save when done. Name it something clever.
• Use the Filter Button in the Data Window to search for a consecutive numeric range of zip codes and then create a sales territory based on that zip code range?
• Import a list of sales territories with preassigned territory names using the Create Territories button?
• Allow sales territories to overlap and highlight the overlap using the Territory Options in Map and Data?
• Use the City Limits map layer as a tool to better define town and city names?
• Edit imported data record fields within MBO? Hover over the left hand column in the Data Window and choose your editing option.
• Identify and correct incorrectly geocoded addresses? See colored dots in the left hand column of the Data Window. Hover over a Red X to fix the location of a bad record.
• Rearrange Data layers by selecting and dragging layers up and down in the Map & Data Tab?
• Rearrange route stop order by dragging stops up and down in the Route Window?
• Use multiple radius tool buttons to create zip code maps, lists of your business data, and to generate territories?
• Create a list of favorite route stops? Great for easy access to home locations or repeat hotel locations.
• Add Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico to your map image using the Save Map Image tool?
• View just one sales territory using the Filter Data on Map check box in the Data Window?
• Add data value totals to labels, callouts, and territory names by editing the associated Map Layer labels in the Map and Data Tab?
• Add calculated columns to your data by editing the associated imported data layer in the Map & Data Tab?
• Use your mouse roller to scroll or resize the map view in and out?
• Retrieve a lost Map Legend in the Map and Data Tab’s, Edit Map Properties dialog?
• Edit what states are included in your map view? In Map and Data click the top right filter button.
• View satellite imagery by choosing the satellite imagery template in Map and Data?
• Turn off the Streets layer for a less busy map?
• Request a new feature by sending us an email? We track of the number of requests and consider popular requests for the feature list.

MapPoint users – please consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+, g2crowd, chekkt , or Best Vendor

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On Behalf of the Cloud

Last week the Cloud as a digital online storage service, got a black eye. I’m not here to defend or accuse anyone of anything with regard to the release of private celebrity photos. That’s not for me to say. But I am here to remind people of the fact that, despite some problems, Cloud services have been an amazing benefit for all of us who use technology at work and at home.

Perhaps there are still a few of you who aren’t clear on what ‘Cloud’ really means? Well let’s clear that up. The rest of you can take a sip of coffee during this paragraph. Wikipedia defines “Cloud Computing” as “the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over the Internet.”

To explore this definition a little further, examples of what they mean by Product might be desktop software that you install on to your computer hard drive, a USB hard-drive that you purchase to store data, or business data that you install from a CD. The Cloud can provide all three of these services over the Internet. “Other devices” I take to mean mobile phones and tablets. We pay for these Cloud services like we pay for electricity – by monthly or annual subscriptions.

A consumer of Cloud services should expect that online versions, when compared to desktop versions, of common software will be less expensive. The prices you pay for web software as opposed to desktop software should be considerably lower than what you got used to paying during the decade 2000 through 2010. I noticed this to be the case for business mapping software and for sales territory mapping software. The reasons for the reductions are many and include more streamlined software development processes and lower software distribution costs. They also include the ability to achieve huge economies of scale, for example online data storage can access millions of users through a web page transaction service replacing the need to manufacture, distribute, sell, and manage millions of physical hard drives on personal computers. Land-fills everywhere are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Cloud services are also ubiquitous. This means they are everywhere and your access to them is not limited to your own laptop or cell phone. Typically, if you sign up for a cloud service you can log-in using any computer or device and take up using the product right where you last left it. This makes it really easy to work from home; both a good and bad situation I suppose. It also usually means the same service works for Macs and for PCs.

Cloud software updates are wicked easy to share with the user base. Because users log-in with emails, software updates take place at a low Internet usage time like 3:00 AM EST, and “Viola!” The next time users log-in they are working with updated software. For those of us who leave our machines on 24/7, connected to the same browser pages for weeks at a time, a log-out and log-in operation may be a good idea to access the latest features of Cloud based software.

Some of my favorite Cloud services, services that I use regularly, besides business mapping software and search engines, are: – I can listen to almost any piece of music I look for. On the down side, composers and musicians don’t get paid a fair value for their services and intellectual property. – Sharing large files across the Internet is so easy with these guys. Great for music recording processes. – I use this service multiple times a day to share computer screens with customers. Its two-way screen sharing capabilities are easy-to-use. These screen sharing services have transformed the sales process world-wide. – Photo storage sites like this amaze me. Want to experience a little Burning Man without the sun burn and the dust storms? Flickr search it. – What’s to say? It’s been transformative for society. $110 Million for ALS research from videos of people pouring buckets of water on their heads. Mind boggling. – I cannot believe how often I watch videos. I bet most Americans average at least 6 videos a day. YouTube videos are especially helpful for music studies. As a kid if I wanted to hear a specific song, I’d buy the album for $8.00. Now I can watch a video of multiple artists doing it for free. That’s Cloud savings.
• Movie and TV video streaming – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and Apple TV – these are all cloud services. Dump cable and stream, saving huge dollars. We use Hulu, Netflix, Apple, and Amazon. – Want to help further the study of galaxies? Sign up to view and organize deep space images of galaxies. How cool is that? – A place to store music for sharing. – A picture of a guy that looks exactly like my grandfather. Freaks me out. – Rare books you can actually read on-line for free and many Grateful Dead live recordings. – And other on-line CRM services have transformed contact management.

Cloud computing isn’t perfect and it’s not risk free, as we all found out last week. But it is pretty cool, convenient, and saves us all money. Privacy has got to be improved and I suspect it will be. At Map Business Online where I work, we’re dedicating significant development effort to improving security for data and maps shared over the Cloud by our business mapping software clients. In the long run, copyrighted material must be better protected and better monetized. Services like Spotify and Pandora should be compensating composers and musicians with fair value for shared music files.

With the advent of Big Data analysis which leverages Cloud services, comes the reality that all of our online habits, activities and interests are compiled and organized into personal profiles. I recently found my life insurance rates increased dramatically because my Cloud stored medical records incorrectly listed me as at risk for developing type I diabetes. And then I saw this article Armed with a note from my doctor I pushed back on my insurance company who normalized my fee. Read more about the nature of this marketing, legal, and demographic probing into our lives here:

For the time being, I’m content to trade the sanctity of my personal privacy for the low-cost, convenient, and instantly informative nature of Cloud computing. But I remain wary and ready to act on my own behalf. Because you never know what you might take a picture of, I guess.

MapPoint users – please consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+, g2crowd, chekkt , or Best Vendor

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Legend Has It

Business mapping software helps you communicate concepts and messages to your map audience. A critical aspect of that communication is the Map Legend. I know I talked about the legend in the last post, but I guess I have a little more to say about it.

The map legend is the key to understanding map symbolization, color schemes, and key data layers. Sometimes it is referred to as a Map Key.

Keep It Simple
Over time, as you add more and more information to your map, your map legend can grow very large. You might think of this growing map legend as a warning. If your map legend is bigger than one-third of your map, you may be placing too many data layers into your map view or trying to symbolize too many location points. Consider simplifying your map by deleting layers, simplifying your color coding scheme, or perhaps using two maps to make your point.

Often new users try to symbolize more than 50 different record types. For example, the user may choose to assign a different symbol for each of 65 sales reps, or a different symbol for each of 80 customer locations. The mapping software will let the user do this, but it is not necessarily a good idea because it creates a busy map and a map legend that’s way too big. You may be requiring the boss to think too hard – now is that something you really want to do? Consider consolidating your symbolization candidates into categories. Instead of 50 sales reps, classify them by type: 20 reps are seasoned, 25 reps are rookies, and 5 reps are temps. Customer categories assigned to those 80 customers might be categorized this way: 25 commercial accounts, 20 industrial accounts, 15 distributors, and 20 government accounts. So instead of 80 customer symbols you would now show five different symbols classified by customer type.

Color Shading by Numeric Value
As you symbolize your numeric data, data with values like dollars or quantities, you may create a map legend classification of your data based on value. This is achieved by choosing a set of ranges over which to display numeric values. Perhaps three ranges:

• 0 to $1000 Yellow
• $1001 to $5000 Green
• $5001 to $10000 Red

Each range is represented on the map and the map legend by a different color shade. Business mapping software will provide controls over how numeric values are displayed, how many ranges you can establish, and what symbols and colors can be applied.

These numeric value color coding schemes are key tools for displaying demographic data by county, zip code or Census tract. In this case, you will be shading the color of a zip code to reflect an estimated population of an age segment or gender in that zip code, or perhaps household income by zip code, to name just a few examples. But the range assignments work the same way.

Reset Legend Order Using Color Code Tools
Even though the Map Legend is an editable feature of the mapping program, most of the data display controls are found in the color coding processes. Sometimes, after completing a value based color scheme, a client realizes that the map legend does not reflect the order they had anticipated or desired. To change the order of the data ranges or the breadth of a data range, return to the color code controls and adjust the parameters there.

Often, when you map Excel data or other spreadsheet datasets, the name of the data you imported ends up on the legend as a data label. Use the map legend editing tools to edit final data labels on legend layers, or to delete superfluous words in descriptions.

Remember, the map legend is the key to unlocking the meaning of your map. Keep it clean and focused on the critical elements you are trying to display with your map. Make it easy for your audience to understand your map.

Napoleon defeated Austria with the help of a simple map. Turns out his Russian map may have been way too busy. “Mon Dieu! Cette carte légende font tourner la tête!”

MapPoint users – please consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+, g2crowd, chekkt , or Best Vendor

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Think Before You Save Your Map

Saving a map view is a simple step in your business mapping process, but do not take that simple step for granted. Business mapping software is all about your business. It’s about understanding who you do business with and where they are located. Your business map will tell you and your audience many things about the patterns in your business.

You’ve set up your map by importing business data and arranging the data on the map in a way that makes sense to you and your map audience. Your map may simply display customers or it may include demography, and perhaps other business layers like distributors, competitors, and shopping malls. Who knows? It’s your business.

At some point, your map will be ready. It will show the basic aspects of your business you originally intended to share. You may even have pulled in extra data points you now want to delete – to keep things simple. But on balance your map is ready to be saved. Or is it?

At the point of saving a map, double check some things. Make sure you’ve accomplished your map mission. I know it took more time than you expected, but so do chocolate chip cookies, if you want them just the right mix between soft and crunchy.

The Legend
Generally maps have a legend or a key that tells the reader what the mappoints are all about and perhaps a little bit about any administrative districts represented on the map. Read the legend associated with your map. Does it make sense to someone who works in your business? If you were showing this to a customer or a funder would they understand your map intent? If not, do some editing – if your business mapping software allows it. Avoid cryptic file names – use actual names. For example, replace a name like DBcustlist_12.45 with something more descriptive like Customers 2012.

Are there legend lines that mean nothing, like the word “Index” with no reference points? Delete it. And think about your audience. They may not understand words you typically use in-house. Change terms such as Misc Accounts to Key Customers, or Okeda and Other Plants to Satellite Manufacturing, Ohio.

And double check your imported data layers. Are they all being used and are they related to your final map? Are there duplicates? While it is perfectly reasonable to have multiple data layers in play on your map, you may have imported data early-on that you’ve since replaced. Make sure those extra layers are cleaned up now. Delete superfluous data layers.

Is the legend well placed? Does it block any key data points? Could it be dragged and placed in the ocean, off to the side but still prominent. Sometimes a bay is the perfect place for a legend.

Good. Now your legend makes sense.

Administrative District Map Layers
But how about your administrative districts, are they set-up the way you intended? Look at your counties, states, and zip code layers. Is your map more meaningful if they are transparent or opaque? Try it and see what you think. Consider the city limit layer. Do city limits help your map in anyway? City limits can add a metropolitan context to your map view. Sometimes it’s nice to show city limits as reference points. OK. That’s done.

Territory or Coverage Area Highlights
Perhaps you’ve created a territory map or highlighted a few key marketing areas. Make sure your colors are distinct. Ask yourself if you can easily differentiate between segments based on color shades. And what about labeling? Are your territories nicely labeled with succinct names? Did you consider adding sales data to your labels? You’ve invested in territory mapping software for a reason. Think about these details in terms of what your audience wants or expects to see.

OK. Go ahead and save your map. And name it something that makes sense to your map audience and your indexing process. You might even consider adding a Title Bar to your finished map.

Now go forth and mapify your world remembering:
“Clean uncluttered maps fueled the magnificent voyages of discovery, while messy maps lit cooking fires at the in-laws hut.” – Wrong Way Corrigan

MapPoint users – please consider as a MapPoint alternative.

Let a digital map help you learn about your business.

Review us at Google+, g2crowd, chekkt , or Best Vendor

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