Map Business Online Blog

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

Create Sales Territories Using Drive Time Queries

Driving time is always an issue, isn’t it? How long a drive is it to get to Rolanda’s birthday party tomorrow? How long will it take on average for our patrons to reach our new restaurant? Is it faster to take the 10 or the Freeway to get to the All You Can Eat Icelandic Buffet tonight?

Driving times impact our lives daily, be they commuting delays or an emergency routing times during heavy traffic. Drive times have impact. So it makes sense that some companies might want to base their sales territory mapping assignments on driving times or driving distances. Using Drive Time tools to create sales territories are an alternative to the standard Map Business Online methods of territory creation including polygon queries, incremental selection, and territory creation from preassigned spreadsheet import.

Company’s with lot’s of field technicians may have interest in defining sales territories by drive time. It makes sense to organize areas of responsibility around specified drive times or distances from the technician’s home. Drive time is essential for retail mapping.

Drive Time Queries
Map Business Online business mapping software includes a Drive Time/Distance button in the toolbar – click the drop down next to the Search Data in Circle button. You’ll want that odd-shaped polygon button.

To begin a series of new sales territories based on Drive Time or Drive Distance polygons start with a list of points. Your drive time analysis usually starts from a series of specific locations, like all of your sales representative’s home offices. You might also choose all of your branch business locations. Create a spreadsheet of those business addresses and import those locations into Map Business Online. Plot multiple locations on a map.

Once imported, you will see that when you click on any of these points a mini toolbar opens up below the point, and on that mini toolbar you will find a Drive Time button. Before you click that drive time button choose the geographic district layer or map layer you would like to base your territories on: state, county, or zip code. More layers are available by clicking the Add Map Layers button.

The drive time button:Drivetime

Using the Map & Data Tab choose the district layer most appropriate for your territory. Most people focusing on drive time territories choose zip codes. But you could choose zip3 codes or Census tracts too. For this exercise let’s go with zip code mapping.

Now, back to that mini toolbar under your selected point. Click the drive time polygon button. Choose the drive time increment you’d like to set for your territory. For example, if you choose 25 minutes MBO will draw a polygon on the map that represents an area drivable along the road network in all directions from your central point for 25 minutes. (If zip codes are the only layer checked on, you’ll go right to naming.)

Once that polygon outline is displayed in yellow on the map, click the Binoculars icon on the mini toolbar. This will let you query the zip code layer. Choose the zip code layer and save your territory name when prompted.

Now you have created your first drive time sales territory. You could do the exact same process and choose a driving distance polygon instead. A driving distance query simply returns the zip code list within 25 driving miles of a central point, as opposed to driving minutes.

Demographic Maps
Remember if you add demographic data to your first territory by choosing the Add Data button in the Data Window, you can expect all additional territories based on zip codes in that map, to include the same demographic data. This is a fantastic way to optimize your territories based on population or income.

Additionally, in Map & Data you can click the Gear Icon and choose the Territory Options tab, which can allow territories to overlap. Allowing territories to intersect will let you identify areas of overlap and address them per your particular business rules.

Drive time business analysis helps smart businesses plan around the very real restrictions we face in day-to-day living. People may be willing to drive to visit retail stores, schools, and medical clinics up to a certain time frame. Drive time can help your business understand how far your customers are willing to drive and or operationally, how far your associates can drive and be efficient. Either way, the All You Can Eat Icelandic Buffet stands to benefit.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Sales 101 & the Hard Conversation: A Basic Path to Sales Success

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A swarm of bees. If I can help catch a swarm of thirty thousand bees, you can sell.

After some twenty-five years in sales I find myself in an unusual situation.  The customers I speak with are buying my product and by in large, are extremely happy with it. This happy-customer phenomenon makes me stop and take stock of exactly how I got here. Why do I have happy customers?  I want to understand how I am able to sustain customers and grow business even in the face of hard conversations about pricing, service levels, competition, and product shortfalls.

My professional sales experience runs the gamut, from electronic and electrical distribution, automotive industry component supply, and finally to consumer and professional software sales. Before and during college I worked sandwich shops, sold cigarettes, vended soft-serve ice-cream.  And back in fifth grade, I started out delivering newspapers and mowing lawns. When I look back across five decades of transactions and interactions with customers, all jobs share that same basic fact: you provide a product or a service to a client in exchange for money, and you want to repeat the exercise.

In my experience success, in selling is dependent of three major factors:

  • Product Development – the value of the product or service you provide
  • Marketing – the way your product or service is presented to the world
  • Sales – the way you treat individual customers across all transactions. Do your customers trust you?

The chances are good that, as a sales person, you have minimal control over the product that you sell. Until your organization is confident in your ability to manage and develop customers, you are going to expected to focus on your primary job – sales. In my most recent role I’ve been slightly more involved on the product side.  I brought some expertise in the product I sell, but the product itself was already affordable, valuable, and in demand. This makes my sales job a whole lot easier.

Related Concept:  I believe sales success to be eighty percent luck. Right place, right product, right economy, right time.  Most high and mighty sales people you meet – just plain lucky.

The Part-time Marketer

So let’s forget about product value. Let’s assume, as a sales person, you only have control over your marketing and your selling approach. The chances are good, if you’re in sales you’ve probably been asked to handle some marketing elements from time to time.  That can mean your company is not spending much money on marketing. Your company may not have a marketing director on-board or perhaps your top-dog in marketing is a place holder, someone asked to plug a hole while the company focuses on other things.

Your part-time marketing effort is restricted by a tight budget that’s as limited as your time. Remember, if your official position is in sales you are going to be measured on sales results, not on how much time or money you dedicate to marketing. Marketing is often treated as a ‘we’ll get to it’ thing. One company I worked for always referred to the sales department as ‘marketing.’ So don’t quit your day job. 

When marketing you need to make sure your company’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM), usually a Google Ad Words campaign, and organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is active and generating traffic from Google, Bing, and Yahoo Internet searches.  You’re going to need to become a little conversant in the SEM/SEO aspects of the marketing world. You can hire a consultant or an agency to help you with SEM/SEO at a reasonable cost, but you have to search.  Contact me and I’ll recommend one. SEM (paid) and SEO (free) are critical processes to generating leads and in many cases are responsible for most e-commerce sales. If SEM/SEO is not working at your company and it doesn’t look like you’ll be allowed to make it work – leave right now. It means the business is stuck and you will fail. I guarantee you that your competitors are using SEM/SEO and it’s working for them.

Related Concept:  Don’t put sales people in part-time marketing roles. It takes six months to just come up to speed on the latest marketing technologies, which detracts from their selling focus, which means you will fire them. Hire a marketing director.

Do not waste the company’s money on trade shows, banner ads, print ads, TV ads or radio ads. Those are all obsolete methods of advertising.   I suppose there are a few businesses that can still drive local sales results with the right TV ad, but it’s generally not for you. For most of you it’s SEO or get out of marketing.

The Comfy Chair

SEO works like this. A potential customer types words into a search engine and clicks on a search engine’s returned results and lands on your landing page. Those landing pages are designed to make your customer feel confident they’ve come to the right place.   Organic search and paid search is like trapping a mouse. You use keywords as the bait. You place your mouse trap ad on the Internet as if it were the kitchen floor. And you hope to catch a mouse, or in our case – a customer.

Think back to college. Was your room the party room? That customer you seek is like someone who comes to your dorm room to party.  When they look into your room they need to see a comfy chair or two, maybe a bong, a cool poster, perhaps some liquor and glasses, some cool music should be playing, and your room is clean.  If they feel at home, they decide to stay and party.  It is the same with your landing page for your potential customer.  Upon landing there your future customer should immediately feel like they made the right choice by clicking on your site. No creepy off topic subjects to distract, just signs of your authority and clear pathways to answers and calls-to-action or purchasing.  Ah! Your customer is ready to party.

Deliberate Courteousness

Not every client will buy right off. Most are going to require some hand holding. That’s why you have a job in sales. You’re going to probably have to respond to an email.  It could also be a phone call, but most people today use email. This is especially true with younger customers; and they are gradually holding sway. Regardless of the channel, at all times be deliberately courteous.

Deliberate courteousness is dirt simple. It what your mom tried to teach you – a combination of politeness and common sense. It is also surprisingly absent in many sales interactions. I have to remind myself in the face of occasional rude customer, be deliberately courteous.

Related Concept:  Respond. RESPOND! Don’t let emails atrophy. Don’t set a spam filter trap for customer emails. Don’t be that guy who writes: “Janet, I’m sorry I didn’t respond two months ago. I just found your email in my spam filter.” NEXT! This happens all too often.

Start your email response with a ‘thank you.’ “Thank you for your interest in Specialty Dog Brushes.”  This simple and easy step immediately tells your customer that you are glad they contacted you and you are ready to help. Don’t say too much in this first email, perhaps an answer to an obvious question, or maybe clarify time zones for a meeting. Make it polite and professional with a ‘thank you’ signature and your full contact info.

Now your customer knows they are dealing with a professional. Your job is to keep them thinking that way.  Every comment you make, every email you send, every conversation you share counts. It all adds up to your professional persona in the eyes of the customer.

And don’t forget to spell check. We all misspell words. I may even have some grammar or spelling issues in this post. But, please spell check and think through your grammar. It matters. When a customer compares your email, with three misspelled words, to your competitor’s perfect email, guess who wins?

If you get phone messages, call back. Do it right away.  I have been stunned by the amount of customers I call back who express how thankful they are that I actually called back. You know what that means? That means sales people generally do not call back. Remember that. You can stand out from your competition just by calling back promptly. Your simple response puts you on the winning track. How freaking cool is that?

Related concept: The more you act like a professional the more you become a professional. No one has to know about your failures in a previous life. Act and you shall become.

Selling Method – Be Yourself and Know Your Product

Now that customers are calling and considering your product, you must answer their questions. Be honest and forthright. Over time, it is through speaking with customers that you will learn how your product solves business problems.  Listen carefully and answer their questions thoughtfully and succinctly.  Ask clarifying questions about how you can help them. Above all be honest and sincere. Be yourself.

There are many heavily marketed selling methods and sales pipeline management schemes that can help you generate sales and effectively manage your sales revenue funnel. You should explore these tools with an open mind and selectively apply some of the methods they purport. I particularly like, The Funnel Principlehttp://www.breakthrough-sales.com/funnel-principle.html.   Just remember: 95 percent of the customers you speak with today will be almost as educated as you are about your industry and your product. The Internet makes it easy for buyers to research products and companies in detail. In a way, it’s a buyer’s market simply the Internet exists.  When people get smart about products and companies they easily see through methods and scripts. So, be yourself and answer their questions with sincerity. If you don’t have answers tell them you’ll get back to them, and do just that. It is an opportunity to show follow through.

I’ve observed several sales-strategy gurus enter and exit companies over time. It is generally a painful yet somewhat entertaining exercise to watch. One ‘guru’ was an alleged expert at a particular selling methodology. He followed a particular process exactly, always listening to the customer, tying the customer requirement to the product and the product back to customer benefit; always asking for the order. For process he got an A grade. Unfortunately he sold nothing. One of his clients was the largest oil and gas company in the world.  That energy industry buyer’s comment on this ‘expert’ sales person was simple, “That guy was worst sales person ever.” The finest sales strategy on Earth can’t overcome an offensive personality.

Related Concept:  The typical customer greeting, “How can I help you?” should define your role as a sales person. You get paid to help.  Help is your consistent role throughout the customer relationship.

I am no sales guru, but here’s a list of the primary selling skills that work for me:

  • Always review the customer’s website to better understand their business
  • Be an active and responsive listener – use empathy, repeat back what you’ve heard
  • Resist the urge to speak (this is different from listening) – over time this becomes easier but may be very difficult for some of you talkers. Often a customer will sell themselves while you take notes
  • Tie the customer’s stated requirements back to your product’s benefit. Try to focus on just three major customer requirements. Look for a requirement that your product uniquely addresses (that is not price)
  • Try to politely ask questions that reveal who the customer is and how they process decisions
  • Don’t talk about competitors unless asked to. Tread carefully here – saying positive things about competitors can build your industry authority. Trashing a competitor can destroy your credibility
  • Write down key points and follow-up items. Sound like a no-brainer? Do it. Write it down.
  • The customer is not always right and you must master the art of correcting without insulting; communicating without pontificating
  • Don’t ask for the order. That’s obnoxious. Ask what more you can do for your customer

Be patient with your customers.  You have nowhere else to go. You are paid to answer their questions and hold their hand through processes. I know on bad days it can feel exasperating. Remind yourself – helping this difficult customer is exactly what you are supposed to be doing right now.

Early in my career I worked in industrial controls distribution.  There was a low-level engineer that worked for one of our relatively small accounts. This guy was a royal pain. He’d come in our counter area at odd hours and demand detailed support. He was a very picky and sometimes down-right rude.  My associate Ray had the account and the patience of Job with this customer.  I’d head home on a Friday night and Ray would be bent over the sales counter, eye-to-eye with this guy, debating wiring diagrams. Several years later that customer had been promoted to lead engineer at a major Maine business and awarded a massive stores contract to our company. You just never know who you are talking to. Way to go Ray.

Sales Happen and So Do Hard Conversations

If you are selling a solid product that people need, and your SEO is working, you are going to get the clicks and calls.  If you treat people courteously you will get the calls back and sales will happen.  But now comes the hard part. Once people get to know you a little, and especially after they spend money, they expect your product or service to display real value. There will always be points where your product or service falls short of expectations. Nothing is perfect.

Unmet expectations could happen for many reasons:

  • Some customers just naturally expect too much
  • You may have deliberately or inadvertently over promised
  • Customers might be used to another product or service and yours requires they use new work-flows
  • Customers might just ask for something because ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’
  • Some customers are in over their heads and demand excessive support to get comfortable
  • Your product or service might not be up to par with market requirements – in technology this happens on a cyclical basis

How do you have the hard conversation with these valued customers and not lose sales? First of all, you do it by having the conversation. Don’t avoid it. If you avoid the hard conversation all the work you’ve done up to this point is lost.  Your customer will feel ignored, demeaned, or just pissed off. They will lose respect for you.  Your college dormitory is no longer a place for them to party. They will take their business to a place that feels more comfortable.  So step one is to decide to have the conversation.

  1. Decide to have the conversation
  2. Think about your response. Thank the customer for asking. Come to the conversation with ideas, suggestions, or workarounds
  3. Use the phone. If the conversation is hard – you should use the phone not email
  4. Use open language. Engage the customer’s ideas and concerns. Repeat their major points back to them to make them feel heard
  5. If the requirement is complex, bring the issue to your higher-ups. Tell the customer you will elevate the issue – and actually do just that. Good companies want to hear about customer objections. 

Related concept: Email is less effective with hard conversations. Emails can easily present an inadvertent harshness in tone.  When in doubt – pick up the phone.

I have found when I follow this hard conversation approach my relationship with hard conversation customers almost always improve. And in the long run, the product I represent becomes a more effective product because of the plain feedback I received.

This process won’t save every customer. There will always be lost customers. No sales person keeps 100% of their customers. But by having hard conversations in a positive and open manner, with follow-up, you will gain a reputation as a person of your word; as a sales person who feels like a partner, not like a vendor.

Here at www.MapBusinessOnline.com we experienced a rare service break-down due to a software glitch.  There were multiple customers impacted and many called us wondering when things would improve. It took a few days and it was stressful. But in the end every one of those customers thanked us for fixing the issue and the reason they thanked us was because we kept them informed the whole way through. It was frustrating for the customer but they knew we were on it.  Make the hard conversation call.

Make your customers feel at home. Welcome them to your world with comfy landing pages, positive emails and phone greetings. Be deliberately courteous. Listen more, talk less. Keep the customer interested by responding to questions and don’t avoid the hard conversation. This will serve you well in your current role and in roles to come, because sooner or later your luck will run out and you will have to spin the wheel once more and take on a new sales role (and maybe marketing) in a new organization.

Related concept: Treat your associates and reports exactly as you would a customer. There’s a golden rule there somewhere.  Follow it.

Geoffrey Ives is Vice President of Sales for www.MapBusinessOnline.combusiness mapping software for sales & marketing professionals.  He would be happy to receive comments or answer questions about this article.

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Ascend356 Adding Great Value to Map Business Online

View Ascend356’s MapShare: https://www.mapbusinessonline.com:443/Viewer.aspx/066cea3a-3d80-4a2e-a757-607a5a477841

Map Business Online business mapping software is utilized across a variety of vertical markets but the market most often applying our data visualization tools is the healthcare market. Applications within healthcare vary widely. Hospitals use the tool to plan expansions or simply get a visualization of medical resources across a target area. Home health care agencies use the tool to organize their field staff and supplement scheduling processes with the MBO multi-stop route planner and patient location visualizations. Insurance companies use the tool to organize marketing campaigns, visualize claims by location, or plan nation-wide events that engage the public.

Ascend356
Enter Tracy Ferren from Ascend356 – http://www.ascend356.com. I first met Tracy a few years back when he called asking questions about how to apply Map Business Online to sales and marketing territory management. Since that time Tracy has become somewhat of an expert on MBO himself. Ascend356 consults with a variety of healthcare related organizations about their field staff requirements, marketing efforts, web-site development, and capital equipment availability.

One element of Tracy’s consulting practice is to provide the tools and process for powerful map visualizations. That’s where MBO comes in real handy. Tracy’s medical customers include medical device companies that sell capital equipment and at times consumables. Tracy sets up map visualizations that display medical facility points color coded by equipment concentrations, all this against a background of sales territories by county or zip code. Sales territory mapping provides health care organization with clear coverage areas and sales accountability zones. These Map Business Online visualizations also help Ascend356’s map audience assess equipment allocations, and track waste products for disposal compliance. Data layers can be exported from the map for use in third party applications or for record keeping.

Ascend356 also provides a rapid operational analysis that thoroughly assesses territory size by matrix. That matrix can include surgery count, bed count, number of hospitals in a system, or any number of customer selected criteria. Tracy points out, “Map Business Online is a powerful tool that allows me to easily extract, sort, and analyze data by territory, zone, or region.” I would add that Tracy has provided valuable MBO customer feedback and feature recommendations that often become part of the MBO feature set.

There’s almost no end to how map visualizations can help a medical organization better manage their business. Part of the power of MBO is that simple instant awareness that occurs when a human being views a map. Maps connect people and organizations with places, to state the obvious. Once that recognition takes place, additional data only expands the viewers understanding. For instance, when a field manager views Tracy’s map she can quickly understand where the facility is located, what its coverage area is, its bed capacity, and the critical disciplines supported by the particular medical team.

Market Analysis
From a marketing perspective Ascend356 can provide a soup to nuts solution that goes way beyond mapping and geographic marketing analysis. Ascend356 offers web-site development services, SEM and SEO support, as well as expertise in email and online marketing approaches. And nobody understands how overwhelming the current marketing technologies can be better than I do. SEO/SEM consulting services pay-back can be outstanding. Because we’ve all got plenty to deal with in managing our day-to-day business without have to hold SEO séances that try to predict the impact of the latest Google update. With apologies to the Google SEO robot.

Tracy Ferren and Ascend356 are consulting engineers who add tremendous value to standard software applications – in mapping and in general sales and marketing. You should call contact them with your questions.

We’d love to understand how your business can add value to Map Business Online just like Ascend356, but perhaps in your particular vertical market. Contact Map Business Online and let us know. Sharing our mutual success stories will only benefit our companies in our shared markets. After all, it’s all about SEO today – blog it, Tweet it, share it, and hope that somebody clicks on it besides my mom. Did I say that out loud?

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Using the Draw Tools in Map Business Online

Most business mapping software allows users to create and maintain territories based on geographic districts like zip codes, counties or states. These sales territories can be created by importing spreadsheets that designate the territory assignment or they could be created using a polygon or radius search too that collects the zip codes of an area and converts them into a territory. There are actually more ways to create territories using geographic districts but I want talk about another set of tools today.

Sometimes users don’t want territories based on zip codes, they just want to designate an area based on landmarks, roads, or rivers. They want free-form draw tools. Fortunately Map Business Online includes a set of draw tools for just such an occasion. The Draw Tools are located on the tool bar with the icon that says “Abc” with a white background. There is a drop down arrow there that will display all the draw related tools.

These tools are basic line, polygon, circle and point tools for placing objects on your map view. There is also an option to insert a Text Box anywhere on the map.

Drawing Territories
Because we are hand drawing territories using our mouse, our territory boundaries will be rough. They will not be as accurate or as consistent as territory boundaries based on zip codes. Still, many organizations prefer this method because it is rooted in a shared understanding of boundaries based on real world objects – roads, bridges, buildings, and other landmarks.

If I was building a territory using free-form draw tools, I would begin by toggling back and forth between a streets and a satellite map view. Zoom in to your area of interest based on a rough idea of the size of your territory. In the Map and Data tab, drop down the Custom View and choose Satellite Imagery View. (The satellite imagery view is only satellite imagery until you get to town zoom levels – then it becomes aerial imagery.) Now toggle back to street view. Do this a few times and get familiar with the landmarks and street names in your area of interest.

Once you decided on the objects you’ll use for your territory boundary, click the draw polygon tool in the draw tool list. Begin tracing your boundary until complete. You can always zoom in and out while drawing to get better perspectives on your overall territory. Finish by bringing the polygon back to the starting point. You’ll see that your completed polygon can be edited by on lines or nodes. You can also query the data bounded by the polygon by clicking the Binocular button. The Polygon edit box, when visible, will allow you to adjust fill colors, line colors, and to change the object order for overlapping object layers.

Other draw tools work the same way. A circle can be placed on the map and then moved to new locations until you set the diameter. To edit an object click the border with your mouse and edit tools reappear.

Lines can be used to highlight particular boundary limits – like a designated East West divider, or to show where a river is. And you’ll notice whenever you are drawing a line, or polygon a measure of the total distance is reported to you. Line highlights allow for various colors and line thicknesses.

So the next time you decide to plot multiple locations on a map check out the draw tools as well.

Adding a MapPoint
At the bottom of the draw tool list is the Add a Location Callout to the Map function. Drop a MapPoint where ever you like. When you add a location to the map in this fashion a map point symbol is placed on the map by your cursor. A small toolbar accompanies the point. The toolbar lets you create an immediate radius search, or a drive time search. In the Salesforce.com edition the toolbar includes a button that will launch account data from Salesforce.com. You can also choose to add the new location to an existing dataset or start a new dataset in MBO. You have access to an editing box that lets you adjust the symbol assigned to your location, and edit data associated with the point. This edit box also lets you adjust the callout parameters labeling your point, including text and color.

As always you can save and share maps using interactive MapShare, save as image files, or print MapLarge PDF format for plotter prints.

And don’t forget another way to add a point to the map is to simply type an address into the Address Bar at the upper left above the map. Type it in using this format: Address, City, ST to accurately place a point on the map. You’ll get the exact same set of tools as the MapPoint insert above.

____________________________________________________________________________
Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Lyme Disease May Not Kill You – But You’ll Wish It Had

I hope you will excuse this interruption of our usual business mapping blog for a short public service message.  Spring finally reached the state of Maine yesterday and many of us winter closeted Mainers spent the day outside watching snow melt away, sitting in the sun, and beginning work on our gardens.  However, I am well aware that with spring and the joy of outdoors comes the extremely serious danger of catching Lyme disease.  I know because I’ve come down with it twice – two years in a row.

Learn more on the Lyme tic here: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/life_cycle_and_hosts.html

Symptoms are many and vary from person to person. My year one symptoms were different from year two.  Both times I felt like crap but I got the rash only in year two. For me the list included:  trouble staying asleep, aches, fever, itching, overwhelming fatigue, headaches, a stiff neck, and ear-ringing.

As I mentioned, last year’s bout included a rash but it didn’t seem to match online descriptions. I was slightly achy and I had that stiff neck.  I really didn’t think I was sick but symptoms persisted for three weeks.  I went to my doctor apologizing for being paranoid and asked him to check me for Lyme. It came back positive.  I could easily have attributed the symptoms to growing old, a cold, or some other low level reason.

One of the very real dangers of Lyme is that it is very difficult to test positive for. Often the diagnostic tests are inconclusive. The only cure is prescription antibiotics so make sure to have a serious talk with your doctor if you suspect Lyme.

Get Proactive

Tics are most active April through September. In the past I haven’t been proactive enough at preventive measures. But this year I’ve already started:

  • Spray your pants, shoes, socks, hat with Permethrin available at outdoor stores like Cabellas or on Amazon.com. Evidently this stuff both repels and kills tics
  • Buy a pair of pre-permeated Permethrin ankle chaps and wear them religiously – well not at church maybe but always when working outside
  • Other repellents include 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) but only last for a few hours
  • Take showers when done with your outdoor activities
  • Check yourself for those small tics
  • If you feel a slight tickling in one general area over and over get out of those clothes and shower. Run the clothes through a high heat dryer cycle to kill any tics. This happened to me and I’m pretty sure I could have prevented my second case if I’d reacted.

Here’s a map of the 2013 reported Lyme cases: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps/map2013.html

Enjoy your spring and summer and take precautions to avoid Lyme disease.

____________________________________________________________________________
Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Are Your Business Map Users Edit Worthy?

Map Business Online business mapping software is being applied by larger and larger organizations. Call volumes are way up, especially with demise of Microsoft MapPoint as businesses seek a MapPoint replacement. We recently added collaborative mapping or Team Editing, which means multiple map users can be organized into teams which share maps for co-editing purposes. Price breaks kick in at quantities of five or more users. At those higher subscription volumes buyers get the added benefit of team account management – which is basically set-up for shared subscriptions and editing privileges. Account managers can move members in and out of teams for collaborative/shared map editing. How cool-aborative. (Apologies.)

Why Shared Map Editing?
You’ve heard the phrase, two heads are better than one. Well this age-old concept applies to strategic planning through maps too. Collaborative map editing leverages the ideas of multiple map editors. Your company gets the benefit of team collaboration when solving location-based business challenges:

Sales territory management collaboration encourages greater accountability across the organization and assures data updates happen in a timely fashion. Share sales goals and objectives and publish periodic results through shared maps.
Collaboration on operational maps ensures cross-department assessment of business challenges such as balancing cost savings strategies against customer service tactics. Get accounting and sales to share responsibility for the same problem
• Shared map editing can bridge the time gaps left by 24/7 operating schedules as teams of editors have the ability to update map data and assure the most recent data gets shared to the most important map audience
Market analysis maps can be collaborative too, bridging the gap between agency and client in a visual way. Tweaking demographic map views and market areas of interest can lead to faster solutions for campaign development and management
• Collaborative maps are a great way to share updated business information with teams of free viewers. Map editors keep the shared data fresh and accessible for your field of map viewers. Fresh data leads to better and faster decision-making.

Edit Worthy or Free Map Viewer?
Creating a team of map editors means your business needs to decide who will be on each team. How many of your employees are map edit worthy? This critical decision will determine how much you spend on subscriptions per year.

Each full year subscription provides team editing subscribers with the ability to share up to 200 FREE MapShare sessions per month. These are free interactive web map sessions designed for non-editing map viewers. You, as a map editor get to share 200 sessions at no charge with your map viewing audience. They can pan/zoom, query, filter, export and route – but free viewing users cannot edit the map. If you require significantly more map views than available with the subscription, we can provide expanded views for a reasonable fee. For most businesses the free MapShare allowance is more than enough shared map views.

So, a prospective buyer of Map Business Online should consider how many of your map users are editors and how many are map viewers. This will significantly impact your initial pricing. Who on your team is edit-worthy? And consider that you can always purchase a subscription for up and coming editors a little later.

Another consideration, as you estimate free viewership requirements, is that people do not click on maps as much as you expect them to. Sure, at first your shared map might get a whole bunch of clicks as people test the link (and we do not count first launch views in hit/click calculations). But in the longer run, you’ll find people click on these links only when they have to. You’ll have a few map geeks that really love the map and for the rest it’s a big yawn. Evidently they’ve got better things to do. So don’t over think your free MapShare requirement. To encourage use, make the free map view part of your process.

Enterprise Business Mapping Requirements
Businesses of all sizes have limited resources. Your business may have serious and heavy-duty GIS map capabilities that they pay big bucks to support. And the chances are good that if your business does support advanced mapping applications your department’s requirements are on a list of to-do’s waiting for approval or for somebody to get the time to provide you with a map. And don’t ask to tweak it after it’s been presented if you value your current head placement.

AAA Rated: Affordable – Advanced – Accessible
Business mapping applications like Map Business Online let you break through business silos and access your business maps now. You need location-based services applied to your department now, not next month. And you’ll need to be able to test different map views – adjusted demographics, various zoom levels, Census tracts vs. zip codes. Don’t let your business decisions wait for maps that may never show up. Access maps, demographic data, marketing analysis, territory views and customer maps today and tweak them all you want.

Business maps supplement a variety of business processes like customer relationship management (CRM), order processing, logistics planning, and many other sales and marketing work flows. Take advantage of Map Business Online’s low price point, its ability to implement shared map editing, and our recent integration with Salesforce.com.

You’ve found an affordable business mapping solution published by a company on the move. Just check out our press releases since January – MapBusinessOnline.com Press Releases.

____________________________________________________________________________
Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Business Mapping and Market Analysis

Many Map Business Online users apply business mapping tools to market analysis. Market analysis can mean many things. Market analysis can be as simple as a visualization of prospects against a map to ascertain rough distribution density across a market area. It could also be a competitive analysis showing competitor locations relative to customer densities. Market analysis could also be a market area defined by zip codes or other districts combined with demographic data layers and customer drive time estimates.

There are many business mapping tools that can be brought to bear on marketing assessment. Let’s review the tools available within Map Business Online.

Data Visualization & Classification
Visualizing potential customers or prospects is a pretty basic business mapping software application. Import a location-based spreadsheet and look at the points on the map. We’ve talked about this process a lot. (Import Data YouTube Video) But taken further, those dots on the map can add more and more value. Import datasets that include additional columns of customer classifications or types for color coding. Examples might be:

• Prospect type – purchased list, house account, LinkedIn lead
• Product interest – consumer, professional, audio edition, text edition
• Type of business – distributor, end-user, manufacturer, retailer

You can then color code your data symbols based on the above classifications adding value to your map presentation. Moreover, you could import additional columns of data showing numeric values associated with your markets:

• Sales values – total sales sold into each account by location for year 2014
• Unit values – total units sold into each account by location

Symbolization can be color coded to reflect numeric values in ranges. You could also turn off the points and color code the zip codes or counties based on data points per district or total numeric values per district. These are all marketing map options that may add value to your map view.

Zip Code Map & Drive Time Analysis
If it was my retail store and I wanted a map view of my market I would probably want to look at demographic data by zip code within a thirty minute drive time of my store. I figure zip codes are a basic geographic unit of measure that naturally reflect local demographics. You could get even more granular with Census tracts because their coverage area is generally smaller than zip codes. In addition, thirty driving minutes is about as much time as I’m going to sign-up for on a Saturday with kids in the car unless I know there’s a nap in my immediate future. I know. I am a Dad disaster.

But realistically, if you’re looking for retail business on a Saturday in November, peak retail season, these views will likely represent your best shot at meeting goal on a good year. You can add a dataset of your active customers on top of that view. Perhaps you will direct mail to customers within that thirty minute drive and send only emails those further away. You decide based on your response rate history. But the customer map gives you some guidelines. And it lets you adjust specific areas and demographic ranges to get various perspectives. It get’s you thinking and developing strategies and tactics.

Your Competitors
Market analysis should regularly include a review of your competitor locations. This analysis can be a simple import of your competitor’s store locations, just like we’ve done with prospects and customers. But you could classify this competitive dataset based on product mix for more value. And certainly viewing these locations against core demographics might be interesting too. Does your competitor understand something you don’t about the market in a specific area or perhaps in a new state?

In a previous role I got to know a marketing organization entirely dedicated to the business of selling tires. It was all about retail stores, car models, tire models, car registrations and car sales records. As it turns out, there is no mystery to tire sales. People drive so many miles on average, tires last so long, there are only so many vehicles registered and they all take certain tire sizes. Finding a place for a new location is a fairly simple math problem. Either there is a need for tires in that area, or there isn’t. If a competitor’s store already exists in that area there’s usually a good reason why. Maps let you visualize the realty. Retail mapping translates the math into action items – you might decide to close these two tire stores in the inner city and open one service center at the new Mall due to shifts in shopping trends and demographic patterns.

Demographics Maps
Map Business Online includes a growing list of Canadian, USA and UK demographics. These common categories of government collected data are supplemented with geographic districts like Census tracts, postal codes and other pertinent demographic geographies. Use these tools to illustrate market conditions and market potential by demography across your areas of interest.

Most of this data can be appended to specific territory or area of interest datasets and then exported out of MBO for use in Excel or other applications. Adding income, population, household, ethnicity, or other categories of demographic data to a business map can lend significant credibility to your analysis – justifying changes, or helping to explain results.

Franchise organizations often use demographic zip code maps to justify new franchise locations and their values. I recently had a franchise organization ask about pet demographics. We’re looking into it.

The Market Analysis Tool
Map Business Online includes a dedicated Market Analysis tool – the icon looks like a bull’s eye on the tool bar. This tool lets the marketing user compare two datasets in three general ways:

1. Search a defined circular area around multiple stationary data points and create lists of the data results. You can use this option to draw multiple circles at a specified radius around up to 200 points at once.
2. Compare customers and store locations. (Substitute your own relationships here; for instance hospital and patients or houses and fire barns.) You can vary the distance measured from customers to a store. And you can calculate for up to five nearest stores.
3. Calculate the quantity of customers within a radius of each store and get average or total numeric values for the results. With this view you can vary the market area around each store and choose up to three numeric fields to calculate.

The MBO Market Analysis tool can be used to back into additional calculations too. You can get creative with your MBO market analysis, like processing once to determine a new data set, and then compare that new dataset to the original data for even more finely tuned results.

A Bigger Picture
When you consider all of the various visual elements in business mapping software you’ve got quite an array of market analysis tools available. But you should resist the temptation to solve too much with one map. Perhaps zip codes color coded by demographics, on top of customer locations, and a drive time analysis is enough for one map topic. Consider building a second map to display sales distributions. Always make sure when you add additional layers to a map you do it in a way that communicates clearly.

More tips:

• Heat Map – For additional numeric data a heat map layer can be a quick way to supplement a nearly complete analysis. It adds a fresh looking layer that can be clicked on and off. It adds color and flash to your map. Use it wisely.
• Edit the Map Legend – MBO’s map legend is editable. Use it to speak to your map audience in a vernacular that they understand. Think of words that are unique to your business and use them.
• Import Symbols – Import your own symbols for data classifications that include industry symbols or images your audience relates to like logos.
• Edit labels – Explore the map layer label editing functions. Total or average numeric values by zip code, county, state, territory or area of interest. Adjust boundary lines and colors to you liking.

In business management, sooner or later you’ll be required to present your department’s results in a meeting or a report. Presenting a nicely laid out map-based marketing analysis helps to tell your story while adding credibility to both your presentation and your personal reputation. So, no matter what market analysis means to you, use these business mapping tools to better position your business and keep your boss out of your business. If you know what I mean.

_____________________________________________________________________________
Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,