Map Business Online Blog

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

Clearly Express Your Business Map Message

Your very first mapping experience probably happened through a childrens’ book.  The Sponge Bob Kids History Research Institute reports most children are exposed to the concept of ‘mapping’ by the age of two years. For children, maps are typically depicted as guides to where the secret treasure is located, perhaps for Aladdin or Captain Hook. But as an adult, maps become more visual aids than treasure maps.

Over the holiday break I noticed two map infographics circulating in my LinkedIn and Facebook feeds. (Hey, so I was working a little? It’s not like I was checking my LinkedIn at a New Year’s Eve party. I’m not that guy.)  One map showed the most common Internet searches by state.  Maine’s was Amy Schumer.  And the other map showed, again by state, the most likely cause of death on average compared with other states.  Maine’s was the Flu – which surprised me. Get your shots people.

Now I found both of these maps to be visually informative. I glanced at them briefly and I quickly understood what they were trying to communicate. This, to me, is a critical element of a successful map or business map. Maps do not need to be complicated, colorful, or multilayered to get the job done. In fact, the more complicated or busy your map becomes, the less that map may communicate. A lot depends on knowing your map audience. What is your map audience looking for?

As Ben Carson, the one-time GOP leading candidate for president recently found out, maps need to be proof read. Take time creating and publishing your maps.  Leave them for a while. Come back later and view the map with fresh eyes. Look for glaring inconsistencies, or simple mistakes. Ask a colleague to review your map.  Try to see your map from the perspective of your map users.

Ben’s map person would have done well to examine that odd-shaped New England section before releasing it to a world eager to poke holes in his boss’ reputation. I include this video link to show how maps can generate the wrong result if you are not careful. Do not fall into this trap. Maps, like any other document, are subject to human error.

So no matter what mapping tools you apply, be thoughtful and careful with your map creation. Your map is a visual aide, not the busy kitchen table catch-all of spatial ideas. Keep it clean and neat. It is often valuable to consider what not to include in your business map:

Base Map-Data – Does your map require base-map data?  Perhaps just state outlines will do the trick. Digital base-map data is without a doubt one of the coolest things our generation has loosed on the world, and you may have access to the most accurate and up-to-date data available. Just make sure that a base-map data layer adds value to your map’s intent. All business mapping software should let you adjust this feature.

Administrative Districts – What administrative district – zip code, state, county – layer makes the most sense for your map view? It’s not always zip codes, although zip code maps are most commonly created, in my experience. Perhaps your business analysis is more effectively communicated over counties?  This could be because counties are easier to visualize nationwide, or because population by county displays better than by zip code, or perhaps because county population data adds more value to your analysis than the zip code population. Think it through. It only takes a moment.

Map Extent – At what zoom level of detail should your map be presented? A zoom extent covering the whole contiguous USA map may feel like it defines your map project, but the details may be more pertinent by zip code, in which case four separate regional map views might display more effectively for your map audience. A map describing the density of hospitals across the USA works at a USA wide level, while a demographic population map classifying all the Methodist Churches by congregation size might work better regionally.

Label Definition – Your map may or may not include state labels, zip code labels or imported data labels. Make sure they are required before turning them on.  If your map is displaying numeric values by zip code or county, displaying numeric zip code labels may create an incomprehensible map for your viewers. Too many numbers. Often a business map can be set to display a pop-up label upon mouse hover or click. Experiment with the different label options in your mapping software – large or small text sizes, various text-box color backgrounds, and text formatting options. Do you really need state labels to display?  Perhaps your map audience already knows the state names, for the most part? I know I do ( I know – Map Geek!) In general, keep the map simple.

Boundary Definition – Most business mapping software will allow adjustments to boundary lines. View your map carefully and choose appropriate line thicknesses and colors. Try different options to see what works best for your map. You may find in your industry, with your particular type of analysis, certain colors are expected or display data in away that rings truer with your map viewers.

Point Color Coding – Like boundaries, put some thought into how you color code points that you’ve imported. For instance, if I show a 7,000 location point hospital map, I typically make my points small and dark so the density of facilities by city is obvious. Should I label each point? Why would I do that? Only do it if you have to. Perhaps turning on just a few key regional point labels better communicates your map’s point.

My Busy Map
A cluttered map.

Most of the maps we make in our business work are not going viral like the Ben Carson map. But many of our maps are critical to our business processes. Think about your map presentation. As a business manager, you are always communicating with higher-ups, peers, or associates who work for you. Each of those audiences is looking for different map messages.

Management wants to see dollars, risks, and operational efficiencies – the high level business view. Avoid too many details. Steer clear from decimal points, extra map layers, and random data that invites criticism.

Your peers may be watching work flows carefully. Some peers will be looking to poke holes in your presentation (you know who they are.) Don’t give them easy errors to attack you with. It’s distracting for everyone and defeats the business purpose of your mapping efforts.

The people who work for you are looking for clear direction and leadership. Avoid mixed messages and map clutter. Turn off superfluous layers. Use multiple maps where operational issues pile up. Maps can be great tools for sharing progress associated with company goals and objectives.

Think it through, proof read your maps keep it simple and maybe you’ll be president someday.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into

Contact: Geoffrey Ives (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd


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Premium Map Layers in Map Business Online

Map Business Online offers full-time subscribers a premium set of additional map layers. These additional layers are geographic map data options that were repeatedly requested  by the MBO user base.  To access these layers click the Blue Globe button, currently placed on the toolbar seven buttons in from the left. Select a layer and click Add to Map.

City Limits

My favorite premium layer is City Limits.  There is another city layer called Cities. We added Cities for people who require additional city names to display prominently on the map. Cities are points.  City Limits are the boundaried jurisdictions  associated with each city or town. With both city datasets you’ll expose more of them as your zoom in.

The City Limits data layer lets you edit the layer, as you would a zip code or state layer.  Simply hover over the layer in Map & Data and click the edit gear to edit line and color features or to change the labeling fonts, colors, and text.

City Limit geographies can be used as a base layer for sales territory mapping or creating areas of interest. This means you could establish territories by city limits as opposed to zip codes or counties. This can come in handy for businessmap users.  I also like turning on the city limits layer when trying to assess metropolitan areas form a nationwide zoom level.

And if you just want more city points, more than we offer with the Cities layer (they have specific display rules by zoom level), you can always import your own home-grown dataset of cities.  Be sure to include a state column in your imported city data because you never know how many Meridiths there are in the country.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas
MSA Map View
Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSA’s are Census Bureau defined metro areas. They can be used to define marketing areas of interest around an urban district largely to support market analysis.  You could build territories using these geographies as well.  Color coded, MSA’s create a striking map of the USA and can help get a viewer’s attention.  If you look online you can find conversion charts for creating similar marketing areas out of zip codes – like converting a list of zip codes into DMA’s. You would than simply import spreadsheet to convert zip codes to DMA’s.

Census Tracts

Census Tracts are also available in the MBO additional map layer offering. Accessed the same way, Census tracts can be used to create territories, and come in handing when defining busy areas of interest in heavily populated areas like downtown Manhattan or Chicago. In urban areas Census Tracts tend to be more granular than zip codes which makes them a nice alternative to zip code maps for describing business processes.  For rural areas Census tracts tend to mirror zip codes.

School Districts

For businesses doing a lot of work for schools we’ve also included school Districts. These could be helpful for transportation companies or service organizations catering to school districts. Once again, you can establish territories based on school districts. School districts are a nice back ground for a multi-stop route planner system supporting bus transportation.

Zip 3 code

Regular zip codes are made up of five digits. I grew up in 01966.  The three digit zip code associated with 01966 is 019.  Three digit zips cover a wider area then their subset five digit zip codes. Three digit zips can be a quick and dirty way to establish zip code territories that combine zips in an organized fashion. Direct mail folks like to monitor mail deliveries by 3 digit zip codes because USPS tends to deliver  to homes in 3 digit zip areas on the same day. I’m sure the Post Office has operational methods that are organized around three digit zips but that information is classified – which means I don’t really know for sure.

Cites and Highways

The city point layer and the highway line layer are included in premium layers largely to support additional referencing over territory maps. With these layers, if you color code in your states, counties or zip codes layers, instead of making those layers transparent to show orienting background map data, you can simply drop the highway layer on top of your area of interest map. It’s an option that can keep your map looking cleaner and more focused.

Request More Layers

The premium layer button is a reminder that we pay attention to user requests. Please hit the contact us button with layer requests, if you run across any.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into

Contact: Geoffrey Ives (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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A Sales Territory Management Manual for Map Business Online

Many Map Business Online business mapping users apply the tool for sales territory management. A few of those users have requested a manual describing the actual map processes as applied to territory management. This blog post provides that Manual.


One of’s most powerful tools is sales territory management software. Our software developers have been developing solutions for sales territory management since 1996. With Map Business Online (MBO) they’ve really released a tool that is intuitive, easy, and full-featured. MBO territory management is the most affordable and complete solution available as a web-based/Cloud service. Territory mapping begins with territory creations.

Key Definitions
Administrative districts – Map Business Online comes with preformatted map layers which include administrative districts 5 digit zip code, 3 digit zip code, county, city limits, states, and more layers. Those listed here are the most commonly used as a basis for territory areas.

Tool bar – MBO’s 22 map tools are accessed across the top of the application and noted in this article by position 1 through 22 from left to right.

Map & Data – This tab is located on the left side of the map. Map & Data displays map layers and imported data layers. Here you can edit layers – change colors, line widths, turn labels on and off, fonts, data formats, manage territory overlap, access satellite imagery, and change zip code sources.

Data Window – Located at position 20 from the left on the Tool Bar the Data Window displays and controls dataset views within MBO. It displays upon importing data and upon territory creation. Here you can change territory colors, names, delete territories, filter data, create route stops, and export spreadsheets.

Territory Creation
There are four ways to create territories using Map Business Online.

1. Import Territories from pre-assigned spreadsheets. Use the Create Territories button at position 6 from the left on the tool bar. Your spreadsheet should have a column for administrative district (zip or county), state, and for territory name. Navigate to your data and import the dataset. Pay attention as you navigate the dialog boxes to assure your territory zip codes, counties, states or cities are falling into place as expected.

2. Create territories from search tools. In the Map & Data tab turn on a target layer of administrative districts you plan to base your territory scheme on – zip codes, counties. Typically a Polygon tool is selected from Position 15 from the left on the tool bar. Click the little down arrow and it’s the second option down. You’ll notice the tool is highlighted in Green when it is active. Click on the map and start your polygon. Lasso as many districts as you like. Complete the polygon back to your starting point – end it in the little circle you see there. If only one layer of data is turned on you will be directed to a Naming dialog. If there are multiple layers of data selected you will have to choose which layer to base your territory on. Name your territory. When the Data Window pops op you can choose to change the Territory Color in the color box along the Data Window tool bar. You can also Delete the territory or change the Name by click the Data Window Edit Marketing List button – two sheets with a check mark.

3. Incremental selection. Use your cursor to incrementally select a zip code, county or state. Once you have the initial administrative district selected, hold down the Shift key and you can continue to add districts to your list. When you’ve gathered your territory, click the Blue Puzzle Piece Icon on the map, near your selection. Choose Create New to name your new territory. You will note you can also edit territories using the same Blue button – the options include Add to, Remove from, Remove all except, and Update.

4. Data Window filter. At times a user may want to filter the Administrative District layer in the Data Window to create a territory. For instance, you could select the entire USA zip code layer and filter it for a range of zip codes greater than 01001 and less than 01050. The resultant Data Window list can be made into a territory by clicking the Create New Territory button on the Data Window tool bar.

Map Business Online includes a Territory Options tab in the Map & Data tab. Along the top of Map & Data, click the Gear icon. Choose the Territory Options tab. Here you can choose to make territories transparent on the map allowing the street data to come through. You can also allow territories to intersect or overlap and highlight the intersection. Once turned on, overlapping territory districts will be highlighted in red or whatever color you choose to highlight overlap.

Map Storage & Templates – Once your territory map is complete you should save the map. Simply click the Save Map icon at position 3. You should consider saving your territory map as a map template. A template can be used as the starting point for future maps. Consider your work flow and decide if you require a saved map template for future use.

Territory Labels. To turn off a territory label simply hover over it and click the X in the upper right hand corner of the label. To turn on a territory label that’s been turned off, select any territory administrative district and then click once within that district.

Territory Display & MapShare
Posting Imported Sales Results can be displayed as numeric values on territory labels. Import your data. In Map & Data hover over the administrative district your territories are based on. Click the Gear icon that pops up. On the right vertical tabs choose Labels & Callouts. Choose Format Labels and Callouts. Choose Territory Callouts. Check the Line #1 box. Choose your imported data in the Line #1 data drop down. Choose your sales data column of your imported data in the second drop down. Edit the Prefix to the label as required. Click Change Labels & Callouts on the bottom right.

There are several ways to share your territories with your constituents. One way is to simply print territory map views. Follow the print dialog box for printed maps – position 18 from the left on the tool bar. For digital sharing decide if your viewers require static maps or interactive web maps.

Static map image files are available at position 19 from the left on the tool bar. An image file can be saved as a Jpeg or as a PNG file. These saved map views can be attached to an email or embedded in a Power Point presentation.

Interactive web maps are popular with sales organizations for sharing territory maps. Once your territory map is finalized save the map using the Save Icon at position 3 on the tool bar. Next click the Share Map button at position 4 on the tool bar. Choose from among the public and team sharing or private sharing options.

Public Sharing enables a web-map URL to be generated and shared via email or text message. You can also embed the URL in a web page. Password protection is available through the password dialog. Public sharing is allowed at no charge for up to 100 MapShare views per month with each annual subscription. Additional MapShares can be purchased for a fee. One MapShare view is defined as a map session initiated by clicking on the shared URL and completed by exiting the application. A MapShare viewer may pan and zoom all around the world, conduct multiple radius or polygon queries on shared data, view the shared Data Window, print and save map views – all under one MapShare session.
Team Sharing enables shared map and or data editing privileges for other Map Business Online annual subscribers. Under Team Sharing the map administrator chooses the email login of the subscriber requiring map editing, data editing or viewing of the share maps. The map administrator assigns the specific role to each team member. A separate team dialog is available for team creation and management.

Query all sales accounts by Territory
At times a user will desire to identify a list of accounts pertaining to a specific territory. To do this first import a total list of sales accounts. Open the Data Window. In the upper left hand corner of the Data Window select your imported account list as the target for territory querying. Next choose the Yellow Puzzle Piece icon towards the right of the Data Window tool bar. Choose which territory you would like to query by. Name the query results as a Marketing List. Use the Export button on the extreme right of the Data Window tool bar to export the list.

Creating a list of territory assignments
After you’ve created your territories you can create a list of territories and export that list for use in other applications or for archiving. First, remember the administrative layer you built your territories from – let’s assume for this exercise it is zip codes.

Next, in the Data Window select the Zip Code Layer – the one that lists the whole country’s postal codes. Click the Add Data button in the lower right, or hover over a column header and click the Gear icon. This brings up the Add Data dialog. In the All Column option on the left, choose General to display Territory and Territories in your options – select Territory. Using the Blue Arrow move Territory from the Left panel to the Right panel. Click Set Data Columns.

Now you need to Filter you data. Choose the Filter Funnel Icon on the Data Window tool bar. In the Filter Dialog, on the left, in the top drop down choose General. Then in the lower drop down choose Territory. Now focus on the right, on the top you’re going to choose a modifier. In the modifier drop down, pick the ‘Greater Than’ symbol – “”. In the far right empty box put a zero. Now click Filter in the lower right.

4. Export this list by clicking the Far Right button on the Data Window tool bar. To save it as an Excel sheet name the file: .xls.

Using the Draw Tools
MBO Tool Bar icon position 16 from the left is a set of Draw Tools. These tools allow the user to create circles, polygons, lines and text boxes on the map in a free form fashion. Each polygon, circle or line can be adjusted for thickness, color, and placement. There is also a MapPoint drop button for placing new location records manually on the map.

Bisecting zip codes, counties or state. In general, we recommend divisions of larger administrative districts be handled with smaller administrative districts. Split a state in half by creating two county groupings – as an example. But sometimes sales managers simply want to show a split across an administrative district. Draw lines or polygons can be used for this purpose. Draw lines can also be used to highlight key highways, railroads, rivers, or other geographic objects for the purposes of territory planning.

Circle and polygon objects can be used to query data. Simply click the Binocular icon to start a data query.

For assistance in general MBO operations refer to our extensive Help Section on the application and the web-site. You’ll found a library of common mapping application instructions and access to a library of how-to videos we have posted on

More Advanced Operations
There are a few more advanced territory management features that require instructions with application video or image examples. Be sure to ask for assistance if you do not see a solution listed above.

Click the Contact Button on the Map Business Online application or the Contact Us button at You can also call us at 800-425-9035.

MapPoint users – please consider as your MapPoint Replacement.

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

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Helping Customers Move from MapPoint to MapBusinessOnline

I’ve been selling business mapping software since 2002. So roughly fifteen years. During that time I have learned what typical business people look for in a business mapping application. Most of the time the desired software features are basic location related tools and are quickly achievable using business mapping software. For busy business people who have a new or long-established appreciation for the power of mapping in business, Map Business Online is often just what the map doctor ordered.

In just the last ten days Map Business Online has been applied as a solution for:
• Nationwide media market visualizations
• USA conglomerate sales territory creation and management
Retail mapping & chain store maintenance program management
• Strategic planning map visualizations
• Independent sales representative inner city account visit planning
• Hospital system market analysis by bed count
• Demographic analysis of potential market areas for an insurance company
• Asset and pick-up fee visualizations for a waste management company
• Optimized route generation for a team of homecare clinicians
• Visualizing real-estate property data within X miles of a point

MapPoint Shutdown
For many years here at MBO, we chased Microsoft MapPoint as the competitor to beat. Like MBO, MapPoint was a basic business mapping application – more advanced than navigation software but not as complex as full featured GIS software. Over the past five years Microsoft stopped advancing the tool. MapPoint street data fell way behind, and the feature lists became stagnant. In the meantime, MBO’s feature list surpassed MapPoint as a business mapping solution professionals could quickly apply to their specific challenges – especially in customer/prospect visualization a.k.a. customer mapping, sales territory mapping software, and optimized routing. Now with the imminent MapPoint shutdown, more and more sales planners, marketing professionals and sales territory managers are moving away from MapPoint on the desktop and trying Map Business Online and other mapping options in the Cloud. MBO has become the MapPoint alternative.

There are many other more expensive business mapping applications available. At first glance you might think these applications, priced at $2,500 or more might be the solution you’re looking for. Think again. You may just find it worth the extra time investment.

Lately I’ve had multiple customers tell me they had almost purchased a $5,000 plus software for territory mapping and decided to check out MBO based on late-in-the-game Google search results. All of these customers chose Map Business Online and are extremely happy both with the solution and the consequential savings. Ah, ‘the customer is always right.’

Try Us
With Map Business Online you can explore a free trial or a limited scope, ninety-day subscription to determine if a $250 per year business mapping web-service truly does trump a $5,000 piece of desktop software. We’ll support your experiment with Map Business Online to make sure you’re sure it’s the right solution for your specific requirement. Don’t feel bad about asking for support. Even if you decide to purchase some other software we’ll have learned something about what mapping customers are looking for and what our competitors can achieve through their solutions. Learning leads to better sales.

Our next release, due out any day now will include a dozen new demographic layers and updates for older layers. We’ll be expanding our map layers by adding school districts and more town and settlement data. We’ll also be including more advanced map-template tools. Look for the ability to work with teams of map users sharing map editing and data management responsibilities.

2015 promises to be an interesting year for Map Business Online as we consider our next development options. We hope you’ll continue to suggest the new location intelligence and business mapping features you’d like to see included, especially any MapPoint features we’ve missed. We love that.

Find out how digital maps can help you learn about your business.

MapPoint users – please consider as your MapPoint Replacement.

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

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