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 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, or g2crowd

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Map Business Online Nooks and Crannies


I’ve eaten English Muffins for breakfast many times in my life. Especially growing up, when Ma was looking for quick, cheap, and easy ways to feed four growing boys before school. I thought Thomas’ English Muffins did a great job using Nooks and Crannies as their advertising tag line. You knew exactly what they meant – you could taste it.

Well, Map Business Online has nooks and crannies too.  There’s a software developer behind every MBO nook and cranny. There are many small details and features we’ve added to our business mapping software that make it a richer, more productive mapping experience for the business mapping user.  I run into these features often, partly because I’m constantly using the product, but also because people ask questions about how to do weird things and often I’m surprised to find out that we actually can do these things.

Copy & Paste Ten Rows

The other day I was providing some training for a collection of Map Business Online team edition users. The team edition is used for shared map editing. We were looking at sales territory mapping based on counties.  We had added demographic data to the territory data base to create a demographic map. The question was asked, “How can we arrange the data in descending order by population and choose the top ten records for export.”  A fair question, and I wasn’t sure what to do.  A quick communication back to headquarters and I had my answer.  Not sure if it’s a nook or a cranny.

Viewing your territory in the Data Window, click the header of the population column until you show the records descending in order from largest to smallest.  Then arrange the data window bounding rectangle to show only your top ten records.  Then, in the lower right-hand corner click the Cut & Paste button. This launches the Copy data dialog box.  Up until now, I had not paid much attention to this box. I don’t copy and paste very often in MBO. Notice that it offers multiple choices for copying.  Choose the lower circle – Rows visible on current page. Now paste into Excel. As they say in Rockport, MA where I grew up when something was wicked easy, “Dimes, or what?”

The Power of the Data Window

Although the Map Business Online Data Window is not Excel by any stretch of the imagination, it does have some unique features that come in pretty handy.  For example, any time you create a query thereby generating a data result in the Data Window, you can take that result and turn it into a territory or an area of interest.  See the button on the Data Window tool bar that shows a green and red arrow over a blue puzzle piece. That button lets you Create new or Edit existing territories.

Using this approach, you are able to filter a dataset by a column of data pertinent only to your business, for instance just the banks in your account list, and then turn all of those geographies into a territory. This could be a nice way to create territories or areas of interest out of a master list without having to create subset data outside of MBO.

And keep in mind, the filtering capability of the data window will let you create multiple criteria for your filter.  For example, determine all of the records with greater than $5,000 in sales, in zip codes 90000 to 90599, and in zip codes 87000 to 87599. And as always the results are exportable.

One more thing – an Area of Interest and a Territory are the exact same thing in MBO. These are simply groups of zip codes, counties, or other geographic districts you’ve selected to represent a focused area of interest. I use the term Area of Interest when applying the tool to market analysis projects and the term Territory when conducting more sales oriented customer mapping projects.

Imported Data Labeling

You know you can import up to one hundred thousand records per map. And you also know that as you import these records you choose the five most important fields to show when someone hovers over the imported data points.  But if you made a mistake when you did this, or if you just want to change the fields that you show upon hover, you can do that. It’s a cranny, Granny.  Hover over your imported Data Layer in the Map & Data Tab, click the Edit Gear when it pops up.  Now along the right side of the dialog box pick the Callout folder tag. Choose Format Callouts and change your fields.

And while you’re in there, get familiar with all the various formatting buttons we’ve added there. Someday your boss is going to request some crazy way to display labels and we just might have it in there.

Imagery Nooks

While you’re in Map & Data, click Map Options along the top to review the imagery options available. Imagery and Streets are new and provide a nice overlay that can combine street level detail with aerial imagery. Very cool in downtown urban areas.

To view more map back ground options, back out to the opening page of Map & Data.  Hover over the Street layer and click the edit gear.  Here you will find two topographic map view options.  One is National Geographic data and the other more of a generic topo quad map.

I’ve run out of blog words and time for this week, but there are many nooks and crannies to Map Business Online. Just don’t go smearing pads of butter on your mapping software. That’s no good for any one. Instead, consider opening up a new map view and just click around. Explore the nooks and crannies that support your business mapping work.

Remember in MBO you can:

  • Import your own symbols
  • Edit data you’ve imported
  • Add incremental records to the map manually
  • Print regular or large format maps
  • Draw free form shapes in the map
  • Summarize your data
  • Export your data query results
  • Add demographic data to your map
  • Share interactive web maps
  • Create map templates
  • Impress family and friends

 

 

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, or g2crowd

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Summarize Your Data by Zip Code, County or State Map Layer


New to our blog? Each week we try to talk about Map Business Online features or real world applications of our business mapping software. Occasionally we might touch on a subject outside of business mapping software. We try to keep it light and quick. You should find a video or map samples to help explain things. Some times we get silly – apologies for that.

We view Map Business Online as an affordable business mapping solution helping basic business users to access the power of location-based or geographic views of their business data. The tool is used for sales territory creation and management, business analysis, strategic and operation planning. These map data visualizations are most often accessed by simply importing an Excel spreadsheet of your business data. The tool includes demographic data, a variety of geographic map layers like zip codes and Census tracts, and comprehensive help documentation with links to our growing YouTube video library.

A few weeks back MapBusinessOnline.com experienced one of our regular quarterly updates. One of the new features was the ability to summarize data by County, State or Zip code.

Summary data is nice to include in reports or business presentations. Summarizing both visually and using a numeric table gives you a couple off different approaches for communicating information to your business map audience.
SummarizePic
This capability to summarize data was inserted into the first page of the Color Code by Point, Color Code by Circle, and Color Code by Chart dialogs. This new option confused a few people, who were used to starting with the select data column option. If you want to use the Color Code by Point option in your usual way just click Next at the summarize page and carry on as usual.

However, if you’d like to summarize sales dollars by state and data count by county, for instance, choose county as you pass through your summarize by geography option. By doing so, all of the points associated with a county will be consolidated into one point for each county. You could then choose to color code by map layer for the state layer and summarize numeric values by state as well. In this way you could summarize dollars by county and total count by state or some other really cool combinations. See the video for a demonstration.

Summarizing your data by geographic districts means the color coding process will consolidate your imported data by district and place one point in the middle of that district instead of a group of points, like the address points in your data. So, if you summarized 1000 address points of sales data you’ve imported for New England by state, then all your records would be summarized for the six New England states by placing six different colored points across New England.

There’s an additional Map Business Online Summary option you can choose, that’s also new. If you are viewing imported data or a territory in the Data Window, you’ll notice a Summary button on the lower right. Look for the Sum button – Summary in the lower right. Upon opening the Summary function in the data window you will be presented with the opportunity to import data from our demographic library or from data that you may have imported. Add these to your summary column as required and then export. This is another great tool for generating reports that sum up data columns based on the geography you have defined in the data window via query results.

The next time you fire up Map Business Online be sure to explore summary options for symbolization and for summary reporting. They are both nice tools to have in your bag of business map tricks.

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, or g2crowd

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SpatialTEQ Releases MapBusinessOnline 4.5 – Improved GeoData and Demographic Reporting for Sales & Marketing Professionals

MBO 4.5

LOWELL, MA (May 6, 2015) — Map Publisher SpatialTEQ Inc., developer of North America’s premier affordable business mapping software, today announces the release of MapBusinessOnline.com 4.5 (MBO) – expanded business data and demographic data reporting for sales and marketing professionals across North America and the UK. With this release Map Business Online business map program introduces improvements to data visualizations, report generation options, callout controls, and location point and map color coding capabilities.

Data Window Enhancements and Reporting Options
MapBusinessOnline 4.5 geographic search tools and the Data Window or data sheet view, now include demographic report buttons for easy report generation. Users can select this button to summarize demographic data by selected geographic extent and include report views in the map as a text box. Users may also export report results to CSV file format for use outside the map application.

MBO Data Window database controls will now include the ability to cut and paste data from the Data Window and user created marketing lists into Excel. MBO Data Window improvements also include the ability to search zip code ranges, apply column width controls, and the ability to reorder fields. Data window search filters will now allow users create zip code maps by filtering by a defined series of zip codes.

Color Coding Improvements
MBO 4.5 adds the ability to summarize by numeric value, imported and color coded locations by state, county, zip5 code, zip3 code, MSA, city or Census tract. During the color code process MBO users will be offered the option to summarize numeric data by map layer. This new color coding option enables the ability to view sales totals by zip code using colored circles or charts for symbols. All MBO color coding dialogs, except heat maps, will be expanded to enable group color code locations summaries by state, county, zip5 code, zip3 code, MSA, city or Census tract maps.

A recalculate button will enable easy recalculation of updated datasets preserving color coding schemes and saving time. The color coding dialog will include options for excluding negative, zero, non-positive and empty values from range calculations. Color coding will now support unique values in numeric fields.
Business Analysis Map
New Callout Options
Responding to many feature requests, MBO location point callouts (labels) will now include size control and additional content control. Users will have the option to select compact or regular size callouts. Other callout controls include background color, format adjustments to originating column, and the assignment of up to five data values.

About Map Business Online
From the creators of BusinessMAP, www.MapBusinessOnline.com has been providing sales & marketing professionals with affordable and intuitive web-based business mapping software for Macs and PCs since 2010. Design, edit, and share maps that reflect your business. Create and manage sales territories that drive accountability into your sales force. Replace discontinued Microsoft MapPoint with MapBusinessOnline. Access optimized multi-stop routes to control travel costs. No other map software solves so much for so little.

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

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A Map with a Walk, a Bear, and a Dead Body

The Map
My Walk in the Woods

On Monday it was a chilly but quite lovely morning in Maine. I took a walk up the hill behind my house. After a mile hike I reached the summit of Pease Hill and took a picture of the fall foliage looking west towards Mount Washington. My Android phone takes a pretty good picture and automatically stitches together side-by-side pics into a panorama which I can then post to social media, if I want.

The Map
Later in the day I wanted to look at a map of my walk and get a feel for the topography of the area I had traversed. After a search online I remembered that Map Business Online has topographic maps included with the map program. This is a nice additional feature for a business mapping software – especially if you have workers in the field managing assets or collecting data.

I was able to easily place key points on the map that described the beginning and end of my walk. At each point I included a location name and a web link to a picture of the location. One was a Google Street view and the other was a picture I’d posted on Facebook.

I was also able to choose a topographic layer as a base map – the choices in MapBusinessOnline.com are topographic, National Geographic or aerial imagery. We source these data layers from www.esri.com. I chose the topographic layer which is essentially a stitched composite of the USGS Quad maps.
A distance tool is also available which helped me determine exactly how far I had walked. I think a two-mile walk, half of it uphill, is pretty good for me in the morning; especially on nice days.

Using the Map Draw tools included within Map Business Online I quickly traced the path I’d taken. Once the aerial imagery was turned on I could pull adjustment points on the draw line to perfectly align my walk with the actual roads and paths traveled.

The Bear
I often pick up trash on the road as I walk. I suppose I could catalog my collection efforts when I get home and import and map Excel data of the items collected. But maybe that’s going overboard? Maybe I’ll just pay attention to where I walk for a while and focus on avoiding the ‘rabid’ fox and any stray black bears coming down off the mountain for forage. I’ve seen the fox once and as for the bear, as they say around here, “I seen bear sign. There was bear scat up off-in that hill.”

One extra benefit of most business mapping applications is that it can be applied to your personal life as well as your business challenges. Sure you can use it as a customer mapping software, a sales territory mapping software, or just to compare competitors but just the same the tool can be used for fun.

Because I saved my map view, in the future I can add to it as I explore more territory around the house. We live next to the largest undeveloped section of land in York County Maine. Much of it managed by a land preserving non-profit – http://www.fsht.org. There’s a lot to explore and discover, with many beautiful outcrops that overlook the surrounding area. And I can even create a shared web map of my map to share with other hikers. I’ve included an MBO Map Link above where you can see the walk, pictures, and see the linked web pages.

The Dead Body
Cornish, Maine is a magical community. Just look at the way we rise to the Halloween occasion around here: Dead Body Link. Since first publishing this blog the body count has grown 800%. Yikes! Cue the poltergeist. I’ll be curtailing my after dark walks for the foreseeable future.

Happy Halloween everybody.

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

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

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 http://www.MapBusinessOnline.com 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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MapBusinessOnline.com vs. Microsoft MapPoint

Here’s a feature comparison of Microsoft MapPoint with http://www.MapBusinessOnline.com:

MapPoint vs. MBO

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