Map Business Online Blog

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

How Can I Query a List of Cities?

Sometimes a business map user wants to conduct a radius search on a data base of cities, and to export the query result out of the application. A search result of cities can be achieved using Map Business Online, and other business mapping software applications.  A few tweaks are necessary to set up the city data.

Cities are present in Map Business Online in multiple ways.  The base map data shows cities as part of the background map tapestry that is included with Map Business Online. However, the cities in the base map data are not query-able because they are part of the base map raster image, as opposed to a layer on top of a vector map background.The background base map is a one continuous image that covers the whole world and that image includes cities and towns.

MBO users can make sure their vector layers, like zip codes, states or counties, are set to transparent which will let those cities and towns show through and into your map analysis. Transparency controls are located in your target map layer in Map and Data. Still, that background map raster image will only show certain cites at certain zoom levels. Zoom further in to expose less populated cities and towns.

Premium Map Layers

Additional map layers are available in Map Business Online for annual subscription holders.  Click the Blue Globe button on the tool bar, now located about seven buttons in from the left.  Here you’ll find City Limits and Cities, as well as other additional layers of interest.

For developing exportable lists of cities, you’ll want to use the City Limits layer.  The layer called Cities is a visual reference of city points only. Users can add the City layer on top of territory or market analysis maps, for reference purposes, but you can’t query the City layer.
City Query
If you Add your City Limits layer to the map you’ll be able to build areas of interest and territories based on City Limits, just like you’ve done using State, County or Zip Code layers. City Limit objects are presented to the map viewer based on city population size – the more populated cities show up at the zoomed out levels.  As you zoom into the map more cities and towns come into view.

City Limit territories and markets areas will include all city limit objects within your designated circular or polygon areas of interest. If you conduct a radius search the resultant dataset will include all the city limits touched by the radius or polygon object as well as all cities included within the circle or polygon.

I love the city limit layer for building demographic maps or for creating map analysis that tends to focus on metropolitan areas.

Adding the City Limits layer to your map lets you build areas of interest and export those city and town names out of MBO as a CSV file. A city limits based areas of interest view is also sharable through interactive map web map sharing, through shared saved image files, or via a printable map. MBO users can also add city names to your zip code analysis as well. Read on.

USPS Zip Codes

When you purchase or try Map Business Online, the application comes setup with Census ZTCA zip codes preloaded.  With ZTCA zips selected, territories and market areas of interest will list zip codes but will not include cities and towns, or placenames in your zip code analysis. To change this, open the Map & Data box.  Choose the Edit Gear on Map and Data tool bar.  You are now in the Manage Map and Data function. Choose the Zip codes tab.

In Zip Codes, along the bottom there is a drop down for Zip Code options.  Choose USPS Zip Codes with Fillers.  Fillers will allow you to fill in territory gaps over national parks; this can be helpful out West or in northern Maine. By choosing the USPS zip codes, your zip code map analysis and sales territory mapping will now include a column for Placename and in this case Placenames refers to a database of cities and towns.

Once you’ve chosen your Zip Code option, all territories and areas of interest you create moving forward will include a column for Placenames. Please be aware your old maps will not pick up this change.

Import Your Own List of Cities

Now you might think we’ve got you completely covered in Map Business Online with the various city data options listed above; and for most people, we do.  However, you’ll run into the occasional business map user who has a boss who wants to see only certain cities on his map, or perhaps he or she wants a to see certain cities with labels turned on and some with labels turned off. I just thought I’d mention, you can always create a two column spreadsheet of cities and states for manually placing city points on the map. It’s definitely going old school for city listings, but it will let you tweak the placement and labeling just the way your boss likes it.

Between the Placenames column and the City Limits option, you should have plenty of ways to get lists of cities for your use within or outside of Map Business Online.

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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Create and Manage Franchise Sales Territories Using Map Business Online

Franchise businesses require particular business mapping features. These features are usually related to defining areas of market responsibility across franchisee operations. Map Business Online is a great solution for franchises seeking to share sales territory maps that define areas of operation.

Franchise businesses sell individual market areas that could be assigned to online stores or actual brick and mortar store fronts. Theses business opportunities come with specific products, pricing, and rules of doing business.  These franchise opportunities are sold using contracts that define exact areas of market responsibility, usually based on zip codes.  This is not to say theses franchise areas couldn’t be defined by states, counties, cities or even Census tracts or Census Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) but in general we receive inquiries for franchise territories based on zip codes. These zip code areas of responsibility are made up of designated lists of zip codes which can be turned into zip code maps that define franchise operating areas.

Franchise sales executives turn to Map Business Online for business mapping features that include:

  • The ability to define franchise market areas of responsibility by zip code
  • Alternative geographies for areas of market responsibility – County, State, Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Census Tracts, and City Limits
  • Franchise territory overlap display showing areas of territory overlap between organizations
  • Color shading by zip code or other geographic base units
  • Color coding imported location points or customer locations by symbol
  • The ability to create franchise territory assignments based on demographic data – most commonly population, medium Income, or age distribution
  • The ability to create franchise territory assignments by imported sales metrics – sales dollars by territory, customer count by territory, or other business defined metrics
  • The ability to share franchise maps via printing, image file saving, or interactive map sharing
  • The ability to perform market analysis – competitor maps, demographic analysis, expansion maps

Color Coding by Area

One of the most requested aspects of franchise territory support is color shading by zip code. Franchise sales organizations prefer to color their zip codes in a way that reflects sales responsibility or territory availability. Map Business Online enables color shading in a variety of ways.

Franchisee areas are usually created and color coded at the same time. An MBO map creator can import a list of franchise names associated with zip codes and create territories automatically. The tool also enables incremental territory construction – using your mouse and the shift key, click one zip code at a time to build your market area. You can also create franchise sales territories using a polygon tool to lasso a bunch of zips or perhaps apply the drive time tool to define a group of zip codes within a half hour’s drive time of a specified address.
The tool supports geographic filtering or spatial searches as well as filtering by data. Filtering by data means you could search for patterns in zip code numbers. Show me all the zip codes between 80100 and 80600 and create a territory from them.

With your territories selected, the map creator may apply naming schemes as required.   Import data calculation results into the territory name field, like total population or sales activity. Use that name field to drive map comprehension.Map Business Online let’s your team us the language of your business in maps of your business.

Franchise Territory Overlap

Whether sales territory overlap is allowed or disallowed, Map Business Online provides the tool to enable overlap.  In this way your organization has the opportunity to identify overlapping territories and address the issue as required.

Some organizations turn on the overlap tool as a hedge against creating overlap. “Oops that red zip code means I overlapped those two zips.” A simple mouse click or two, and the problem is solved.

Other organizations will allow some overlap but want to make it crystal clear where those overlapping areas are and where they are not. Still others use overlap display as a way to identify and qualify no-man’s land for future franchise development.

Sharing and Storing Map Related Images

Like many contracts, franchise business agreements describe transaction fees, services rendered, areas of responsibility, and business rules. These documents could be emailed, snail mailed, or simply placed in a folder for future reference. Maps are often included to assure clarity in defining market areas of responsibility.

Map Business Online encourages multiple methods of sharing. Static maps are sharable as embedded image files easily placed in a document or a Power Point presentation.  Franchise territory maps can be printed and filed with paper contracts. Some companies may even prefer to utilize shared interactive web map links as a way to communicate territories. And you could use  Map Business Online itself as a presentation tool should you desire it. I do it all the time.

More Functionality

There are probably many more ways MBO can support a franchise organization.  The only way we’ll know is if you ask. And if you don’t find the functionality you seek we’ll consider adding functionality if the request is in keeping with our general development direction. So don’t hesitate to ask and suggest future feature directions.

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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Creating Territory Map Data in Map Business Online

One of the most popular applications of business mapping is sales territory mapping. In Map Business Online you can create sales territories or market areas of interest in a variety of ways. You can import a list by zip code, county or state; create a drive time polygon of zip codes; use a polygon tool to lasso a bunch of zips, or incrementally select a bunch of zips with a series of mouse clicks.  Each of these processes will result in a color defined, shaded area of zip codes, counties, or states that define your sales territory.

That sales territory will have a data view within the Data Window in Map Business Online.  That Data Window Territory Data View is easily accessed by dropping done on the data drop down and choosing your territory by Name. Once inside that territory data you have an array of options to choose from for data selection and data clean up.

In the lower right of the Territory Data view, choose More Data. This launches a database management tool. Columns on the right exist in your territory data. Move columns you don’t require to the left. These might include “Primary” County or State columns which can be used to help manage zip code overlap. Simply select the data and use the Blue Arrows to move the data out or into your analysis.
Territory Map Data
Above the right hand column you’ll see a Drop Down arrow. Here you can choose from Demographic Data, General Data (this includes your territory names). You can also access any data you’ve imported or perhaps Calculated Columns you’ve compiled out of our demographic population, age or income segments. As you select these categories various layers become available in the left hand column for transfer to the right side. For example, you might see Household Income as an option and pull that data over to the right to create a Household Income by Zip code analysis.

Any data you pull into that specific territory becomes a data template for all other territories you create that uses that geographic segment in that saved map. In other words, if you build a new territory it will reflect the same demographic and imported data options as the first one does.

In this way your territory map becomes more valuable as a business management tool. For instance, you could optimize all your territories by population, using the Total button in the Territory Data view to show the total population by territory. Now any territory you create will display a population total in the data analysis view. Hint: You could edit the zip code layer so that same population total displays in the Territory Label. This would make it easy to assess population values by territory for optimization purposes.

As long as you have selected USPS Zip codes as your Zip code standard (see Map & Data – Zip Codes Tab) you will see “Place name” as a column in your territory data. Place name is really city name and those city names are often helpful to MBO territory map users.  Zip code maps are a powerful and common application of Business Mapping Software.

Remember too, once your territories are final and your data formats are complete you can export the entire list of territory data for use outside the application. Demographic data and all.

Above, I refer to Area of Interest as another name for territory, and so it is. These same data views can be considered as market analysis for specific geographic areas of interest. You may not think of it as a territory, but these tools work in the exact same way.  Your retail store has a market area of interest and you’ll have the exact same interest in sales results, demographic realities, and drive time perimeters as a territory manager would.

Nary a day goes by when I don’t show a new user how to build a territory and format their territory data. MBO provides powerful territory mapping tools at an extremely affordable price.

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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How Do I Build Concentric Circle Analysis Using Map Business Online

Sometimes you just need concentric circles. Business mapping software can help you identify areas of interest that pertain to your business. It is not unusual for customers to call saying they are interested in gathering zips codes within a circle. These are zip code maps.

Concentric means multiple circles that share the same center point.

Creating that circle is a pretty straight forward process in Map Business Online.  Simply key in an address in the Address Bar (upper left, white box) or drop a point using the Draw Tools. Either way your point is now located on the map with a mini-toolbar right below it. Click the circle button and set your radius. Faster than you can say Trump’s your uncle your circle is on the map.  Turn on the zip code layer and click the binoculars on the circle to select a circle full of zips.

With concentric circles you click that same point in the map again, and set a new circle with a different radius.  Thus a larger or smaller circle is created and you can query it for zip codes as well.

From Zip Codes to Demographic Maps

Businesses like to gather circles of zip codes for many reasons. Zip codes are a common geographic unit for assessing a market area. You can assign demographic category values quite easily to zip codes because zip code segments are a Census Bureau publishing standard, as are counties, Census tracts, and other segments.

Our users also tend to think in zip code segments for market areas of interest, retail maps that show store drive time areas, or franchise territory assignments.  Sales territories tend to be based on polygons, less regular areas, but you could assign them by circles if you wanted to.

The Donut Map

In the attached video I demonstrate how to subtract zip codes associated with an inner circle from an outer circle. This can be useful when trying to associate population or income with differing sections of your concentric circle analysis. It’s a step by step process and it uses the Data Window Tool Bar button – Create New of Edit Existing Territory.

The new summary feature in Map Business Online is available in concentric circle analysis and lets the user assign demographic, imported or calculated data to your map analysis (as opposed to simply exporting the summary data.) So now your concentric map can analyze an area for demographics by zip code plus your own sales data, and then be used to succinctly share that analysis with your map audience.

Chock up another achievement for Business Mapping Software. Pretty simple but deceptively rich with information, concentric circles serve many purposes in business today. From competitive store analysis to population analysis prior to polling operations, concentric circles in business mapping can help drive your business or organization forward in an organized and informed way. Even if Trump happens to be your uncle.

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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How Can I Derive Distances Between Two Datasets Using Map Business Online?

In Map Business Online you can compare datasets to determine distances between too datasets. Lately we’ve had a run of requests for this exact map application.  That’s how business mapping features requests come in, you here no requests for that specific feature for months at a time then suddenly everyone wants that one feature. Cue the theme from the Twilight Zone.

Feature Problem Statement:  I need to show one point on the map – a Business Location, and then import a second, separate data set of address locations and show the distances between each of the new locations and the original business location. I also want to show the distance when I hover over each point.

Making this happen in MBO involves multiple processes but we primarily will focus on the Business Analysis tool.  First, of course, you import your Excel spreadsheet, text file or CSV file. Remember, when you bring in data to include column headers and have separate columns for Address, City, State, and Zip code (or lat/long columns and headers as the case may be.)

As you import be sure to take advantage of the five flexible fields that show up when a user hovers over a symbol on the map.  We’re going to come back to this flex field function a little later, to edit those fields.

There they are, symbols nicely arrayed on the map that represent your customer or business locations.  I will color code my data by Type, but you do what you want with your data. To each his own.  Remember, you can import your own labels should you desire it.

To create a new single point on the map for my Business Location I can either key an address into the address bar – upper left hand White Address Box above the tool bar – or I can drop a point using the Draw Tool Add Location with Callout button – click Add Location after touching the map.  Either way I get a point on the map and a mini-tool bar under the point. Along that mini-tool bar click the middle button Copy Location to Dataset.  Choose the New option. Rename the New Dataset you are making to Business Location. Business Location is now a Dataset in the Map & Data tab. See it checked On in the Map & Data list.

Now I need to apply the Market Analysis tool. I choose the Second option down from the top – Find nearest store. In the top drop down I select my originally imported dataset with the many locations. That’s my “Customer Locations.” In Market Analysis we refer to the two data sets being compared as customers and store locations. It could be anything – drop-off points and warehouse, parishioner homes and church, or even politician office locations and the nearest prison.

In the bottom drop down I choose my Business Location dataset. That’s my store.  I choose no maximum distance, because I want them all. And I rewrite the text that says Store to now say Distance to Business Location. Write whatever you want. Now click Next.

The returned data in the Data Window should show my original dataset with a new column labeled Distance to Business Location.  These records should show distances in that column. Awesome possum.  Now let’s think about those points on the map again.

How can we show distances when we hover over those points?  We can edit those five flexible fields we set up when we imported our data. You might ask, ‘How?’ Well I’m going to tell you how.

In Map & Data hover your mouse cursor over the data target layer (your imported data), click the Edit Gear that pops up. Choose the Callout Tab. Click Format Callouts.  I can tell you’re getting excited. In that left panel scroll down to choose one of the five flex field options listed. Underneath whichever one you want to use, drop down to the data column labeled Distance to Business Location.  Choose that column.  You can edit the text a little if you feel it’s necessary.  Now click Change Callouts and go hover over one of those points on the map.

High fives all around. Mission accomplished.

What I love about this application example, and about Map Business Online in general, (and you may have heard me say this before) is that it provides so many editable features so you can make your map sing to your map audience. Every business uses its own vernacular and business processes to represent what it does.  Map Business Online, with a little research, can help you describe and possibly better manage your own business work flows using maps.

So the next time you bring a map into the corner office, don’t let Poke-a-Hole-In-It Phil distract from your point with stupid questions designed to make you look bad. Use MBO to clean up your map and tell your story in a way that speaks to your audience. You could even reset a legend line to say: “Suck an egg Phil,”  in case it’s your last day.

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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What Map Business Online Did on Its Summer Vacation

Map Business Online has released several new features over the summer that some of you may be very interested in. We don’t say a lot about new features over the summer months because so many people are on reduced schedules.

During August we released our Act! Contact management integration.  Act! Users can now upgrade to MBO Act! support through the Act! Market place (coming soon) and through an MBO patch available through Map Business Online.

Act! Users will be able to select contacts in Act! And export them to MBO for routing or list segmentation and campaign development. Plus the Act! world now has access to the best geo-market analysis and sales territory management tools available at this price point.

And for users we’ve got you covered.  Just got to AppExchange and migrate your Map Business Online subscription to a Salesforce version.  It’s at no charge for existing subscribers.

Additionally, general MBO users have now got some new tools to play with:

  • Summarize your data – You may have read about the summarize option available by Color Coding Points, but you may not be aware that you can now create summarized data reports by radius, drive time or polygon areas. Look for the Summary tool (a stretched capital E) associated with your shape’s mini-tool bar . Click it and enjoy the import options. They include your imported data, demographic data, and calculated datasets you’ve compiled. Export to Excel for use outside the application. Or look for the Add to Map feature in Summarize and place a label on your map describing your data.
  • Imagery & Streets – Sometimes you just have to compare real street aerial imagery to the vector street layer that map providers commonly use.  Well now Map Business Online let’s you do just that. Select the option Imagery and Streets in the Map & Data view drop down. You’ll see street vectors with labeling over aerial imagery at all zoom levels. It’s like Google but without all the ads and the crazy UI.
  • Market Analysis – Comparing two datasets has been a cool feature of MBO for a few years now but now you’ll be able to do more. For instance, let’s say you have a list of properties or businesses and you want to know the approximate population value within a radius of miles of each location. You can now run that query which can add up to three demographic category results to your imported data layer. You could run a similar query to add data columns that total by the location’s county, zip code or state as well.
  • Sales Territory Mapping Fill – Some users like to show their sales territories completely color coded with no blank areas for non-zip code sections of the USA.  We’ve added a preference setting under the zip codes folder in Map & Data. Here you can choose to set your zip codes to “USPS Zip codes with fillers.”  This means if you create a territory in Utah or Nevada with this setting turned on, any national parks will show a color code that matches surrounding territory zips.
  • Area of Interest Square Mile Measure – We’ve added an area square mile measurement to the Demographic Data listing – go all the way to the bottom to find it.  You can add this function to your territory maps, market areas of interest, any area that is based on map layers like zip codes or counties.  Using this area measure tool you can add square mile or kilometer totals to your market analysis.
  •  Circle & Drive Time Search – You should also notice, when you conduct a search of an area by radius search or drive time polygon creation there is now an option at the bottom of the save dialog to search for the nearest “X” quantity of locations.  This qualifier will let you immediately limit your search to a certain number of records. For example, a drive time search of a hospital could provide a drive time polygon of 20 minutes and a list of the five closest emergency rooms.

There are a bunch of smaller enhancements, little things that make the Map Business Online a little easier to use, or a little more useful to typical MBO business map users. Software enhancements are always a combination of little improvements and bigger new features.  We depend on user feedback to understand what the product needs most to make it the best business mapping tool available anywhere.

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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Some Recent Favorite Map Business Online Application Examples

I speak with many business mapping customers every week. Many are novices, perhaps new to the concept of business mapping and may require a little basic assistance just to get rolling importing customer locations or building a zip code map. Others have used mapping tools like MapPoint before and are interested in specific mapping applications that supplement their business workflows. Listed below are a few of my most recent favorite map applications from MBO users.

Importing Telecom customer sales dollars by zip code and summarizing the totals of the zip code sales by Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Map Business Online is able to easily import your business data by address, zip code, lat/lon, county, or state for instant visualizations against an accurate and up-to-date web map. (So it’s different then MapPoint in that the data is actually up-to-date!) Once imported to the map, the application can total or average your numeric values (sales dollars) by geographic district.

Compare Year Over Year Demographic Data. I realized Map Business Online could do this on the fly one day during a web demo. I was using the Calculate Data Column tool in the Map & Data Tab to compile four or five segments of population data into one file. The customer said they really wanted to compare three years worth of data. I remembered we had three years of data listed in the MBO demographics library. All we needed to do was compile the columns in the same manner for three years running and access the data either from a Market Area of Interest view or as a Summary File which you can now add to your map.

Team Map Editing – We released a collaborative business mapping product about 9 months ago. We’ve now got many companies applying teams of map editors of five or more users to their location based business work flows. Collaborative map editing combines the convenience of shared map views with the ability to actually allow someone else to edit your map or your map data.

We’ve had customers use the team feature for a variety of business work flows including market analysis, sales territory management, and operational awareness.

In general there are really three reasons a business uses shared map editing:
1. To leverage multiple people towards solving a business problem. Here the old adage “two heads are better than one” holds sway. With team editing, you get a whole group of heads considering a shared problem. And the amazing thing is collaborative map editing helps solve problems more completely and faster. Think about it, instead of generating departmental silos that don’t communicate you’ve just created a team using a shared tool to solve a shared problem. I think that fact that maps are fun helps.

2. To share business data efficiently and keep it up to date. Shared map editing provides a platform for viewing and editing data. Sharing marketing and sales results on a location-based platform means that when people view it they see values, trends, and location placements all at once. Results and edits have more meaning when viewed against a map. Consider a sales meeting to review progress. One view the group might see is an Excel sheet highlighting sales results for June. OK, so there a numbers there. That’s fine. But another view might be the same sales results totaled by zip code on top of a sales territory map. Now the team is considering where and why sales are happening.

3. Conduct operational monitoring. Some companies require their sales people to report how many people they contact each day, week or month. By applying a team map collaboration tool to the business work flow they can encourage their people to update customer records on shared editable maps. Thus everyone gets a quick sense of the latest customer feedback, orders or problems. Good or bad news, it’s always better to get the news sooner rather than later.

And speaking of a MapPoint replacement, MapPoint is the gift that keeps on giving as more and more people drop by the Map Business Online website to explore the possibility of MBO as an alternative to the now defunct MapPoint. Many businesses built work flows around the Microsoft mapping tool. These basic functionalities are common requests from MapPoint users easily transitioned over to MBO:

• Easily look up a zip code and zoom to that area of the map. Simply key the target zip code into the upper left hand corner search bar and click the binoculars.

• Lasso a bunch of points on the map for routing. Select a group of destinations or imported address using a polygon or free form draw object tool to create a subset list for routing stops. Just a couple of clicks and you’ve got your list.

• Multi-stop optimized routing. MBO lets you build multi-stop optimized routes of up to one hundred stops per route. For more routing stops that that you’ll need to contact routing companies like Route Smart, Esri’s ArcLogistics, or Telogis.

• Up-to-date Map Data. This MapPoint hadn’t offered in years. It was killing MapPoint users. We get many users weary of failed address locator operations, but fear not for in MBO most location locate correctly on the first pass. And if they do not geocode correctly you’ll have an opportunity to fix the error by simply choosing to edit the point location and selecting a corrected point on the map. You’re done and good in seconds.

Keep us informed about your map use. This makes us aware of new feature requirements. Our customer’s application of mapping software always surprises us.

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 Change Can Do You Good – with Business Mapping

Managing change is critical to your organization’s ability to grow and achieve goals. Change is also inevitable, like death and taxes, right? Change has to be managed – as a business manager you can’t just let things change and do nothing about it. Sometimes change has to be pro-actively implemented. If your current business model is no longer achieving what it used to, then a change is required. On occasion change can be sudden and, as a manager, it’s your job to help lead the organization out of any crisis.

But Cheryl Crow was right when she sang, “A change (pause) will do you good.” Sudden or gradual, good or bad, changes in our business environment inform us about our business. Because understanding your business better is always good.

A downturn in the economy can quickly tell us that the company payroll and operating expenses are oversized for our target market. A gradual decline of sales in a market niche tells us we need to change our sales strategy. Reacting appropriately and reacting quickly can turn a threat into a business opportunity. Responding to change can turn the loss of a customer into the discovery of new markets. You see, it’s good!

Business mapping software provides analysis tools that can help unravel market shifts and provide clues as to what business direction to take next. Map data visualizations and location-based analysis suggest new directions in the face of old and failing business patterns. Don’t make the mistake of implementing radical strategic change in your business without spending time viewing your location-based data against a business map. Regardless of what business mapping application you use, today’s tools are completely affordable. There’s really no excuse not to take the time to import your business data onto a web-based business map and look at it. Then spend some time considering what you see.

When I Was a Boy…
When I first moved to Maine I worked for an industrial electrical wholesaler that catered to the paper mill industry. Business was great. The paper mills were major employers in Maine and they purchased lots of industrial electrical parts. The whole world needed paper back then. About six months after I came on I was introduced to my first IBM business PC. A strange looking machine with its own huge table at the back of the office. No email yet, no Internet, but that large piece of equipment held the seeds of the decline of the paper industry. Unbeknownst to us, big change was coming.

Thirty years later, with the paper businesses largely gone, Maine’s industrial wholesalers are somehow still selling industrial products. Many have merged with national chains to assure survival, but all of them learned to sell products into new and growing industries – biotech, telecom, local food, alternative energy, and health care industries to name just a few. Most of these industries didn’t exist in 1985, including business mapping software.

In 2007 I was managing a mapping software publisher’s professional sales team. Much of our revenue was generated from the oil and gas industry. That year our team noticed orders coming in from wind energy companies. When we mapped their locations we saw new wind energy businesses located all over the country, but coming to use for low cost GIS software. We sent sales people to meet with these new accounts. We decided to exhibit at the American Wind Energy Association. By paying attention, conducting some basic map market analysis, and acting immediately, our team was one of the first to market in the booming wind energy field. For two years that revenue stream helped us meet our sales objectives.

Like a Shark, Keep Moving Forward
There are many ways a business map can help a business navigate or manifest significant change. Here are some real life examples:

Franchise Organizations utilize several geographic visualization features from mapping software. Typically they like to arrange franchise territories by zip code maps. A shared web map can provide a dirt simple visualization of zip code sales territories for new franchise owners, keeping the competing retailers or service orgs out of each other’s way. Additionally, a franchiser might use a business map to explore potential new markets through demographic analysis by zip code or county, or by setting up competitor franchise maps that show where they might do well by increasing their presence around the nation. At times, a franchise company may choose to manage their franchise sales by color coding zip codes, red and green zip codes denote sold or available territories. Although these companies tend to use zip codes, any district geography like counties or Census tracts, would do.

Cross Industry Sales & Marketing Teams – Competitor maps should be a basic tool for any sales or marketing department. It’s quite simple. Compile a spreadsheet of your top ten competitors by address. Import the spreadsheet into your business map application and view those competitor points on the map. Add some demographic data; perhaps population and median income. Add a spreadsheet of your own company’s locations. Now sit back and think about what you are seeing. If there are areas where your competitor exists and you don’t what should you do? Open a store? Hire an outside sales person? Conduct a direct mail campaign? Or perhaps, based on demographic trends, you should skip that area and focus on more lucrative markets. Sometimes I hear people complain about what a chore it will be to compile those competitor addresses. Ever wonder if your competitor took the time to compile a map of your locations?

Retail StoresDrive time maps come in handy for market analysis simply because driving time is always a consideration for measuring retail store potential or sales call efficiency. The question answered by a drive time query is, “How long will it take a customer to drive from their home or office to my store location?” Think like a pizza store. There’s got to be a sweet spot for customer driving time to pick up a pizza. I’d drive ten minutes to buy a pizza, but I probably would not drive a half hour (especially with kids under the age of ten in the car.) Now reverse the analysis and consider how far you want to drive to deliver pizza or how far your sales people should drive to talk to a customer. Windshield time vs. talk time should always be a consideration. Maps can help us assess how many possible customers live within a radius of our sales force and how likely it would be to interface with them.

Health Care Expansion Planning – Expansion happens constantly in the healthcare field. As hospitals and insurance companies expand into new markets and adjust to the Affordable Care Act, they are forced to consider how they will interface with related medical businesses within any new market areas. It’s not unusual for hospital systems to create business analysis maps that display every possible medical business within a 25 mile radius of a hospital center. This radius analysis compares the customer and ambulance drive times with rural medical coverage areas, home care agencies, and quick care opportunities, thereby providing a geographic starting point for strategic expansion planning. Market expansion possibilities are side-by-side with operational realities in a map like this. Medical systems are complex and maps help to organize complexity into a business strategy.

Business Listings are often used to describe a market’s potential or to populate a business area of interest with potential customers. Business maps may or may not offer business listings but you can always secure datasets through online services like,, or Add a list of potential customer addresses into your business mapping software to your market analysis maps. Apply the business mapping filtering tools to develop and manage call lists across your sales organization. A small investment in a target area prospect list will provide new objectives for your sales team and ultimately should lead to new industries that require your products and services.

There are many ways in which technology can help us face change effectively. Mapping software is one tool that is available, relatively easy to use, and affordable. If you’re using spreadsheets and web browsers you are capable of using business mapping software. At the pace our business mapping software is growing, I can assure you that others in your industry are considering their business by looking at a business map.

Don’t wait for change to happen to you. Take control over your business direction. Start business mapping before your competitors do.

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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Calculating Demographic Data Columns in Map Business Online

Map Business Online business mapping software includes access to demographic data with each subscription. Canada and the UK have basic demographic data options. The USA version offers a comprehensive library of demographic data layers beyond just population and household income. You’ll find ethnicity, age, gender, occupation, housing, and more demographic layers to work with. You can easily explore the data options by taking the thirty day FREE trial. In this way MBO is truly a demographic mapping software.

Within our demographic data offering are categories of demographic information broken down by age, year, or other segments. You might import your own demographic data with similar separated categories. Map Business Online provides calculating tools to combine these demographic gradations into one layer for a succinct presentation on your map. These tools are advanced. Any user can access this functionality, but it is advanced.

Once you realize you want to combine demographic layers, go to or open the Map & Data Tab. Choose any Map Layer like states, county or zip code. Hover over the layer and click the Edit Gear. Once inside that layer’s editing function choose Manage Calculated Data Columns.

This opens up the Calculate Data Column’s dialog. At the bottom choose Add Data Column. In this dialog usually the Demographic Data Options are preselected. But you will note in the drop down, you could choose data you’ve imported.

Be sure to Name the data you are about to create. For this I might name it Ages 65 and Up. But the naming is up to you. It helps you identify your data when you map it in a few minutes.

Looking at the demographic data layers on the left, scroll up and down the list to find the data you want to combine. In this example, we’re interested in all elderly people from age 65 and up. So, starting at population in the age bracket 65 to 69, we selected the layer and click the right directed blue arrow to add that layer to our combination operation. Then just go back and get age brackets 70-74, 75 to 79, 80 to 84, and (everyone’s favorite) 85 years and older.

Once you’ve got them all moved to the right, click the Add Data Column button which will show you the Manage Calculation dialog again, now with a New Column listed. You’ll note there is a Divide/Multiply option in the calculation process so you could apply division and multiplication operations if you had additional factors to consider.

From the Manage Calculation dialog, if you need to you can change the name of the data you created. Just click the Edit Gear and have at it.

Now, return to your map view. Choose the Three Puzzle Piece icon to create a demographic map by state, county or zip code. When you arrive at the Setup Color Coding page in the dialog process, click the drop down arrow to select your data. Choose the “Calculated” option that is listed there now. You should find your data listed there. Apply it as you normally would.

Your Calculated data result will also be available for use in Market Area and Sales Territory analysis datasets. You can even sum data components from different originating datasets – just make sure you are combining apples and apples.

Thus you are able to combine multiple data layers into one data layer within Map Business Online. When will we stop improving this product?

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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Who Put the Business in Business Mapping Software?

New customers to Map Business Online often ask questions about customizing their business map data layers for their map viewing audience or their team shared-map editors. It’s natural that before you jump into a new technical product you want assurances that tool will work adequately for your team.

The truth is Map Business Online is rarely customized by our software developers for specific customers. If it is customized it generally involves creating an entirely new hosted product that entails a larger business opportunity for both Map Business Online and for the customer. It’s not cheap but could be a winner for the right opportunity. Don’t hesitate to ask about such customizations.

However, Map Business Online as released is in fact very customizable by the business map customer using the tools already provided. This means the application is designed to give business customers plenty of opportunities to customize their maps up to support their specific work flows. It’s kind of what we’re all about. We made Map Business Online to be a mapping software that can enhance your work in a variety of ways.

Firstly, the new MBO map administrator or creator can establish customer mapping that represents their basic business data visualizations and save them as a template for their users start from. This is especially effective for team sharing applications where you can pro-actively share a map, complete with imported data layers and geographic map layers, for your team to use as a starter map for more detailed work.
Import the data you want, keeping in mind that any data you import will be shared with your team and anyone they share with. If you don’t want someone to see it – don’t import it. Once you’ve got the map to your liking, save it as a MyTemplate map. Then go through the sharing process with your team or map viewing audience, as the case warrants.

Map Templates allow you to control what your editors and viewers start with. They also allow you to build a baseline map for your own future work. Perhaps you build a monthly map out of data that only changes once a year? In January you might build the template map and thereafter open a monthly version from that template.

Import a Unique ID Column
Or maybe you reimport a monthly dataset that’s usually pretty close to a previous release and you don’t want to have resymbolize and re-color code your data every dang month. If you have a Unique ID number associated with your data records you can use that upon import to set up more automatic updates for later work.

Your unique ID must actually be unique to make this work. No duplicates allowed. But if you do this upfront it will allow an easy button click to update the data. To update hover over the Map & Data Tab’s imported data layer and click the Edit Gear. You’ll find the update data buttons at the bottom of the dialog page. Test it out to make sure it works for you.

The nice part is that you don’t have to resymbolize and reclassify your data ever month. Combined with the saved template map work flow MBO processing just became what we New Englanders call, “wicked easy.”

Edit Your Data Map Side
Yes you can. Once you’ve imported a data layer you can edit the data on the map. I know I’ve talked about this before but it is important. In the Data Window, by hovering over the left hand column of green and yellow locator dots, you can choose to edit your data’s placement on the map or your data’s actual data records. This is beneficial for updating a few records, or to add a few new records.
If I was going to add a whole bunch of records, I’d boot up Excel, make my changes and update my data through reimporting or through auto-updates. But that’s me. You just need to know you can update your data on the map if you want to.

In fact, Map Business Online let’s you create entire new datasets on the map by adding new addresses. So you could set up a work flow where a user inspects an imported dataset, record by record, and culls out certain data records based on sales activity or patient acuity, and turn those data points into a new dataset on the fly. Pretty cool.

Generating Reports
In Map Business Online the business map user creates territories or areas of interest out of geographic districts like zip codes, Census tracts, or counties – to name a few. Once you established a sales territory, for instance, you’ll end up with a Data Window spreadsheet describing your area of interest by zip code or county or Census tract. These market analysis results can be appended with other data. So, for instance, you could add:

• Data from data you’ve imported like counts per zip, or sales per county
• Data from included MBO Demographic Data like population, income or ethnicity to name just a few
• Calculate column results – this advanced work can be done in MBO. It’s in the Map & Data Tab

The resulting dataset can then be exported as a CSV file report for use outside the application. And from within your MBO spreadsheet you can now generate summation reports for export as well.
Once you understand how Map Business Online transforms simple map data visualizations into a market area of interest or sales territory you’ll begin to understand how to generate report information applying the tool to your own specific work flows.

Enhance your work flows with business mapping software. Release your business data from boring and hard to access silos and let it soar above beautiful maps enlightening your overall business processes. Leverage the power of location in your business data and expose your next strategy. Or just create a zip code map.

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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