Business owners are constantly on the lookout for ways to grow their revenue and customer base. An immensely helpful tool comes in the form of business mapping, which explore a variety of business aspects that can better show owners where they’re doing well and where they can make improvements.
Three business map types that will benefit a wide variety of businesses, of all sizes and niches, include customer maps, competitor maps and demographic maps.
Widespread suitability is a primary benefit of business maps, but they’re especially useful for retail store owners. “Any business, but especially retailers, are impacted by where their business is located,” says Geoffrey Ives of Map Business Online.
“Consider two competing retailers: one uses business mapping and the other does not. The business mapping retailer is going to conduct some basic business intelligence exercises, and better understand their business as a result. The other company will likely miss out on key opportunities because they aren’t visualizing their business data or benefiting from that additional perspective.”
Below, we’ll dive into how these three kinds of business visualizations can help retailers.
1. Customer Maps
Customers drive a business’s success, so it makes sense to have a business map dedicated to them. To do this, Ives says you can import a spreadsheet of existing customer locations into your chosen mapping software:
“The simple visual image of store customers against an accurate map will display densities of customers indicating where existing customers live and, perhaps more importantly, where they do not live,” he says.
This provides information that can be hugely important in a business plan, as identifying locations for untapped business can be highly beneficial. Ives says questions that a quality customer map can inspire might include:
- Why don’t I do business in zip codes or counties with low customer density?
- What is the demographic breakdown of my best customer zip codes and how does that compare to my typical customer profile?
- Where are my competitors outselling my store?
- How far are my customers willing to drive to buy my products?
Retailers who use customer maps to effectively ask and answer these questions will find a constant source of leads and customers.
2. Competitor Maps
Customer maps certainly touch on competitors in a customer sense, as they help to discover why consumers may prefer one retailer over another. Zooming in further, competitor maps specifically provide more elaborate analysis focused on competitor store locations.
A big benefit of competitor maps is that, unlike customer maps, you don’t need private customer information to get started. By simply using Google and Yelp you can find any competitor’s location, in addition to gauging their online review presence. Any competitive store owner should be taking the time to analyze competitors online in regard to their location, proximity, inventory and general presence.
The advantages of competitive analysis in strategic planning cannot be understated, as knowing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can play in role in every facet of your business, from product direction to marketing approach. By striving to entice a competing customer base more so than your competitor, you’re ensuring increased presence at the bare minimum and new customers in all likelihood.
3. Demographic and Marketing Maps
Demographic and marketing maps go hand-in-hand in a sense, since successful targeting in marketing is contingent on proper identification of customer demographics. An effective demographic map provides this via color-coded zip code categorization, which can visually and contextually inform owners of the best-selling and worst-selling customer zip codes.
“By determining your stores’ best customer zip codes by demographics, you develop a best customer profile which can inform your marketing efforts, and sales approaches,” Ives notes.
Customer information in regard to age, gender, ethnicity, income levels and occupation all provide insights that can help avoid targeting demographics that your product doesn’t resonate with. Optimizing marketing strategies in such ways can save a substantial amount of money in the long run, with better-targeted marketing campaigns providing more bang for your buck.
“At the end of the retail day, business mapping software is a very affordable supplement to sales and marketing tools in the retail industry,” says Ives.
In an age with an increasing amount of information and plugged-in consumers, business mapping can help retailers see their industry in new ways, and potentially increase sales and expand their overall reach.
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