Mapping clients and customers

December 2012 » Columns » CE + GIS INTERSECT
Janet Jackson, GISP

GIS perspective
Jackson:

Your smartphone might come in handy for finding the closest pizza place or coffee shop, but have you considered combining your business development or current client list with GIS and displaying your future client's location (and other valuable information) on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop? In today's highly competitive world we need to be working smarter, and using mobile technology is a great example of a simple yet unique function that might give you an edge over your competitor.

I can't think of a better tool than GIS to assist your marketing efforts. Combining GIS with a regional street network will assist with planning an efficient route (just like it does for UPS). It also will display valuable client information at your fingertips – the latest RFPs, short- and long-term project budgets, specific contact information, and any other data you have associated with this client. No more fumbling with notecards, three-ring binders, or small slips of "I-better-not-lose-this" notes to access the information.

Additionally, ask the GIS to show you the data that each client has in common. Examples might be the type of client, when your last proposal was submitted (win/lose), and what capital projects the client has in progress. If this type of specific information is in your company business development database, it is easy to combine it with GIS to get a visual answer. Sometimes, simple yet creative answers are right in front of us but difficult to see – until they are highlighted on a map.

Combining GIS with your company's business development database – the one that holds and sorts information about your client projects, budgets, locations, special events, and requests – makes your marketing tasks easier. If you're not doing it yet, you can bet your competitors are!

Janet Jackson, GISP, is president of INTERSECT (www.intersectgis.com), a GIS consulting firm. She travels the country talking about the importance of intersecting GIS with other professions to create effective solutions for clients. She can be contacted at jjackson@intersectgis.com.


Sometimes, simple yet creative answers are right in front of us but difficult to see – until they are highlighted on a map.

Marketing perspective
Vaughn:

Looking back on my days as a business developer for a mid-sized environmental engineering firm, I remember my trusty back roads map of North Carolina that helped me find my way to existing and prospective clients. I spent a considerable amount of time flipping through the pages of that map to figure out how to best plan my visits at convenient times for clients, while being efficient with my travel time. "Spare time" often was spent making cold calls somewhere along the route.

The GPS in my car now does much of that work, but wouldn't it be great to have a GIS application for business developers that included not only the best route to a client, but also layers that included their infrastructure, current or future capital projects, and names of the decision makers? It's not that those of us who were the road warriors of business development didn't have that information, it's just that mine was stored on 3x5 index cards and securely kept in a plastic recipe box. It wasn't easy to share with others and required constant maintenance. A smartphone GIS application would have been great. I could have updated information over coffee at Starbucks and felt good about quickly sharing what I had learned with others.

Linda Vaughn, CPSM, CAPM, PMP, is a professional services marketer and project management professional who helps her clients improve their people skills (www.lindavaughninc.com). She conducts assessments of work groups, identifies issues, and develops options to improve efficiency and delivery of client service. Her practice includes training, coaching, and organizational assessments and development.


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