This page contains answers to common questions handled by our support
- What is a Treasure Map?
- What criteria can I use?
- What if my Company doesn't yet have a criteria?
- What about competition?
- What is a Competitor Profile?
- What is the difference between an aggressive list of competitors and a
reasonably certain list?
- What are the nuances of median income?
- How accurate are these maps?
- Why do I have to make a choice between the outlines of MCDs (towns or
county districts) or the names of cities and places?
- I sell to Businesses, not consumers. Demographics don't make any
difference to me.
A Treasure Map is our answer to ring studies. We offer the opportunity to prescreen
large geographic areas for those locations that meet a company's criteria. This allows a
site selector to take a shorter critical path and save time and money. Using Treasure
Maps, a site selector only needs to know that part of an MSA or Counties that contains
areas that meet the criteria for successful sites. Can this save time over driving a whole
city, identifying sites in areas that look good from an intuitive level and then ordering
a ring study? We know so. Ask about our introductory offer. Click to see a sample Treasure Map.
The criteria can be almost anything. We have programs for home to
destination trips, work to destination trips and Business
to Business sales. We have quite a lot of data in-house and get discounts when
buying some of the country's most popular data. We can probably buy specialty data at a
lower cost than you can.
Healthcare? Patient Visits generated by neighborhood by physician specialty as a
destination. We can use data from your data system provider.
Consumer demographics by place of residence is most popular. The most
popular seems to be the number of people living within a radius. Other
popular criteria are median age and median income within a radius.
However, customer data mining might indicate something more esoteric: At least
$150,000,000 of sales of drugs and groceries within 5 miles AND at least
a 2% forecasted gain in the population of 35-75 year olds within 3 miles.
If you can explain it, we can probably map it.
In addition to criteria that are numeric thresholds, we can also rank locations.
Say you are a reprographics company and you do most of your business with architects,
engineers, advertising companies and a nearby manufacturer. We can develop a ranking
system that will rank every place in the MSA by its convenience to all your
customers or based on the number of nearby customers. the index
can be created using the the number of firms, number of employees, sales potential by firm
or a competitive ranking scheme you provide. Convenience can be measured by distance or
If your company hasn't gone through the data mining process to develop criteria, we can
In this case, you are left with few options:
- Fake it. Use your imagination. Take a guess at the criteria that you think are the best
predictors of success. You've been in this business for a while and know your customers,
so why not?
- Sometimes demand forecasts for a product or service other than the one you offer can be
used. If your customers use a product or service in similar proportions to the usage of
yours and data is available for that other product or service, then the purchase potential
for that other product or service can be used as a predictor of the success of yours. For
example, sales of sneakers in a neighborhood could parallel the dollars spent on clothes.
Video rentals could parallel the dollars spent on electronics. While the parallelism might
not be particularly close, it may be sufficient to rank locations.
- You're company could hire us to do the data mining and build a model for your company.
We have a unique attack to the problem that is specifically oriented to site evaluation
and selection. We can compare sales data with drive time, distance, neighborhood
demographics, changes in demographics, types of businesses that buy your product, etc. as
appropriate to find those factors that seem to be the best predictors of success. We can
interview your customers or sales people to develop an expert system. The end result is a
model designed for site selection and sales forecasting that was tailored to your company
and that makes makes you most effective. We want you to get BIG
Only a very few businesses can boast that they don't have any competition. When they
do, the next sentence is often "Not yet, anyway." For those businesses that do
have competition, we offer a multi-tier approach to competitor research and analysis.
These are ranked from the easiest and least expensive to reliable and most expensive. Yes,
you still do get what you pay for.
- Search a single database based upon your business' Standard Industrial Code (SIC).
We can save you money because our Marketing Consulting account with Dun & Bradstreet
allows us to inexpensively get a current snapshot of business SICs and locations in a
market area for less than the cost of a mailing label. We also subscribe to InfoUSA
(formerly American Business Information), another leading source for business information.
We can also save you money when we get a discount on this information.
- Search both business databases and search multiple SICs within each database. This is
the belt and suspenders approach to database searching. It is more expensive when using
the freshest data available and more labor intensive because we filter the duplicates as
best we can.
- Search both business databases, the phonebook database and the WWW. This results in the
most comprehensive lead list for competitors.
The preceding searches produce some pretty good leads. 100% accuracy 100% of the time
is not yet attainable. Many times the databases won't note that a business is closed or
has moved. We recommend telephone surveys of the competitors identified. Those that can't
be ruled-out should be visited if possible.
This is a company profile from one of the business information companies. Information
is available for most companies. It can include number of employees, sales, parent
company, and much more. Profiling is necessary for business-to-businesses companies when
their market share is based upon convenience. It is the basis for ranking how important
each customer site is to your site selection choices. You will make better decisions when
we give you a map that has ranked every location in a market area based upon upon: 1) how
convenient is it to your customers, 2) your prime customers, or 3) their potential for
generating sales for your company. (If you like, we can arrange for these profiles to be
used for direct marketing purposes.)
Another use of the Pirate's Profile is for competitor information. When calculating
market share, the effects of competition are included. To allow you to make better
decisions, the competitors are generally rated using an attractiveness rating system that
can draw on information in the Pirate's Profiles. A rating system could be basic using
facility size, number of employees, gross sales, or more complicated based upon
characteristics that can only be understood after visiting a competitor.
We can travel to visit the competitors if it will make your job easier.
We can make calculating market share quite easy for you. We have developed some
state-of-the-art gravity models. If your company is not using them or your not sure how we
could help you forecast sales with a gravity model, pick-up the phone. You'll bring your
company into the space age.
A reasonably certain list is one which searches one of the main business databases for
competing businesses that are listed the same way (same SIC) that your business is listed.
This type of list produces the smallest number of businesses and only returns those that
we are reasonably certain are of the type that is sought. This type of list overlooks
businesses that might be competing but that are listed differently. This list is
appropriate when a quick overview is needed. This is not intended to be an exhaustive
An aggressive list is one that 1) draws upon all databases that we have available, 2)
uses a variety of SIC codes to try and pick-up those business that might be competitors
but are classified differently from your business, and 3) is verified by telephone.
Include profiling and this list is suitable for near-final analysis of the effects of
competition. This list is quite cost effective for site selection. It offers a good
balance between cost and accuracy at an early stage of market investigation. Once a site
is located, we recommend that this list be reviewed and that additional research be done
to see that no competitors were missed or are likely to surface in the near future.
Median income is the income of a household that is in the middle of all households in a
defined grouping. As many households have income greater than the median as have income
less than the median. This estimate is very expensive to calculate for the types of
analysis we do. We have found a practical alternative which generates statistics that are
not too dissimilar. This is the median of the geographic areas' median household incomes.
Simply put, each geographic area (county, census tract, zip code, block group, etc.) has a
median income. We use the median of these amounts.
This question involves two issues - geographic accuracy and statistical accuracy and
the resultant geo-statistical accuracy.
- Geographic accuracy is quite good. Most geographies ultimately find their roots in the
1997 TIGER data created by the US Census Bureau. Their geographic data seems to be
within a football field most of the time. Our calculations are replicated every 1/10th of
- Statistical accuracy is quite good as we are generally dealing with large numbers at any
particular location. Further our demographic vendor was selected because of the update
methodology they use. The demographics base their current year estimates on delivery
counts from the US Postal Service. In many areas, this is the equivalent of a mini-census
available quarterly. Accuracy is more reliable in stable urban areas than fast growing
- Geo-statistical accuracy is quite good in the more populated areas and less so in the
sparsely populated areas. We have developed algorithms for compensating for sparse
population, but find them to be expensive for initial analyses. Our calculations are
replicated every 1/10th of a mile and rely upon the geographic center of the neighborhoods
(Census block groups) in the market area. We have observed errors of 5%-15% between
different modeling methods. Part of this error is attributed to the models themselves, the
balance is attributed to geo-statistical error.
Legibility, in a word. We try to cram in as much information as possible, but there
comes a point when a map becomes hard to read. We try to stop short of this point.
Our Minor Civil Division (MCD) files are official municipal boundary files and the Cities
files are point files like you see on road atlases.
Using the Cities file, we can label cities, towns, villages, hamlets, major
subdivisions, and some very small places. This gives the map an appearance closer to an
Using the MCD files, we can depict the official municipal boundaries. If you need to
know where town boundary are, this is the obvious choice.
I sell to Businesses, not consumers. Demographics don't make any
difference to me.
If your bottom line is not affected by the convenience of your location to your
customers or suppliers, the best we can do for you is to help you find a low cost
location. We are developing what we call a geographic proforma. This
system calculates the cost of doing business at each location in a region in which you are
considering locating. It calculates the most profitable locations based upon distance to
customers, distance to suppliers, taxes, insurance costs, labor rates, etc.
This is quite new in site selection - call Chris Miner 860-443-8405 for details.