Without a doubt, a retail or other customer-facing enterprise can pin a significant portion of its success to location. Whether a grocery store, bank branch or family medical practice, WHERE one is situated is a major factor in business success.

Once location is settled, the next best thing an owner or marketing manager can do to achieve and maintain competitive advantage is to mark (and defend) its territory.

Call it territory or trade area – if you don’t know it, own it and defend it – you’ll lose out to potential or real competitive threats… and you’ll also lose sales to be sure.

In our view, a prime trade area is one with the highest concentration of customers around the physical location of the business, and represents the prime market where the business can establish and leverage its brand and market influence.

Therefore, “drawing” is a term we employ to understand that some targets or options will fit your product/service offering and some that won’t.  When you have a clear picture of the right prospects, channels, time, reason to inquire, response from you, etc., a planned and successfully orchestrated chain of marketing events will lead to sales improvement.

Mapping one’s trade area might seem daunting, depending on size of enterprise. But here are our top 6 recommendations for getting started.

  1. Before you draw, establish a hierarchy of issues that must be addressed within your organization to improve sales performance (or other performance metric to be measured).
  2. Draw maps that drill down on highest density of customers in close proximity (note: your finished map is not going to be a perfect circle surrounding your location).
  3. Identify which prospects to target, when and where, features/benefits to emphasize, and potential ready responses.
  4. Observe and report: Closely study behavior and buying patterns of identified customer segments in the prime trade area.
  5. Focus a high percentage of marketing and sales initiatives on the ideal segments in the prime trade area.
  6. Use information from steps 4 and 5 to identify specific areas of opportunity for up-selling and cross-sales to current and potential customers.

Of course, many other territory-mapping ideas abound, but the steps we suggest to start will create a solid foundation for marketing that is targeted at the right prospects, in the right place, and at the right time. The results of an effective mapping effort will lead to increased awareness and sales, often achieved by simply moving your marketing dollars to the territory where the hunting is best.

Unsure where to draw your line around your territory? Contact us if you need some guidance to get started.