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Mapping Out Marketing on Computer Screen : Software: Small businesses are getting help with decisions from systems that render complex data into easy-to-use maps.

November 21, 1995|VIVIAN MARINO | ASSOCIATED PRESS

These bundled programs are in addition to the rising number of stand-alone GIS programs, with names like First St. or Maptitude, that include various databases or others designed to work with add-on mapping and statistical packages from smaller, private companies.

Demographic data is sold on computer disks and CD-ROMs by market research firms, yellow pages publishers, credit bureaus and the U.S. government.

Wood said that by using the GIS software Maptitude, he was able to ascertain enough information about household income, race and employment status among residents in the Nashville area to help with his recruiting efforts. The more temporary employees he finds, the more jobs he can fill and revenue he can generate.

Maptitude, published by Caliper Corp. of Newton, Mass., is among the least expensive GIS products at a cost of $395, and probably among the easiest to use. Its MapWizard feature automatically creates a standard map that can be customized.

Before using GIS software, Wood said, he was forced to do all of his market research in very low-tech fashion.

"I'd have to send someone to the library to do all this statistical research, and it would often take hours. Then using that information . . . we'd color-code several maps by hand and try to layer them. It would sometimes get confusing," Wood said.

Robert J. Wilkening, president of Wilkening & Co., a Park Ridge, Ill., management consulting firm, says GIS software also has made his work easier.

"It gives us the ability to go to clients and do things important to them that we could never have done before," said Wilkening, who uses the First St. program.

Just recently, Wilkening said, he was able to help an industrial client reduce spending among its sales force by redesigning sales routes to minimize travel. He was asked by another potential business client for suggestions on where to open another carwash.

"Any business can use this," he said. "The smart mom-and-pops are going to win."

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