Recently, I spoke to Mike Svoboda, the Managing Partner of Axmen Propane about marketing tools he currently uses.  In Svoboda’s 30+ years in the propane retail industry he says that direct mail is still one of his favorite marketing methods.  He says, “With direct mail you can target specific areas better than any other method.  You can slice and dice your area by city, neighborhood, mail carrier route or even down to specific streets and then send mailings just to those areas.  Unless you want to go door-to-door and hand out flyers, there just isn’t any other marketing method that lets you target that precisely.”

Google My Maps

Svoboda was recently introduced to a new mapping tool that has further enhanced his ability to target specific areas and use that information to his advantage.  Svoboda learned about Google My Maps from Justin Quist of the Axmen retail store.  Quist has been using the tool to map customer purchases by trade area.  Using My Maps, Svoboda can create a visual representation of his delivery routes.  Seeing such a map can be enlightening of and by itself, but there are many ways to use this new information to your advantage.

my-maps-menu

 

To use the tool as Svoboda does, you will need to have a customer list in Excel or other similar format and a basic understanding of web browser technology.  With those in hand, get to the tool by searching on “Google My Maps” or click on this link to go directly to the page.  On the Google My Maps page, click on the “Create a New Map” button.  From there, import your list and My Maps will create a map showing your customer locations.  “With this tool, I can create a map that shows where all of my customers are.”  Svoboda adds, “This lets me quickly identify holes in delivery routes which we will target with direct mail or other marketing methods.”

Features and Functionality

Svoboda has just begun using My Maps to create customer maps, but already sees the possibilities.  “Right away you can see places on your delivery routes that you are weak and what neighborhoods we need to focus on.”  And Svoboda says, “You can also import different customer list types.  Next, we plan on having a look at maps showing just our keep-full accounts.  If you’re in an agricultural area, you could create a map of your grain drying customers.  There are all kinds of possibilities.”

 

google-mapping

Another interesting feature of My Maps is the measuring tool.  This feature allows you to measure distances on your map.  The measuring tool could be used to find out how far customers are from the nearest bulk plant or define a service area (in miles) around a new plant.

Benefits

By maximizing their efficiencies within delivery routes, Axmen Propane has actually reduced the number of delivery trucks over the past several years while increasing customer counts.  Svoboda says, “The real benefit we see in using this mapping tool is that we will be able to increase our customer density in existing delivery routes.  We know that we can increase density within a route by 10-15% with little to no increase in costs.”

And the best part?  My Maps is free.  Try it out and see how you can make this tool a part of your business. What have you got to lose?

Other Resources

USPS Every Door Direct Mail service provides free tools and resources to help create targeted mailings.

In a previous 3-part article, we outlined the steps for creating a direct mail campaign to promote summer fill. For your convenience, the links to those articles are listed below.

  • Part I  Advantages and benefits of using direct mail marketing
  • Part II  Why it’s important to have a specific goal for your direct mail campaign and design/printing tips
  • Part III  Direct mail costs and steps required to prepare the mailing

 

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