Case Study: The Value of Mapping

by Jenny on November 12, 2013 Comments Off on Case Study: The Value of Mapping

I recently wrote an article about the 4 Steps of a Successful Marketing Process. Step 1, Discovery, is where all of the initial market research takes place. Mapping (i.e. plotting information on a map) is an often-overlooked but extremely useful market research technique.

What types of data can be mapped? Anything that can be tied to geography. Examples include store, dealer or program locations; customer or donor addresses; and a wide range of demographic data. The value of mapping lies in its ability to yield valuable, highly visual information that can be used to shape your marketing strategies and plans. Our work with a non-profit organization illustrates this.

Background: We recently worked with a local chapter of a non-profit organization, Girls Inc, who provides programs designed to help girls of all backgrounds grow into Strong, Smart and Bold individuals. Over 85% of the organization’s funding comes from individuals, corporations and grants.

Problem: The organization wanted to (1) grow their donor base and (2) reach more girls. However, they were not sure where (geographically) they should be spending their limited advertising dollars, and they did not know where to locate new programs.

Solution: MacKenzie Corporation undertook a market research and mapping project designed to get the necessary data to resolve both of these issues. Here’s a look at the mapping process in action:

1. Start with internal data. The first step in the mapping process is to lay down your own data. In this case, we started with a general map of the geographic area that this organization serves, and then created one map of their program locations and another map showing where their donors are located.


2. Look at target market. Next we used census data to determine where the bulk of the organization’s “customers”(i.e. girls age 10 to 14) live, and overlaid that with the program locations. This highlighted some initial areas to consider for potential program expansion.

3. Look at target market demographics – girls. Census data can often yield all kinds of insights into a given market. In addition to using census data to find which areas have high populations of girls age 10 to 14, we also took a close look at household income data. Although Girls Inc. serves girls from all socioeconomic backgrounds, they wanted to focus their initial expansion efforts in areas where families were likely to have the necessary income to pay for the program without scholarship assistance. They had determined that families with annual income in the $125 to $200,000 range were their best prospects. Our next step was therefore to look at the number of families with this level of income that live in each census tract, overlay this onto the map of current program locations, and then compare it to the map above.


It should be noted that each census tract has approximately the same number of residents. The large blocks on thismap therefore represent more sparsely populated areas, while the small blocks represent densely populated areas.

4. Look at target market demographics – donors. Now that we had mapped out their donors’ addresses, we wanted to look at the household income in these areas. The next step was to overlay data for mean household income by census tract with the donor addresses. To gain further clarity, we then took a more close-up view of some of the areas with the highest concentration of donors. 

Results: Mapping projects can either show you something new or confirm what you already believe to be true. In this case, the location of some of the big pockets of donors came as a surprise to the organization. This information will be invaluable in determining where they should advertise in order to grow their donor base.

The maps comparing current program locations with the locations of households in the organization’s target demographic (i.e. families that have a household income of $125 to $200,000 and 10- to 14-year-old girls) yielded some promising areas for program expansion. Because the organization runs most of its programs at school sites, the next step (currently in progress) is to zero in on these areas and add school locations to the map.

Girls Inc. of Orange County 
Girls Inc.® of Orange County has been a respected member of the non-profit community for almost 60 years. The mission of Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. We put our mission into practice through the Girls Inc. experience that equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers and grow into healthy, educated and independent adults.  Girls Inc. of Orange County positively changes the lives of 4,500 girls, ages 4 1/2 to 18, each year, by providing year-round holistic, compensatory, and intentional programming focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), financial literacy, sound body image, healthy relationships, and college and career readiness. For more information, please visit



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Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

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