Things you should read this week. 12/1/14

How red or blue is your neighborhood? – Washington Post

Philadelphia Council Member Show Off their New Know Your Neighborhood Tool – Plan Philly.

Census Bureau Statistics Show How Young Adults Today Compare With Previous Generations in Neighborhoods Nationwide  – Census Bureau.

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Review: Does Your Zip Code Determine What You Buy?

Today I found a blog from The Wall Street Journal about how the zip code that you live in could dictate who you are.  Mapping behemoth ESRI mashed Census data along with marketing data from GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence and tries to predict what you will buy according to the zip code you live in.

The mapping piece is beautiful, the map moves smoothly and the graphics are top notch. The descriptions of the socio-economic levels are stereotypical and questionable.

I did some spot checking around my area  in South Jersey to see how the data compares to my own local knowledge.  I gave to say that in the zip code that I live in ESRI did get the fact that there are a lot of apartment dwellers in my hometown correct.  What they did not get right was the fact that a lot of these apartment dwellers are not millennials, instead they are middle class families. Looking at the Census data can tell you that.

I also found the categories in the “Top Tapestry Segments” incredibly insensitive and stereotypical.

Case in point: Camden City Zip Code 08110

This area in Camden is broken down into:

36% American Dreamers: Basically foreign born married couples and older people

30% Parks and Rec: People who live in older more established communities

18% Urban Villages: Recent immigrants who do not speak fluent English

The Urban Village description is the one I find most offensive.  “Shopping for trendy clothes for the whole family is important so we can be fashionable”.  Why is this connected to the urban poor?  Why play up to stereotypes? I think that this map has some really good uses but I think that it delivers its message poorly.

Check out the map here and feel free to leave your comments.

Where We Came From and Where We are Going.

The NY times recently released an article looking at how Census data gives us insight into migrations patterns in the US. For each state you see the following information: where people from that home state have moved to and where they have moved from (by decade starting with the 1990 census and ending with the 2012 American Community Survey).  Within each of these migration patterns the data highlights what specific parts of the country people are coming from/leaving to.  For example, Florida’s data illustrates that in 1900 65% of Floridians were born in the state compared to just 36% in 2012.  The majority of the new migrants came from NY and other Northeastern states.   The out migration data shows that the majority of Florida residents have moved to other parts of the state, with other states in the South being the second destination.

The NY times did a great job visualizing the data into colored streams that are easy to understand.  The newspaper typically does a great job taking complex data and reformatting it for easy digestion.

Here’s  a link to the article:

Business Plan in a Day: Book Review

A few months ago I was browsing at a local bookstore looking for something interesting to pick-up.  Lately I’ve been very interested in Business topics because I hope to convert this blog into a money generating stream.  I stumbled upon a book called “Business Plan In A Day”, by Rhonda Abrams.  It promises to help the reader create a business plan.  The author says that it will take 24 hours  (non-consecutive 24 hours because you will have to do some research) to get craft your plan). The book covers  “The Anatomy  of a Business Plan”  (9 steps total) and has a chapter devoted to each step.  I’m going to specifically review Step 3 which is about understanding your Target Market.

This is a great chapter because the author points out some resources that are free such as census data to show your customer demographics. She also mentions reading market and industry reports, researching trends and using customer surveys to get a good grasp of your market.

This section goes over:

  • Targeting your market location and reach your target market
  • Describing the demographic characteristics of your target customers
  • Explaining customer patterns/motivations
  • Determining market size
  • Evaluating market trends

I found the book very easy to understand. It is laid out in a way that you can work on each chapter independently so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the process.  There are worksheets that can be filled out by hand the reader can keep notes in one place for reference later on.   Ms. Abrams doesn’t illustrate how to access the data so a tutorial on the process would have been helpful.

You can find the book here and wherever books are sold.

Demographic Data Resources (US and International)

One crucial part of a business plan or a grant is the section on who your potential customer base/client base is. This information is vital to your bottom line whether you’re reaching out for funding or pricing your services to customers.

Why spend a ton of money having someone else crunch numbers and send you a report that you can create on your own for little to no money. How so? By using data that is already available. One of the most widely used sources of data on people is census data. You can get all types of stuff  including income, education, languages spoken, family composition many times down to the neighborhood level. Sometimes it does take a little work to understand what you are looking at but I guarantee that the info that you find will be very eye-opening. Imagine you want to know the income level of an area because you are thinking about opening a business or want to get funding for a grant to help children receive after school tutoring. Demographic data can help you find the best place to serve your community or open your business.

Here are some websites that you can peruse to see what data is available.

US Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov
Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/start-debut-eng.html
United Kingdom Office for National Statistics: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/index.html
Mexico Census (site is in Spanish): http://www.inegi.org.mx/

Showing that you have really done your homework can make your proposition stand our from among the crowd. And with all the competition out there who doesn’t want any advantage they can get?