The Geographical Marketing Trap

“They live in my zip code, therefore they must be a prospect” is outdated thinking that can be confirmed or not with a little analysis.

Don’t fall into this trap.

There are very easy and affordable geographic analysis tools available to analyze how to distribute your marketing dollars to the areas with the largest segments of “low lying fruit” for your business. Many consumer businesses find that the mix of clients extends further than they think in terms of radius from their store, but because their buying patterns fit that particular business well, they are an excellent fit.

What determines buying decisions?

-Drive time

-Gravity patterns

-Work to home travel dynamics

Too many retail establishments make the mistake of assuming their zip code or neighboring zip codes are the best places to spend their marketing dollars. Looking at the penetration % of your client base against the total zip code household count is an excellent start. From there, we would also break down the geographies to the sub zip level and look at Carrier Routes or even Zip4’s to analyze customer penetration.


The Median income for a certain zip code shows a middle to upper-middle number. Yet extremely few households in the zip actually have upper middle numbers, they are simply a reflection of median numbers half way between the two extremes. Portions of a zip can contain high-end homes, while the large sections of the same zip can be full of apartments, students, or other medium to low-end households.