So I spent several years at TechniGraphics, Inc. / CACI where I learned more about mapping than I ever thought possible.
How I now apply mapping (actual term is Geospatial Information Systems or GIS) to marketing is this...
Your company already posses data about its existing clients. For this exercise we'll only need address (street, city, state, zip). Here is a key-- you'll need to be able to extract or export that information from your existing system in a format that you can work with. Comma Separate Value (or .csv) is a fairly common option and is pretty easy to work with.
If you're a new company I recommend to start building a client database on day one. Every day you put it off is a mistake.
After you're able to export the required info you have the ability to open that .csv file in Microsoft Excel and manipulate it as needed. Some of those manipulations may include (but may not be limited to) deleting clients with no street address listed (PO Boxes do not pin point correctly on a map).
Accuracy is important, however for using this as a marketing tool it is not mission critical that every single client point is dead on it's mark. The aggregate picture will be adequate.
So however you have to do it from your particular software (export, run report, etc)... this will vary, I recommend that if you can't figure out how to extract the basic customer data to consult the software support.
1. Run report (export/extract .csv file)
2. Open in Excel and clean up (take out PO boxes & no addresses.)
3. Save as csv (Excel will often want to default to .xls file format)
5. go to: http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/geocoder/
6. Paste into box and let it run
7. Select "Create GPX"
8. go to: http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/map_input?form=googleearth
9. choose your gpx file
10. click create kml
11. go to Google, create an account if you don't have one, go to Google maps, go to My Places
12. create new map
14. select your kml file
it will upload, points will be editable.
15. map is sharable with whom you specifically choose to invite/give access.
So now you have a map with client locations dotted out. Now what do you do? Look at it! Ask yourself questions about what you see...
How far out from your location do you draw customers from?
Are there gaps or holes in areas? Why?
Are there areas of more or less client density? Why?
How (if at all) do the client locations pattern correlate to your marketing efforts?
What targeted market efforts can you utilize to increase client density in a given area?
Are there area attractions or other businesses that are helping draw clients to your geographic area?
Take some time and place markers on the map for your competitors locations, does this explain some gaps/holes in client density?
Mapping tools have come a loooooooong way in just the past few years. They are easier to navigate and, more importantly, easier to integrate into decision making processes on multiple levels (i.e. management, marketing and even hiring).