Technology in Marketing
Creating Mind Maps with MindVisualizer
Marketers have always struggled with how to manage the marketing process, from planning to implementation and customer tracking. One of the biggest problems that marketers deal with is managing ideas.
Fortunately, an idea management technique called "mind mapping" has inspired software developers to make mind mapping products that make it easy to capture ideas, draw relationships, and help others understand complex topics.
Visual thinking with mind maps
Basically, mind mapping is a visual technique that shows a hierarchy in an interactive environment. You'd think that an outliner, like the one in Microsoft Word, would work well. However, it turns out that with graphical mind maps you can more easily see both the high level view plus the details -- and the relationships -- better than with a linear outline. Of course, sometimes the linear, prioritized nature of an outline is better. But, in marketing so many programs affect other programs that the multi-dimensional approach of mind maps works very well.
I've found that this visual, interactive, and collaborative approach to information management works great in developing marketing plans and programs!
While there are several mind mapping software products available, very few of them meet the needs of most marketing teams.
I've been testing mind mapping software products in three price categories: free, low cost, and expensive.
The free mind mapping products just don't have the features I was looking for in a product for marketing departments, ad agencies, and PR firms.
And, the expensive mind mapping products are too costly to install on everyone's computer in small and mid-sized companies and marketing agencies.
Mind mapping software features
The features I was looking for in a mind mapping software product included:
- Easy to enter information quickly
- Easy to add subtopics
- Presentation quality appearance
- Control over placement of topics and subtopics
- Project management functions, such as start date, end date, duration, and progress
MindVisualizer mind mapping software
meets all of these requirements, and makes it fun to create a mind map's main topics and subtopics.
It's also easy to move subtopics around. Just drag-and-drop a subtopic and it -- and its children -- are automatically added at the new location.
For example, when I help a company with their strategic marketing plan I start with my mind map template. The template has every planning activity and program implementation that a marketing organization should consider including in their marketing plan. We then delete activities that don't meet their needs, and add company-specific information to those that remain.
Most mind mapping tools allow you to add hyperlinks to a topic, but MindVisualizer uses drag-and-drop approach instead of having to fill out a form. This is another example of how the developers really focused on making it easy to use.
Another handy linking feature is the ability to easily link to other mind maps -- and have them link back to the original mind map. I've used this when creating marketing program mind maps that are linked from the marketing strategy mind map.
In addition to linking to external maps, documents, and Web pages, MindVisualizer also allows you to paste Microsoft Office documents, such as Microsoft Word and Excel documents, into the note area of a topic.
With Excel spreadsheets being used by marketers for everything from search optimization keywords to customer conversion data, this makes it easy to compare data from multiple sources.
Another application is using mind mapping for project management. In MindVisualizer each subtopic can be assigned task data, such as start and end dates, time required, etc. You can view project and task date on a mind map and in an exported spreadsheet, but this probably works best for small teams that don't need Gantt charts, summary reports, and other project management features.
However, if you're into the "Getting Things Done" (GTD) method of managing your to do list, you'll find these features comfortable.
Having a low-price you would expect there to be some missing features. The main features that are not in MindVisualizer are ones needed by large enterprises, such as real-time collaboration and extensive project management features.
Mind mapping for marketers
For most marketing teams MindVisualizer will work very well for:
- Strategic marketing plans
- Market segmentation
- SWOT analysis
- Messaging strategy
- Media buying plans
- Marketing analytics dashboard
- Creative brainstorming
- Project planning and project management
It you haven't used mind mapping in your marketing operation, it's time to consider it. Download a copy of MindVisualizer and spend a few weeks using it to help you capture, distill, and analyze a few of your toughest marketing situations.
After a couple of weeks you'll probably notice that marketing issues will be clearer, and your marketing decisions will be more effective.
Cliff Allen is the co-author of the book One-to-One Web Marketing; 2nd Ed., published by John Wiley & Sons, and has consulted with companies on strategic marketing for 20 years.