May 2009 Archives

Success in any area depends on having a clear, sound plan -- then acting on that plan.

It's especially challenging to do this in marketing for two reasons:

  • Marketing strategy is based on how multiple groups of customers think and feel about products.
  • Marketing has become increasingly complex as the number of communications and sales channels has increased.

These challenges have made it difficult to connect a set of marketing strategies with day-to-day marketing programs.
Strategic marketing mind map overview
At the same time, potential customers are being influenced by these multiple marketing channels. This means that marketers need to take advantage of the marketing leverage that an integrated marketing program can provide.

It's too easy to become focused on a few tactical marketing activities -- and miss other opportunities to influence potential customers.

Creating a visual "map" of marketing strategy and tactics

One technique to keep a strategic view of a company's marketing it to create a graphical "mind map" that shows:
  • How marketing strategy guides all tactical marketing programs
  • How all marketing programs reinforce each other

The immediate benefit of using a strategic marketing mind map is that every manager knows how their team fits into the overall strategy -- and what they need to do to support that marketing strategy. In other words, everyone understands how the marketing strategy is related to their marketing tactics.

Mind mapping process captures concepts, ideas & plans

Mind mapping is a process of starting with a central concept and graphically adding links to greater and greater details. Most mind maps are drawn around the central concept, but, mind maps are drawn in lots of ways, such as a traditional organization chart.

Basically, a mind map is visual way to show a hierarchy. You'd think that an outliner, like 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, some times 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.

There are many mind map software tools available today, such as SmartDraw (which is more than just a mind map tool). And, there are a number of good Web-based systems that create mind maps, too.

But mind mapping is more than a way to draw charts. Unlike flowchart and other presentation software products, mind mapping software is used to capture ideas and concepts as they are discovered, and show their relationships. The actual mind map drawing is just a way to visually express those thoughts and make them more meaningful.

For example, I have several mind maps that I add to every few days as I learn a new details about a topic. It turns out that this approach makes it faster to organize related concepts than making individual notes and later trying to organize them.

Using mind maps as a corporate-wide planning system

For brainstorming groups, a mind map tool can capture and display ideas, and help a group quickly drill down to the details.

In some organizations every manager and team leader uses a mind mapping tool, which creates a common way of communicating projects, plans, and performance.

Mind maps are also used as an interactive knowledge tool because most mind map software products have free "player" products that allow others to expand and contract the mind maps you send to them. In addition, a few mind map products have a Web-based player that allows a Web user to explore your mind map interactively.

Creating your own strategic marketing mind map

There are many facets to creating a gem of a marketing plan. So, over the next several weeks I'll show how I use this detailed strategic marketing mind map template to help companies create their comprehensive strategic marketing plan. Here are the current posts:

Every marketer has done market research, even if it's just looking at a competitor's traffic at But, we sometimes forget just how many ways we can use market research.

Recently, I found a list of ways market research could be used that included a few I hadn't thought about.

It reminded me that many experienced executives and sales managers have a good feel for where a potential market is -- but it may not be such a good market. A customer may have ordered a product that isn't normally purchased by that type of company. Or, a customer tells their customer service rep about a new way they used a product.

The sales manager is likely to tell the marketing manager, "I found a new market we can sell to!"

Two questions about that market come to mind:

  1. What is it?
  2. How big is it?

It's great to find a new market, but it's important for new markets to be profitable. Knowing the size of a market gives you a clue to how successful you can be in that market.

So, when you're working on the marketing plan for a new product, budget resources for the market research that can help answer the questions that come after, "What is it?"

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