The effectiveness of mind mapping
Marketers can find insight and creative solutions using this tool
At first mention, mind mapping sounds like some kind of high-tech brain research or perhaps a psychological study involving complicated scanning equipment and lots of electrodes. But in reality, a mind map is a non-linear visualization tool centered around a key word or idea.
Essentially a form of structured brainstorming, mind maps can be used in a variety of ways and are particularly helpful to marketers. Marketing professionals use mind maps to explore how different ideas, concepts or tasks are connected, according to a recent article by Website Magazine. Mind maps help marketers explore consumer interests across topics, as well as how to bridge gaps between those interests — not to mention drill down to find related consumer sub-groups, behaviors and personal beliefs that can influence consumer-spending habits.
For example, a group of cat food marketers might want to explore the consumer buying behaviors of cat owners. Mind mapping can help those marketers explore not only what kind of person owns a cat, but different types of cat owners, whether cat owners are likely to buy gourmet organic cat food, or perhaps even discover that cat lovers might also like to buy a completely different kind of product.
Mind maps are often drawn by hand on paper or a blackboard during a brainstorming session, but there is a growing push toward using specially developed mind-mapping software that can help marketers develop maps with greater levels of complexity. Some of these software programs include Mindomo and MindMeister.
Not necessarily a new idea
“I have used mind mapping many times over the course of my marketing career, but it wasn’t always called that,” says Dr. Scott Goldberg, DBA, a full-time marketing instructor with University of Phoenix as well as faculty training manager for the University’s Asia Pacific Military Division. “The benefit of mind mapping is that when used correctly, it provides a plan for the development of new ideas.”
Goldberg employed mind-mapping techniques during his marketing career with several clients, including the California Avocado Advisory Board. “We used the concept of mind mapping to develop new advertising and promotional concepts,” he says. “The concepts were written into a diagram format and we each studied the results for several days. Our eyes were ‘opened’ as the process took hold.”
In the University of Phoenix classroom, Goldberg says the concept of mind mapping emerges while students “work on their learning team assignments each week. Each member of a student team can provide different points of view on the subject. When these viewpoints are assembled into a mind map, the project can take on many new directions.”
Mind mapping leads to new brand strategies
Melodi Guilbault, DBA, is an experienced marketing professional who teaches in the School of Business at University of Phoenix and helps develop the University’s marketing curriculum. Dr. Guilbault has used mind mapping in a variety of business settings, ranging from Canadian nonprofits to international corporations like AT&T. “One of my first uses of mind mapping was in assisting a nonprofit arts center south of Vancouver, British Columbia to understand what customers thought about its brand,” she says. “The center’s location was in Surrey, British Columbia, which was not considered to be a cultural center. The objective was to determine what the market thought about the brand so that a strategy could be developed to reposition the brand.”
Mind maps are useful tools for harnessing ideas and then presenting them back to marketers in ways they might not have considered previously, Guilbault says. She adds, “Just about any marketing job would benefit from the use of mind mapping.”