For consultants, mind mapping software is a must-have tool. It not only helps them formulate innovative strategies and plans to help their clients be more successful. Its output is also something tangible they can share with clients – clearly demonstrating their superior thinking and planning skills and powerfully differentiating them from their competitors.
I recently caught up with business breakthrough strategist Bill Gluth, who explains how he uses mind mapping software to supercharge his consulting practice.
Chuck Frey: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Bill. Could you please tell the readers of the Mind Mapping Software Blog what you do for a living?
Bill Gluth: Sure, Chuck, thank you for asking. I’m a business breakthrough strategist. I show small business owners and entrepreneurs how to grow their business revenues by $100,000 to $500,000 or more annually.
I also help any small business owner find $10,000 to $50,000 that is currently hidden in their business in less than 45-minutes and without spending a cent on advertising.
Chuck Frey: What types of tasks does this type of work usually involve?
Gluth: Tasks I generally accomplish with clients include weekly strategy sessions, marketing, and sales process plan development, and ongoing training segments to expand knowledge and processes.
I clarify the business owner’s vision, create a market-dominating position for the business, then launch a variety of strategic marketing initiatives over the course of a year to grow the business significantly.
Frey: What kind of thinking and planning skills are required in your line of work?
Gluth: There’s a variety of thinking and planning required. Each engagement requires training plans and marketing and sales process strategy development.
Then we move on to deliver the strategy through a combination of tactics that help business owners dominate their market and rise above perceived competitors.
From there, I create plans for client retention, referral generation, case studies, price increases, products based on the services my client offers, and increased profitability plans.
Frey: How were you doing this type of thinking and planning before you started using mind mapping software?
Gluth: I used Word-based outlines and CRM databases to track ideas, projects, and plans by clients before I discovered mind mapping software.
I also used journals and paper-based day planners in the very early days.
Frey: When did you start using mind mapping software? How did you discover it?
Gluth: As a visual person, I first learned about the concept of mind mapping for business in the 1990s. I did mind mapping back then using paper, colored markers, or a whiteboard.
I toyed with mind mapping software in the early 2000s when I started my coaching business.
I first learned about mind mapping software in Google searches, looking for ways to make paper mind maps digital since my work is done primarily online. Mind mapping software fits my work style better than paper or whiteboard, so it was a natural evolution for me.
Frey: How, specifically, do you use it?
Gluth: I use it in a variety of situations. For example, after a potential client meeting, I convert my notes to a mind map to think through the services/solution that would most benefit that client. Visually depicting the offering and thinking through all of the steps is extremely helpful to me.
Once a client is underway, I always begin by visualizing the entire business breakthrough strategy on a mind map.
The high-level view I get allows me to see all the steps. I’ll add more steps I may not have considered initially and take away steps that are redundant or unnecessary. I could never envision this picture as clearly in an outline alone.
Every project and each step of the coaching process is set up in a mind map first. I can assign dates for completion or next actions and quickly turn that mind map into an outline That clients can follow.
I also use a mind map for my own business development projects. It keeps me accountable to my business processes. Mind mapping ensures I reach the goals I set for myself every year, quarter, and month.
Frey: What advantages does it provide to you?
Gluth: The advantages are many, but basically, mind maps ensure that I am always clear on every aspect of a pre-client meeting. This clarity ensures that I provide focused and ROI-driven proposals, which increases my conversion ratios.
Mind maps also ensure that every client’s annual coaching program is clearly defined and stays on-track. When both the client and I can see the program, it becomes much easier to help that client reach the goals they set.
Using mind maps for each project within an annual coaching program ensures that my clients stay on track for the duration of every project. Again, this ensures they get the result we anticipate and set at the beginning of their program.
Frey: Do you find that it helps you organize, distill, and make sense of large amounts of information, data and knowledge?
Gluth: Yes, without a doubt. Whenever I must think through anything or break down action steps from a book or training program, mind maps are the only way to ensure that I understand the steps and can take action to use them.
Without using mind mapping to organize and distill information, it would mostly be intellectual stimulation instead of actionable new/expanded learning that creates expanded results.
Frey: Do you use it solely for your own benefit, or do you share or co-develop mind maps with your clients?
Gluth: I use it primarily for my benefit to start a project.
Once the client has been on-boarded and introduced to their custom program overview, I’ll then use mind maps to get into the details of their program.
If the client is more of a visual type individual, I’ll share the mind map with them as an image.
Some of my clients are more technically minded. In those cases, I’ll turn the mind map into an outline with the mind mapping software I use and use the outline instead of sharing the “picture.”
Frey: What kind of challenges do your clients face when doing marketing thinking and planning? How does mind mapping software help?
Gluth: I run into the situation of “they don’t know what they don’t know,” or the information they have is outdated or not workable any longer quite often.
When I share each step of a project with a client in a mind map (or outline generated from a mind map), it allows them to visually understand the scope of my thinking and planning for their project.
This enhanced understanding allows them to embrace the new or modified ideas quickly. It also helps to reduce resistance to new ideas and “Creative Thinking for Business” readily.
Without this visual (or step-by-step) breakdown, I believe my job as a business breakthrough strategist who guarantees ROI on projects would be much harder.
Frey: Most people simply use Microsoft Word, Google Docs or whatever off-the-shelf productivity software they have at their disposal. Why is this a limiting approach and how does mind mapping enhance busy executives’ thinking and planning processes?
Gluth: Here’s what I’ve learned, the hard way, over the past 20-years of doing biz dev work.
When you have folders on your hard drive that are filled with words on a page, the chance of you ever using those words to create a result is minimal.
Think about business plans for a moment as an example. After a business plan is created, it’s filed and seldom, if ever, viewed again.
Carl Schramm, an economist, Syracuse University professor and former president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation — a non-profit that encourages entrepreneurship — encourages entrepreneurs to burn their business plan.
The reason is no one is going to comb through a document of fifty of more pages to find ideas at the time they need them. They’re going to rely on memory or spend hours researching relevant information. In most cases, that information already there but buried in a Word document in a folder on a drive.
However, with mind maps, you have a visual representation.
The viewer sees the “big picture” quickly and then looks for further information in sub-branches.
Mind maps allow the creative mind to work.
Busy executives and small business owners need shortcuts to expanded thinking. It’s their creativity that sets them (or their business) apart from the competition.
The visual nature of mind maps allows for expanding on original ideas efficiently. In a nutshell, mind maps encourage creativity in both business and in life.
Frey: In our correspondence, you mentioned that you encourage clients to use mind maps for accountability. How does that work?
Gluth: Every project with every client starts with a plan of action, steps, and a date for completion. Mind maps make these plans, steps, and dates easy to see and interpret.
I give clients a “picture” through a mind map. Then I encourage (force them in some cases) to put the project timelines on a calendar with reminders. Now they know the schedule and have reminders set to meet the deadlines that will grow their business.
They know what to do quickly by viewing the picture. The mind mapping software I use creates an outline of the mind map, so clients have the steps of every project written down.
Then I set reminders in my CRM system with the dates of every client deadline. A month, week, or two days before the deadline (depending on project complexity), I send reminders or discuss the looming deadline with them in their weekly or monthly coaching sessions.
Without doing this, I would get lost, my client would get lost, and the ROI I promised at the beginning of the engagement would not be met.
Mind maps and their detailed outlines are vital for me to achieve the results I promised. Simply put, mind maps help my clients to get work done on time.
Frey: Does working with clients with this type of productivity tool help you to differentiate your services to them? If so, how?
Gluth: I believe it does help me to stand out from the competition in an indirect way. I always hear from both clients and prospects how organized I am. Or how I always tend to remind them of deadlines at the appropriate time to keep their projects on track.
In my line of work, results are what differentiates me from other business development professionals.
Mind maps help me to deliver those results consistently. Client joy ensues as a result. Referrals are the by-product of that satisfaction.
Frey: What advice do you have for readers of this blog who may be thinking about investing in mind mapping software, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet?
Gluth: Today, I’m an advocate of mind maps. But it wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I was someone who used the “free version,” thinking that was good enough.
I can tell your readers from experience and with certainty that investing in mind mapping software and getting the full power of the tool they select has a significant benefit.
It will increase their clarity, expand their productivity, and allow them to create more significant results in their chosen work or business.
It’s a tiny investment to make when you consider all those benefits.