As part of the MindManager 7 announcement earlier this week, I was given the opportunity to talk with Lisa Arthur, Mindjet’s chief marketing officer (CMO) about the direction and focus of the company. Here are some highlights from our discussion:
Frey: What was the focus of the Mindjet development team for MindManager 7?
Arthur: As you may have heard, we’re approaching 1 million licensed copies of MindManager. We’re picking up something like 15,000 new licensed users every month. One of our objectives was to improve the functionality and efficiency of MindManager for our existing users, but we also wanted to address ease of use, to help out this large stream of new users. Another goal was to better understand how our existing users are utilizing MindManager, and what capabilities and functionalities we really ought to focus on. Customers are at the center of our strategy.
Frey: I assume, then, that you’ve done some customer research?
Arthur: Definitely. We decided that, as a company, we really want to make sure that customers "stay in the middle of our map," if you will. So we’ve done a lot to enable that. We’ve hired a manager of customer advocacy, to make sure that we can clearly hear the voice of our key customers, and that our future product development efforts accurately reflect their needs. We’ve done both quantitative and qualitative customer research, which has resulted in some fascinating findings. In one study, we asked a small group of customers to write down their reactions to this question: How would it make you feel if MindManager was suddenly taken away from you? We got responses like "angry" and "depressed."
Frey: So they’d be curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth?
Arthur: Just about! We also asked them how using MindManager made them feel. They described it as helping them to look "effective," "look good" to their bosses and to be more "relevant" in their work. They also described MindManager as reducing their stress level, because it helps them to reach clarity and to make better informed decisions. It was the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that anyone’s done this kind of research into the "softer" side of our product.
Customers also told us that MindManager helps them to take time to assimilate, think and create. As you know, a lot of business people are under tremendous time pressure. In all my years as a marketing professional, I’ve never seen a more visceral reaction to a product. It made me proud to be helping to market a product that customers say they can’t live without.
Frey: What business trends are you trying to address with MindManager?
Arthur: There’s no question that information overload is a primary problem for nearly every knowledge worker. Today, businesspeople need to take in a constrant stream of information and knowledge, distill it, make sense of it and do things with it. As a company, we want to help people to visualize and use information more effectively.
We also believe that team productivity is a big growth area. Clarly, big problems are best solved by the best thinkers collaborating and brainstorming together. So we’re really working to enable that through our products.
And personal productivity is still very important to us. Things like helping people to create personal dashboards to stay organized and manage their daily workflows. One of the things I’ve found as I have been talking to people from the media about this product launch is that many of them didn’t know that MindManager is a powerful tool that can enable, for example, the article writing process. You can use it to define the article opportunity, save the results of your research, keep track of key contacts, outline the content of your article and more. We have a map that we show them during our press interviews that demonstrates how this works, and many of them have been amazed that you can actually do this!
Frey: What about enabling real-time collaboration with MindManager, say through a client-server environment?
Arthur: It’s something we’re investigating, but I can’t say much more than that right now. We are in tune with our customers and listen to their needs to work and collaborate more effectively.
Frey: What else can we look for from Mindjet in the near future?
Arthur: Well, one of the things we’ve been hearing from our customers is that they want more examples and templates to help them get up to speed with MindManager, and to understand all the ways in which it can be used in a business setting. So along with the launch of MindManager 7, we’ve announced that we will be releasing our first "JetPack," a collection of maps, templates and white papers that will help to meet these needs. And we’re continuing to add case histories and Webinars to our site, which represent a huge, growing knowledge base that our customers can use to become more effective visual mappers.