Mindy Gibbins-Klein, the Book Midwife, who has helped to write and publish over 100 books, recently posted a comment to my post on thought leadership and mind mapping. That got me thinking more deeply about this topic.
In her comment, Mindy shared a recent example of how mind mapping made a significant difference for one of her clients, with whom she developed a comprehensive thought leadership strategy:
“Although it is the market that ultimately decides whether you are a thought leader or not, we’ve found that there are several things that all real thought leaders do on a consistent basis, and having a good strategy definitely enhances your chances of success. We have been using mind mapping with The Book Midwife and real thought leader clients for over ten years now… The process is invaluable in achieving clarity and allowing development of your thinking, so that you get to those unique and specific gems that make you stand out from the crowd. One of our author clients turned a 400-point mind map into a full-length book, a series of 20 articles, a year’s worth of hard-hitting blogs, a successful keynote speech and much more. It all started with the mind map.”
Building a strategy – visually
What struck me about Mindy’s comment is her emphasis on strategy. To be an effective thought leader, you need to stand for something. You need to have a simple, compelling message that resonates with your target audience. As I pointed out in my earlier post, a mind map is a perfect way to think through the ideas that will help you to forge a unique point of view on your topic of choice. Without a strategy, your content and promotion tactics will likely be scattered in a number of areas, weakening the overall impact of your campaign.
“True thought leaders solve problems for others with ideas, and build successful businesses by solving even bigger problems,” says Brian Clark, the CopyBlogger, one of the world’s best known blog marketers – and a thought leader himself. The message is clear: Mind maps can help you solve big problems for your readers and to brainstorm even bigger ideas that will drive your thought leadership efforts.
Keeping the trees and the forest aligned
As you implement your strategy, you need to have a consistent voice, so that each blog post, each podcast and each report reinforces the core message. Your thought leadership mind map can help here, too. As you lay out a high-level strategy, you can easily set your core focus, voice and message, and then add the tactical details to it in lower levels of the mind map. This visual format helps to ensure that all of the lower-level tasks are congruent with the high-level strategy. That’s much easier to do when you’re viewing a 400-point mind map than when you’re trying to extract meaning from a lengthy document.
In addition, the mind map becomes a “living document” that you can refer back to throughout the implementation phase of your plan – helping to ensure that your messages are aligned with and reinforce your top-level objectives, voice and message.
You can also attach priorities to topics, so you know what to do first and what comes next. You can even convert topics to tasks, and set beginning and end dates for their execution. As you can see, your thought leadership mind map isn’t just a planning tool, but a powerful execution tool, too.
One other big benefit: If you come up with what you think may be a great idea in the middle of your campaign, you can easily refer to your mind map to determine if it’s a good fit with your strategy. If it is, you can then easily add it to your map without destroying its structure.
Imagine what a thought leadership mind map looks like
I haven’t seen Mindy’s 400-point client mind map, but I can picture it in my head. I can see major branches for her client’s objectives, core position and message. I can see another branch that contains the content and promotion tactics, with sub-branches for blog post themes and sub-subtopics containing the titles of individual post topics. Other branches are devoted to key articles, guest posts, keynote speeches, and other tactical content elements, each one neatly arranged and prioritized.
So what does your thought leadership mind map look like?