Mind Map Your Way To Internet Marketing Success!

When starting into a new enterprise it is unlikely that we'll have a concrete picture of everything involved to get things up and running. This is nowhere more true than entering into the world of Internet Marketing. We are quite used to thinking in terms of brick and mortar stores that we walk into for shopping, the printed ads and the weekly specials. All things that we can touch with our hands and read with our eyes.

But when we move into the virtual world, hard things disappear. Instead we are working in concepts and fluid designs. We can't direct our customers to our store with maps and direct them within our stores with aisles. They don't get to actually pick up an item we are selling and literally feel it for value. Instead, we must guide with virtual sign posts (menus and hyperlinks) and assure value by testimonials.

Where location, location, location is the retail mantra in the physical world, the concept of location evaporates in the virtual world. Drive-by traffic, one of the keystones of a physical business becomes traffic generation - trying to find ways to put your website in front of the eyes of the virtual browsers to entice them to come in.

How do we grasp all of these differences in how business is done in the virtual world? Can we just make a gigantic plan and start filling in the blanks hoping it all works out in the end? To some extent, yes. Yet, finding such a plan is not child's play. It generally takes great resources of either time or money, and best of all, both!

But what if you are short of time and money? Yet, you want to develop a successful online business. As a person who always seeks to get "The Big Picture" before moving forward I found the lack of time and cash an insurmountable hurdle for determining that big picture.

Instead, I started "learning as I go." I'd research one aspect, determine the puzzle pieces for that section and work on assembling them as I learned. Of course, I'd rapidly find that to complete that entire section of puzzle pieces, pieces to a different section needed to be created first. And on and on it went.

This was getting extremely complex. I was buried in stacks of sticky notes, notebooks of information and various methods of attempting to stay organized and yet still be able to visualize the interconnectedness of what I was trying to accomplish.

Formulas such as "traffic = email list + auto-responder messages" became connected to "auto-responder choices + auto-responder sequence + message content = auto-responder messages." Which came first, the proverbial Internet Chicken or the Internet Egg? Or did they have to come simultaneously? Could I complete one formula before tackling another or did I need to keep breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces getting to the bottom before I could start at all?

About that time I remembered "Spider Outlines," or what you may know as Mind Maps. This starts as a blank piece of paper with a topic sitting in a circle at the center. As you think of components that go into creating that topic, legs are put out to smaller circles. Interconnections are made between the smaller circles to help show the interdependencies. Well, this rapidly out grew a sheet of paper so the next one would start, and the next and the next. Now your desk is covered with Spider outlines on various pieces of paper... and you still don't have the big picture. And even if you did, which part should you start on?

Welcome to the world of virtual Mind Maps. These are great tools. Since they are virtual you never hit the edge of the paper! Ah, the best of both worlds. But even better, once you have your Mind Map to a point where you want to start to work, you can convert it into a hierarchical structure which basically resembles a bulleted checklist so that you can just grab a piece at a time, work on it and mark it off. If you need to get something from Branch Z done to use in Branch A, jump over and do that part in Z and then go back to A to complete that section without fear of losing track of where you were in Z or any of the branches in between.

If you start out Mind Mapping by hand, like I did you'll probably find Tony Buzan's, author of several books on Mind Mapping suggestions helpful.

Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.

Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.

Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.

Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.

The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.

Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.

Use multiple colors throughout the Mind Map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.

Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.

Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map.

Keep the Mind Map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

An alternative is Mind Map software. While Mind Mapping software can be quite expensive, there is at least one free alternative that I find works great: FreeMind by SourceForge. This is an open-source solution that is free for anyone to use. While I'm certainly no expert in this software, I find this tool helpful in getting my scattered thoughts down into a logical sequence. If I put something on Branch 3 that I later realize needs to be on Branch 5, it is easily moved to accommodate my new understanding. Or, if it fits in both, I can create connectors to show the relationship.

Just remember, whatever route you choose, be sure to find an organizational method that works for you or you will get lost as you delve into this new world of Internet Marketing and being lost in mounds of paper and sticky notes will never lead you to online success.