CMO Coffee Talk ‘Aha! Moment’: Five Steps To Better Brainstorming Output AND Impact

3 minutes
Apr 20, 2022
Digital Marketing

Editor's Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz...

Editor’s Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing co-hosts these dynamic, illuminating conversations with 6sense CMO Latané Conant. 


Brainstorming is a creative endeavor (aka, “left brain thinking”) in which you work alone or with a group to come up with new ideas, solutions, or approaches around a challenge or topic.  

It’s easy in theory – anyone can think, right? But the trick is to take your new ideas and turn them into action. This is where mind mapping comes in — it’s a powerful, analytical (“right brain”) tool for capturing and organizing ideas

What the heck is mind mapping? 

Mind mapping your brainstorm harnesses the power of visuals, imposes intellectual rigor on the process, shows context and relationships, and provides a pathway to action. Plus, you end up with a shareable, all-in-one visual. 

In a mind map, everybody can see where their work fits into the greater objective. Defining relationships and context are invaluable for creating accountability, bringing clarity throughout the business hierarchy, and making operations run more smoothly. 

Mind mapping provides a clearer path for turning ideas into action. Not only are you forced to clarify your ideas, but by taking amorphous ideas and providing structure and refinement, you are naturally prompted to explore incorporating these ideas into operations. You are led to logically think about turning ideas into DOABLE reality. 

Five Steps to Better Brainstorming 

1. Define the central topic. Too often a brainstorm stalls when you realize that you didn’t properly define your goal or the problem you are trying to solve. Choosing a central topic at the start provides a backbone and forces consensus on a simply worded challenge. 

If your topic is vague—for example your problem is not well understood— consider doing a first round of idea capture without much structure. Just throw words and symbols (arrows, connecting lines, stars) on the whiteboard.

2. Pick the appropriate mind map structure. This helps you refine the brainstorm and the issue at hand without being too restrictive. Most likely you are either trying to capture the components of a system or define a workflow.

3. Map the relationships and grouping of ideas, or the flow of the activity. Identifying which ideas serve as overarching topics, and which ideas branch off from these topics naturally. Then refine until you have an embryonic mind map.

4. Take a deep breath (or ideally, a break) and step back from your work and get some perspective.

5. Reconvene and create a first draft of the mind map next to your previous one. Here, you’ll want to go to the second level of the map. You are still in whiteboard/handwriting mode. 

Grab a co-worker and a whiteboard and put your central topic in a circle in the middle. Then, as you start discussing the topic, try drawing your ideas and thoughts into a mind map framework. Give yourself 30 minutes to brainstorm and draw. Then take a picture of your initial drawing, erase it, and use the next 30 minutes to try and refine the ideas into a more detailed mind map. 

Coming Up on CMO Coffee Talk… 

In our next CMO Coffee Talk meet-up, we’re focused on BDR best practices: What’s working right now to engage early prospects, qualify new opportunities, and optimize your early-mid funnel sales processes. 

Join Our Thriving Community! 

If you’re a B2B CMO or head of marketing and want access to a community of your peers (1,300 strong and growing) and many specific ABM-related resources, benchmark reports, tactical examples and more, we welcome you! Click here to apply for membership.