Last time I wrote about favorite tools of mine I included MindManager. After installing MindManager 7, I’m going to have to pull my support for this once incredible tool.
"But… But… Mikey!! It’s a great tool!", yup sure is. Let me say that again – It is a great tool. I’ve used it myself, and can honestly say it’s probably the easiest tool I’ve ever used for doing what it does.
But after installing MM7 this once great tool has fallen prey to a mind set that I can’t support. Let me say that MindManager is very useful, and has some great features available in very user accessible ways. I give it total props for that. As always the MM team does this better than anyone. My experiences with MM began with MM 6 and earlier.
But a great tool can be destroyed by a bad marketing technique and in the case of MM – this is very definitely the case. Let me walk you through my frustrations which began with the install process. If you go out to Mindjet you’ll find they make it very easy to download the tool right off the front page.
You can currently see this ad right on the front page. What’s wrong with it? Well as I noted in trying to review the tool – there are two versions of MM. There is the pro version for $349 and the Lite version for $99. And if you’re upgrading from Lite 7 to Pro 7 – the cost to upgrade is $250.
Here’s the web page for the Lite version I was recommending for people who don’t want to drop another $350 for a tool they use only 3-5 times a month and are on a shoe string budget. You might want to ask yourself "What is missing from this page?", because it’s not obvious at first. It’s the specs for the lite version… there aren’t any. At least none I could find. And I looked, honest I did. But there’s no comparison of exactly what I get from the Pro version that I don’t get in the Lite version – for $250 more.
Not a big deal right? I mean – it’s the lite version, so probably not a lot of specs to brag on. I can live with that as well, but it would be nice to see what it is I’m getting other than some PR schpeil that’s ambiguous at best and really doesn’t tell me what I can do with the product.
But here’s the Pro version of the tool. As you can see – there’s more selling schpeil – and once again it’s very ambiguous. It tells me what I can do – but not how it’s actually useful.
And what’s worse … the diagram and link for the tool is the same as the Lite version above. On the surface even I feel that’s nit-picky. But they’re asking me to pay $350 for this tool – they should at least tell me what the differences between this version and the $99 version are. I should be able to easily distinguish and locate that information, and it’s about here there’s a slight jingling-alarm sound I’m hearing in the distance.
Now let’s dig into the "schpeil" I keep talking about. Here’s the actual bullet points – and this what really chafes me having done a bit of work in sales over the years. And yes … as you all guessed, chafing induces rants with me. So go grab a rootbeer and a bag of chips. I’m about to go on one. My comments are in blue – inline on this copy.
With MindManager 7, you will:
- Align organizational strategy and objectives by visually conveying information in a single, centralized and coherent view.
I can actually live with this statement. It’s weak because all it says is… "We do great org charts", which is what they should have said.
- Empower people to accelerate business processes by enhancing strategic thinking, facilitating quicker project planning and increasing team productivity.
To be honest – my alarms started screaming when I read this sentence. My bullcrap sense wasn’t tingling – it was on full earthquake bullshit mode. Mikey’s rule on software purchasing #221: If someone uses more than 3 buzz words in a sentence – they either don’t know what they’re selling… or they don’t want you to know what they’re selling – either way – it’s not a good thing.
"Empower", "accelerate", "enhancing", "strategic", "facilitating", "productivity". — OH MY DOG! A full 1/3 of the words in this sentence … mean NOTHING. They are fluff. And that’s a shame because this is a tool that could actually put some real data in here we can use. Don’t tell me the tool will empower me — SHOW ME. Your tool has chops – it’s got street credit and it’s got rabid fans. You have so many angles to provide me proof you have a great tool – why resort to this?
To make matters worse – from a keywords sense in web strategy, these words "Empower", "accelerate", "enhance", "facilitate" – which are the top four of the six used… are most common to viagra and porn sites. What exactly are you trying to sell here?
- Engage and excite employees by engaging people in stimulating real-time interactions during process planning.
Once again … with the porn talk. "Engage", "Excite", "Stimulate", sheesh people where did your marketing people come from? I mean did their resumes include the words "Bow-Chicka-Bow" or what? "Sexying up the copy" is one thing – but this is just overkill.
"Allow users real-time interactive process planning."
How painful was that? I even kept some of your buzz words – see? You can do it if you want! I didn’t even have to say "excite" or "stimulate". Even using "real-time interactive" is a stretch. If you can’t describe what you’re doing in terms a 10 year old can understand it – then that tells me that you had to resort to terminology to sell your product. Which makes people wonder, "Why can’t your product sell your product?".
And as I said, this is a product that has chops – it’s a good solid product. This kind of bafflegab nonsense isn’t necessary.
- Bring better products and services to market faster by enforcing best practices and making existing plans, processes and ideas accessible.
FINALLY!!! A GOOD SENTENCE! It actually tells me what the product does and what it can do for me!! YAY! (What happened?? Were the marketing guys sick?)
- Stay ahead of the competition and foster innovation by increasing team interactions during the early stages of strategic planning.
And again! Something that’s simple and actually tells me how the tool benefits me without meaningless words. (Hope it’s not serious – there’s been a lot of flu running around.)
- Win new business faster and improve business relationships by quickly capturing relevant information and improving communication with clients.
See? You don’t have to subscribe to meaningless and deceptive dribble to sell me your product. (I’m starting to wonder if we should send a card or flowers or something – let’s hope whatever it is they have it keeps them from doing any more damage to your product.)
Now – if this were the extent of my problems with MindManager’s sales practices, I’d say I’m a nitpicking bastard and tell myself to grow up, quit whining and deal with it. It’s bad ad writing and nothing more. But that’s not my real issue. My real issues started with the trials.
You may recall I suggested people try this product. And a trial to me – is just that. If there is one thing that tweaks me its having to try a product on a deadline. It’s like going to buy a car and having the sales man stand next to me and look at his watch every few minutes and say, "Are you interested in actually buying this – or should I find someone with money that isn’t wasting my time??".
The MindManager free trial does this very thing but then it goes a step further in annoyance to me, and apparently to other people who emailed me.
Now – they say you can use the 5-Day trial, and not have to register for the product. Which, I should point out – 10 minutes after I did this, I got called away on real work and real life and could not use the product again until I got a rather interesting email informing me my 5 Day trial expired. Now, I haven’t used the product for 5 days – it’s just been 5 days since I downloaded it. If you’re going to time bomb something – don’t do it this way. I guarantee you’ll piss people off.
Now the second thing is … if I’m getting an email from you – then I’ve registered haven’t I? Even though … supposedly this 5 day trial version doesn’t require registration huh?
You lied to me. That’s inexcusable. Supposedly – the 5 day version is for people who wish to anonymously use the product. We’re uncomfortable with giving you our information. We want to try your product and feel safe, secure. If we wanted you to have our bloody email – we’d have downloaded the 21 day version now wouldn’t we?? And now somehow in the process of loading and installing it – my anonymity has been voided, and I’ve been violated.
And to be honest – I shouldn’t have to register to use the product on trial at all. You want it time bombed – fine I’m totally in agreement with that and it’s fair. Have it die in X days of USE. Not x days from when it got downloaded.
But you have just convinced me to install a product on my computer that has accessed other applications I use and installed extensions for them. You have used what I would call questionable (if not unethical) means to get me to register the product when I didn’t want to. Your web site purports I’m able to install the "Lite" version of the product, but in fact – I’m not. I mean how many ways can you violate the trust of a user in the name of selling a product?
I’m sorry – maybe it’s my own stupidity in not understanding your process, but for a company that sells productivity and process tools … there’s no excuse for taking user stupidity into account and taking advantage of it.
I can’t support – or endorse that. No matter how good your tool is. Not when there are free tools – some of which are actually endorsed and supported by the man who came up with Mind Mapping. If MM decides to change I’ll give them another look.
So for those that emailed me and pointed some of these red-flags to me, I apologize and you’re correct – this isn’t something I should be attaching my name to or endorsing the use of and I thank you for pointing that out.
My experiences – from a PM standpoint of MM have always been good, but then everywhere I’ve used it I never had to deal with the downloads and trial experience. Like I said, MM’s a great tool … it’s just it’s marketing methods that bring it down.