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Generating Content Ideas with Topic Sprints

A question that comes up at nearly every content marketing meeting is “How will we come up with new content?”. For marketers new to creating constant, relevant content this can look like a long desert road.

The good news is there is a simple way to hyper-focus on a topic and cover all its facets. I call this process a topic sprint.

Topic sprints sprung from a design process called, appropriately, a logo sprint. Like topic sprints, logo sprints explore every angle of an idea. Both are meant to produce a lot of ideas in short, focused bursts.

So, how do you run a topic sprint?

Get the content team together
This includes writers, editors and other idea sources. Pulling in people on the front lines like sales or customer support can bring a new perspective to a topic.

Review you buyer personas
Cover your buyer’s interests, pains or concerns before you start. This will get everyone acquainted with who you’re writing for. This step is helpful when starting out and worth revisiting periodically.

Pick a topic
You should have a list of topics that is relevant to your buyers. For example, a Director of Marketing may be interesting in SEO. SEO has a lot of angles like keywords, copywriting, information architecture etc… SEO and its sub-topics are all fair game.

Sprint baby, sprint!
Assign someone to record the responses, set the timer to 5 minutes aaaannnnndddddd GO! This is a mini brainstorming session with a time constraint. You may uncover more sub-topics worth a second look or actual titles for content. Your goal is to shred the topic apart and discover all the ways it can be discussed.

You may be wondering what a complete topic sprint looks like. Well, below is an example sprint that was completed for SEO. You’ll notice a mix of sub-topics and content titles, which is OK. Remember, you’re just trying to open up all ideas about a topic, quickly.

information architecture
on-page optimization
link building
keyword themes
how to analyze backlinks
modern seo copywriting
components of a great seo audit
seo software
keyword discovery
seo metrics
building seo dashboards in analytics
short tail keywords
long tail keywords
page speed

The above covers a lot of different, but related topics to SEO. Each can be further explored in a content planning meeting with the right content type and distribution channel applied.

As I said before, topic sprints are great at exposing all the angles of a topic. They also help budge a stuck content ideation process.

In your next content planning meeting, spend 5 minutes exploring a topic or theme. You’ll be amazed at your output.

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I'm a skier, hiker, biker and runner. In my free time I write about the world of marketing. I also started this company, but who cares.

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