Content Marketing Boot Camp: 60 Topics in 60 Minutes by @JenKaneCo

Sporty woman

by Jennifer Kane | Featured Contributor

You’re busy with a business to run, people to meet and a personal life to live. So understandably, content marketing may not rank high on your priority list.

Today, we’re gonna change that.

Content is important. It can help ensure online traffic flows to your website, connections get made, products and services get promoted, good public relations is maintained, and clients/customers are landed, (among other things.)

But first, you need to come up with some things to write about.

The exercise below will help jumpstart this process.

So, grab a whiteboard or a big sheet of paper, find a quiet place to think and get ready to drop and give me 60.

1. Warm Up.

To get the highest return on the time you’re about to spend, clarify what you intend to use this content for

  • Build brand awareness?
  • Increase lead generation?
  • Increase brand reach?
  • All of the above?

Also, clarify the different audience segments/personas your business serves and what your objectives are for each of those audiences.

2. Cardio.

Now, draw a circle in the center of your whiteboard/paper with your business’ name in it. Then, surround that circle with bubbles describing the different products or services you offer.

For instance, if you own a full-service salon, your drawing might look like this…

My Salon

Now, subdivide each program/service bubble by audience focus. For example, starting with the green “hair care” bubble, our audiences could be…Hair Care

Once that is completed, spiral off with any sub-divisions for those various audiences, like I’ve done below for the purple “Hair care for women” bubble…

Hair Care Image

Next, start to add some topic themes to these smaller bubbles, like I’ve done for the “hair care for women with long hair” bubble…

HC for women

Finally, look at each of your topic theme bubbles and brainstorm as many different content ideas/titles as possible.

Don’t over think this. Just start writing.

For example, let’s take the “Challenges with hair care for women who have long hair,” bubble. A list of topics/titles could include:

  • Top products for caring for long hair.
  • Profiles of hair care binders/clips that won’t damage long hair.
  • How to identify split ends (slide show.)
  • Locks of love and other suggestions for when you’re ready for the big chop.
  • Common mistakes people make in caring for long hair.
  • How to be workout-ready with long hair (e.g. profile Olympians with long hair.)

Repeat this fleshing out process for all of your products/services and audience segments.

Feel free to reuse some of your ideas in another form on a different branch of your brainstorming tree (e.g. Many of your tips for women with long hair could also go on a branch for men with long hair, etc.)

3. Cross train.

Next, for every bubble, in every cluster, for each product or service offering, make sure you have some of following content types represented…

  • How to/Educational: giving your audience tools to troubleshoot or understand topics on their own.
  • Manifesto/Thought Leadership: exciting ideas on your product/service offering(s) that no one else is talking about.
  • Engagement/Call to Action: asking your audience to do something specific for you.
  • Entertainment: eye candy to attract traffic/attention and build word of mouth.
  • Big Ideas/Radical Thoughts: turning conventional wisdom in your industry upside down or challenging norms.
  • Competitive: exploring how you stack up against a competitor or the industry standard, etc.
  • Search Bait: playing off of your industry’s highly searched keywords or connecting your brand to influencers (e.g. “10 Hair Care Tips from America’s Top Salons.”)

Then, for every bubble, in every cluster, for each product or service offering, make sure you have content that represents the following perspectives

  • For every piece about your brand, make sure you’re creating one from your audiences’ perspective.
  • For every piece that offers the pros of something, also consider a companion piece that plays devil’s advocate.
  • For every piece that explores your strategy or thinking behind something, make sure there is a case study showing how that thinking paid off, previously.
  • For every logical, strategic piece, also develop at least one, wacky out of the box piece, (e.g. “Hair care tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.”)

4. Cool down.

Congratulations! You should now have at least 60 content ideas (If not, explore different types of content for each of your topics – such as video, audio, e-book, image slide show etc.)

It’s okay if things look like a mess right now. You can refine, polish and sort these ideas later. The point of this exercise was simply to get them out of your head.

Now, go hit the showers and take a break. You earned it.


Content and Communications Strategist – Jennifer Kane of Kane Consulting – Minneapolis, MN

JenKaneJennifer Kane is an entrepreneur and marketing/communications strategist with more than 15 years of experience working with B2B and B2C companies through her firm, Kane Consulting.

Jennifer conducts training sessions, teaches and speaks nationally on topics related to social media, content marketing, change management and digital communications. Combining humor, tough love and passion, she’s known for giving it to people straight — from the hip and from the heart.

In addition to writing for her own blog, The Social Cyborg, Jennifer is part of the author community at Steamfeed, has guest blogged for BlogWorld and Mark Schaefer’s blog, {GROW} and been syndicated on BlogHer. She is also frequent guest on the Next Stage Business Radio Network podcasts.

Jennifer is mom to one active eight-year-old and two lazy Basset Hounds and manages the “Spinal Fusions Suck” social community on Facebook. In her spare time, she thinks a lot about the zombie apocalypse and the awkwardness of writing about oneself in third person.

You can connect with Jennifer on…

Twitter: @JenKaneCo

Facebook: kaneconsulting

LinkedIn: JenKaneCo

Pinterest: JenKaneCo

Google Plus: Jennifer Kane

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3 Replies to “Content Marketing Boot Camp: 60 Topics in 60 Minutes by @JenKaneCo”

  1. Wendy Amundson

    This is fabulous! Have a process like this really makes developing a content calendar seem manageable.

  2. Dona Collins

    What a fantastic exercise. I bet a lot of people forget they were taught to use this type of exercise back in elementary school writing courses. It’s so helpful!

    I can’t tell you how many business owners just don’t know what to write about; then they assume that I (as a writer) won’t be able to figure out what to write about to market them.

    Content is definitely still king!

    1. Jennifer Kane

      Agreed! I think people tend to get stuck trying to come up with really great ideas. I find that, for me, I just need to come up with a lot ideas, period. And from those I can usually whittle it down to some great ones. But I usually have to wade through some not-so-great ones to get there.

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