No More Writer’s Block – 5 Simple Exercises for Generating Killer Content Ideas

Fairly often, you may find that your team needs to produce a lot of content ideas quickly. For the sake of the exercises included in this post, let’s assume that you have your content strategy, list of core topics/themes, buyer personas, and industry research all nailed down.

Now it’s time to take this information and funnel all the ideas in your team’s heads into one place. To make this happen, you’ll absolutely want to try these five simple exercises for generating killer content ideas. Say goodbye to writer’s block!

With these five exercises, you can develop some winning content ideas, all in one day. By setting aside specific times to brainstorm content planning, there’s no more back and forth emails and other tactics that take up time and aren’t centralized.

Many of these exercise use quotas so that your content team doesn’t get too comfortable with their output. Typically, when brains are searching for ideas, they default to trying to find the single best one. Setting quotas forces brains to become more agile.

These exercises are simply frameworks to get lots of ideas out on the table. Feel free to adapt them to fit your own needs for optimal outcomes.

1. The 10-20-30 Exercise

Your team should come prepared for these exercises. They should have a wealth of knowledge and research tucked into their minds. They just need the right prompts to start delivering ideas. The 10-20-30 can help unleash a large number of fresh ideas that you can then finesse.

Here’s how the exercise works:

  1. Give each team member two minutes to brainstorm 10 ideas.
  2. Time it and alert them when time is dwindling.
  3. Then stop right on the two minute mark.
  4. Next, start your timer for four minutes and ask for 20 ideas.
  5. Finally, give them six minutes to create 30 ideas.

Because they felt the time crunch, your team didn’t have the time to second-guess their ideas. It’s a stream of consciousness type of exercise. Now, these ideas will be unrefined, but you may have some great ideas that you think have the hook to make it onto your content calendar.

After everyone has submitted their ideas, go through them and see what stands out, then prioritize those. These ideas should also be in line with your content strategy/mission and your buyer needs.

2. The SCAMPER Exercise

SCAMPER helps content markers generate ideas by using action verbs as stimuli. It was originally invented by Bob Eberie. It enables you to come up with ideas related to existing themes or new ones. SCAMPER is an acronym, and each letter is a prompt for creative ideas.

  • S – Substitute
  • C – Combine
  • A – Adapt
  • M – Modify
  • P – Put to another use
  • E – Eliminate
  • R – Reverse

Use the tool by asking questions about your existing products or services. These questions can help you develop ideas that can highlight the solutions your brand brings.

3. The Post-Up Exercise

generating content ideas - post-up exercise

When you have a team with lots of information in their heads, Post-Up can be a great tool to unleash it. This group exercise will enable you to bring together disparate data points. Post-Ups requires participants to be succinct, so it’s efficient as a group exercise.

Another reason it’s a good writing exercise is that everyone has to participate together instead of each individual waiting for his or her turn.

The objective of the Post-Up is to generate a wall full of information related to core topics or problems your buyer personas have.

To perform the exercise, you can either use a physical wall, whiteboard, or digital tool.

Here’s how it works:

  • Define Goals: Define the goal of the exercise before gathering by providing them with the core topic or business problem.
  • Write Topics: Write each topic on a sticky note and post them on your board or wall.
  • Add Notes: As team members keep adding sticky notes to the wall, begin to think of ways to leverage those to generate even more ideas.
  • Leave Notes Up: When all the sticky notes are up, leave it up for a few days or provide pictures of it to your team, so they have a few days to digest it all.

During the exercise, encourage little conversation, so that ideas are free-flowing. From this bounty of ideas, you are likely to find many that have the ability to become high-performing content pieces.

4. Affinity Mapping

Affinity Mapping is a clustering activity. Its purpose is to organize ideas into common themes. With Affinity Mapping, you can create an organized framework. The exercise can be carried out individually or in a group setting. You’ll need to start with topic ideas—you can use the ones from the post-up activity.

Here’s what to do next:

  1. You’ll need three columns. Draw them on a whiteboard.
  2. Spread all your topic ideas out.
  3. Without naming your columns, begin to sort cards in each one based on the patterns you see.
  4. Should a card not fit in any of the columns, set them to the side.
  5. If you see that topics are redundant, place them on top of each other. Don’t trash them.
  6. You can add one to two more columns if you see more than three themes in the cards you’ve set aside.
  7. Then name the columns. Don’t labor over this, just describe what the cards in the column have in common.

Now you have an organized grouping of themes. Take each column and begin to develop the ideas further. You should be left with many ideas for each core topic that you can spin into new campaigns.

5. Listen to Your Customers

One of the greatest gold mines of topic ideas come directly from your customers. While this is not a formal exercise, it’s certainly one that can stir up new content. Do this as a group for two reasons:

  1. You’ll get more ideas.
  2. Your entire team will understand your customers better.

Bring to the group any communication or feedback from customers from the last six months or year. It will take prep to get all this together. You’ll have to scour your social media profiles, find reviews, look at your testimonials and case studies, and also ask your sales and customer support teams.

Once you have all those together, write them on index cards. Then ask your team to group them by topic or product. After they are grouped, go through each one. Find common themes and determine how you can formulate content around those.

Your customers know better than you how your solutions meet their needs. Use this insight for developing targeted content.

Ok, we made it. Assuming you now have more content ideas than you know what to do with, perhaps you need to store them somewhere and get them worked into your content calendar. Luckily, that’s exactly what DivvyHQ does. Request a demo today to see how it works and learn why it’s a must-have tool for modern content marketers.