A shot of espresso. The most purified form of coffee. Nothing more than 30 ml of water, extracting the essence from the roasted, ground coffee beans using high pressure. It is the basis for most coffee drinks, and sometimes it is also the final product. A shot of espresso. With nothing more and nothing less.
The core message of your content — its keynote — is your espresso shot. You should always start with it. If it is not compelling enough, your content won’t be either. No matter what you add to it later and how exactly you use it in your content, the core message is your most important ingredient.
And sometimes, your core message is all you need. Some people will find value in it without further explanation, example, or analysis. A good shot of espresso can stand by itself, even if many people prefer their drink a bit fancier.
Espresso is not for everyone. Some people will always prefer a richer, extended experience, like a good, foamy cappuccino. Making the perfect cappuccino is not easy. You have to know what milk to use, how much of it to use, how much it should be frothed, and just how to pour it. But if your shot of espresso is not good enough, none of this will make a tasty cappuccino.
Most of the content we produce is like a cappuccino. Beyond its well-defined core, we add metaphors and examples, think of cool ways to phrase things, and wrap it all up in some engaging story. It makes our content more attractive and the experience for our audience reacher. But it can never replace the essential ingredient that makes the content worth reading, watching, or listening to: an idea your audience will value.
And sometimes, your caffeine shot feels like anything but a cup of coffee. It is under disguise. It looks and tastes like a desert, like a scoop of ice cream. But have no mistake, your espresso shot is still there, and it is the ingredient that turns a plain vanilla ice cream into a delicious affogato.
Likewise, sometimes you have to wrap your core message in disguise, be it a funny story, an anecdote, or a meme. It feels light, like something you don’t need to give much thought to, but it encapsulates an important idea, and often it makes the idea easier to spread and digest.
The clash between the light facade and the meaningful core idea creates an effective impact, just like the contrast between the light, sweet ice cream and the rich, strong espresso.
And just like an affogato, there’s a right time and place for it. Sometimes, your audience needs their coffee to look, feel, and taste just like coffee and not like a desert, no matter how delicious it is.