Okay, so this is going to be one of those weird blog posts.
I will describe a specific content marketing strategy — which also happens to result in the type of content I prefer to consume myself. This post is going to be weird because I haven’t really found any better way to describe it than to use a rather cheesy metaphor to explain it.
The caffè latte metaphor for actionable content
When visiting European and North American corporate offices especially, you’ll typically be offered some coffee when you arrive. However, the typical cup of office joe is not the most memorable experience. But every now and then, someone will offer you a barista-level caffè latte or cappuccino. If you’re as into creamy coffees as I am, you’d probably say, give it to me, please.
A well-made caffè latte is the sort of corporate freebie that will give you a positive experience — without any strings attached. It’s simply a small, but appreciated, treat.
When browsing online content, we all come across small, but deliciously creamy bits of useful information. And every now and then, we come across content that is jam packed with such juicy bits. One such example, for me, might be the earlier podcasts of The Tim Ferriss Show. Ferriss is a notorious lifehacker and the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef, Tribe of Mentors, and Tools of Titans and those early episodes were just two hours of one “caffè latte” serving after the other.
My favourite episode is when Ferriss interviews the cool film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, and musician — Robert Rodriguez:
Sure, the Rodriguez episode speaks to me specifically since I’m fascinated by how creative people work and think. But the point here is that certain types of content are just completely geared at giving the listener actionable advice1.
In the example mentioned above, Ferriss has made it his business to ask successful people for their caffè lattes. Here are some example of what he typically asks his podcast guests:
And so on. Do you see the pattern? True to form, Ferriss will just keep asking until he get answers that are so specific that you, the listener, can easily utilise that specific advice in your own life.
Try the “caffè latte” note-taking test
I often ask; where’s the actionable advice in this piece of content? Where are my caffè lattes?
For me, the quality of any piece of informational content can be measured in the number of notes I will jot down while listening, watching, or reading it. If a piece of information is at a caffè latte level, I’ll write it down. Some things might be interesting, like inspirational backstories and tales of achievements and hardship, but I wouldn’t write any of that stuff down.
If your brand is into sharing informational content, then the following could be a useful control question to use when planning out your publishing calendar:
The test: When someone consumes your online content, how many times will your typical reader/reader/watcher have to take a short break to make a note of a specific piece of useful information (a “caffè latte”)?
Why actionable advice work so well online
So why, then, are we so thirsty for those creamy little nuggets of information?
- I would also recommend listening to Tim Ferriss fascinating conversation Derek Sivers, another one of my favourite episodes.
- It’s like how those little red social media notifications prime our behaviour into submission.