Sometimes, a simple framework goes a long way towards getting something right the first time. David Jobber and John Fahy’s ‘4 Cs’ of marketing communications are four such pillars, which many a marketer has used to guide their digital content creation since Jobber and Fahy first wrote about them in 2009.
The four Cs are Clarity, Credibility, Consistency, and Competitiveness. What does each of them mean and how can you apply them to your content creation going forward?
Content with clarity
When it comes to content marketing, clarity is really important on a number of levels.
- Who are you creating content for?
- What is the value you’re offering?
- What should the reader or viewer do next?
- Looking at your messaging specifically, is it clear what you are trying to say or is the message getting lost in translation?
Let’s take this page as an example: hopefully my writing is clear, and it’s clear who this page is written for, and it’s clear what you learn about and how you’ll benefit from reading it.
Whether you’re writing a long, detailed page like this one or a 70-character page title, content written with clarity in mind will clearly communicate what it sets out to achieve.
Content with credibility
Nowadays, credibility is important for both your human and search engine readers.
The people reading your content need to know they can trust what it’s saying.
- Has it been written by an industry expert or someone with authority/experience?
- Is it timely or has it been updated recently?
- If it contains facts or figures, are their clear links to the sources?
- Are those sources reputable?
- Does it contain quotes from influential people in that sphere/industry?
From a technical standpoint, it’s more important than ever that your content appears credible if you want it to rank highly in the search engines. Strategies that focus around pillar pages (like this one) and clusters of related content show Google and co that you’re writing in depth about a certain topic, for example. More recently, Google also favours content that’s been written by an actual person and not content-writing AI (yes, it exists).
“Tom is an extremely talented, creative, collaborative copywriter, who has professionally supported our business for the last 12 months. I have personally basked in the reflected ‘excellence’ of his writing. Tom has worked very closely with the VFE management team to create a personal and unique voice for the team as individuals and collectively for our business. I didn't fully appreciate how silent our business was in what we had to offer until Tom created a confident voice, which we now use to communicate effortlessly with our customers. Thank you Tom, your talent and effort are very much appreciated, by all at VFE.”
David Byrne, former CEO, VFE
Learn more about topic writing and how to structure your content for best results.
Content won’t get your marketing or your business very far if it’s not created consistently.
Is it being produced and published to a consistent schedule? There’s no right or wrong in terms of how frequently you should get out fresh content — this will depend very much on your business, your audience, your industry, and a million other things. But whatever that frequency is, stick to it to become a dependable source of content in your space.
Is the quality consistent? Your readers will come to expect a certain quality from the content you produce. That’s what they come back for. Maintaining that quality is important for meeting their expectations and delighting them with whatever you’re producing.
Are you writing/talking with a consistent voice? Imagine if every time you spoke with someone, their voice was different. A different pitch. A different accent. A different emphasis on the certain words or the way they talk. It’s normal for your tone to change depending on where you’re writing and for whom (you probably wouldn’t talk to your hairdresser in the same way that you spoke to a bank tiller or your great-grandparent) but your voice is a big part of how you communicate your brand and engage with your audience. Keep it steady.
How consistent is your messaging? In a similar vein, your messaging shouldn’t vary wildly from place to place. If your business is all about helping to keep your customers’ operations running or, say, helping them to unlock the full potential of the HubSpot platform, this messaging should thread like the plot of a story through everything you say and do.
Read more about the importance of consistent content marketing messaging.
Millions of new articles are published online every day. I could put a number to that, but it rises so quickly we’d constantly need to be updating this page. Content marketing is by definition competitive. Your articles and the guides you produce are clamouring to be seen.
What this means is that good content isn’t good enough. Your content has to be the best if you want it to stand up, stand out, and catch your audience’s eyes.
There are several techniques you can employ to help you achieve this, from general best practices like reviewing the SERPs (search engine results pages) to see how other people are approaching similar topics to yours, to actually ‘skyscraping’ their content so make sure yours hits everything theirs does — and more.
Whatever approach you take, it’s important to approach your content competitively to give it the best possible chance of performing well and delivering the results you need it to.
For the competitive edge, check out my favourite content marketing rule.