Question: Whether it’s a written piece like a white paper or a promotional email, or a more visual message like a video or a slideshow, what do all successful marketing communications have in common?
Answer: They’re all easily comprehensible, highly credible and connect strongly with the target audience. And because of this, when they’re also presented in a clever and original manner, they become memorable and spread by word of mouth (or via email, tweets, etc.) among that audience. Taken together, these are the 4 Cs of effective communications.
The First C: Comprehension
Does the audience get the message, the main idea, the point? What does the message instantly convey? Can the audience play the message back? If they can, this confirms that they “get it” and the first C is working. Here are three tips for better comprehension:
- Make the message clear and sharp.
- Repetition helps. Tell them what you’re going to tell them; next, tell them; and then tell them what you told them.
- Keep it simple.
The Second C: Connection
Making a connection with an idea or message means not only that the audience “gets it,” but that it resonates with them, has meaning and significance for them and triggers an emotion such as anger, fear or excitement. Emotions provoke actions, so when a connection is made it induces the audience to respond.
The Third C: Credibility
The audience needs to believe what’s being said and who’s saying it; otherwise, whatever connection’s been made begins to break down. Credibility is the critical C, because the audience may completely understand your message, and even connect with it on an emotional level, but still reject it because it comes from an untrustworthy source or isn’t substantiated.
The Fourth C: Contagiousness
In communications, contagiousness is a good thing. You want your audience to “catch the wave,” run with it and spread it around. Think of the last time you saw a TV ad that was so funny or clever that you talked about it with your co-workers or started using the catch phrase in conversations. That’s contagiousness and that’s the essence of viral marketing. To be contagious, a message has to be energetic, original and memorable. It should also evoke an emotional response.
While different marketing vehicles place different premiums on each of the 4 Cs, all four always need to be part of the mix. The next time you sit down to write or review a marcomm piece, you’ll get a better result if you keep these four guidelines in mind.