The Four C’s Formula: Creating Clear, Concise, Compelling and Credible Copy

Bob Bly first presented The Secret of the Four C’s formula in his 2013 book, The Business-to-Business Marketing Handbook. As such, it is one of the newer copywriting formulas but it has made quite an impact in the industry in this short space of time.

The Four C’s formula only works well with the proviso that all copy should be clear, concise, compelling and credible. Using these keywords as a foundation generates easy-to-read, interesting and authentic copy, so let’s look at the implementation of the formula in more detail…

Clear

Clarity in writing is born through understanding. If you don’t have an understanding about a topic you will find it difficult to write about. Hence your copy will not be as clear to your audience. Researching your topic and then using short words and sentences in your copy will ensure that your writing becomes clearer. 

“I never study style; all that I do is try to get the subject as clear as I can in my own head, and express it in the commonest language which occurs to me.” – Charles Darwin

Concise

Copywriting favours short copy. This doesn’t mean that your point should be inherently brief. Short copy can include a lot of information but should be written as concisely as possible to be effective. Include the key points and don’t ramble or needlessly describe – get to the point concisely.

“In all pointed sentences, some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.” – Samuel Johnson

Compelling

The trick to writing great copy is compelling your audience. Writing concisely means compelling your readers through descriptive words that are not necessarily adjectives. Descriptive words and language can appeal to all five senses, which ultimately convert into more compelling copy. If used correctly, they can educate, persuade and entertain your audience. Think of stand-alone words like luxurious, miserable, laughing, quirky and wallowing in this context.

“Write what should not be forgotten.” – Isabel Allende

Credible

Although the aim of a copywriter is to drive sales with their copy, the goal should be to do so without obvious “sales speak”. People are weary of sales people but happier trusting experts in their fields. Write in an authentic way, including customer testimonials and using examples and quotes from well-researched, reliable sources. This will bolster your credibility. Don’t be afraid to offer guarantees – your faith in your product will ultimately transfer to your audience. Communicate as opposed to selling with your words, and build up your relevance as a recognised expert in your field.

“The credibility of the teller is the ultimate test of the truth of a proposition.” – Neil Postman

The Four C’s formula makes perfect sense in our complicated world. It is simple, easy to apply and clarifies copy for an audience. Discovering The Secret of the Four C’s makes for a handy and well-utilised addition to a copywriter’s repertoire.

Warren Potter
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