DIY Guide to the 5C CHECK

Here's a simple walk-through of the 5C Credibility Check that you can try yourself.

In each of the five sections below you will find:

• a brief explanation of why each of the 5 Cs matters 

• three tips to help you self-assess your content

• a quick list of the pitfalls to look out for

Remember, each of the Cs is like a different lens that helps you focus on a particular component of your content's credibility.

We hope it helps. Feel free to let us know how you get on ...

#1 – Is your content free of typos, grammatical and other basic errors?


Sloppy content suggests you don’t pay attention to detail. So your service is probably slipshod too…





What to watch for ...

• Literals & typos
• Non sequiturs
• Missing/misplaced apostrophes
• Common spelling errors such as ‘complementary’ vs ‘complimentary’, ‘principle’ vs ‘principal’, ‘their’ vs ‘there’, etc
• Noun and verb disagree (ie, wrong person)
• Poor punctuation

Do these 3 things ... 

1. After drafting any communication, read it through and always do a spellcheck – before uploading, if it's web content. If it's already on your site, check it using the text editor of your CMS (content management system).

2. Spelling and grammar checkers can still miss awful howlers. If someone in your team has an eye for detail, get them to review everything before publication.

3. To guarantee high quality control, use a proofreader / editor. It needn't be costly – especially when compared with the potential damage done to your credibility.

#2 – Is your content direct, concise and clearly expressed?


Don’t expect prospects to wade through waffle. 
They’ll go straight to competitors who communicate clearly.






    • Long sentences & paragraphs
    • Poor punctuation
    • Jargon, unexplained acronyms, buzz words
    • Indirect phrasing
    • Irrelevant information
    • Excessive detail
    • Over-use of passive voice
    • No cross-heads to break up text
    • Key facts missing
    • Stating the obvious

    do these 3 things:

    1. After you've read through your draft and corrected any obvious errors, leave it for a while, overnight if possible. You're more likely to spot flaws with a fresh eye.

    2. Get colleagues to read it too. They may identify problems you've missed – including gaps and questions your text will raise in the minds of prospective clients.

    3. Better still, have someone outside the business review your content. They don't need to know your sector. Because effective communications should be simple and easy to understand, even for non-experts.

    5C toolkit - head - CONSISTENT-1.png

    #3 – Are style and tone of voice consistent, and in tune with your brand?

    So what?

    Otherwise you won’t come across as a joined-up, professional organisation that means what it says.






    watch out for ...

    • Jarring changes in person (first vs third, singular vs plural)

    • Mixmatch between vocab and values

    • Proclaiming different top priorities  

    • Lapses into hard sales patter

    • Deviations from (or no) house style 

    Do these 3 things ...

    1. If more than one person writes material, start by comparing different authors' contributions. Ask yourself if it sounds like the same person talking.

    2. Define your values as a business and your brand's personality. Then review your content, looking for language, claims, or tones of voice that jar with those principles.

    3. Ensure everyone in the team sings from the same hymn sheet. Commission a house style guide so that everything you communicate is true to your brand.

    #4 – Have the key messages and themes been thought through?

    So what?

    If the information you’re providing is not relevant, interesting and useful, people won’t waste time reading it.

    Do these 3 things...

    > 1. What are the key messages you need to communicate to your target market(s)? Review your home page: does it convey these messages clearly and quickly? Are those messages distinctive from what your rivals are saying?

    > 2. Now review all content, page by page. Ensure each section supports your proposition, focuses on a key message, and emphasises customer benefits – NOT the features – of your products / services.

    > 3. Get a sample of people to quickly review a page and feed back the key points they take from it. Identify any that are getting lost, and cut or revamp the content that's clouding those messages





      WATCH OUT FOR ...

      • Propositions not differentiated from competition
      • Messaging not fine-tuned for market segment(s)
      • Emphasis on product/service features instead of benefits
      • Cramming in too many messages
      • Crucial information missing
      • Too much detail, too soon
      • Messages not developed
      5C toolkit - head - COMPELLING-1.png

      #5 – Is what you say convincing and persuasive?

      So what?

      How else will your words motivate prospects to take action?







      watch out for:

      • Too much  'we'-ing rather than homing on customers' needs
      • Unsupported claims
      • Superlatives and marketing speak eg: 'Unique, market-leading, unsurpassed, etc..'
      • Other clichés and hackneyed phrases
      • Equivocal, vague, unpersuasive language
      • Mere 'warm words' 
      • ‘Friction’ words in calls to action

      Do these 3 things:

      1. You must quickly show that you understand your target customers' needs and can meet them. Does your home page pinpoint your prospective client's 'pain' or need? And how you resolve it?

      2. Does each sentence or paragraph compel the visitor to read on? Does the writing target people's emotions? Or can you make your case more forcefully to inspire trust? 

      3. In each case, is there a clear 'call to action'? Can you word it more persuasively? And test different versions...

      So how did you do?

      Let us know if the DIY check was of value, or how you'd improve it, here.

      And now, if you'd like to learn the lessons from an expert 5C Check, put us to work:

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