The number three is a magical number which if used properly in your marketing, can help get better results. I was trailing through my archived emails the other day when I came across an email talking about how remembering numbers is easiest when they are grouped into sets of three, and it got me thinking. How can this apply to marketing and sales?
Using the concept of grouping things into 3 means that you can do the following:
The way that the power of three works is simple (I could say I will explain it in 3 simple steps but on this occasion, I won’t). On its own, a single number, price or product seems ‘lonely’. It’s not comprehensive and there’s nothing to compare. The human mind can absorb a lot more information than that so lets at least double it…
Two is good, but it could be better. If I ask you to remember a set of numbers, let’s say 702393, you could remember them individually as six separate numbers. You could remember them in groups of two, such as 70, 23, 93 or in groups of three such as 702, 393. You are more likely to remember them - and longer groups of numbers, in groups of three.
In his book, How to Write Short, author Roy Peter Clark talks about how using the rule of 3 can be more entertaining and satisfying as well as being more effective.
Before we apply this to marketing, let’s consider some real-world examples of how three is being used:
Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, was involved in using a simple 3 worded slogan during the EU referendum campaign that was simple and easy to understand: Take Back Control. He then became Prime Minister and won a general election with the three worded slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ which almost seemed like his answer to everything… but it worked. In 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak, he also made the message clear ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. Ok, so the first and last part are only 2 words, but the slogan is split into 3 sections that are easy to understand, memorable and made sense. Staying at home helped protect the NHS and helps to save lives.
The power of 3 can be covering 3 words in a slogan or three individual concepts.
Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights activist, often used the power of 3 with lines such as “insult, injustice and exploitation” in one of his speeches* followed by “justice, goodwill, and brotherhood.”. Listing 5, 6 or even 10 things would have been harder to remember and would have diluted the message. Listing three things also makes the presenter seem more knowledgeable.
Julius Caesar said “I came, I saw, I conquered”, Winston Churchill once said “Blood, sweat and tears” while the American Declaration of Independence says “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
The power of three is not new, but it’s often forgotten when trying to make marketing more effective.
Using it in your marketing
In my book, Psychology in Marketing and Sales, I talk about Decoy Pricing which involves offering a third pricing option. This third option increases sales conversions and also results in customers opting for higher-priced products or services. This works for various reasons, one of which is that it takes the mind away from comparing lower-priced products, or not buying at all.
In your marketing communication you can also use the power of 3 as follows:
Here are some examples to consider:
An accountant might highlight they offer ways to save on tax, avoid fines and grow your business as the main benefits.
A web designer might increase the value of a service by offering a 3 in 1 package: web design, blogging and social media for one single price.
A software company might communicate that their product can be set up in 3, easy to follow steps.
A fashion designer might use a slogan such as ‘look great, feel amazing, be different’
Whether you use 3 or another number in your marketing, it’s important to keep messages simple and easy to understand - while making your product attractive. If you would like help defining your marketing messaging and communicating to your customers then get in touch today.
*His speech “Non-Violence and Racial Justice”
The opinions in these blog posts are those of marketing professional and book author Darren Hignett.