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The rule of three in copywriting and content writing

Good things come in threes. Without realising it, we’re brought up on the rule of three, and it surrounds us to this day; it’s one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use.

For copywriting professionals like Magic Word Media, using it in marketing communications helps engage, tell a story and sell a dream.

And for you, as a business, that means shifting more products,  winning more clients or influencing more people.

Why is the rule of three so powerful?

Three is the smallest number of pieces required to make a pattern. In copywriting, we like concise, and we try to create patterns in words because they’re easier for a human brain to soak up.

Academics have studied the power of three for centuries and conclude we’re hard-wired to respond positively to groups of three. Three elements get a message across best, be it in a slogan or a story.

After all, every story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Once you’ve understood the concept, you’ll recognise it being employed down the centuries either to tell a story or to emphasise a point. How about these quotes or phrases for starters?

In history and faith

  • I came, I saw, I conquered
  • Mind, body, spirit
  • Faith, hope and charity
  • Father, Son and the Holy Spirit
  • Blood, sweat, tears
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen

In entertainment

  • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  • Sex, Lies and Videotape
  • Every corny joke that begins “An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman”

In folklore and fairytales (the original storytelling)

  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • The Three Little Pigs
  • The Three Musketeers
  • The Three Wise Men

And, of course, in memorable marketing slogans

  • Stop, look and listen
  • Just do it
  • Diamonds are forever
  • Every little helps
  • Finger lick’ good
  • Beans Means Heinz
  • Vorsprung Durch Technik
  • Snap! Crackle! Pop!
  • Your flexible friend
  • A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play

Using the rule of three in your marketing

Start thinking in threes, and you’ll turbocharge your marketing efforts. If you’re looking for a copywriter, find one who understands their purpose is to engage, tell a story and sell a dream. That phrase happens to be a slogan we often use in our own marketing at Magic Word Media, which, as you may have noticed, is a three-word company name.

It’s a simple formula to follow. In much of what we do as copywriters, we aim to:

  1. Pose a dilemma
  2. Embellish for the target customer
  3. Sell a solution

We might start a blog, a brochure or a piece of direct mail by concisely raising a problem that’s common to the target audience.

  • Is your print supplier letting you down?
  • Is your IT system creaking?
  • Is your website getting low traffic?

We’ll then expand on that problem with copy that resonates with the reader, reinforcing the idea that they do, indeed, have an issue they should address.

  • Poor quality print damages your brand and reputation
  • You’re wasting valuable time and risk losing data
  • You’re missing potential leads, customers and sales

Then we’ll ride to the reader’s rescue by offering to solve their problem.

  • We offer quality print with the best customer service
  • We’ve got the latest IT equipment with expert 24/7 support
  • We’ll build you a new website designed with effective SEO and brilliant copy

Don’t use the rule of three ALL the time

Like all good copywriting and marketing techniques, the rule of three should be used when it can get the best results. It won’t work for everything.

But get it right, and the effect can be striking.

It really is as easy as one, two, three.

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If you’d like to discuss a copywriting project, contact simon@magicwordmedia.com or visit our content agency website.

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