2nd May 2017 Claire Hawes

Why 3 is the magic number when it comes to memorable copywriting

For memorable, catchy and persuasive copywriting, the rule of three is a tried and tested technique. See some examples. Learn how it works.

You don’t have to be a big brand to be memorable. Indeed you don’t have to have a big brand’s marketing budget. You just need to know the tricks of their trade.

One technique consumer brand copywriters use over and over when trying to aid recall is the rule of three.

Think about it for a moment:

  • Snap, crackle, and pop (Rice Crispies)
  • Beans Meanz Heinz (Heinz Baked Beans)
  • Soft, strong and very long (Andrex Toilet Roll)

OK, I know what you’re thinking. These are fast moving consumer goods catchphrases. My product/service doesn’t compare. Alternatively, these examples are all related to B2C brands. My market is B2B.

And you’d be right. Let’s dig a little deeper into this concept though. You’ll see that actually the rule of three isn’t limited by product or service. More importantly, it’s not just a marketing ploy. It’s a principle that’s ingrained in our thinking from an early age.

You probably first came across the rule of 3 when you learnt how to read. It is common in nursery rhymes and fairy tales:

  • Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Three Blind Mice

Likewise, it is also used in grown-up literature:

  • The Three Musketeers
  • A Christmas Carol (Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future)

What’s more, it is used in film:

  • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In fact, the rule of three has been used throughout history:

  • Veni, Vidi, Vici
  • Liberté, égalité, fraternité

We use it in our jokes:

  • The Englishman, The Irishman and The Scotsman

Put it another way; we use the rule of three everywhere.

Why? Because grouping information into threes helps us to form patterns. Groups of three are:

  • Simple
  • Catchy
  • Poetic

It really is that simple.

Still not convinced?

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”
Sir Winston Churchill, Former Prime Minister

So when it comes to writing memorable marketing messages for your business, all you have to do is:

  • Messaging: Drill down to the three most important reasons why your customer should buy from you
  • Pricing: Offer three clear options
  • Email marketing: Include three links in every email to drive clicks

When you are structuring your messages:

  • Paragraphs: Keep them down to three lines
  • Have an important point to get across? Say it at the beginning, again in the middle, and again at the end.
  • Bullet points: Write them in threes

Now it’s your turn:

  • Ready
  • Steady
  • Go!

And finally

If you would like help writing communications that harness the rule of three, then do get in touch. ABC… it’s easy as one, two three. No more, no less. Three is the magic number.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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