The Marketing Rules of Three


It's often hard to cut through the clutter. Applying these simple rules will make your marketing efforts more impactful by ensuring you focus on what's really important.

"The Rule of Three" is an age-old principle that applies to everything from writing to economics–even to survival in the wilderness. For marketers living in a world governed by short attention spans and endless competition, the "Marketing Rule of Three" is no less true.

It's all too easy for marketers to obsess over the huge array of things we live with every day, from product features that include the kitchen sink, to constantly evolving competitors, to consumer insights that are delivered in 100-page presentations.

Let's face it; when looking at almost any survey, it's usually only the top 3 answers to any question that truly makes an impact.

To apply this same logic, and focus only on those impactful factors that should shape your marketing, follow these "Marketing Rules of Three":

3 reasons your target started looking for your solution.

In most cases, consumers are not looking to simply buy a product; they're actually looking to fulfill a need of some kind. This may be a practical need (a birthday present for my child), or an emotional one (to make my child smile), but either way, understanding what motivated them to begin shopping in the first place is critical to fulfilling that need.

First 3 places your target goes for information.

It may be Google, a website, a retail store, a review or maybe even a friend. Recognizing where your consumers will look to first is absolutely crucial to positioning yourself at the head of the pack, shaping their decision process and potentially, even closing the deal before your competition has the chance to present their case.

Top 3 things your target believes they already know about your product, category or company.

Why is it so important to consider this? Knowing the existence of a preconceived bias or perception is the key to either using it or changing it. Very few consumers will buy a product without knowing something about it beforehand. It's imperative to employ this knowledge either as a strength you can use, a weakness you need to address, or a belief that needs to be changed--all of which can only be accomplished if you know them beforehand.

3 most impactful benefits of your product.

Our products are like our children; we love them, yet we often obsess needlessly over the trivial things, in turn, losing focus on the few most remarkable features that truly set them apart. For the most part, consumers just don't care that much. It's so easy to get lost in the morass of "benefit soup," where you bombard the customer with a list of everything the product can do, which often results in reducing the impact of the few key benefits that truly matter. It's important to understand the three most marketable aspects of your product and then focus all of your attention on bringing those to life.

3 most relevant things that, according to your competitors, your customers might like better.

According to a 2013 survey conducted by GE Capital, "On average, consumers visited five unique retailers--at least three online merchants and two brick-and-mortar stores--before making their purchase." Customers are going to check out your competitors either before or after they visit you, and they'll be weighing your competitors' top 3 strengths against yours. Knowledge is power--if you know what their top three competitive strengths are, you'll be able to proactively shape the debate.

3 most important things about your company.

People want great products, but often--just as important--they want to buy from companies they trust, admire and like. So, say you've got a customer on your site, or in your store, and they're considering buying your product--make sure they know a bit more about the company too. Don't get lost in the boring minutiae of facts and figures; make the case like you would if you were at a cocktail party. Simply and easily--what are three things about you that would inspire a consumer to want to start a relationship?

The number one rule of great marketing is keeping it simple. "The Rule of Three" has worked pretty effectively since, perhaps, the beginning of time. It might be a wise idea to apply it to your marketing.