You’ve probably heard the saying that you have to hear something three times before it sinks in.
Well, this is also true when it comes to marketing and copywriting. Customers or guests must hear from you at least three times before they start paying attention.
In this blog post, I discuss what the Rule of 3 is, whether or not it still works and some examples of how you can use it to get responses from your audience.
What is the Rule of 3?
The Rule of 3 is one of the oldest copywriting and advertising philosophies out there. Basically, it states that people need to hear something three times before they retain or act on it.
The Rule of 3 is based on the idea that humans prefer repeating patterns and that hearing something multiple times reinforces its message. So by repeating a message three times, brands can make sure their audience remembers it.
This makes sense when you think about it. As humans, we like patterns and are naturally predisposed to find them. And since three is the smallest number possible to make a pattern, it’s no surprise that it resonates with us.
If you worry about the though of writing more though, this guide will definitely help.
What benefits can the Rule of 3 offer?
It makes your ideas stick
The main benefit of using the Rule of 3 in your online marketing is based on the well-document fact that people are more likely to remember something if they hear it three times. This means that in addition to increasing the chances of your message sticking in their minds, you are also reinforcing your brand through repetition.
It helps create urgency
Creating urgency within your marketing is a technique that’s widely used to persuade people to book or buy. And while it’s totally possible to build urgency with just one email or ad, you can really drive the point home with three emails or three ads.
It lets you say more with less
It’s ok to write a long newsletter or ad, but a message broken up over three different ads allows you to not only write more concise copy; it also gives you the opportunity to add layers of meaning and emotion that would be difficult to capture in a single ad. This is incredibly powerful as it engages people on a deeper level and makes them more likely to respond.
Does the Rule of 3 still work today?
Like other copywriting adages, the relevancy (see: effectiveness) of the Rule of 3 is up for debate. Is it really necessary to say something three times before someone remembers it?
The answer isn’t black and white.
In my opinion, the effectiveness of the Rule of 3 comes down to two things: the content within the message in question and the means by which you deliver it.
For example, bombarding guests with three emails in three days about the fact your surf camp has opened a new location is overkill (and a copywriting sin on par with these ones). However, hitting them with a Facebook post, an Instagram post and an email – one message, three different marketing channels – works a treat.
There are also certain events or days of the year when the Rule of 3 is really useful. For example, sending three emails in the fortnight leading up to Black Friday is totally acceptable. And almost every business does this.
Taking these examples into account, it’s clear that when we talk about the message and the means by which we communicate it, we’re talking about relevancy.
If you believe that the offer or service in question requires multiple ads (possibly even more than three) in order to get the point across, go for it. On the other hand, if you think that what you need to say can be communicated more succinctly, power to you.
Always keep in mind though that one hyper-relevant ad is far more effective than three irrelevant ones.
How can you apply the Rule of 3 to your surf biz?
The big question though is whether theRule of 3 can be applied to your surf business. The answer is: of course!
We’ve covered a couple of examples above. And the Rule of 3hree as it applies to Black Friday (or Clean Friday or Green Friday) is an obvious one. But there are also other ways in which you can apply the Rule of Three to your business.
Let’s say that someone has dropped out of an upcoming surf trip that you’re running. This means you have one spot to fill. In this situation, you can open the floor to your Instagram followers or newsletter database and send three emails letting them know that there’s now availability.
Another way in which the Rule of 3 can be applied is if you’re about to release a new product. So for example, you might have developed a new wetsuit and you want to let your audience know. In this sense, the various new technical features and their benefits are best communicated over multiple emails.
The Rule of 3 is one of the older adages in advertising and copywriting. This means that it’s tried and tested, but it also means that it’s up for debate as to its relevance in today’s digital world.
The Rule of 3 is certainly useful in certain situations. Ultimately though, relevancy and context should be your guiding principles here. At the end of the day, if you feel like you’re being annoying with your messaging then chances are your audience is being annoyed too.