It’s a little known direct response rule.
It’s a powerful rule because:
- This powerful rule can increase your response.
- This powerful rule can overcome objections.
- This powerful rule can supercharge your profits.
It’s called The Rule of Three.
When writing direct mail, landing pages, scripts or ads, successful marketers and copywriters follow in the footsteps of no lesser examples than Shakespeare, the American Declaration of Independence and the Bible.
They do so using an ancient rhetorical technique called – you guessed it – the Rule of Three.
While the reasons for this rule are somewhat intangible, its truth cannot be denied.
Consider these three very well-known examples of writing that successfully used The Rule of Three:
- “Friends, Romans, countrymen.” (Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2 – by Shakespeare).
- “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (The U.S. Declaration of Independence).
- “Father, Son and the Holy Ghost.” (The Trinity referred to in Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14 and many other Biblical Scriptures).
Each of these authors – Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and God, respectively – has an enormous volume of beautiful, poetic and life-altering work to choose from … yet these simple quotes using The Rule of Three are still among their most memorable.
When writing marketing materials, construct your pieces using three examples, testimonials or facts to create a message your audience will remember and believe in more strongly.
It’s important, however, to organize your group of three according to the following order:
Element #1: Stands Out, But Doesn’t Persuade. The first element in your series should grab your reader’s attention. It should be the most familiar, friendly element and the one most likely to make the reader immediately relate to your message.
It should be designed not to convince, but to engage. In the sample from “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare has used the word “friends,” one of the most universally appealing and engaging words in the English language.
Element #2: Feels Awkward and Unsettling. Once you have engaged your readers, your next step is to keep them engaged. And the best way to do this is to unsettle them, to make them feel as if they will remain off balance if they do not continue to read your message.
In the example taken from the Bible, the most unfamiliar concept of the New Testament, that of the “Son,” comes after the more familiar “Father.”
Element #3: Make the Reader Feel Positive, Complete and Rational. The third and final element in your series is your chance to bring the reader a solution to blend the rational and irrational elements you introduced with elements one and two into a great solution.
In the example taken from the Declaration of Independence, the familiar concept of “life” and the unfamiliar, or intangible, concept of “liberty” are both brought together into the solution of “the pursuit of happiness.” Now the reader has a clear solution to the problem of bringing these two disparate elements into harmony.
If you would like help developing The Rule of Three for your next marketing campaign, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 310-212-5727.