The Magic Number “3”

The Brain’s Favorite Number Is “3”

Specialists in communication arts know it. Lawyers know it. Teachers know it. Parents know it. Marketers know it. Psychologists know it. You know it too, although you may not actually realize it. The brain likes to chunk what it takes in, in threes. Think about how you memorize numbers such as phone numbers, long addresses, social security numbers, and padlock combinations. Can you remember the names of your friends that have a middle name? Doesn’t it slow you down just a little if they have two middle names?

How “3” Applies to Marketing Communications

We’ve all seen the sales promotion literature that tries so hard to get across every single benefit of the product so you can be sure and remember them all. Do you? Of course not. You can more easily remember the three reasons for choosing or rejecting something.  Something about one reason or two is just not strong enough to be persuasive. Four or more memorable points simply become unmemorable.

Try Out 3

Here are the three basic reasons to begin chunking your communication messages into threes:

  1. That is the way your audiences’ minds prefer to absorb the information.
  2. The mind will retain strings of threes better than larger clusters or more than three smaller clusters.
  3. Three supporting points give a structure that is sufficient without being clumsy or confusing.

Now, close your eyes and see if you can repeat back those three things.

See?

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