Use the “Rule of 3” to streamline communications and improve results.

I was viewing a firm’s website earlier today… with a magnifying glass. Each page was chock-full of very valuable information about the firm, but it was so overwhelming that I couldn’t figure out what they were really trying to communicate. I feel bad for saying this, but I quickly lost interest and decided to write this post rather than read on.

Is your firm’s website, blog, presentation or other communication overloaded with content in paragraph form? Did you have to produce your brochure in 9 pt type to include everything you wanted to say? How many times does a website visitor have to page down to reach the bottom of your home page? If you had to give these questions more than a couple of seconds of thought, you need to cut out some of the fat and focus on delivering a few key messages to the right audience at the right time.

I use a “Rule of 3” approach to delivering compelling content:

  • 3 messages – Before you start planning each communication, think about the top 3 messages that you want the audience to remember. These should differentiate your firm, stating what you can truly offer your clients that no one else can. Then leave everything else out. I mean it. You’re not going to close a deal with one message, so don’t try to do it.
  • 3 seconds – This is how long you have to generate interest or you will lose your audience. Where were your eyes drawn in this post? Hopefully to the bulleted items, where the cute use of 3’s attracted your interest. Get to the point – quickly.
  • 3 ways – Understand that people will view your content in three different ways. Some will just absorb the site or page, so imagery and format are just as important as content. Others will scan the headlines, so make sure that your headlines tell a compelling story. Finally, a few folks may actually read the content. Don’t write just for the search engines, or you’ll lose human interest.
  • 3 bullets – Actually 3-5 bullets is just fine. The whole concept is to highlight a few important points. Use too many bullets and you’re really not highlighting anything. A laundry list of bullets is hard to read. Presentations should be all bullets, or your audience will be squinting at the screen instead of paying attention to you.
  • 3 times– Here’s a good rule of thumb for any marketing communication.
    1. Introduction – Tell them what you are about to say.
    2. Body – Say it, in a concise format.
    3. Conclusion – Tell them what you just said, with next step.

Enough with the 3’s. Most communications that I’ve seen could be cut in half and be twice as effective. This type of concise communication is more difficult to create, but your results will be worth the effort.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.SM

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