The Power of the Rule of Three in Marketing Your Small Business

by Stacy Karacostas

What, exactly, is the Rule of Three? It’s a rule that basically states that more than three “whatever” is confusing and overwhelming – either visually or mentally, or both.

That makes it especially helpful if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who likes to give too much…As in: too many options, too much rambling content, too many bullet points, too much info crammed into a speech, etc.

The Rule of Three is a fascinating thing. Why? Because it seems to apply in so many different situations. And many of these situations are related to effectively marketing a business. So if you’re an entrepreneur, it makes sense to understand how, when and why to apply it.

Oftentimes, the reality is less is more. The Rule of Three can help ensure you aren’t overwhelming your clients and prospects. That translates into more sales.

Below are seven ways you can put the Rule of Three to use in marketing and growing your small business.

1) Follow up. How many times should you follow up with a prospect? A minimum of (you guessed it) three times. More is better! How often do you give up after one or two calls or emails? If you’re not following up AT LEAST three times you’re definitely losing potential clients and projects.

2) Marketing tactics. I recommend my clients never try to implement more than three new marketing tactics at a time. It’s just too much because each one is going to require multiple steps to execute. Plus you need to track response.

While you might eventually have more than three tactics happening simultaneously, if you overload yourself in the beginning you won’t be able to execute any of them well or on a consistent basis—if ever.

3) Business cards. Take a look at a few business cards. Some look professional, clean and easy to understand. Others have way too much stuff crammed into way too small a space.

Chances are the best ones have no more than three blocks of information (whether that’s text or graphics) in the layout. For example, logo in the corner is one, name and title in the middle is another, and contact info at the bottom is a third.

Stick with the Rule of Three here and avoid distracting background images or the urge to squeeze every possible bit of info on one card. You’ll en d up with a better result that makes a more professional first impression.

the power of the rule of three in marketing your small business

4) Fonts. Never use more than three fonts on a page – online or in print – (and your logo font does count as one). Having too many fonts looks juvenile and unprofessional. Instead, choose one font for body text and one for headlines or callouts, and leave it at that. You can always use boxes, bolding, underlines, colors and italics for emphasis.

5) Colors. Looking for new colors for your brand? Trying to decide on the colors for your Website? Or that new flier, ad or promotion? Again, the Rule of Three is your friend. Choose one color to be your main color, then one that compliments it, and one to serve as a highlight color.

More than that and your logo, brand and marketing start to look like a car wash poster made by high school students.

6) Speaking points. The human mind can only absorb and remember so much information in one sitting. So when you plan a speech, talk, teleseminar or Webinar, don’t overwhelm listeners with everything you know. Instead choose three points, tips or topics to delve into and save the rest for another time.

Not only do you avoid confusing or overwhelming the audience, but you keep them coming back for more.

7) Bullet points. Not sure when to use bullet points instead of a list in regular paragraph format? Rule of Three to the rescue again…If you’ve got more than three things in your list, it’s time to switch to bullets.

If you’ve got at least three things in your list, bullets are optional but allowed. Less than three and you want to stick with paragraph format.

So next time you’re working on any piece of marketing, branding, copywriting or advertising remember the Rule of Three. You’ll look more professional, be easier to understand, and make a much bigger impact that’s going to grow your business!

©2012 Stacy Karacostas. All Rights Reserved.

Practical Marketing Expert and Business Lifestyle Architect Stacy Karacostas is on a mission to help other savvy entrepreneurs unchain themselves from their business. Discover how to market and grow your business with less effort, help more people, make more money, AND still have a life by grabbing your own copy of her *F*R*E*E* “Success without Shackles Starter Kit” at


Bose said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
workplace policies said...

really essential steps for marketing.

Anonymous said...

Love it! I'm re-writing my core presentations and evaluating my sales process and the power of three has totally come to the rescue. I'm the gal who likes to give all kinds of information, and saw my constituents and prospects were getting confused. Now I can use the 'power of three' framework to create really content rich and clear presentations. This is exactly what I needed to read today!
Jessica Clark,

Deborah A Bailey said...

Hi Jessica,
So glad this post was so helpful! Keeping things simple can make for better communication.
Thanks for your comments!

Bob @ Parkway Lawn Service Inc. said...

Great article, too bad you couldn't keep it to just 3 points... just joking :-)

Deborah A Bailey said...

Hi Bob,

LOL! You're right - too much information to fit into three points! :) Thanks for your comments!

alterhatfie10 said...

The post is absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need! Also like to admire the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer
Gourmet Secrets Inc.

Deborah A Bailey said...

Glad you enjoyed the article. Hope you'll stop by again to check out our posts! Thanks for your comments!

Philippe PACKU said...

Hi Jessica,
Thank you for this very good explanation. I have illustrated the rule with a creative mind map. You may like to have a look at it I might use your example for a second version of the map.


Norman Green said...

I misunderstood the headline and the seven target points here. All the while, I thought that there are only three powerful tools in marketing but you've shared seven good points here. Anyway, I love reading it!

Deborah A Bailey said...

Hi Norman,

Glad you enjoyed the article! Thanks for your comments!

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