The "Magical Power" of Odd Numbers in Marketing

Have you ever noticed how many successful book titles have a number in them? For instance, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Concrete, specific numbers always seems to appeal to buyers.

But notice something else about these successful titles. The numbers typically tend to be odd, not even. The same is true with articles that grab your attention in a magazine or on a web site: "5 Simple Weight-Loss Strategies" or "The 7 Secrets of Happily Married Couples" or "3 Ways to Nail Your Next Job Interview."

Marketing experts know that odd numbers in a title create marketing clout

There’s an interesting piece of psychology behind this use of odd numbers. It seems that we can remember the items in a list more easily if there is an odd number of them.

Listen to great professional speakers and how many times they give you three or perhaps five "take-away" points from their presentation. Rarely, if ever, will they give you two points. Or four. Experience has taught them to zero in on an odd-numbered series of points.

So what does this mean for you as a marketer? It means that whenever you are listing the benefits of your product or service, choose an odd number of benefits.

If you are offering a series of bonuses, offer one or three, not two or four. Or if you are promoting a free report or an electronic book to download from your website, build the title of the piece around an odd number. Your report might be "The 3 Most Cost-Effective Ways to Improve the Value of Your Home." Or you might offer an e-book entitled, "The 5 Most Common Mistakes Made in Planning Retirement."

And notice that you do not spell out the number in the title. You use the actual number itself. In a long string of words, numbers jump out and catch people’s eye.

Now admittedly, not every list will form itself naturally around an odd number of items. If your business operates in four locations, your marketing must obviously list your "4 convenient locations," not "3 convenient locations."

But always be looking for opportunities to use odd-numbered lists whenever you are highlighting the benefits, results, techniques, skills, or insights that customers will gain from your product or service. Odd numbers are magical. They make buyers appear whom you would otherwise miss.


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