Three: The Most Persuasive Number in Communications

March 4, 2014

Three is powerful

Three is powerful

ImageHow important is the ease, speed, and accuracy of the messaging in your marketing communication? When you deliver a PowerPoint presentation about your medical device it doesn’t matter if you are presenting for 15 minutes or even an hour, it is essential that the information you bring to your listeners is absorbed completely. To communicate why you believe the medical product in question is a helpful and reliable resource for all parties involved, you will at some point introduce its benefits. While you may be tempted to show off your knowledge and provide a highly detailed list of all the benefits you know of, try to restrain yourself. Cutting the benefit list down to a simple trilogy is all you need when it comes to succeeding in a presentation.

Three is easy to remember

So what is so memorable about the number three? Surely, the intelligent doctors in your audience are capable of absorbing more than three benefits. While you have prepared for this meeting for days, the doctor sees you as yet another appointment in his busy schedule.

The power of three as a communication tool goes back to the beginning of recorded history. People have used the number three to quickly, easily, and effectively persuade others in numerous walks of life such as storytelling, literature, religion, and advertising. You can take advantage of its presence by using it to establish the foundation of your next medical powerpoint presentation.

Using a collection of three is a catchy way of inserting information into your audience that can easily be recalled at any time no matter how many details you later introduce. Both you and the doctors have been remembering things in groups of three your entire lives, whether it was A-B-C, 1-2-3, or wash-rinse-repeat. Three medical devices or pharmaceutical product benefits are equally easy to remember.

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Three is faster to remember

medical marketing communication and the power of three

You do not want to spend your presentation repeating yourself. Instead make sure that your listeners absorb the information as soon as you put it out there. According to Psychotactics writer Sean D’Souza, the pattern of three is necessary for quick retention. “The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes.” Larger lists mean that “the brain gets confused” and the eyes are sent “scampering like a frisky puppy on a sunny day.” To keep your audience on gear 100% of the time, talk less and say more. When you consolidate, everyone gets the point quickly without having to sift through superfluous details.

Three gets you the most positive impression (the fourth hurts your credibility)

In a recent publication titled ‘When Three Charms But Four Alarms: Identifying the Optimal Number of Claims in Persuasion Settings,’ the authors explore the optimal number of claims a product should gain the most positive impression. Your product continues to gain credibility with every additional claim, until your fourth claim. At this stage you lose credibility. Or in the words of the study authors, “More claims are better until the fourth claim, at which customers’ persuasion knowledge causes them to see all claims with skepticism.”

Always remember the Presenter’s Paradox

The Presenter’s Paradox is a researched phenomenon that shows that by compiling a full and comprehensive list of leading and subtle benefits for your medical device backfires since “the addition of mildly favorable information dilutes the impact of highly favorable information in the eyes of evaluators.” As it turns out, information processing leads evaluators to make judgments that result in an averaging pattern, under which the addition of mildly favorable information dilutes the impact of highly favorable information.

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Use three benefits. Be more persuasive.

A concise list of three benefits makes for a highly persuasive argument. It demonstrates how clear you are with the subject at hand. You can take dozens of positive details about a medical product, and somehow group those into three divisions. You are not there to give doctors a lecture, but to pitch an idea or market a device. Provide doctors with the most important information about your device that will leave a positive impression and make you stand out in the crowd.

Picture by dno1967b