Magic Numbers to use in your Marketing

A few weeks ago I overheard an interesting request from a client – a request that got me thinking.

The client wanted to amend some content on the page of a website that we had built for them. They wanted to change the “7 Reasons to Choose” to 6.

It got me thinking – how important are different numbers that we use in marketing?

  • Is 7 better than 6?
  • Should you always try and pick certain numbers?
  • Which numbers “have form” in helping to improve results?
  • What numbers are the most important and effective?

Here is our rundown on the best numbers to test and use in your marketing…

Magic Numbers in Marketing

3 – Three is an excellent number to use in headlines (as are 7, 9 and other odd numbers).

On my desk I have a copy of the Times dated April 21, 1926 and one of the ads has the headline “3 Reasons Why You Should Visit WARINGS This Week”.

This was an ad for “Spring Furnishings Fashions, Dressed Dining Tables and Electric Labour-Savers” for the Waring & Gillow department store then at 164-182 Oxford Street.

Some things never change!

7 – 7 Reasons to Choose Us – this is the number that prompted the writing of this article. For some people 7 is the Magic Number, but 7 is also an excellent choice when it comes to writing your “reasons to choose” (part of your Unique Selling Proposition).

For example, for your Why Choose Us page on your website, for adding into sales proposals and sales letters.

7 can also be used with your call to action – “To take advantage of this special offer you must order within 7 days”.

9 – If you have more than 7 reasons then choose 9 – or 11, 21 or even 99 as you’ll see below.

37 – A few years ago one of our clients developed a new range of industrial saw products. When I was touring the factory with them they mentioned in passing that in testing the product was proving to be 37% more effective than the leading competitor.

More or less on the spot we incorporated 37% into the product name, and it went on to become a massive success, propelling them towards global market leadership in their industry.

47 – A price that “sell off the page” direct marketers love – have you noticed how many offers for information products have a price of £47 or $47? Why is this? Well, these guys test everything, and often find that £47 outsells all other price points.

57 – How many varieties does Heinz have? 57 of course! Well that’s not actually true, not today, and in fact not ever.

To quote Heinz themselves – “While riding a train in New York City in 1896, our founder Henry J Heinz saw a sign advertising 21 styles of shoes, which he thought was clever.

Although Heinz was manufacturing more than 60 products at the time, Henry thought 57 was a lucky number.

So, he began using the slogan “57 Varieties” in all his advertising. The slogan ’57 varieties’ was born and is still featured on Heinz labels to this day.

In fact, today we make and sell around 5,700 varieties. However, 57 is as much a part of our Company as the name itself, and will forever stay so.”

Or could it be that the canny (as is rumoured) Heinz had learnt from his years selling his products direct to consumers that a specific number attracted more attention and customers?

97 – In testing (and like 47) – £97 often outsells £99 when tested in direct marketing campaigns. 97 is also great for the pence part of your price – £24.97 rather than £24.95 or £24.99 for example.

99 – Pret a Manger’s Passion Facts – this hugely successful sandwich and coffee chain have 99 Passion Facts, which they promote relentlessly in their shops, on their sandwich boxes, coffee cups and even on their paper napkins.

They never advertise, they don’t franchise and have premium prices – and they thrive.

101 – For some reason, 101 gets (or even 99) better results than 100. That’s why our leading free report is called 101 Proven Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business.

The Power of Specificity

There’s a classic story of a timber product that was launched in the U.S. that was ‘52.7% above the U.S. Standard’.

It was promoted as such, and sales soared. However, the claim was then ‘watered down’ (presumably by a litigation sensitive board of directors) to ‘about 50% above the U.S. Standard’…

You can guess what happened to sales.

Yes, they nose-dived. What had been compellingly specific and captured the imagination, became just ‘advertising puffery’.

‘Specificity’ can be a very powerful tool for truly dimensionalising what you do.

Speaking in vague generalities in your advertising and marketing results in communication that sounds like “sales talk” – and which is less than credible.

Being precise and exact puts you in the camp of the scientist, it elevates you to being an authority and it gives your claims “believability”.

Using this same concept, we helped the owner of a Property Survey business identify and articulate his point of difference as being the company checked 798 areas of the home ‘before you buy’.

Not almost 800, not “more than 700” – specifically, 798 areas!

And we helped them to apply it to make their marketing and advertising work better. Much better…

The headline to the new ads read: “How to be SURE the home you’re buying is as good as it looks.“

The body copy read: “Leading building inspection company inspects 798 critical areas in the home thoroughly and professionally BEFORE you buy.

A building inspection is essential before purchasing an older home. The trouble is, SOME building inspections are more thorough than others. And if problems that SHOULD have been picked up go undetected, you can be up for hundreds or many thousands in repair bills that weren’t in your budget.

We inspect ALL critical areas in your potential home including…”

And so on.

Just with that little snippet, can you just visualise the intensity and thoroughness of this inspection? Can you just see the enormous VALUE you would get as a buyer of this service?

Heinz built their empire based on 57 Varieties. A home survey company boosts sales with “798 areas inspected”.

In both that specificity really captured the imagination of their market, and the companies sales catapulted.

Use Odd Numbers

For some reason odd numbers get more attention than even numbers. That’s why when our client asked if they could change from 7 to 6 reasons, we became uncomfortable.

When you use 3, 5, 7, 9 and 21 you are more likely to be noticed – just as Heinz noticed the shoe company with 21 styles!

What numbers could you use?

And how might you harness ‘specificity’ to convey uniqueness in your business?

The business that does, WINS!

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