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Three – It’s the magic number

The Beginning

According to Wikipedia the Rule of Three is a principle that suggests things that come in ‘three’ are inherently funnier, more satisfying, more effective than other numbers of things. Take a look around and you will see The Rule of Three in use all around you; Blood, Sweat and Tears: Location, Location, Location: Father, Son, Holy Spirit: Faith, Hope, Charity: Mind, Body, Spirit: Stop, Look, Listen: Sex, Lies, Videotape: I Came, I Saw, I Conquered. If you want something to stick in someone’s mind, put it in a sequence of three. As humans, our view of the world is created by interpreting what happens to us through three elements:

• How we think

• How we move

• How we feel

Our personal success is a result of properly using these three closely interrelated elements. What you think is a result of how you feel, and where you are. How you feel is a result of what you think, and what you’re doing. And what you do is a result of how you feel, and what you think. If any of these three elements isn’t right, then look to change the other two. Once you get all three working together, your options are enormous.

The Middle

The Rule of Three is based on the concept that people tend to remember only three things; so if you want a message to be remembered, put it into a list of three. The Rule of Three states that more than ‘three’ of anything is confusing and overwhelming. It’s a principle that suggests that things that come in 3’s are easier to understand, more satisfying and more effective than other numbers of things.

Steve Jobs applied The Rule of Three in nearly every presentation and product launch he delivered. In 2007 Jobs introduced the first iPhone as the “third” of Apple’s revolutionary product categories (the first two were the Macintosh and the iPod). He even said that Apple would be introducing “three” revolutionary products—a new iPod, a phone, and an Internet communications device. Jobs repeated the three products slowly until the audience finally figured out he was talking about one device capable of handling all three tasks. In 2010 Jobs introduced the first iPad with a slide showing the new tablet as a “third device” between a smartphone and a laptop. The iPad, he told the audience, would also come in “three models”: 16, 32, and 64 GB of flash storage. In 2011, Jobs introduced the iPad 2 as “thinner, lighter, and faster” than the original. The three adjectives so accurately described the new device, thousands of blog and newspaper headlines included those three words.

The Rule of Three is a numerical reality that can be factored into your business strategy. It’s always difficult to take something as complicated as business success and truly distil it down to 3-simple rules, 3 essential elements, which can make the business truly great, but in his book “The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think”, Michael Raynor proposes that the three rules of business are:

Rule 1: Better Before Cheaper

When it comes to how you differentiate yourself from the competition, seek out a position based on non-price value, i.e., performance, which is broadly understood. Do not compete on price. Price-based competition can work, but only rarely does it drive long term exceptional performance.

Rule 2: Revenue Before Cost

Driving superior profitability means having combination of higher revenue and lower costs than the competition. The advantages of higher revenue tend to be more valuable and durable than the advantages of lower cost. Use your differentiated position to charge higher prices or appeal to more customers. Do not try to ‘cut’ your way to greatness. Just like price-based competition, cost advantage can be effective, but only infrequently.

Rule 3: There Are No Other Rules

Whatever competitive, environmental… challenges you might face– don’t give up on the first two rules. But, everything else is up for grabs — everything. Change whatever you must– market, people, technology… anything. But no matter what, stick with– better before cheaper, revenue before cost.

Companies don’t become truly great by reducing costs and assets, they earn their way to greatness by Attracting, Developing and Retaining customers (3 again!) which in turn leads to sustainable profitable growth. There is nothing more important to the life blood of business then these three actions:

• Get Customers

• Keep Customers

• Make Money

These should be the ‘Prime Directives’ of any business. They are the prime mandate, top-of-the-mind focus, and the guidance that should drive every decision for every manager, leader, employee, stakeholder and director in your business. The Prime Directives are the most elemental building blocks of business success, beyond which ‘everything else’ is merely interesting details. Note that the Prime Directives are comprised of 3-powerful verbs– action words in the broadest sense of the meaning.

The End

The Rule of Three is a fun, easy-to-use universal truth. If you want to find out how to give your business more impact, make your strategy more effective and your sales people more persuasive (see what I did there??) please call Stephen on 07900003151 or contact us here


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