What is it about the number three?
Would two little pigs have been able to teach us the value of working hard and not skimping on materials? Could that second billy goat Gruff have kicked the troll off that bridge if he had taken a judo class or two? And maybe Goldie could have just nuked mamma bear’s porridge a little…
The rule of three is entrenched in storytelling: stories have a beginning, middle, and an end; plays often come in three acts; and Eve had three faces, not two or four.
Copywriting also runs on an underlying tenet of three, as you can see in these marketing principles laid out by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1903:
The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement.—E. St. Elmo Lewis
The rule of three permeates many more fields, but I’ll stop here and leave the rest for you to google if you like. All this is to say that we humans have a natural inclination to the number three and love to build ideas around it.
I grabbed onto the concept when I wrote a post about writing and editing, and when I wrote about the Trifecta of Content Management Tools. And now, I am going to present you with another trifold idea. This one has to do with content writing.
This is the kind of writing done in content marketing for medical practices or otherwise. It is a style of web writing used in blogs, social media posts, newsletters, ebooks, and the like. To do this well, you need to combine three essential skills: copywriting, generosity, and journalism.
First little piggy: Copywriting
Copywriting is writing that sells. Traditionally this can include a short slogan like “Just Do It” or an entire Sears catalogue (just aged myself right there). Copywriting is also the kind of writing done in content marketing. In this case, it is a lot less sales-y and has added benefit for the reader. Read more here.
Second little piggy: Generosity
Generosity is at the underpinnings of content marketing. The idea is that providing benefit is more attractive and builds more loyalty than outright advertising. This could be by giving some helpful information (Jello recipe book) or by simply entertaining the reader. Read more here.
Third little piggy: Journalism
Many of the rules of journalism apply to content writing. You must research and fact check all your pieces. You often have to interview sources and quote them correctly. And knowing how to write a catchy headline, enticing lede, and informative first paragraph (nutgraph) will pull in more readers.
The combination of these components makes content writing a great fit for medical practices. This is largely because the underlying ethos is a closer fit than that of outright advertising.
Here is what I mean. Traditionally, marketing and medicine are odd bedfellows. The business and clinical parts of most practices are kept quite separate. You would probably feel pretty weird, in fact, if your doctor held out her palm for payment after your physical exam.
But, the reality, of course, is that the medical system in the United States is for-profit, and selling is very much a part of medical practice today. With content marketing and this style of writing, you tone down the sales pitch, provide benefit, and give accurate, well-thought-out information. All of this makes for better marketing because it brings the goals and needs of patient a clinician closer together.
In other words, it helps bridge a pretty big gap. And, with a bridge like that, you can stop worry about that troll, wolf, and trespasser I mentioned before.
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Photo Credit: © gudrin / Dollar Photo Club