Why you need to get on board with the rule of one

Lisa D'Andrea
Jun 17, 2019
Marketing

There’s a simple rule you can follow to make all your marketing materials clear and persuasive.

We use this when we’re planning and designing websites, emails, social posts and other marketing materials.

It’s called the rule of one. And it’s all about focusing on one idea at a time.

This rule helps your multi-tasking, multi-tabbing and multi-screening audience easily read and understand your content. And that is always the first big hurdle in selling anything!

If you're curious about how you could make it work for you, here are some ways you can start using the rule of one.

Speak to one audience.

You've probably heard this one before, but do you really put it into practice? 

Always have one ideal customer in mind that you’re creating content for, not two or three. Because, as soon as you cater to more than one audience, it becomes harder to create targeted designs and specific copy. This dilutes the strength of your message and makes it difficult for either audience to relate to your content.

Have more than one ideal customer for your business? Consider creating separate website pages, emails or social content for each individual audience.

Present one big idea.

Call it what you will— Big Idea, Big Domino or Unique Selling Proposition— you only need one per page, post or email. What one thing do you need your customer to believe so that they will want to buy from you? What big idea are you presenting to your audience? What are you trying to convince people of?

Not sure what I mean by a ‘big idea’? Here are some examples—

  • Sales funnels are the easiest way to get new leads.
  • Learning to cook will help you lose weight.
  • The rule of one will help you create clearer, more compelling marketing materials.
  • Puppies elevate your health and wellbeing.

Present one primary benefit.

Your offer might have 50 amazing benefits, but choosing one to focus on will make your pitch much stronger.

Imagine telling your audience they are going to save money, get organised, have fun, reduce anxiety and save time with your offer. Not only does that sound too good to be true but each added benefit dilutes the one before it. This means none are very memorable.

Instead, choose one powerful benefit as a focus. You can use customer research to determine which one matters most to your audience. Sprinkle in any other secondary benefits if necessary, but always have one that takes centre stage.

Trigger one emotion.

We know that emotion-driven content tends to be more effective (and profitable) than purely rational content.

But have you ever thought about what one emotion you want your audience to feel when they view your marketing materials? Are you trying to trigger happiness and joy so that people share your content? Sadness so that your audience can empathise and connect with the message? Or anger that inspires fierce loyalty?

Focusing on one emotion will help you to choose the right words, colours and imagery to communicate that emotion.

Present one primary call to action.

For every social post, email, website page or ad, think about what one thing you want your customer to do.

If you give too many options about what the next step should be, the choice becomes overwhelming and they are more inclined to do nothing at all.

Present one idea per sentence.

If you want to write with clarity, try applying this rule to your sentences. The constraint of only being able to present one idea per sentence will force you to write simpler sentences that make it easier for your customers to grasp your message. This is especially important for online content that people tend to skim and scan.

As your English teacher probably already drilled into your brain, the same rule applies to paragraphs. New ideas go in new paragraphs, or if you're designing a website, a new section or page.

Will you try the rule of one?

If you want clearer, more specific, and more persuasive marketing materials, consider taking up the rule of one challenge and see if it makes an impact in your business!

Now I’d love you to tell me in the comments—

  • Do you find it challenging to focus on one audience, idea, emotion or benefit when you create your marketing materials?
  • Do you use the rule of one in your marketing? If not, will you be trying it out?

If you liked this article and think it could help someone else to gain more clarity in their marketing, don’t forget to share it!

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