Following the ‘Rule of Three,’ a Marine Corps principle, improves the effectiveness of video marketing.

In his book Corps Business, David Freedman presents several  key common-sense management principles that are essential to the Marine Corps, and applies them to the world of business.

One key principle that has particular relevance to video production is the Rule of Three.Essentially, it states that human beings are most efficient when they have three primary things to focus on. When they have two, they tend to get lazy. When they have more than three, communication breaks down, and they feel stressed out, and the end result suffers. I’ve tested the principle in a project environment and it works great. When a team leader has more or less than three people reporting to them, the project is far less efficient.

The process also works well in crafting messages in online marketing video on both a macro and micro level.

Here are some examples:

1.  CONCEPT PRESENTATION.  Today’s viewers with short attention spans demand brief videos.  It may be difficult to present three key concepts in a single short video.  The alternative is to present a single concept, but with three elements or perspectives.

2. OVERALL ORGANIZATION.  Effective marketing videos, or any other media for that matter, have a strong beginning, middle and end.  Introduce the idea in the beginning, developed it in the middle, and conclude it with a call to action in the end.

3. INDIVIDUAL SCENES. Scenes work the same way.  The introduction establishes the scene and helps the viewer understand where they are.  The middle lets them know why and develops the idea.  The end reminds them why, and takes them to the next step.  Much like a paragraph in a larger article.

4.  SHOT ORGANIZATION.  Even the selection of individual shots work well in groups of three.  The first shot, generally wide, establishes the location giving the viewer time to absorbe the change and re-set themselves from the previous scene.  The second shot, a medium close up, shows the viewer what’s important.  The third, a close up, makes the key point of the three shot set.  Even in still images, there’s something that just works well about a set of three related images.

Keeping your concepts and ideas in clearly defined sets of three makes all forms of communication, including marketing video, more effective.

Read more in David Freedman‘s article at on Corps Values.

This article originally appeared in The MarketVid Post and has been re-posted with the permission of the author.