3 Reasons Why Numbers Count

by Joe Pelissier on November 18, 2010

Number 3I used to be very scared of numbers.

Aged 13, at my very posh public school, I once scored an embarrassing 7% in my end of term maths exam.  But I didn’t come last; Neville Ayling did with 5%.

It is often the tiniest of things that make all the difference. Have you heard the expression, ‘On little hinges do big doors swing’?

Unless you are bottom of the class, so it is with numbers and statistics in headlines and body copy. They act as a sort of visual magnet. The eye is drawn to them and they are at once more memorable.

Numbers in copy, tend to:

  1. Make what you have to say sound specific
  2. Demonstrate a sense of authority and credibility
  3. Punctuate walls of words

My Family and Other Numbers

Most people are either appalled or intrigued when I tell them that my parents and grand-parents have 12 marriages between them.

But then what do you expect from someone who descended from a long line of actors… 39 to be precise and going back nearly 200 years.

In comparison, the Redgrave family are mere arrivistes

To date my marriage count is 1 which my wife and I agree is a rather rebellious.

My grand-mother (a rather racy actress) was engaged to my grandfather at 15, married at 16 and widowed at 17.  She became a mother somewhere in the middle.

Okay, my numbers are a little extreme but look hard enough and you can find numbers that pack a punch in almost anything.

Caramel Products Need Numbers…

Here’s the Pharmacist, Sir Frank Hartely on the perils of European Commission directives:

“The Lord’s Prayer has 56 words: the Ten Commandments has 297; the American Declaration of Independence has 300; but the European directive on the import of caramel and caramel products requires 26,911 words. The moral is obvious”.

As I do a lot of work for the Commission I am very fond of this quote.  It’s a marvellous lesson about the need for concision.

Remember that odd numbers work better than even ones.

Most writers and marketers tend to round them up so that that they are neat and tidy – £160, €250, $500.

But if you make them odd – 3, 7 or 13 they are stickier.  Even better is £37.37 or £97.77.

Tiny things I know, but the sort of thing it’s worth looking at if want your copy to have a chance of standing out from the crowd.

And another good thing with numbers is that readers like to go back and check them.  As you are probably about to do…

If you found this helpful, you will want to read other posts in the Web Copywriting Category.

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