Playing the Numbers Game

Orangeville, ON (My Corner Office) Have you ever taken a look at a list of popular articles? You will notice how many titles included a number. Often for enumerating a list of items.

Numbers can play a significant role in content. For example:

* Rankings, as in Top 40, 10 Best, 5 Priciest, 3 Fastest.

* Steps, such as “6 Steps to Free Publicity”, or “5 Steps to Get Out of Debt This Year”.

* Statistics. People crave actual data. This can celebrities’ incomes, average meat consumption, or number of complaints received.

* Limits, for example 5-Ingredient Meals or 10,000+ Square-Foot Houses.

* Numerical patterns, like Love-Hate Triangles, 24/7 Troubleshooting or 360-Degree Education.

* Allusions to numbers in myths or well-known sayings. Consider “The $64,000 Conundrum”, “Social Media 101” or “The 4 Horsemen of Identity Theft”.

You should be careful using exaggerated numbers. Hype is like opera. People either love it or loathe it. With certain products, hype has been known to reduce credibility, but with others, it increases excitement and motivates purchases. But if you want to add that punch here and there in your copy, use hype like paprika; just a pinch to tweak the flavor. Talking about zillions is usually harmless, because humorous intent is obvious. Be careful with quantifications like millionaire, infinite or instant. You could trigger misunderstandings. or even regulatory trouble.

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