How do you use The Five Lightbulbs? The Three Rules.

After learning the Lightbulbs, the natural next question is “How do I use them?”

The 5L are deceptively simple. While there are only five, you can use them for endless creativity.

To help you understand how to use them, and before getting into the three rules, let’s start with metaphors. These are a few metaphors I and others use to describe the 5 Ligthbulbs.

Metapahor #1 – The 5 Lightbulbs are atoms
Similar to how our entire material world is constructed of just three tiny particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons), the entire world of marketing language is constructed from these five elements.

Metaphor #2 – The 5 Lightbulbs are a programming language
In computer programming, you define variables. Then, you can plug any value into those variables to create your software program. The 5L behaves in a similar way. You can plug any value into a Lightbulb and then use what you create in your marketing material.

Metaphor – #3 – The 5 Lightbulbs are colors of paint
You can think about each Lightbulb as a paint for your paintbrush. Dip your paintbrush into one of the Lightbulbs and start painting away.

The Three Rules

Given those metaphors, you can understand why it’s difficult to give any rules about how the Lightbulbs should be used. That’s like telling an artist, “Here are the rules for creating art.”

Rules are possible, but they’re more akin to the rules of math.

Rule 1. Any number of Lightbulbs can be used within a marketing piece
Think in terms of marketing pieces. That’s a helpful way to think about the Lightbulbs. A marketing piece could be smaller units like emails, FB ads, and tweets. A marketing piece could also be a larger unit, like an entire marketing campaign.

Regardless, you can use any number of Lightbulbs within a marketing piece. You might write an email that focuses only on Lightbulb #3. Or you might put all five Lightbulbs into that email.

It’s helpful to know this rule because it’s a decision you make before sitting down to write a marketing piece.

Rule 2. The Lightbulbs can appear in any order
There is no set order in which you must use the Lightbulbs within a marketing piece. You can begin a sales page with Lightbulb #5 or Lightbulb #3, for example.

At the same time, look at a bunch of ads and you will notice a pattern. Those ads will typically conclude with Lightbulb #4. That makes sense because LB4 is the call-to-action Lightbulb. It’s also the one that is most squarely talking about the business, so it makes sense why an ad would wrap up with a call-to-action to go deeper with that business.

Rule 3. The Lightbulbs are fractal
This is where it gets interesting. You can use The Five Lightbulbs to outline an email campaign. Then, within one of those emails, you might use The Five Lightbulbs to outline that particular email. This is what we mean by the Lightbulbs being fractal. This third rule opens a world of possibility.

Rules are like guardrails. Guardrails sound restrictive, but they give you freedom. They show you the arena in which you’re able to play. And trust me, when it comes to the arena of The Five Lightbulbs, there is endless room for creativity.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson in his book, Letters from an Astrophysicist.

“Simple sets of rules can lead to extraordinary complexity.

How about the fact that the entire universe is composed of just 92 elements? Or that there are only four fundamental forces of nature (strong, weak, electromagnetic, gravity)? Or that there are only four classes of fundamental particles (quarks, electrons, neutrinos, and photons)? Or that nearly all behavior of electromagnetic waves (light) can be derived from a set of four equations that all fit on a Post-it Note?

So you can be awed by the complexities manifest in the world, or you can be astonished at how simple it all is.”

– Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist