Balancing the Affirmative with the Antagonistic

by Lou

You may be more persuasive than you realize. A lot more. In fact, chances are great that you already know the two greatest motivators on the planet: Delight (moving toward positive) and Distress (moving away from negative)……

Problem is, you can make your ads too positive in which case your ad will be seen as too good to be true, or too negative where readers/listeners will shut down because they don’t want to be reminded of the pain they’re in … or will have in the future.

The key is balance. When you balance your ads with positive AND negative, you appeal to both types of people thus making your ad more effective.

And one way of doing this is by starting your ad with a language pattern that presupposes choice.

Consider the benefits of your product. And that includes “hidden benefits” (the ultimate benefit, what the prospect really wants). Now consider the consequences of not buying your product. The consequences of not acting now, the consequences of using your competitors, and in some cases, the consequences of doing it oneself.


Now frame them together in a language pattern of choice:

Would you rather (BENEFIT) or would you rather (CONSEQUENCE)?


  • Would you rather be with someone who’s on the way down or on the way up?
  • Would you rather have your resume/CV written by a professional who knows how HR people think, or would you rather save a few bucks, waste a lot of time, and try to figure it out yourself?
  • Would you rather use language patterns to make your ads more effective, or would you rather let your competitors use them first?

For those of you who are familiar with NLP language patterns might recognize this pattern as the Hierarchy of Values.

And just a reminder: Questions make your advertising more compelling and more engaging. Use them every chance you can get.


2 comments on “Balancing the Affirmative with the Antagonistic

  1. Good article. thanks for the advice.
    I am about to do an ad for my business and most of the ad is questions1

    Thanks for letting me know about their importance.

  2. Denial on said:

    Hi Lou,

    I really like your blog.

    Another interesting thing about questions like these, is that they’re a double bind. So prospects tend to focus on option A *or* option B, when in reality, there are dozens of other options.

    Questions in copy also create the illusion of a dialogue, when it’s really (of course) a monologue.

    It’s amazing how forgiving readers are when they’re being told something they want to hear.

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