To determine the best emotional context to use in order to reach your prospect, it’s useful to think in terms of opposites. And the way to do this is to ask yourself the following seven questions about your product:

1. AFFORDABLE OR EXPENSIVE? MMF told me a story that demonstrates the importance of answering this question: Years ago, he walked into a travel agency, feeling that he couldn’t afford anything. Then he spotted a cheap-looking flier that was selling a Canary Island vacation for $289, everything included. He asked about it and found that it was legit, so he took his fiancée on what turned out to be a great vacation. He found out much later that his boss at the time was the person responsible for promoting that trip. His boss said he had spent six months unsuccessfully trying to promote that package with 4-color glossy brochures.

One day, he realized that he was sending the wrong signal and switched to a cheap offset format on garishly yellow stock. The message sent by this was, “I’m cheap! Look here!” And guess what? Business boomed. The lesson, as MMF says, is that “when people want to buy cheap, they look for cheap-looking marketing packages. When they want to buy quality, they look for quality. You’ve got to focus on and accentuate whatever your market values.”

2. FRIENDLY OR EXCLUSIVE? If you want people to feel that what you are selling is reserved only for small segment of society, your design should look elite and exclusive. If you are using a friendly and down-home approach, you’ll want a very simple, unobtrusive layout.

3. INFORMAL OR FORMAL? The level of formality in your design is usually determined by the price of the product — but not always. Sometimes, if you are selling a cheaper product to an older audience, it’s better to have a formal look.

4. CONSERVATIVE OR CONTEMPORARY? Whether to choose a conservative or a contemporary look for your package usually depends on the age of your prospect. An older audience will be wary of hip designs. Likewise, a younger audience does not respond well to anything too drab.

5. CASUAL OR PROFESSIONAL? Again, whether or not to use a casual or professional design hinges on your prospect. You must know whether your prospect will receive your package at home or at work.

6. ENTREPRENEURIAL OR CORPORATE? Do your prospects see themselves as independent trailblazers? Or, are they more concerned with job security and edging their way up the corporate ladder?

7. INNOVATIVE OR ESTABLISHED? How do you want to present yourself to your prospect? Does your credibility focus on new hot ideas or established tried-and-true formulas? Ask these seven questions for every ad you produce, and I promise your advertising campaigns will give you better results.

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