Using “What if…” Questions in Your Advertising

by Lou

How would you like a pattern that copywriters use very successfully (and very successful A-List Copywriters use it all the time? It’s an excellentQuestioning techniques in sales and advertising pattern in that it gets the prospects’ imaginations working, it can counter their objections, and get them more motivated to buy.

I have a client in New York City. He’s a sales trainer selling expensive training courses to sales reps, sales managers, and companies. He insists I use this pattern in all the copy I write for him. He and I both know it’s powerful stuff.

The basic pattern is this:

What if (SOMETHING GOOD) even though/if/without (SOMETHING BAD)?

To flesh this out, we need to be more specific. Here’s an example of the frame expanded:


Like this:

  • “What if you could make that person fall in love with you even though they initially rejected you?”
  • “What if you could eat all the foods you love without gaining an ounce of weight?”
  • “What if you could make an extra $500 a week without doing any more work?”

Here’s another variation of the “What if…?” pattern:

What if you only (SMALLER BUT DESIRABLE OUTCOME)? Wouldn’t it still be worth it?

  • “What if you only made $100 extra a week with no extra work? Wouldn’t it still be worth it?”
  • “What if you only lost a pound (.45kg.) a week without dieting or exercise? Wouldn’t it be worth it?”
  • “What if you only increased your vision by 5% without surgery? Wouldn’t it still be worth it?”

As you can see, this pattern is very versatile. I am sure you can use it for whatever you’re selling. Just think of your prospects’ outcomes (where your product or service delivers), then think of some of the obstacles or objections they would have in achieving that outcome.

This pattern can be used pretty much anywhere: sales letters, headlines for brochures, web copy of course, the start of a sales presentation, and so many more places.


Photograph from Creativity103

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