Those are the two most important words in marketing. "What if?" Once those slip out of your vocabulary, all is probably lost.
Someone, somewhere, asked the question, "What if cereal came in a bar like candy, so people could take it with them to eat any time?"
Someone in Ypsilanti, Michigan, once asked, "What if I could deliver pizza in half an hour to all those college kids who don't have cars?"
Someone in Chicago (an ad exec, actually) asked about 90 years ago, "What if cars could have four doors, instead of just two?"
We're living in a time when many of the things we enjoy most were only "What-ifs" not too long ago.
The other day, an advertising student told me he didn't get very far on his assignment because he had "a kind of a writer's block". I think the writer simply stopped asking "what if?"
It makes me think of some of the peculiar ads and commercials I've worked on over the years. They all began with that question.
What if Bonnie and Clyde stole a GTO because their car wouldn't start after a bank heist?
What if Brooke Shield broke up with a boy because he smoked and got that smell in her hair?
What if the emissary from the Prince asked Cinderella if the glass slipper was hers and she said no, I only wear Hush Puppies.
What if a 40-year-old man could peek inside his own heart to see what his smoking had done?
What if a machine could turn words into pictures, for NBC television stations?
What if a woman pours Wish-Bone salad dressing into her own server, and is accused of lying to her friends?
The truth is, without "What if?" you're left with "What was?" and "What now?" You'll never get anywhere that way.
So as long as you're in marketing and advertising, there's something I want you to do every morning when you look in the bathroom mirror. Look yourself straight in the eye and ask, "What if?"