I get inspired at gas pumps. Yes, I’ll admit it; it’s a bit ‘different’. During one gas pump brainstorm, I conceived of a better way to get consumers to pay off credit card debt. It’s not something that the credit card companies will sign up for tomorrow, but it’s a lesson we should all know.
It’s hardly paradise.
The smell of ethanol permeates your pores.
The odor of exhaust clogs your senses.
The line seems to grow inextricably long ‘right’ as you arrive.
Gas pumps are probably far from ‘destination nirvana’, but they are a necessary stop to keep us mobile.
Some of my best ideas have zoomed by at this stinky, smelly, rancid place. Couldn’t my mind have chosen the spa or the park? Inspiration just happens; you can’t place an order. (Note: I wrote about a gas pump-fueled idea earlier this year.)
I THINK at gas pumps. I am not really sure why? Maybe it’s because it’s singular in purpose: car is empty; car must be filled with gas. My quest is simple and clear. It’s not quite tranquility with the smell of gas and the constant din of cars, but I find some solace in the two minutes of think time with just me and the gas pump.
This time of year the gas pump living is somewhat easier (in Texas at least); I am relishing the outside breeze as summer’s march has lessened to a crawl.
Sure, I’ll sometimes mindlessly watch the numbers grow on the digital readout, but I am usually scanning the landscape for an idea, a concept, a campaign, something to run with….
After completing a recent purchase, I glanced at the credit card receipt and saw this comment just shouting at me to listen: (in ALL CAPS)
“I AGREE TO PAY THE TOTAL AMOUNT ACCORDING TO THE CARD ISSUER AGREEMENT”
Now, I understand fully that credit card companies are in business to make money. You, however, are responsible for paying off the card’s balance and understanding what is the current interest rate. I did a little digging and found out that the Credit Card Act of 2009 requires that all credit card companies make card agreements available to the public. A good excuse just became obsolete.
It’ll NEVER happen, (and for them – it wouldn’t be good business), but wouldn’t it be charming for the credit card companies to change their receipt language to read:
“The average American household carries a credit card balance of $15,788. It will take you 35 YEARS to pay the balance in total, if you only pay the monthly minimum. Get your fiscal house in order now.” (Stats from Creditcards.com)
This effective language could have a strong impact on a consumer’s willingness to pay off his/her balance. I am big on capitalism, but even bigger on personal responsibility. We won’t see the above statement on your gas receipt, but let’s keep it embedded on your brain when that credit card statement arrives next month.
Which statement are you more likely to remember when you get that credit card statement each month and make a decision to pay the minimum (or nothing) vs. being more aggressive with your payment schedule?
- “I AGREE TO PAY THE TOTAL AMOUNT ACCORDING TO THE CARD ISSUER AGREEMENT”
- “The average American household carries a credit card balance of $15,788. It will take you 35 YEARS to pay the balance in total, if you only pay the monthly minimum. Get your fiscal house in order now.”
Consumers will think zig and you’ll zag.
As a business owner, product manager, or marketing lead don’t fall into the trap of reciting the same lifeless, tedious lingo when describing your product or service. Empty words like award-winning, unique, leading, innovative are attracting no attention.
Why not describe a picture of your customer having a problem (leaky sink, shoddy software, unreliable car, back pain) and you offer the answer in an experienced, confident, and memorable way?
One last thing: If you happen to see a guy staring off into space at a nearby gas pump, blissfully inhaling the stench of ethanol with ideas in his eyes – that’s me. Sometimes those two minutes of ‘pump time’ just shuttles by too fast; and I leave with a half-filled idea but a full tank of gas.
Until next time,