gas stations Posts

What my gas receipt will NEVER tell me

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.

gas pump

Gas pumps: the source of inspiration

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)


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

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.

credit card receipt

Can't we do any better than this?

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?

  2. “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.

The lesson:

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,

Dan Naden

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I want to pump my gas in peace.

We really never get away from marketing messages today.

It seems no place is sacrosanct from the advertising blitz. (Ads in urinals, ads on top of buildings that I can see in flight, ads before, during, and after the latest big picture production). It is no surprise here that businesses are challenged to reach their receptive target market when we are so busy I-Poding (is that a word?), talking on our mobiles, interfacing with digital cameras, blogging online, surfing the Web, or watching any of 500 cable channels.

And now, we present to you — the gas pump ad blitz!!

Convenience stores for years have been strategically presenting (2 for 1 Dr. Pepper, 50 cent hot dogs) signage within eyesight of gas pumps. Businesses know that they have a captive audience for the two minutes or so that we will be pumping gas. Gas stations also know that they make big money from the sodas, snacks, beer, and cigarettes that people purchase at a high ‘convenience’ price. It makes tremendous business sense to get me into that store to browse and hopefully buy.

But now, (cover your ears) the audio blitz begins.

The other day I was greeted by a speaker and audio advertisements while I was pumping gas. For first reaction, where is that noise coming from while I am pumping gas? This is normally my quiet time. Just me and the gas pump for two minutes.

I spotted the Tetco audio box. Thankfully for me a mute button. I casually noticed that the mute button had been worn down to a pulp. I really have to wonder how many people actually get through the entire 1-2 minute commercial for sodas, beer, and cigarettes? 5%? 10%? The ‘increase volume’ looked fresh as a spring day!!

I understand the business pressures that we are under to drive revenue and cut costs.
But how much is too much? Do those messages do more harm than good? Are consumers thankful that this ‘quiet’ time has been invaded? Praise the mute button.

Has anyone else out there interacted with these audio devices at gas stations? Thoughts?

Until next time,

Dan Naden
Naden’s Corner

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