Category Archives: Predictably Irrational

How I stumble every day

To admit blindspots is the first step towards improvement, right? OK; let’s dive in.

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It’s a good first step to acknowledge what we do to move away from the day’s best intentions.

Let busyness get the best of me: Instead of focusing on the most important items of the day, I sometimes bounce crazily from e-mail to LinkedIN to Facebook to Twitter. The chase is exciting, but it wears me down by noon.

Let the inbox dictate my day: Instead of working through the priorities specified in my iteration, I wait for the next, new e-mail. Something about receiving a new e-mail makes me feel important, but I shouldn’t tie my self-worth to the number of e-mails I receive.

No planning for tomorrow: Instead of taking 5 minutes to set the stage for a productive tomorrow, my days often end like this:

“Oh no, is it really 6pm. Where has the day gone? I really have to finish up this e-mail. Let me just crank this out and then shut down for the day. Man, where has the day gone?” Unfortunately, the day has probably flitted away in busyness. (see error #1)

Voice mail apathy: Wouldn’t it make a huge difference to respond to voice mails in a timely manner? I expect people to check their voice mails immediately and respond to my calls within 30 minutes, so why don’t I place the same importance on an incoming message? Think of how much you’d stand out from your peers if you truly respected the person that was just trying to connect with you.

Take time to read: What? Reading? Who has time for reading? And I am not talking reading Facebook posts. I am talking about taking 15 minutes during the day to read something ‘outside’ your industry. Maybe it’s an historical novel, a fantasy story, the Bible, some poetry. When I read a book or magazine, I find it refreshing to actually move away from a screen and feel actual pages between my fingers.

We all can get better. Admitting your weaknesses is the first step towards improvement. Start today.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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)

“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.

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?

  1. “I AGREE TO PAY THE TOTAL AMOUNT ACCORDING TO THE CARD ISSUER AGREEMENT”
  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

Want an additive with that? HEB Adds Additech’s Fuel Service to its Gas Pumps.

I make it part of my weekly routine to fill up the ol’ Ford at the HEB. I stock up on groceries and then ‘fill er’ up’ at the ultra-convenient gas station – just about a touchdown pass away from the monstrous HEB.

A recent fill up had me mesmerized at the new Additech/HEB gas pumps. Yeah, I know, it takes a special kind of person to get excited about gas pumps.

HEB had recently ‘up-sized’ this gas station with a car wash. Now, they were hoping to ‘increase their share of wallet’ with a convenient ‘fuel additive’ service (right at the pump).

I’ve seen the ‘at the pump’ fuel additive service at numerous pumps around town, but it is new to the ‘very crowded’ HEB fill-up station. I’ve never personally ‘up-sized’ my car’s fill-up, but it has piqued my interest. I do have a suggestion that may convert more customers.

I have to ask:
Does a consumer really know that they need this?

If they don’t, how can HEB/Additech educate them that this is a must-have?

How can HEB/Additech push them to make this ‘impulse’ buy at the pump?

I have a suggestion for HEB. I believe this ‘hint’ would dramatically increase the ‘take rate’ on the additive service.

I would introduce a 3rd option (in between the entry-level and premium service). Currently, there are just two ‘fuel additive’ options to choose from on the screen.

By adding a 3rd option, you are establishing a middle ground that many consumers will gravitate towards. Most won’t pick the high-end option (do I really want to spend top-dollar on something I really don’t understand?) or the low-end option (will I get any benefit out of something so cheap?). The 3rd ‘middle’ option moves the ‘high-end’ down and the ‘low-end’ up, creating interest for people who probably weren’t inclined to ‘take the offer’.

This ‘theory’ is expertly presented in a book that I am reading titled: Predictably Irrational. If you are at all interested in how humans think (or sometimes don’t think!), you’ll want to give this a read. There are numerous examples cited that show how the slightest changing in pricing or pricing options can yield huge gains.

I’d love to see HEB and Additech add this option to their fuel pumps. I would think it would help drive more results in this new category for HEB. At the very least, they could ‘test and learn’ their way to better conversion rates in this new category.

Note: I am fascinated by the marketing/merchandising that is becoming commonplace on gas pumps.

In fact, I wrote about this very topic on Naden’s Corner a few years ago.

Until next time,

Dan Naden