Nine Simple Words Did What?

Are you a believer in the power of words, check this out.

Back in the day, Texaco wanted to boost their oil sales, right? This was in the early 1930’s.

So, what did they do? They paid a man named Elmer Wheeler $5,000 to come up with nine words they could use.

Is that ridiculous or what? Maybe not, we’ll see.

Remember, this was in the Great Depression, not to mention the difference on the dollar through the decades. Who knows what that’d be worth today…

Even back then, it was roughly $555 per word.

Here is what thick pockets Elmer did.

Back then they still had full service gas stations. You’d drive up, ride over a hose that rang a bell inside when you drove on it. A person would come out in a blue uniform, a logo on the front shirt pocket, a light red cloth hanging out the back pocket, and a coin dispenser belted on the waist.

They’d start filling your car with gas, wipe down the windshield, and in Texaco’s case they’d ask…

Check your oil?

Elmer suggested they ask a different question instead. The question was…

Is your oil at the proper level today, sir?

That little question got Texaco under the hood an extra quarter of a million times in one year.

When you hear the new question, you begin to doubt the level of your oil. How do you know what level it is at anyway unless you just checked it?

You think, “And what if it is low? I better have them check.”

Then leaning out the window towards the man wiping the windshield you’d say…

“Can you check it for me please, thanks.”

Questions, they are the master of sales.

Similarly a waiter or waitress might change the question from…

“Can I interest you in a glass of wine?”


“Do you prefer red or white wine with your steak, sir?”

The trick is to not be pushy. I hate pushy myself. But, you don’t want to leave them an easy way out either. In a way, it’s making someone say ‘no’ to the person asking rather than the wine. Very subtle difference, but a difference none the less.

It should come out as natural as, “Wafer cone, waffle cone, or cup?” When you are at the ice cream Shoppe ordering your Swiss Cream and Cappuccino treat., because you’d never dream of having it without a container, edible or not.

If I were in the restaurant business, I might even try instructing wait staff to ask,

“And is that Rhubarb-Apple Pie or Cherry Cheese Danish for pre-ordered dessert? Cherry Cheese is the special today and both travel well for tonight’s midnight snack.”

If you are in the electronic gizmo business, you might ask,

And would that be extra lithium batteries or wall charger to go with that?

If Texaco invested five G’s to come up with nine words that changed the revenue of a huge company like that…

What kinds of questions could you ask your customer to get you under a quarter-million more hoods this year?

Until next time…

Live like you’ll never get hurt, dream like nobody is watching, and above all…try-try-try until you succeed!

About Brad Dunse'

Freelance writer, entrepreneur, and life student of personal development with a passion for writing, learning, and helping others... a winning combination to live the writer's life! Looking for e-mail campaigns, web content, case studies, or more?
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