"The Arnold Schwarzenegger Marketing Lesson"

Years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger taught me an extremely important marketing lesson… Here’s the story (true Story):

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As a kid, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a Hero to me. Saving the world, killing aliens, busting the bad guys…and of course…that bike (who could forget the Terminator

I loved him so much so, that I decided, I would launch a ‘Nick Name Branding Campaign’. The goal – to get my friends to call me

‘The Maxinator’

(You know, from Arnold’s Terminator Movie?). Or how about ‘Max Soutternegger’. Had a ring to it.

This ‘nick name branding campaign’ went on for quite a while. I wore a black jacket (except mine wasn’t leather), i tried talking like the Terminator – except my voice hadn’t really broken yet). I even wore 2 pairs of socks, just to be closer to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s height! Then there was the thing about my mom not wanting to get me a bike (something about me being too wild on the roads).

The hardest problem though, was that them daft friends just couldn’t see the resemblance! They just struggled with granting a skinny guy an Arnold Schwarzenegger nick name. No matter how much I tried, my branding lacked intrinsic credibility.

As the years went by, the campaign died (a slow, severe and reluctant death). Years later, my body had blossomed and I discovered I was for the first time – as tall as Arnold Schwarzenegger in REAL life – but alas, it was all too little too late. Turns out people were more concerned about his width, than his height*.

So here’s the point.

When it comes to marketing and branding…credibility is all important. You can waste a lot of time, resources trying to appear to be something that no one believes you are. It’s not really about reality…accountants deal with reality…marketers have to deal with perceptions. So just because you are the best, doesn’t mean people perceive you as that.

Credibility is whether or not people perceive your branding or marketing story to be the truth. Is it believable.

Credibility and perception is why the ‘Zimbabwe Sadza Joint’ cant sell their cokes for the same amount as Meikles Hotel can – no matter how much they spend on marketing. It’s the reason why Spar can sell exactly the same Christmas toys for 5 times the amount you’d get them downtown.

Credibility is why it’s almost impossible to be perceived as the highest quality and the cheapest at the same time. It’s the reason why it’s almost impossible to be perceived as the fastest whilst also offering the greatest personalization for each client. It’s the reason why, nicely packaged biscuits often out sell poorly packaged but better tasting biscuits.

Here’s the lesson: Make sure that whoever and whatever you’re trying to brand yourself as, you’ve factored in the credibility issue. Make sure that you’ve given great consideration to how believable your latest offer or claim is.


p.s. “I’ll Be Back!”

* I’ve discovered since i wrote this post a few weeks ago, that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s height is in fact a big deal to many people (on Google)! For the record…it’s  6′ 2″ (1.88m), i believe. That would make him 0.1 shorter than i am!

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10 Replies to “"The Arnold Schwarzenegger Marketing Lesson"”

  1. Hilarious Max…and very very true. Actually i had a similar thing with Mike Tyson growing up – also a failed campaign!

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