The psychology of human behavior: A surprising marketing lesson from Arnold Schwarzenegger

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In 1968, Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to the United States. Alone. And with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket.

A few years later, in 1971, Arnold started a bricklaying business in California with his friend Franco Columbu. They started the business with a simple plan. To sell their bricklaying services at lower prices so they could undercut competitors.

But the plan failed. No one was hiring them.

Then one day Arnold comes up with an ingenious solution: To rebrand their services as an "European Bricklaying" business. And increase their prices.

At that time anything branded as "European" was huuuuge in America. Because it was perceived as superior quality.

So Arnold and Franco put ads in the L.A. Times promoting them as “European bricklayers and masonry experts, marble experts. Building chimneys and fireplaces the European style”.

A week later there was a big earthquake in San Fernando, California. And suddenly their "European Bricklaying" business started to takeoff.

Whenever a client called asking for help to fix a patio, wall or chimney, Arnold and Franco would show up to the house.

Franco would play the bad guy, Arnold the good guy.

Here’s one of my favorite dialogues between Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his clients:

Arnold and Franco were "busy for two years rebuilding chimneys and fireplaces and patios and walls". And Arnold became a millionaire, before he became a World-famous Hollywood actor.

Marketing isn’t about chasing fads or trends. The whole job of marketing is to understand the psychology of human behavior. And to figure out how to turn those insights into a distinct business advantage. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t a marketer, but I’m sure he’d agree.

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM

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