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Maslow’s Hierarchy And Marketing


Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who came up with a theory dealing with the hierarchy of human needs. No, marketing is not essential to human survival, and chances are your product or service is not either. However, whatever you are offering, it will fall into one of the categories Maslow has listed in his hierarchy of needs. And if you know which need you should appeal to, it will be that much easier to market to your prospects.

The first level of Maslow’s hierarchy deals with physiological needs. These are the most basic necessities that humans require to survive. Food, water, shelter, and oxygen all fall into this category, along with sleep, activity and other inevitable human functions.

If your product or service has to do with a basic need, your main problem is getting the customer to buy from you instead of your competitors. Everybody needs food, so why would potential customers be more inclined to buy lunch at your restaurant instead of the taco shack across the street? Perhaps you have lower prices, better quality, faster service, or a more comfortable environment than they do. It is important to stress that what YOU offer holds certain advantages over the customers’ other choices.

The next stage of human need deals with safety and security. Turn the TV on for five minutes, and see how many ads about insurance, retirement plans, or home alarm systems play during the commercial break. How would the use of your product enhance feelings of safety and stability in your customers’ lives? Stress these factors as your main selling points and get at the root emotions of your prospects.

The third tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is that of love and belonging. We have all felt the desire to be closer to our families, to have more friends, or to find a significant other. Appealing to these desires is useful if you run a personals web page or a own a club. Tell your prospects about the great interactions they will have if they try your service, and use testimonials from customers past. Hearing about great results from former clients is a great way to get new buyers.

Maslow’s next area of human need deals with esteem. One area of esteem needs calls for recognition from others, status, attention, and recognition. The other area hits a little closer to the self, involving self-respect, confidence, competence, independence and achievement.

I am reminded of a shampoo commercial in which the lead actress walks through an office building with the admiring eyes of many workers following her around. At the end, she walks into a board meeting and states that she doesn’t even work for the company, and all the attention must be the result of her shampoo.

The last tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization. Have you ever heard the U. S. Army slogan “Be all that you can be”? This is an appeal to the self-actualization needs of human beings. Approaching people at this level of the hierarchy involves inviting them to live up to their full potential as a hard working, motivated member of society.

Appealing to the needs of your customers can be a great way to grab the attention of your customers, as long as you remember to be responsible about it. Be aware of the psychological motivators being used on you and determine the right ones to use to convince prospects to try your product or service.

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