Would it not be great to get all the right elements for your next marketing campaign? Worry not, it is possible thanks to a guy call Abraham Maslow, more precisely Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You may have heard about him in your marketing or management classes, or just while browsing the web on topics about consumers. Maslow was intrigued on how and why people think and act the way they do, consciously and subconsciously.
For this article, we will introduce marketing psychology to you through Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. As a marketer, you too have to get a better understanding of how your consumers think and react to your product, services, and campaigns. It is much harder to create compelling content marketing when you don’t know why it would be compelling to your audience in the first place.
This is where looking at your marketing activities through a psychological lens can help. If you understand some of the basic elements of psychology — and understand how those principles influence how people think, feel, and behave — you can better connect with people, influence their behaviour, and hopefully, see better business results.
So let’s get started with some lessons on psychology that should help you understand
basic human needs, and key principles of human behaviour.
Part One. Understanding Basic Human Needs
We need to understand what people truly require in order to feel happy, healthy, complete, or fulfilled. In other words, our most basic needs as humans. This section will go over the fundamental needs, both physical and emotional, that all humans seek. From there, we can better understand what motivates humans to buy products or take marketing actions.
In 1943, American psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced the world to his “Theory of Human Motivation,” which later became known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory consists of five vital human needs, with the most basic of needs falling at the bottom. This hierarchy looks like a pyramid with physiological needs at the base. As you move up the pyramid you see safety, belonging, esteem, and finally, self-actualization at the very top.
These are the most basic human needs required to actually survive. Think about an animal in the wild, which needs to eat, drink, sleep, breathe, stay warm (or cool), and reproduce. If there is a storm coming, which products do the stores run out of? Most likely bread, water, candles, and flashlights.
Safety is feeling both physically safe, and also financially secure — essentially whatever it takes to live life comfortably. For example, a person should feel safe if they are healthy, have a securely locked home in a safe neighborhood, have some type of job security with insurance and a savings plan, and they are free from stress and violence
This is where our need for the community comes in. Most humans value other human interaction including family, friendship, and intimacy. We want to feel that we are loved and that we belong to a group, which many find through school, work, sports teams, religious groups, neighborhoods, or with the people you grew up with.
Amongst communities and society in general, you’ll find there is a hierarchy of its own. Once a person feels loved and that he or she belongs to a community, the next step is to feel respected and valued within that community. We all wish to achieve so that we can feel important and adequate. For example, we might get a certain job so that we can fulfill our safety needs, but that job might also give us a sense of belonging through company culture, and esteem through promotions, raises, and recognition for
Once you’ve reached your full potential, you’ve hit self-actualisation. This could be finding your passion and purpose in life, finding meaning, or leaving a legacy. This is why it’s not uncommon for humans to aim for fulfilling careers and/or families of their own. This human need is also very aspirational. Maslow believed that a person must master the previous needs before achieving this final step.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs diagram is very important, keep this diagram handy so you can revisit this theory every time you are planning a campaign.
It is human and very easy to get caught up in the daily business running and activities and forget the deeper meaning behind genuine human motivation when you’re putting together a marketing campaign.
One tip you can do is once in a while when you are in a supermarket or shopping mall, pick up a random product you find and try to decipher which real human need(s) that product is trying to fulfill.
Part Two. Key principles of human behaviour.
In this section, we’ll dive into some theories that can be applied to marketing to help you reach your target buyers more effectively.
There is a game where one person says a word, and the other just responds with the first thing that comes to mind, ever played it?
This game is a good example of how Priming works? You’re exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus. We will take another example. The example of two groups of people reading the word “yellow” followed by either “sky” or “banana.” Because people have a semantic association between the fruit and its colour, the “yellow-banana” group will recognise the word “banana” faster than the “yellow-sky” group recognises “sky.”
What’s this got to do with marketing? Lots. Using subtle priming techniques, you could help your website visitors remember key information about your brand — and maybe even influence their buying behaviour. Colours and background can act as elements for Priming.
When you receive a gift, you often experience warm feelings toward the gift-giver and usually wants to give something back. This is the principle of Reciprocity. It was introduced in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the concept of “reciprocity” is simple — if someone does something for you, you’ll naturally want to do something for them.
If you’ve ever gotten a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you’ve been the victim of reciprocity. According to Cialdini, when servers bring a check to their patrons without a mint, the diners will tip according to their perceptions of the service given. With one mint, the tip jumps up 3.3%. Two mints? The tip jumps “through the roof” to roughly 20%.
In your marketing, there are a lot of ways to take advantage of reciprocity. Before asking something of your audience, provide them with a “gift” first — something for free. You don’t have to be rolling in dough to give something away; it can be anything from a branded sweatshirt to an exclusive ebook, to a free desktop background, to your expertise on a difficult subject matter. Even something as simple as a hand-written note can go a long way in establishing reciprocity.
Just be sure you’re giving away the free thing before you ask for something in return. Not only will people be more willing to follow through with your request, but you’ll be portraying your company in a positive light, establishing brand loyalty, and building a community of brand evangelists.
Ever gone to book a hotel room and seen a tagline that says “Only 3 rooms left at this price!” Yup, that’s scarcity (another Cialdini concept). This psychology principle goes back to the simple formula of supply and demand: The rarer the opportunity, content or product is, the more valuable it is.
The scarcity principle goes back to the simple formula of supply and demand: The rarer the opportunity, content, or product, the more valuable it is to a consumer. But if you want to properly use this principle, you need to be careful how you word it. If you approach the scarcity concept as if there used to be a ton of a product or service, but due to popular demand there’s a few left, people will be very receptive.
On the other hand, if you approach it from the angle that there are only a few products total, so get it now, the principle won’t be as effective.
Scarcity is especially powerful for event marketing. If you’re looking to increase ticket sales, it might be worth sending a personalised email to people who haven’t registered yet to remind them that there are only X number of tickets left since so many people have registered. The same could be done for a webinar or anything that has a limit on the number of registrants.
So here we are on our little introduction about Marketing Psychology. Now, you will be better armed for your next marketing campaign, make it shine like a star!