Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

How Boost Sales with the Maslow Hierarchy

By identifying the most basic human need that relates to your client’s product, you can suggest advertising strategies that increase the size of your client’s targeted audience exponentially. Any market or vertical can be included in this, as the goal is not to simply sell a product but sell a product that fills a need.

Have you ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy? Even if you have, you probably didn’t realize that its principles could help direct your approach to sales. Much of what Maslow’s Hierarchy references is that human behaviors are almost always relative to a hierarchy of human needs. This is true in sales as well; by targeting the needs of the customer and focusing on their basic needs initially, followed by an evaluation of their more complex needs, you are likely to do both yourself and your customer a service.

The way Maslow’s Hierarchy works is very similar to the food pyramid (with certain foods making up a larger part of the pyramid and others making up a smaller part), except that it values certain needs above others. For example, the need for food outweighs the need for friendships, and the need for sleep outweighs the need for achievement. While basic needs can be overridden for a brief time — you may have to sacrifice sleep in order to finish a big project — basic needs must be provided before less important needs can be fulfilled.

The most basic Maslow pyramid is made up five tiers. The bottom tier is the physiological needs (food, drink, air, sleep, warmth); it grows upward in decreasing importance followed by safety needs (shelter, stability, laws, order), love needs (family, affection, relationships, work groups), esteem needs (reputation, achievement, status) and culminating with the need for self-actualization (personal growth and fulfillment).

This hierarchy can be applied to many facets of the business world, the most obvious example being how employers provide working conditions so that workers can feasibly complete given tasks. Although this model is effective for ensuring relative employee satisfaction, you can also harness the Maslow Hierarchy to help improve your ad sales. How? By understanding the basic motivation principles of human beings, you can provide solutions to clients and customers that focus their advertising strategy on the most basic human need that their product can service. For example, nowadays there are many ads for private, for-profit universities. Although open universities appeal to a very small percentage of the population, most of whom are fulfilling their need for self-actualization, you can broaden the demographics by isolating a human need that is more basic than self-actualization, yet can be fulfilled by the university. Advertising career accreditations that could raise someone’s earning potential, and in turn allow them to better provide for their family, could appeal to both the love and safety needs. Or, the school could offer social or volunteer groups that would satisfy a need for social interaction and friendship.

These principles can be easily adapted into any vertical. If your auto repair shop client wants to run an ad about a special they are having on rims, suggest that they also offer a free or discounted tire check. While the initial need fulfilled by the service was esteem, this ad could also fulfill a customer’s need for safety.

These principles can be easily adapted into any vertical. If your auto repair shop client wants to run an ad about a special they are having on rims, suggest that they also offer a free or discounted tire check. While the initial need fulfilled by the service was esteem, this ad could also fulfill a customer’s need for safety.

By identifying the most basic human need that relates to your client’s product, you can suggest advertising strategies that increase the size of your client’s targeted audience exponentially. Any market or vertical can be included in this, as the goal is not to simply sell a product but sell a product that fills a need.