Updating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Creating More Effective Social Marketing Campaign

Instinctively, we all know how important it is to secure basic needs of rest, water, food, shelter, and warmth are to survival.

The three steps in between the basic physiological needs and the fulfillment needs are where marketing and advertising most directly applies.

This was the essence the Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid, proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s, shows the advancing scale of how our needs lay out on the path to developing our full potential, meaning, fulfillment, creativity, and the pursuit of what is our passion in life. The version of the pyramid you see below was developed by the Doorway Project and clarifies Maslow’s five different levels of basic, psychological and self-fulfillment needs.

  • Safety
  • Belonging
  • Esteem

In Maslow’s pyramid, the descriptions for these needs don’t hit the “sweet spot” for creating a powerful and “sticky” message or a 1-1 strategic marketing perspective to them, so it requires design thinking and creativity to see how you can tailor your message to fit these needs. Christine Comaford, an author and expert on the subject of messaging and persuasion, has found safety, belonging, and esteem to have incredible value for living our everyday work and family lives more creatively, and on purpose.

Ms. Comaford says: “ Without these three essential keys a person cannot perform, innovate, be emotionally engaged, agree, or move forward…The more we have of (these three elements) the greater the success of the company, the relationship, the family, the team, the individual.

Her experience has helped her hone three phrases that are essential for influence and persuasion and for creating this sense of safety, belonging, and meaning that we all need and desire in our lives.

Here are some concrete verbal phrasing that gets at the  basic survival and psychological belonging needs that have been proven successful :

  1. “What if.” This phrase removes ego from the discussion and creates a safe environment for curiosity and brainstorming.
  2. “I need your help.” This statement tips the roles of status from dominant and subordinate, to equality and engaging the other person and provides a sense of shared power and more of an ownership perspective for idea or plan.
  3. “Would it be helpful if.” This phrase shifts the focus from the problem to a cooperative and in some cases a collaborative solution.

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3 thoughts on “Updating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Creating More Effective Social Marketing Campaign”

  1. Sarah–I appreciate your feedback, feel free to use the material. Please help get my blog more followers by sending info to your friends. Thanks Coach Mark

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