Brain Dump


Content Marketing Lessons from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

How many gazillion times have you heard, “Know your audience”? It may feel redundant, but it bears repeating — understanding the needs, wants and pains of your audience forms the basis of great content marketing.

But is your brand REALLY giving your target audience(s) what they want?

Think back to Psych 101 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. American psychologist Abraham Maslow coined it to explain what motivates human behavior — that all decisions are made within five levels of the needs-based hierarchy, starting at the bottom with physiological needs and finishing with self-actualization.

Wait a minute…that sounds like a funnel, doesn’t it? Smart content meets prospects wherever they are and moves them along the way to complete and utter satisfaction when they buy from you.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Maslow’s theory and how it applies to content marketing success:

Level #1 Physiological. This foundational level encompasses our most basic human needs like water, food, sleep and shelter. So you better be persuasive that your <insert product or service here> delivers tactile feel-good benefits galore.

Level #2 Safety. Once survival needs are met, an audience at this level wants to feel safe. But don’t limit your thinking to physical safety. Stylish fashion can make someone feel unconsciously safe from ridicule. The right payroll platform can keep a company safe from $$$ compliance penalties. An estate planning attorney can help protect your assets from greedy heirs.

 Level #3 Love/belonging. At this level, your target audience has their basic needs met and has established a level of comfort. But they’re looking for a community. Hence the success of user-generated content, Facebook groups and TikTok in building a connection and generating engagement with your brand. 

Level #4 Esteem. Moving up the hierarchy, this audience is looking for recognition, competency or achieving higher social status — from seeking to master a new skill to going on a European cruise to driving a luxury vehicle that conveys their wealth or importance. Content should stroke their ego, encouraging and inspiring them to strive for more. 

Level #5 Self-actualization. By now, your audience has reached their full potential and they want to pay it forward. They want to make a difference and make the most out of life by helping others. So show them how your product or service can benefit them, while benefiting others to give them the sense of achievement they crave. 

Standing the test of time
Maslow’s Hierarcy of Needs has been around since the 1940s. And while marketing tools and tactics may change over time, human motivation at its core doesn’t.

It may be time for a content audit through the Maslow lens to make sure you’re hitting the right need at the right time.

Authored by: Lisa FahouryContent Marketing Lessons from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
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