Once upon a time, there was a man named Abraham Maslow. He liked people. He studied them. He watched how they developed and evolved. What held them back? What pushed them forward? How did humans behave?
You might not care much about Maslow, but you should, especially if you’re into online business.
Why Maslow is Famous
Maslow realized people had five levels of needs to fulfill, from the most basic to the most evolved. People would satisfy the needs of one level and then work on fulfilling the next level’s set of needs. Some lucky people reach the apex, called self-actualization, but those folk are rare.
We all start at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. We need to stay alive, so we fulfill the most basic aspects of survival. Food, water, sex, sleep… When you get right down to it, humans don’t need much. A nice meal, a good romp and a long snooze, and we’re happy.
Once that’s all settled, we start working on fulfilling needs at the next level, that of security. We like a stable life. We enjoy having a steady job and an income. We want personal safety so we can feel that our world is right.
When security needs are fulfilled, we move on to relationships and belonging. Humans are social creatures. We want to be liked and feel loved. We need friends and family. We want intimacy.
Level four is about esteem – for self and for others. We work on self-confidence and self-worth. We earn respect from other people, and we learn to respect ourselves. We feel pretty good, in fact.
Level five is the big one, where we introspect about our morality and explore our creativity. When you reach level five, you’re about two feet away from heaven, in my opinion. You feel complete – your life has been worthwhile.
Uhhh… So What?
Part of Maslow’s theory is that if you haven’t fulfilled the needs of a lower level, you can’t really move up to the next one up. You’re stuck until you feel comfortable. Your place in the hierarchy isn’t stable, either. You might reach a higher level, but an event in your life shakes a lower foundation – and shakes you down with it.
People tend to move up and down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs all the time. Life’s great, and we get up to level four. The company we work for lays us off, and we’re back down to worrying over level two. We get a new job with new friends, and we’re at level three. But we’re not secure in that new job so we struggle with level two.
What’s even cooler is that as we fulfill needs, we feel nothing. We don’t care much. It’s really no big deal.
But if any need is unfulfilled, we feel anxious. We worry. We stress. We can’t forget about an unfulfilled need, because we just don’t feel comfortable.
That’s important to your business, because there are two areas where Maslow’s hierarchy of needs come into play. How you sell to others, and the moves you make in your own business.
Maslow and Marketing
It’s useless and ineffective to target a market without knowing the full profile of the people you are trying to convince to buy. You have to know what need these people are trying to fulfill.
Here’s an example:
You have a great idea to fill the demand for the niche of building confidence. Fantastic.
But you’re targeting new business owners. This group of people is at level two of the hierarchy – security. They’re worrying about their jobs and supporting their family. They don’t care about feeling confident.
That means you have to adjust your marketing strategies and target people in a different way, honing into their worries and anxieties to sell. You may need to alter your sales tactics and push that a confident person achieves financial stability.
Or, you can target the smaller group of people at the level four stage of esteem and tap into that market alone.
Examine the world around you. What level are most of your friends at on Maslow’s hierarchy? Are they at level three, trying to build relationships? Are they at level two, stressing over income? Are they at level one, striving to feed a family?
People aren’t going to care about what they already have. They are going to be anxious about what doesn’t feel settled in their lives. Your marketing strategies need to target people where they’re at, right here and right now.
Maslow and You
It’s important to know what level you’re at in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What needs do you want to fulfill to feel good? What’s stopping you right now from reaching higher? Solve the issue. Focus on fulfilling your immediate needs so that you can strive for higher goals.
If you reach up on a shaky ladder that doesn’t have a strong foundation, you’ll only fall when outside events rumble your world.
So do a little introspection. Where are you sitting on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Are you in a new online business struggling to make some money? Maybe you’re contemplating leaving a company job to be an entrepreneur. If you are, you’re at level two.
Or, maybe your business is doing well. You’re focusing on building relationships with others at the third level. Perhaps you’re at level four, examining your own confidence as you make moves and take decisions. You may be working towards earning respect from others or build your credibility.