You can create a much more successful business by tapping into the human psyche, understanding the new trends that satisfy basic human needs and pushing all the buttons that make people buy!

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

We all have a hierarchy of human needs, determined by Dr. Abraham Maslow in the 1950s.  Basically Maslow’s hierarchy says that our basic needs must first be met before we can realise our higher needs.  First we need food, shelter and warm clothing — we can’t think about buying the latest gadgets if we are hungry and cold or have nowhere to live!  Those basic needs are paramount and we all have them.

Next on the list is the need for security and safety — in other words to be free from physical danger and safe from harm.  It also includes a need for a feeling of security that our needs will be met.

Then come our social needs.  Humans are social animals that need to belong to a group and need to be loved and accepted.  Until these basic needs are met, Maslow says that we are not interested in higher needs such as our ego needs, or the need to be heard and appreciated.  We also have a need for self actualization — in other words the need to achieve our full potential.

Basic needs met?

Mostly, in our consumer driven Western societies the majority of us have our basic needs met — we are well fed, have shelter and clothing and we are generally fairly secure in having those needs met.  The vast majority of us are also lucky enough to have our higher needs met — those needs for social contact with others, feeling wanted and striving to meet our full potential.

Higher needs

You would think that our human needs are all being met in the sophisticated culture we live in. However, judging by the rates of depression, psychosomatic illness, compulsive overeating and the use of mind-altering drugs (including alcohol) in our society today, I would say that many people are having a problem having those higher needs met — which leaves plenty of scope for marketers aiming to solve problems with their products and services…

Think of the vast market for all those self-help books!

Changing society

We may enjoy comparatively good health, high levels of wealth and the benefits of highly sophisticated technology in the developed world, but human beings are still struggling to achieve those higher social and ego needs, as well as striving to achieve their full potential.  Despite our advanced society, we still have ancient and very basic needs to satisfy.

Perhaps this is why social media sites are so hugely successful and are growing at such a phenomenal rate.  They are filling our social needs in a society which has tended to isolate us as individuals.

Go with the trend

Because of the huge success of social media, a whole new industry has sprung up in marketing to users of sites like Facebook.  People it seems are using the latest technology to satisfy an ancient need for social contact.  It’s not that we need the company of other humans any less, but our hectic lives mean we have less and less time for meeting up with family and friends in person — instead people are turning to the exchange of short snippets of information via the Internet and communicating via fan pages and e-mail messaging.

The trend for social networking online looks set to continue, especially since for a whole new generation of youngsters, social media appears to be their primary means of contacting one another.

That means that marketers need to acknowledge this new way of socialising and appeal to people in this Internet-based community.

Plenty of room

Despite the huge growth of social media, marketers have been relatively slow to cash in on the opportunities that present themselves in this new arena.  I think this is probably because Internet marketers are wary of having to interact with their prospective customers because of the time and commitment it takes.

The Internet can be a fairly anonymous way to do business with people and part of its appeal is the fact that you can make sales and build a successful business without ever having to speak to anyone!  Many marketers like the idea of automating their whole business to avoid this personal contact with their customers.

This means that relatively few Internet marketers are targeting social media compared to the vast number of advertisers with pay per click advertising on search engines like Google and Yahoo.  So now is the time to get into social media marketing!

New opportunities

There is good news for marketers who do not wish to get into those interactions with other people on social media sites.  You can advertise on sites like Facebook on a pay per click basis and the great thing is you can target your market with a huge degree of precision.  You’ll also get to benefit from the advantages of being able to use images in your advertising.

Same needs, different media

Just because society is changing the way that people communicate with one another, driven by technological advances, it doesn’t mean their basic needs have changed.  Humans still face the same problems, struggles and challenges as they have for a long time — we all need to meet our basic needs, then we can turn to the higher needs such as socialising, ego needs and are need for self actualization.

These bring an enormous range of problems to which marketers can offer solutions. My advice is not to get too carried away with the latest technology or the coolest marketing strategies but re-focus on those human needs. Don’t forget to discover common human problems that need solutions – in other words, tap into the human psyche!