How to Create Marketing Content with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


As humans, we all have needs.

Food, shelter, clothing, health care, that adorable tea cup pig (because, OMG, who doesn’t want tiny tea cup pig cuddles?).

Okay, maybe that last one is more of a “want,” but you get my point.

Needs are important. So, important that psychologist Abraham Maslow mapped out human needs in a prepotent hierarchy.

You might recognize it as a pyramid that is segmented to showcase physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem basic needs.

The idea is that you need to work your way up the pyramid to reach the end goal, which is self-actualization.

You’re probably now thinking, “Thanks for the psychology lesson, Sigmund Freud, but this has nothing to do with my business.”

Oh, but indeed it does.

Luckily for us, Mr. Maslow paved the way for us to better understand how to connect with our audience by using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

You can use every single segment of the pyramid to predict human behavior and influence your prospect’s decision-making process.

From there you can develop content that truly resonates with your target audience through every step of the hierarchy, ultimately leading them to purchasing your product or service.

Let’s walk though it together…

Physiological Needs

The first level of the pyramid is physiological needs. These are your survival needs: food, water, shelter, and air.

Without these needs being met, you can’t survive.

If you want to produce content that engages and converts, you cannot overlook these most basic needs.

If you don’t satisfy these needs with your content, you won’t fulfill your potential customer’s basic psychological motivation.

For example, a restaurant ad might be focused on how delicious the food is, but it should also mention that the food is filling and will keep you satisfied.

Basic need is being met there.

But what if you own a store that sells hangers?

It’s tricky, but it can be done.

Perhaps, instead of just talking about how durable your hangers are, you talk about how they are the perfect tool to keep your coats neatly hung and put away for when the weather gets cold. Bingo!

Please understand that your content doesn’t have to be centered on meeting a basic need, but it’s important to satisfy needs in your content whenever possible.

Safety Needs

Once physiological needs are met, we can move on to safety needs.

This is the second level of the pyramid that focuses on the security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, and property.

As a business owner, think about the safety needs your product or service meets.

In content, we typically use the fear factor to address safety needs.

This doesn’t always have to be the case; in fact, we often recommend limiting the amount of fear-based content you create, but it is effective.

What does it look like?

It’s the ad created by a car company that depicts a family getting into an accident.

After the accident occurs, you see the horrified, yet safe, passengers exit the beat-up vehicle, and it goes on to explain the safety features that kept the family alive.

Need of Belonging/Love

The middle level of the pyramid consists of needs that stem from the desire to be loved and feel as though you belong.

What better way to feel loved than when sharing a few snuggles with that tea cup pig?

I knew I’d find a way to turn that into a legitimate need!

When we are loved and accepted by someone, or a group of people, we are immediately drawn to them. We desire to build relationships and spend time with them.

Now imagine if that “person” was your product or service. Jackpot!

It’s vital to think about ways you can tweak your message to connect with your audience and make them feel as if they belong.

For example, if you own a Jeep, you know what the Jeep hand wave is.

Whenever you’re driving a Jeep, and drive past a person who is also driving one, you do the hand wave.

It’s like being in a secret club, and Jeep dealers everywhere are taking advantage of it to sell cars.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this exclusive group of people?

Check out how this car company used the Jeep wave to promote their business.

Esteem Needs

The second to last category on the pyramid focuses on esteem needs.

This consists of personal self-esteem needs such as confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others.

Does your product or service have the power to make someone feel confident, give the feeling of achievement, or improve someone’s self-esteem? Yes?

Then by golly, it would be awfully silly not to play up this need in your content.

Here is an example of how easy it is…

Let’s say you own a mop company. Instead of promoting your product as an easy-to-use mop perfect for housewives (eww), promote your product as a luxury product.

Perhaps it’s the Rolls Royce of mops, suitable for the Queen or King of your home (ahh…that’s better).

Notice how it plays into the self-esteem need?

Another great example is anything from the cosmetics industry.

One ad for foundation that makes you look ten years younger is all it takes to sell the product, simply because it builds confidence and improves someone’s self-esteem…regardless of whether the product actually works.


Congrats! You’ve made it to the top of the pyramid. On this level, the focus is self-actualization.

It’s a tough one because most products and services cannot comprise a whole person’s identity.

The trick…tailoring your marketing message to make the case for why your product or service can make your prospects the best they can be.

One place you see this a lot is workout videos.

A common messaging theme for these videos is that you’ll get healthier and skinnier from working out.

You’ll look great, feel great, and will be an improved version of yourself after you use the videos. Self-actualization, my friends.

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