In a 1943 paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow proposed the theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The theory identifies five basic deficiency needs that drive human behaviour. Here Ellie Clifford, account executive at Stone Junction, explains how marketers can use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to increase the appeal of their marketing activity and persuade their audience to act. 

The most basic of the five motivations is the physiological need for food, warmth and water. Whether you’re working on a website, advert or PR content, you will appeal to people’s most basic needs by including vibrant imagery of delicious food, cosy warmth and refreshing water. Just make sure it’s relevant.

In this age of digitalisation, people want to know how their personal data is being used. If you want your audience to download a piece of content or sign up to your blog, provide clear, visual opt-in boxes that put them in control of their data. You should also make sure the page appears official by using colour wisely, as well as logos and secure payment symbols if necessary.

Despite our growing use of the internet, buyers often feel safer making a transaction over the phone. Meet this need by providing a direct phone number that allows people to speak to somebody in their own language.

Love and belonging
Human nature means we all have a desire for meaningful relationships. The reason social media is so popular is because it fulfils this need. First of all, find out which social media platforms your target audience uses. It often differs depending on location, age and even job title. If you choose the wrong platform, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your audience. If you make your audience feel like they belong, they will be more likely to purchase your product or service.

People are driven to behave in ways that make them feel good about themselves, so give your audience a call to action that will raise their self-esteem, such as responding to a poll. This will help you to build strong relationships with your audience, but to maintain these relationships, make sure you reward your audience’s loyalty, perhaps by providing exclusive access to a web page or download.

Your marketing activity will appeal to your audience if it helps them to reach their potential. You can achieve this by encouraging them to share ideas or images, because this requires them to express creativity. If you don’t know what your target reader wants to accomplish, ask them — they will appreciate the direct approach.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs identifies some factors to consider when making sure your marketing activity appeals to your target audience. However, there is much more to think about, such as culture, demographics and neurochemical archetypes. For more information, contact me at

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