How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Improve Your Marketing

Ever heard of the term, “Sex Sells”? The reason that this term is so redundant in culture today is simply, it works. The question is why it works? Sex is a very basic instinct that drives every person at their most primal levels. Maslow’s Hierarchy proves this in marketing and business. His theory is very profound and yet simple at the same time. Maslow’s Pyramid has many levels, but at the base is physiological needs. Once these needs are met there is an ascending order until a person reaches the pinnacle which is the need for personal growth or self actualization. Each of these levels appeal to different people. A good marketing / business strategy will utilize these insights to reach for the desired affect for its intended target audience.

The easiest to market is the basic needs because everyone needs food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep. However, in marketing it’s not enough just to show a nice house. For example, the marketing for housing often shows a family playing in the yard and then entering the house to sit around the kitchen. Why not just show the house by itself? In this scenario, the marketing strategy is hitting as many different levels of Maslow’s theory as possible. The family playing together in the yard shows that they feel secure with the house. The fact that there is a family there shows their basic needs were already met. Intimacy is implied because of the husband, wife and children, the nuclear family. The presence of the children also lends to the fact that there has been reproduction of the species. All of this is being said without words and hits the four base levels of Maslow’s Pyramid.

Reaching the upper levels of the pyramid is not a difficult task either. Using the same housing example with the family there is an easy step to moving it to the top of the pyramid. If the same family that is playing in the front yard goes inside and we see a study or den full of books and the next image shows the kids sitting down doing homework while the parents are researching something for work, what does the picture tell you now? All of the basic levels are there from food to personal growth and the understanding is presented in a commercial that is only thirty-five seconds long. This is just one aspect of the use of the theory but all good marketing strategies hit as many of these needs as possible based upon the product being marketed.

Maslow’s theory on the surface seems very crude in some ways, but, on further reflection the eloquence of his observations have made huge strides for marketing techniques. In today’s visual media and instant access to information a human being’s basic needs still need to be addressed or none of the levels above mean anything. When a strategy is developed for a product the question must be asked, what basic need does it fulfill and then take it up from there. If the product is athletic wear, the marketing strategy is going to use attractive athletic models sweating hard on the court or in the gym. If the product is software for a computer, the pitch is to make work easier so you can get back to what counts, family. All of these marketing strategies present the same things, how it benefits the audience and how that relates to the basic instincts of the human psyche. Understanding these basic principles of behavior is the key to reaching your audience.

A consumer’s shopping habits are based off all of Maslow’s hierarchy levels. Going back to the example of marketing a house, the first need is shelter, without it we are vulnerable to the elements and inclement weather. The next level would be safety, the consumer needs to feel safe, a home with a security system will make one feel safe from intruders and home invasion. Going back to the family scene in their home, if you were to show an intruder attempting to break-in, but is stopped due to the loud alarm, unless the target audience already has an alarm system, the consumer will no longer feel safe without one and will most likely purchase a system to feel safe once again.

Once the consumer’s basic needs are met food, shelter, clothing, then security and safety, they will look for the next level, comfort, family and friends. In the example of home, the basic would be shelter followed by safety. That would make comfort and relationships the next step, filling one’s home with comfortable furnishings like a nice soft bed, sofas and chairs for example, or making one’s home visitor friendly. How are consumer choices or behaviors influenced by relationships? Using once again the marketing of housing, you can set the scene of social gatherings. Is your home large enough to accommodate your growing family? Do you need a larger back yard for all those BBQs you will be having with friends and family? You may need to purchase more furniture for all those intimate gatherings.

After the need of social fulfillment is met and relationships are created, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, a person starts to desire personal achievement and a feeling of material success. All their basic needs are met, they have shelter, clothing, safety, a social life and comfort. The need or desire for something more begins to arise. A bigger home in an up-scale neighborhood is a way consumers fulfill this level of need. Does “Keeping up with the Jones” ring any bells? By wearing better clothes, driving a newer car, and living in an expensive house a consumer not only feels a boost in their self-esteem, they are sending a message to the rest of the world, they have made it.

The final tier in Maslow’s hierarchy is morality, creativity and reaching one’s full potential. Once a person has reached this level, they no longer feel a satisfaction from the material things, they have good relationships, and food on the table with a roof over their head, but the desire for something more will begin to tug at their conscious. They may start to seek out self-improvement courses, or travel for the experience and not the social status.

As a consumer, one may look to hobbies to fulfill their creative need, gardening, painting or arts and crafts for example. Morality will rear its head in ways like, what one can can do to help his fellow man, it may start by giving away or donating furniture, extra clothing or time to those that are less fortunate. Many grocery stores will have food donation receptacles reminding those to help meet the basic needs of the poor. Around the holidays, toy drives and wish lists are prominently displayed in departments stores prompting charitable emotions for consumers with more disposable income than the average shopper, a person who has reached the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The 10 Biggest Challenges Facing Small Businesses

There are many problems that are encountered by business owners throughout the course of managing their business. All entrepreneurs must be prepared for solving problems that come their way. However, creating a startup is not an easy task.

New entrepreneurs are usually not prepared for the problems coming their way. The first thing to do is to understand that problems are an everyday part of every business and then face each problem with determination and a proper solution.

Here are some common faced problems in new businesses and their solutions.

1. Money
Money is known to be one of the major causes of problems that can lead business to failure. For a new business, the biggest mistake is expecting instant profit. Young and eager entrepreneurs start up a business with little money, assuming they will earn big and then invest that money again in their business. It is significant to understand that you cannot get an instant profit at the start of your business. Experts advise not to expect much profit for at least two years. Always prepare for the worst case scenario. Before starting a business, ensure that you have enough money to sustain you at least up to two years. Start slowly and patiently.

2. Time
The phrase ‘time is money’ holds true, especially for a business. It is essential for new businesses to manage their time wisely. Planning everything in advance and ensuring everything is done on time is very important for the prosperity of any business. Ensure the schedule you are making is achievable and stick to it. Give yourself enough time to perform a task with accuracy. Plan your future projects. Make adjustments accordingly. Utilize calendars and planners to make sure you don’t miss an appointment or a deadline. Spending time effectively can actually save you money and even earn you more revenue.

3. Lack of Knowledge/Skills
This is one of the top most mistakes made by entrepreneurs. It is important that you have ample knowledge about the industry you are entering, your competitors, your target market, current trends, advertising and marketing techniques as well as financial know-how. You must possess the skills needed to start up a new business. If you are not prepared, educate yourself. Do proper research, ask other business owners, read relevant books and websites. You may end up with a huge loss if you start your business without having the required knowledge and skills.

4. Information Overload
The only thing constant is change! This phrase is true as well as change is continuous and we witness it happening all around us. Today, information keeps changing. New facts and data keeps emerging and replacing old beliefs and trends. Due to this information overload, it gets difficult to find effective solutions. It becomes a challenge for a new business to sort through this data and come up with good decisions. However, one easy solution is to look for the authenticity of the data. Check its references, and the writer. Learn to use keywords to narrow a research topic. Start asking successful businessmen about their experiences. Learn from them.

5. Lack of Direction and Planning
This problem prevails because of not creating a thorough and detailed business plan. Many young entrepreneurs are so excited about setting up their very own business that they fail to prepare a proper business plan. It helps in focusing on the goal and mission of the business. It determines the financial situation of the business, the roadmap to follow, market research and analysis of the competition. A business plan is basically an investment to your business.

6. Working in the Business rather than Working on the Business
Usually entrepreneurs get so worked up with the paperwork, satisfying customers and doing all the necessary things in keeping the business running. They fail to fulfill some other equally crucial tasks. It is important that you take a day or even a few hours to analyze your business. Determine which area needs attention, do an inventory review, review cash flow of your business, review payrolls and employee benefits. It is also important to update your corporate minutes, your contracts and your agreements with stakeholders annually. Hold meetings with your managers and other employees to connect with them.

7. Innovation
Unfortunately, there are many new startup companies that stick to the age old book rules. They don’t try to create an innovative culture, even majority of the big businesses struggle with innovation. People get accustomed to the work culture and they don’t think outside the box. Businessmen and employees stay away from change and resist whatever changes that take place in the company. The best thing to do is to be open to innovation. When bringing a change, ensure that all your employees are prepared for it. Discuss it with them in a meeting, tell them how important it is to be innovative, make them understand how beneficial it will be.

8. Trying to Do It Alone
Coping with everything alone is also one of the most common mistake new business owners make. They believe that they can manage everything and don’t need any advice or help form anyone. Initially, they do seem to be successful in this strategy as the cost is low since they handle everything. However, as the work starts growing gradually, the workload takes a toll on the new entrepreneur. Mistakes start being made and the quality of work starts decreasing. You may even start losing customers soon. This is why this strategy is not successful in the long run. Hiring two to three employees is more beneficial for a start up business. It is better to pay a small amount to your workers than lose double the amount in the future.

9. Getting Clients
For a new business, it is difficult to attract prospects and retain customers. With a small marketing and advertising budget, new entrepreneurs are unable to reach out to a wider audience. Potential customers are usually hesitant to going for a new business. They prefer going for companies that have experience and a large customer following. However, the good news is big companies charge more. There are many clients and customers who are looking for companies that provide cheaper, but good quality service. Providing excellent service to them will ensure that they remain your customers and even recommend you to others.

10. Poor Marketing
Apart from a detailed business plan, a marketing plan is also important for any business. Once you have a clear idea about your target market and your competition, you can allocate a budget for advertising and promoting your business and decide which medium to advertise through. You can also decide your product pricing through target market analysis. Make sure you that your pricing can be easily afforded by your target market and that your advertising effectively reaches them.

Tactics for an Effective Video Content Marketing Strategy

So you want to cash onto video marketing to promote your brand? Great idea, video marketing is a strategy that has not seen a lot of years in the marketing industry, but is still producing amazing results. Why is that so? Because video marketing is very appealing and can really grab your audience’s attention. It does not matter whether your video is of six seconds or six minutes, you will still be able to reach out to your target audience, and even compel them to do business with you.

Sounds good, right? But there is one thing that you need to know. Video marketing is effective only when you go about it the right way. Know what is involved? Quite a lot, and you will have to make sure you nail each of it just right.

Here are some of tips that will help you increase the effectiveness of your video marketing.

A story is what you need to tell
Do you like hearing stories? There is not one person I know who does not. But the story has to be interesting and not boring. Maybe you can talk about how your brand grew or maybe you can tell your audience the experiences of your clients and the success they enjoyed when they used your products or services. As far as the theme is concerned, the story can be about anything, it must be strong enough to inspire and empower your audience.

But that is not enough
A story is not the only thing that is important for a video. Your video must share a valuable story with the client. A tip, maybe some humor or anything that will increase their knowledge or enlighten them. Just like all of your other content, your videos must also offer value to your targeted audience.

Focus on those who need you
Do you know who your targeted audience is? Great, focus on them only and come up with strategies that will impress them. You cannot go and touch everyone out there. It is only your targeted audience that will show an interest and be willing to do business with you. Concentrate on them only and leave the rest.

Did you decide on a type?
Videos are of several types and you need to decide which one of these will be the most suitable for your business and targeted audience. You can either demonstrate your product usage or give a quick description of how your clients have benefited from them. If you want, you can even introduce your company and your team. Highlight their capabilities and monition all your strengths.

The first few seconds are the most important
Studies claim that you only have about eight seconds to grab the attention of your audience. Should you not do so this in this much time, they will lose interest and might not even bother seeing the whole of your video. Yes, that will spoil the purpose. Start your video in a manner which will instantly entice your audience. You can do this if you mention the main point initially, and then devote the rest of your video to describing it.

Come up with a powerful call to action
Any video can be great and provide you with results. But if you want them to be incredible, you need a really good call to action. Entice your clients and compel them to choose you. You can ask them to go through your website or subscribe to your newsletter. If your video content is good enough, the clients will take heed on your call to action. All along, be sure to tap into the emotional side of your target audience, and keep them enticed throughout the length of the video.

SEO just cannot be ignored
Whenever you market online, you have to pay attention to SEO. Same is the case with video marketing, you have to optimize it with your keywords so that it can increase you website rank. But how do you do this? Just like you target keywords in all your other content, you should target them in the title and description of your video. This will make it easier for your search engines to index it. You can even give your video a relevant name, and search engines will be able to pick it up. You should also include a URL towards the end of the video, so that you enjoy a better exposure.

YouTube is not the only website that allows video submission
Once you are done with creating a video, you can upload it on YouTube, but that is not the only website for this purpose. Try your luck with Vimeo and DailyMotion and it will help you get more traffic. You can even embed the video on your company’s website.

Add a transcript if you can
If you are uploading your video on YouTube, you can even upload a transcript with it. Draft a word file that is based on the content of your video. Needless to say, you will have to optimize this for keywords as well so that it serves your purpose.

And do not forget to promote your video
Creating an effective video is not enough for your business to grow. You have to promote the video as well. How can you do this? Share it on all social media websites and upload it on your company’s blog. Got an email list? Send them a URL as well. Chose any method that you like, but you need to get the word out, and promote your video.

So did you like what I suggested? Try it out, and you will get the results you want. As you act on my advice, you will watch your conversions rise and your sales increase. Ultimately, it will be your business that benefits and grows.

How to Harness the Power of Visual Storytelling

Social media is a great tool for marketing your products and building your online brand image. Quantity is important, but more is quality. When providing valuable content and focus on SEO, more people will talk about your business and spread the word. The result? Yes, more leads, more conversions and more sales.

Naturally, your content is a primary driving force when it comes to online marketing. But does every sort of content produce the same results? Blogs, articles and press releases will all serve your purpose, but none of them will be as effective as visual marketing. If you can tap into this arena, and utilize it to the utmost, you will be able to enjoy amazing results. But how do you do all of this? I will first talk about the whys and then I will delve into the hows.

So what is visual marketing?

Visual marketing is a campaign which uses creativity and innovation to generate interest. There are many elements and you can use any of these to promote your business. Examples of this include images, infographics, videos, presentations, flash and so on.

What paved way for visual marketing?
Visual content marketing does not have a lot of history, because it is still a new field. Ever since tablets and high speed networks have become more common, businesses decided to use the power of visual content for achieving their purpose. The costs have also decreased and so many platforms have been launched for just visual content like Instagram and Pinterest. All this made visual content marketing very appealing and led to its growth.

A look at the stats
• Visual information initiate a better response from 40% of the people
• If your post on Facebook contains a photo, you can get over 50% more likes.
• If your article has images, it will be viewed 94% more than those that do not have any pictures
• You increase your sales chances by 60% if images show up when people search for you
• Instagram users are 10% more engaged than on other platforms
• There are over 1 billion likes for Instagram photos on a daily basis
• Infographics can help you in increasing your web traffic by nearly 12%
• Videos in press releases can increase your views by 48%

If you need any more convincing …
If the stats did not really astonish you, these benefits definitely will.
• Visual content increases the engagement levels of your to be customers
• Visual content helps you in improving your SEO efforts
• Visual content generates more buzz and presents a better picture of your brand, while increasing its awareness
• Visual content is a great way to increase your conversions, and thus your sales
• Visual content helps people in digesting a lot of information in a shorter amount of time

Decide on a platform

There are so many platforms which let your share visual content. So which of these is right for you? The answer: depends on your needs. Take Pinterest as an example. This platform allows you to share many types of media and can be integrated with both Facebook and Twitter. Plus, it is easy to use. But over 70% of audience on Pinterest is female, and if they are not part of your target audience, you should put your efforts elsewhere. Analyze your target audience and determine the functionality of each platform. Accordingly, decide which will be the most suitable for your business.

Here is what you should keep in mind

Find the right sort of content
Visual content is of many types, but not all of it may be appropriate for your business. You should choose the right one to ensure that you get the most from it. Analyze and understand your audience, and accordingly select the right sort of visual content.

Instill innovation
Got an original idea? Is there anything innovative in your mind? Perfect, use it for your visual content and it will generate even more attention. The more innovative you are, the more buzz you generate.

Keep it clear and detailed
If you are using images for marketing purposes, they must be clear, but they must also be detailed and convey everything you want your audience to know. According to research, over 67% people think that images should be clear and give them more importance than to product information, description and ratings.

Use varying sizes of fonts for an impact
What fonts are you using for your visual content? They should be contrasting to the background and they should be in different sizes. Small and big create more impact and can affect your overall message significantly.

Maintain consistency
Whichever visual content you are sharing, you must be consistent and send a unified message to your audience. And by the way, the message you send must be the same that your blogs and articles are also conveying.

Select your colors carefully
Colors have a powerful impact on the human mind. Did you know red excites you and blue relaxes you? Green is associated with the environment and growth and yellow signifies trust. Think about your brand, and accordingly select suitable colors for your marketing purposes. You may not be sure initially which colors to opt for, but play around with them and you will soon realize which shades are just right.

Promote aplenty
Needless to say, you must share your visual content on all popular social media sites, and that too at times when traffic is at its peak.

So tap into visual marketing, follow my advice and watch your sales grow. As long as you stick to the rules and provide quality, you will get the word out and enjoy more revenues for yourself.

5 Social Media Myths That Need To Be Busted

Want to build your business and let your brand grow? You just have heard from so many people out there that social media is the key to achieving this. Indeed, there is no doubt about it that social media is a great tool that will provide a very strong base to your marketing campaign. Use it right and you will reap in the rewards.

There is just so much that social media can help you achieve. An increased online visibility, a better brand image, a higher rank on Google, more web traffic, greater conversions, an increase in sales, a shoot in profits and a business growth. Yes, I know that you will not want to miss on any of this. The good thing is that social media can help you in achieving all of this. Just one tool, master it and you will get where you want.

But there is one major problem. Social media marketing is not without challenges and if you really want to cash on it, you will have to remove all obstacles that spring up in the way. There are ways with which you can do this. I will start by showing the challenges and then I will present you with solutions.

Social media appears so huge and dynamic… can you really tap into it in the right manner?
Without a doubt, social media is something that can scare any novice marketer, but you know what? Facebook alone has over a billion users across the globe, and reaching out to them is really important for your business. The point I am trying to make here is that however intimidating social media may seem to you, you must get over that feeling, and get over it real quick.

So how do you get rid of this feeling that you have? Step in slowly, take small things initially and then move onto bigger things. Start by using only one social media website. Once you gain followers on that one, you can focus on another social media platform and the next. Whichever platform you start with, make sure it is suitable for your business needs. Generally, Pinterest is more for the female users and Twitter is a good option if you can maintain brevity. As for Facebook, that is very general and will suit almost every business out there.

Social media is so unpredictable… so is it really worth all the bother?
Indeed, a social media platform that is adored today may not always be everyone’s top choice. In the time to come, it might just get adjunct. Today, it is Facebook and Twitter and a few years back it was MySpace and hi5. Maybe tomorrow, visual platforms like Pinterest may take the top slot. After all, they are rapidly growing so this is not going to be a surprise. So how do you factor this situation into your marketing campaigns? What is the platform you choose stops being used a few years from now?

You can deal with this situation if you develop yourself into the social butterfly. Then it will not be about the platform anymore. Your users will still follow you and migrate to that platform. How do you do this? Quality and value is the key. Engage your customers, develop loyalty, retain them, and they will remain a part of your database even if today’s social media websites become history. And by the way, you can also set up a blog. It will make it easier for you to reach out to the masses should anything like this happen.

Social media does produce results… but what’s the use if they cannot be measured?
So you want to measure your progress with social media? Pretty good choice. Until you keep a track, you will never know how effective your campaigns are. Yes, I know you are putting in a lot of efforts, but you just cannot measure your return on investment or ROI for any social media strategy. Instead, you can focus on Key Performance Indicators or KPIs to monitor your progress. For instance, you can track the fans you have on each social media website, the rise in your sales ever since you have included social media into your campaigns,comments, shares, retweets or repins and so on.

The Challenges and opportunities of Social MediaSocial media is a platform that already has competition… will you be able to stand out?
Nearly all the companies have realized the value of social media marketing and are now utilizing it to the utmost. So is it worth stepping into all this competition? What if you fail to make your mark? Yes, I know this sounds scary. Since all other businesses have already delved into social media, it is time that you get into it as well.

Your business size does not matter. What matters is the fact is that you must build an online presence so that people know you are there in the industry and can serve them. As for the competition, separate yourself from them. Market your true strengths, highlight your benefits, and most of all, touch your audience’s emotional side. Respond to them, take their feedback and act on their suggestions.

Social media is so time consuming… how will you fit it into your schedule?
Apparently it may seem difficult to take out time for social media, but that is not so. At least not when you utilize the tools that are out there. There are so many choices and they offer such incredible features. You can track your progress, automate your campaigns and schedule your sharing.

The above challenges are something which every online marketer has had to face. Once you delve in, even you will have to face the very same issues. Learn to address them and use the right social media strategies that are powerful enough to produce results. Heed on to my advice and you will soon achieve all your goals. Good luck in developing your brand identity and acquiring leads and customers with social media.