Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who “cracked the code” that explains the psychology of human needs.
He identified the order in which we try to get our needs satisfied, from the most “base” to the highest.
Maslow himself never represented his idea visually. But over the years it has become largely identified as a pyramid-shaped Hierarchy of Needs.
Next are our needs around safety—the ones we require for our physical survival.
Nutrition, shelter, protection from vicious attack sloths… You get the picture. If we’re afraid we’re going to die, we’re compelled to remedy the situation.
Now, you may have noticed that these survival needs and safety needs are about maintaining and protecting the body. (In other words, there’s not a lot going on above the neck yet.
From that point, though, we get into the “brain” needs—although I’ll get back to that dividing line in a second.
Love and belonging needs are next in the pyramid—which makes sense when you think about it.
After all, once we know we’re not going to die, we start to feel we can open up and connect with others.
In fact, we crave sharing “ourselves” with family and friends. We want love, and comfort, and companionship. We want to belong. (For even a small shred of proof, listen to a random sampling of any of the 40,000 songs added to Spotify every day… I’d be willing to bet my house that a big chunk of them are about love and sex.)
With love out of the way, though, we’re free to focus on esteem needs. Because we want so desperately to be recognized by others, don’t we? (Recognition here can mean everything from “Good job, here’s a promotion” to “You’re so manly” to “Wow, great car.”)
And finally on the pyramid, we feel a strong need for self-actualization—we want to become “the best person we can be.”
That urge is what propels some people to take courses, what compels others to start huge businesses, what drives still others to get into politics, and so on.
What does all this mean when you’re crafting copy?
Well, for a start, those “body” needs I mentioned above? They’re sometimes called D-needs, or “deficiency” needs. Because if we have a deficiency in one of those needs, we feel driven to fix it until the issue is taken care of.
And it’s only when that happens that we can explore the top of the pyramid—the B-needs, or “being” needs.
So whether you think of Maslow’s concept as pyramid-shaped or not, the important takeaway is this…
People can’t concentrate on needs at the higher levels until they’re able to ensure that the needs at the bottom levels have been taken care of.
For just one example, you’ll have to work harder to sell your course to someone who’s at risk of losing their job (and, as a consequence, their shelter).
Put another way—
Address more needs in your messaging, and it will be easier to convince people to grab your offer.