Maslow’s Hierarchy Applied to Marketing

Most of us encountered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in school. As a refresher, Abraham Maslow posited that human beings all had basic needs that had to be met before they could move up the hierarchy to meet other higher-level needs.

Many businesses took Maslow’s hierarchy to heart in trying to understand how to ensure their employees do good work. One of the most important takeaways the model offered is that you can’t skip steps. Your employees will never feel fulfilled in their work if you’re not paying them enough to cover their physiological needs like food and healthcare.

A strong foundation of resources and benefits that covers those basics is necessary to move beyond that point to encourage happy workers that do quality work. But how do you get them to love their jobs?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Marketing: First You Need a Strong Foundation

Marketing departments have their own hierarchy of needs. For your marketing department to be well-run and impact business goals, marketing planning is the foundational element you need to get into place first.

While enterprise businesses have the privilege of access to a lot of different resources to put toward their marketing efforts, their size makes it easy for things to get disorganized.

Without a clearly defined marketing planning process, you run the risk of different silos working independently on campaigns and tactics that never connect and may or may not actually contribute to your overall strategic goals.

Marketing planning means doing the work up front to make sure everything works well over time. Start with figuring out your marketing objectives and goals, then map all of the individual parts of your marketing plan back to those goals. 

You need to look at the data you have now to understand what tactics and campaigns are helping you achieve your goals, which ones should be cut or revised, and whether or not your various campaigns for target markets are all aligned to goals. This is why starting with last year’s marketing plan is not a good strategy.

Getting a data-driven marketing plan and budget into place is step one. From there, you need to stay on top of your real-time data to see what’s working and what changes you should make to your marketing plan as you go.

When you have the structure and process (e.g., a marketing planning hierarchy) for ongoing marketing planning in place, every marketing activity and campaign will produce timely feedback that helps you make better decisions as you go so that you can ensure results continuously improve over time.

Getting marketing planning done right means that your marketing team can:

Reduce the manual efforts and rework required to:

  1. Create, communicate, and track changes to marketing plans
  2. Produce impactful and actionable reports, and chase bad data
  3. Manage multiple revenue models and track spending vs. budget
  4. Bring data from multiple marketing systems together (CRM, MAP, project management, etc.)

Improve marketing’s impact on the business by:

  1. Providing global visibility, aligning spend with strategy and eliminating wasteful spending
  2. Allowing groups to collaborate better on activities that affect your prospects & customers
  3. Providing real-time results to drive faster, more data-driven decisions
  4. Plan and predict marketing performance based on science – how your various types of leads convert to revenue
  5. Mapping and improving your customer’s experience

A strong marketing foundation provides you with the data and structure you need to use your budget wisely and ensure your marketing actually pays off. If you don’t have your foundation in place yet, consider taking a step back to work on your basic needs before moving forward.

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