Abraham Maslow is to motivational theory what Adam Smith is to economic theory. Both laid the foundations in there respective fields. And both are often quoted but seldom read.
Fortunately, Maslow's most quoted paper is available online from York University. Like Smith's invisible hand, Maslow's theories are the force behind most marketing campaigns.
Maslow identified five motivational factors or needs. They are often portrayed as an inverted pyramid, with the most important needs at the bottom.
All products and services aim to help fill one of these needs. Marketing is the art of targeting the right need.
One of the secrets of marketing is "the higher the need being targeted on the pyramid, the greater the potential profit". This can best be seen with water. In North America, water is seen as a basic need to be provided by the government. Safe water is freely available in most communities. Yet marketing water is a multi-million dollar business.
While water really only meets physiological needs, if a company puts it through a filter, bottles it and says it is pure, it suddenly meets the need for safety. Or if a company imports the water, puts it in a fancy bottle and associates it with a particular group or culture, that gives the buyer self esteem. But for the biggest marketing "bang", add a little flavouring and some minerals, and call it "fitness water". Now, humble water gives us the safety of bottled water, self esteem from being a member of a select group of fit people, and self-actualization by being so fit as to need special water -- the marketing trifecta.
You may not have the marketing skills to turn water into "fitness water", however, by carefully considering where your product fits into Maslow's pyramid, you can develop a more effective marketing campaign.