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By the time you get done reading this, you may very well never look at the words you choose in advertising, sales promotion, public relations and social media the same way again.

That’s because we’re encouraging you to rethink and unlearn some of the generally accepted beliefs that marketers, like you, hold near and dear to your hearts. As you’ll see, conventional wisdom hasn’t been all that wise to begin with.

For starters, nothing you can write has the power to create need for what you have to sell. No, it really can’t. The best it can do is align the functional attributes of your product or service with one or more of the built-in physical, psychological and emotional needs common to every person on Earth.

Nearly 80 years ago, Abraham Maslow listed the following hierarchy of human needs discussed in his seminal paper, A Theory of Human Motivation.

  • Food, water, clothing, shelter
  • Personal and financial security; health and well being
  • Love, friendship, intimacy and family
  • Self-esteem and the respect of others
  • Self-actualization (reaching one’s full potential)

Knowing this actually makes your job that much easier. Because this knowledge compels you to focus your selling efforts on these motivating forces rather than the competitive advantages that you believe set your company’s product or service apart. 

The truth is, the real value of your product exists solely in the minds of your potential customers and only to the degree that its purchase can scratch the itch of at least one of these motivating forces of human behavior. B2C or B2B. There are no exceptions.

Keep in mind that value is different than functional utility. Hopefully, what you have to sell has plenty of the latter, and you have tons of experience translating product features into user benefits.

We all know that you don’t sell drill bits, you market the promise of a hole.

There is nothing wrong with this age-old approach as far as it goes. But most of the time it doesn’t go far enough. Too often, you’ll find yourself trying to out-spec the competition or touting secondary benefits that matter more to your company than anyone you’re trying to sell to.

With this in mind, take a hard look at your next ad or brochure headline, social media post or website home page. The subject and hero of each message should be the people you are addressing and not the product you’re selling. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to work your product into the conversation, but it should always be cast in a supporting role.

What you really want is to have that prospect or valued customer out there thinking: “Whoa…this company really gets me.” And by showing you understand someone’s lifelong needs, desires, fears and aspirations, that person will often reward you by purchasing your product.

In short, you first need to find out why someone was motivated to drill that hole in the first place beyond the obvious need to hang a towel rack. Hint: He could have hired someone to have drilled that hole, but what would that have done to his self-esteem if he was secretly embarrassed that he’s so reliant on others?

Taking such a person-centric approach opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities if marketing strategists and writers would take as much time and effort to immerse themselves in the minds and motivations of the people they are trying to influence as they do with the products they sell. And those motivations already are set in stone. It’s the ultimate cheat code to advance your messaging to a whole new level of effectiveness.

How would this work for your particular product or service? BrandSites Marketing would be happy to accept that challenge and let the results speak for themselves.