Takin’ it back to Marketing 101: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
I recently watched a video of one of my heros, designer Rachel Roy, as she shared her Spring 2013 line to StyleCaster, “I’m in the business of making people feel better about themselves.” Rachel goes on to explain that when she creates her collection, she keeps in mind that she wants her customer to “look at a fun print that has an emotional meaning for you, something that makes you feel good when you look at it.” From there she takes the next step to figure out “how do I take that [print] and design it in a way that actually makes you feel smart and cool?”
Do you see what she’s doing there? She’s not selling clothes or accessories or widgets. She’s selling confidence. This is a powerful marketing lesson (one that her brand has mastered). Clothes are a commodity. A shirt is a shirt. Send a message to your customer that your shirt is “in fashion” and now that shirt is more than just a shirt. Now your customer feels cool because buying your shirt makes them “trendy.” That alone can be enough to separate your clothing brand from the rest. But, notice Rachel doesn’t talk about trends. She knows being trendy isn’t that important to her customer. She knows her customer is more focused on changing the world, being a force of nature. So she instead, taps into their desires and dreams and appeals to their emotional goals. In the process, she puts the Rachel Roy brand on another playing field entirely.
Do you remember learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in Psych 101? Every business owner should be familiar with this principle. The gist is that every human is on a journey to fulfill themselves. It begins at their basic needs (food, water, physical safety) and ends as they learn who they are (self esteem, confidence). The application for you, is to know where in the hierarchy your product/service fits in. Sure, Rachel sells clothing – a low level need – but she has positioned her brand as one that appeals to a much higher level need. This is how she sets her self apart from the rest (in her case, zillions of competitors). Take a moment to examine how you can use this principle in your marketing message to distinguish your company from your competition.
Need another example? Let’s take a look at our old pal Beyonce. Is she selling music? I’d argue that she sells the same thing as Rachel. Take another listen to “Independent Woman Part 1,” “Irreplacable,” “Diva,” “Single Ladies,” “Me, Myself, and I.” Even “Bootylicious.” I could go on and on. This woman is dishing out top-notch, grade A self-respect and feminine strength. And did you notice? I do it too. the name of my blog is insights + inspiration. I aim to give you valuable tips to help you build your business, but I also sprinkle in some goodies to keep you motivated and inspired. I want to give you the tools to create a successful strategy, but I also want you to feel supported and believe that you can do it.
Both Rachel Roy and Beyonce have incredible talent and a great product to back them up. That fact keeps their messaging authentic. So while you as business owner try to employ this tactic in your own marketing strategy, don’t forget to make sure you have a remarkable product.
“When you get dressed, it can change who you are. It can change the story you want to tell.
And we can start over every single day by what we put on.” Rachel Roy