When you were a baby, you needed your parents every step of the way in life. They dressed you, fed you and kept you warm and safe. They gave you love and acceptance. You were totally dependent on them.
Then slowly as you got older they eased you into the roles nature designed for humans, such as to walk on two legs and interact with others as well as with the world around you. You watched adults and you did as they did.
Still later school kicked in and slowly you began to feel comfortable in your environment. You started achieving more and more goals. Taking baby steps, you slowly walked the road to becoming independent. Along the way you developed and refined several skills. Becoming independent is a process of learning and practicing. It does not happen overnight.
Finally, in your middle to late teen years, you crossed the line between dependence and independence. You were able to look after yourself. You did not need anyone else to survive. You could find your own way around. You were finally a grown up, an adult.
Many people believe that once they are independent they have reached the pinnacle, but have they?
You are not as independent as you think
Just being independent does not mean you can take on the world and win. There will be days when you encounter problems that feel like mountains obstructing your way. The fact is, you can get past them but you cannot do it alone. You are surrounded by people who have struggled with the same problems you face. Very often they have found the answer. Their knowledge can be invaluable to help you past your own hurdles. You are not as independent as you may believe. You need people and you know what? They need you.
Independence is not what you need to function effectively as an adult. As Stephen Covey explains it so brilliantly in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, self-growth does not end with independence. There is one final boundary you have to cross. You have to move from independence to interdependence.
The value of interdependence is so often overlooked. It rests on two pillars.
1. Giving to the people around you to help them move forward.
2. Receiving from the people around you in order to help you move forward.
Emotion comes into play
Even if someone just tells you about a place where you can get your car fixed at a reasonable price, he or she has given you valuable knowledge. Chances are that you will like that person. The information came to you as part of a simple communication process but it triggered something outside of the process. It brought emotion into play.
Communication and emotion are interlinked. Words can hurt or bring anger. They cause you to laugh or to cry. They are powerful for one reason: They touch your emotions and we as humans are emotional beings.
In 1943 American psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper called The Theory of Human Motivation. In it he outlined a pyramid of human needs that has become the accepted norm in understanding our actions and decisions. His pyramid looked like this:
At the very lowest level are our physiological needs. We need food, water and a place to stay.
Then our emotional needs take over and they dominate who we are.
. We need to feel safe.
. We strive to belong somewhere where we are respected and loved.
. Only if we have that we will view ourselves in a positive light and our self esteem begins to develop.
. A high self esteem means confidence.
. Confident people usually take the steps that will lead to self-actualization: to be all that they know they can be.
How does understanding human needs help the marketer?
When you fulfill someone’s needs they like you. In fact, on a certain level they see you as a leader or at the very least, a friend. This gives you an edge. They will rather buy from a friend than from a stranger.
Make your friends feel special
As a marketer it is your primary job to turn strangers into friends, not to go around advertising your products.
Give people unconditional acceptance. They want to be accepted. They want to feel special. Make them feel special. Be warm and sincere.
Go out onto the net with the idea to give. Give value but also give praise and build confidence.
In the process you shape perceptions and inspire confidence. Confident people have the courage to act. If your product can help them on the road to living the life they dream of and becoming the best they can be, they will act and buy from you. Then you have made a sale, but more importantly you have touched a life.
Making friends is as much a requirement of marketing as having a product to sell. Success often starts with the simple act of offering your hand in friendship.