28th June 2017 Claire Hawes

Here’s a persuasive writing strategy backed by science

 Psychologist Maslow found that human behaviour and decision-making are motivated by one of five needs. Learn how persuasive writing addresses these needs.

Do you want to know how you can influence your customer’s purchase decisions? Also, how you can drive more enquiries and sales?

Then you need to take a lesson in psychology. Do this and you’ll have the knowledge you need for persuasive writing.

Think about it for a moment. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind. It seeks to understand how people behave and interact.

When you make a purchase, you are trying to fulfil a need. So how do you work out what your customers’ needs are?

Fortunately, much of the work has been done for you.

I first came across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs many moons ago while studying for my business degree. Maslow identified five needs that motivate human behaviour and decision-making. He put these needs into a hierarchy.

Even though Maslow wrote his paper in 1943, to this day, it is regularly used by businesses.

Especially by marketing and sales departments. Both recognise the importance of understanding and delivering messages that meet customer needs.

Why? Because understanding the psychology behind motivation (in plain English – what makes people tick) provides the basis for persuasive messaging.

Sounds good? Then let’s take a closer look at how you can use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to boost your enquiries and sales:

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs and persuasive writing

Need 1: Physiological

First off is the most basic need for survival. This covers food, drink and shelter.

  • Buying food? You’re hungry. Or you need to feed a family.
  • Winter on the horizon? You’ll want clothes that keep you warm and dry.
  • Running a business? You’ll need funds to survive.

Need 2: Safety

Next, the focus moves to the need to protect yourself, family and society. So you’ll want to provide peace of mind.

  • Personal and financial security: Have I got enough money to retire on?
  • Health and well-being: Will this medicine treat my chesty cough and at the same time let me get on with my busy day?
  • Booking a hotel? Does each room feature a safe? And do lifeguards supervise the pool?

Need 3: Love and belonging

Moving up the hierarchy, we arrive at social needs. Defined as peoples’ need to feel connected to others. To feel they have a position in a society or a group. Here your messaging needs to appeal to community instinct. You’ll want to give a sense of belonging.

  • Social media: Make meaningful connections.
  • Mobile phones: It’s good to talk.
  • Restaurants: Bring families together.

Need 4: Esteem needs

Beyond that, we reach the need for achievement, competence and confidence. Meet this need by appealing to your readers’ egos. You’ll want your readers to feel good about themselves. Feel attractive. Also, they’ll want to gain praise from others.

  • Fashion: The need to be on trend and stylish
  • Travel: The need for transformational experiences and adventure
  • Cars: The need for speed

Need 5: Self-actualisation

Finally, at the top of the pyramid, we arrive at the need for self-fulfilment. Tap into your reader’s need to be the best that they can be. Your goal is to make your reader feel significant, special or indeed unique. A brand that immediately springs to mind that does this well is:

  • Nike… Just do it.

So it all adds up to this.

If you want to connect with your potential customers, you need to address their needs. To do this you need to learn a little psychology so that you can answer the questions:

  • What do I need?
  • What action do I need to take to get what I need?

And soon you’ll have your audience clamouring at your door with enquiries and sales.

And finally

If you would like help with persuasive writing, then do get in touch. You’ll be surprised at how tried and tested techniques can grab your audience’s attention.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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