In 1943, Abraham Maslow compiled a paper entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation”. In it, Maslow spoke of not only physiological needs, those that humans require for survival, but also of how once those needs are met, a second set of needs or strong desires come into play that causes us to want to better ourselves.
When it comes to motivating your customers to purchase your services or products, taking a good look at Maslow’s five primary human needs can help you find ways to accomplish this. Once our basic needs are met, we look toward our safety and security needs which include financial and personal security, health and well-being and providing a safety net against illness and accidents.
For those of us with our own businesses, how can what we provide, help our customers satisfy these needs? If they are motivated to buy based on the hierarchy and you are able to prove to your customers that your product will increase their safety or help them to become healthier, this is exactly what Maslow meant when he stated that humans are focusing on these needs. The most successful business owners know that if their customers are need driven by safety, security and to some extent, social connections with others, and they are able to provide a great product or service to satisfy these needs, their sales will increase.
Maslow realized that when we satisfy one need, we move on to others. While the basic needs have to be satisfied after a certain period of time, our other needs or desires are always within our grasp depending on our life circumstances, e.g. job loss, our location, etc. He called this self-actualization and noted that only one in a hundred people reach this state because of the way our society rewards certain people for things such as love, recognition, fame and other social needs.
Seventy years later, the original principles of Maslow’s paper can still be applied to marketing. Figure out where your products fit the need of your customers and update them so they are still relevant to the present market. Remember, your customers want to fit in and belong, this is a natural human desire. They have a need for stability and respect and this includes self-respect. You, as a business owner can provide this as well as the tools needed for anything they feel is missing from their lives.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
Recent extremely low temperatures, blizzards and blowing snow have created challenges for businesses and consumers alike in many parts of the country. This includes power failures, burst pipes and disruptions in transportation.
If your small business relies heavily on products being delivered to consumers and employees getting to work, the weather can have a huge impact on your sales. Customers also tend to purchase differently under extreme weather circumstances and their spending habits will tend to be more conservative. Depending on the type of business you own, you need to take into consideration how your customers buy during adverse weather conditions.
Unless your business is totally online, if your customers can’t get out and get to you, your business will suffer. Even if the roads are cleared, when the temperature gets too low, certain products can’t be delivered. Agricultural products are obvious ones but many other items don’t hold up well under very cold conditions, even when the truck trailers are heated.
Bad weather is also destructive. Ice damages buildings and roads, sidewalks aren’t safe to be walked on, liability insurance costs increase. Business owners can’t predict the weather and if they make the mistake of keeping too much inventory, what may have looked like a good deal at the time, can backfire on them badly.
Your customers may decide to cut back on spending when their heating costs increase and this will include your services unless you happen to be running a business that includes snow removal. If your business is weather sensitive, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind all year long and prepare for any shortcomings ahead of time.
If you provide a standard product or service all year round, innovation will become more important. How can you make your product or service available in ways that it will be needed at any time of the year? Once you do this, can you ensure delivery to your customers during the worst weather?
While orders online may increase over brick and mortar shopping when the weather is at its worst, only certain items can be delivered under these conditions. Make sure your business isn’t vulnerable because your products can’t stand up to the coldest temperatures. Obviously, you, as a business owner, can’t control the weather but you can make sure you’re in a position to weather the proverbial storm.
One of the longest running “businesses”, which is popular all year round, is The Farmer’s Almanac, in circulation since 1792.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
Influence is the ability to have an effect or impact on someone’s character, behaviour, actions or options. It can be based on many things, including position and ability though wealth and class can also be part of it.
As a small business owner your ability and knowledge of your products and services can influence your customers, preferably in a good way, by leading through example, providing information and focusing on their needs.
Your influence communicates itself to your customers through your ideas and their ability to trust you. You are able to have a conversation with them and understand their interests and how they would like to see your products evolve. Influence also means being able to persuade people to buy by showing them how what you are selling is something they need and is of far superior quality to anything similar that may be on the market.
You are able to make people like you; through your confidence in yourself, your ability to admit when you’re wrong and your availability to your customers. Leadership comes easily to you and you’re able to focus entirely on a customer’s problem, conversation and communication. Decision making isn’t difficult and neither is supporting your employees, community and others. You influence your customers by knowing the difference between assertiveness and aggression, are knowledgeable enough to be humble about your achievements and honest as to how your attained your success.
Customers are influenced by a business owner who can identify with them and isn’t pushy. Quality is always more important than quantity and knowing when to step back and away from a request is as important as knowing when to move forward. Following through on promises and showing that you mean what you say creates an atmosphere of trust and believability with your customers and enhances your reputation.
Influence and leadership are all part of becoming a successful business owner. You can’t have one without the other. Influential does not mean unreachable, it means that you can, through your position, create a great experience for those who purchase from you.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of sajigroup
It’s the beginning of February and many small business owners are looking ahead (but not looking forward) to tax time and all that it entails. How well you have organized yourself and your business over the past year will show itself in the amount of time it takes to make sure you have all of your receipts and documents required to accomplish this.
This is where the difference between efficiency and busyness comes to light. Many of us are “busy” or so we say. Our calendar is packed full of meetings, our voicemail is full of messages that need our attention, our work is building up and it all needs to be done. We are actually busy being busy. When you look at the results that should be there, they are hard to find, if not non-existent. We aren’t effective at accomplishing our tasks, focusing on our work or prioritizing what needs to be done so we still have time for ourselves.
We feel hurried and rushed, as if we have no time to complete the most important things in our day, let alone get to those that aren’t as important or don’t have to do with work. While there will always be those projects that end up being more complicated than we expected, we’re wasting our time on the trivial rather than the most meaningful. Looking productive and being stressed out do not go hand in hand with efficiency.
If you’re efficient, you manage your time well, finish your tasks within a reasonable amount of time and are able to concentrate on what is most important to you at any given time of the day. Other demands that conflict with your responsibilities at the present time aren’t allowed to interfere, unless they’re emergencies. In order to be efficient, you have to be clear on your priorities and what is important to you. Your day has a specific purpose and you know what needs to be done to complete the most important tasks and still have time and energy left over for yourself.
Efficient people function at a higher level than busy people. They do things right the first time and make sure they are doing the right things, not those that waste their time. They’re well aware that the day can fly by and at the end of it there is nothing to show for the time spent on what appears to be work but is really just busyness. They value quality over quantity and eliminate tasks of little importance by either delegating them to someone else or grouping them with a similar set of tasks to save time.
Efficiency involves planning, organizing and maximizing time that would otherwise be wasted. Scheduling your day, focusing on each job that needs to be done and not allowing unimportant interruptions and distractions are part of efficient work strategies. Lifestyle changes have a large effect on just how efficient you can be each day. A well rested business owner who pay attention to their diet and how much exercise they get is usually much more efficient than one who sleeps few hours, lives on take-out food and spends their off hours laying on their couch.
The next time someone tells you how busy their life is, take it with a grain of salt. A closer look will show you that they may be busy running around, spending their time on trivial things but they probably aren’t accomplishing much at all.
The really idle man gets nowhere. The perpetually busy man does not get much further. ~ Sir Heneage Ogilvie
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of tnt.dist.uniqe
I’ve been thinking a lot in the past year of how much more confident I was when I was younger. By younger, I don’t mean a child, I’m talking about just a decade ago. Trying new things, stepping outside of my comfort zone, public performances – they were all part of my life. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a comfort zone!
Sometimes I believe it’s media that causes us to have more stress and anxiety. When you are constantly bombarded with the same messages on television, the internet, everywhere you are, it’s bound to affect you eventually. Most of the messages we are getting seem to revolve around our health; whether it be what we’re eating (or not eating), our alcohol intake, exercising, whether or not we smoke. I remember a time when all of the above weren’t things we were much concerned about and we were happier and healthier!
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with your business. Self confidence is very closely related to what many call charisma, that certain compelling attractiveness and sense of power that draws people to those who exude it. It can inspire loyalty in your customers, transfer itself to your products and services to have them appear as more appealing and of higher quality while also helping you to succeed.
Your self-esteem is based upon how much confidence you have. When you come across as calm in all situations it shows your ability to handle the most difficult of tasks and this, in turn, inspires confidence in others. It’s a win-win situation. New areas of business become challenges that you enjoy, self-doubt disappears and you no longer compare yourself to others or care too much about what they think.
Modern advertising would have us think the opposite. That everything we do in both our business and personal lives has to fall in line with a certain standard, and that standard has to be the same as those of everyone else. Standing out is not an option. All businesses must cater to the same clientele within the same demographics. Our businesses must toe the line politically, socially and in every other way that might mean someone would speak up about it and say it doesn’t fit in with how they feel a business should be run.
Never forget, that your business is just that – your business. In order to be maintained efficiently and to grow successfully, the owner of a business has to believe that what they selling meshes with their lifestyle. When you’re pushed and pulled in so many different directions because of what you’re told in the media and through other advertising, you become self-critical. You lose your ability to make a decision and act on it.
Forget about comfort zones, the constant bombardments of what others think is wrong with you, what is good for you, what is not good for you. Make those decisions for yourself. You know what causes stress in your life. You know when you’re out of shape and what needs to be done about it. Quit letting others tell you what is right and wrong with your business and your decisions. Decide for yourself and watch your confidence grow.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of kzntopbusiness