Mar 8, 2023

Being Needed, Not Needy: How To Create Content People Actually Want

Written by Clodagh O’Brien

As marketers, we all wish that every piece of content we create is anticipated and valued by our audience. But with so much content out there and people having so little time, that's probably not the case. 

So what really makes a piece of content stand out? What makes it valuable to a customer or prospect so it will drive engagement and prompt action? 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been around for a long time, in fact before content marketing entered the conversation. But it provides a great framework for brands searching for opportunities to provide valuable content that taps into their consumers’ needs, desires, challenges, and goals.

Let's look at how we can apply the aspects of that motivational theory to our content marketing.  

Physiological Needs

At the first and most basic level of Maslow’s hierarchy, there are physiological needs: the need to breathe, eat, drink and sleep.

For brands that sell products or services that help with those basic needs, a unique opportunity presents itself: to create educational content that helps consumers with the most basic functions of a good life.

Plenty of tourism groups provide essential eating guides to their area — like these lists for New York and Seattle — and countless brands offer recipes for specialized diets and other educational cooking content, such as these grilling tips from Weber or this delicious-looking Turkish Red Lentil Soup recipe from Chobani.

Or look at consumer food manufacturer General Mills (think Betty Crocker and Haagen-Dazs) which created a branded site Tablespoon with content dedicated to recipe ideas and food. Software company Adobe also takes this approach with, a successful website that focuses on insights, expertise, and inspiration for and by digital leaders.  

Tablespoon website
Tablespoon website

Takeaway: The content is valuable to the audiences of these brands but is marketed in a way that's useful and helpful. It's not focusing on selling a product or service but on being informative and providing a solution.  

Safety Needs

The next level of the pyramid is safety. Plenty of marketing — particularly in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries — taps into this, promising protection or faster recovery from injury and disease, but content can be built around safety as well.

A great example is from Volvo who not only reiterated the safety of their vehicles but also drew focus to another element - the environment and climate change. This video 'The Ultimate Safety Test' poses the question 'What is the biggest safety test that isn't on the road anymore?' to promote its new range of electric cars. 

The safety category also includes the protection of resources and property, offering plenty of opportunities for brands that help protect against financial and other non-bodily threats. U.K.-based bank, Barclays created 'Moneyverse Matchmaking', a mini-dating show with the aim of promoting how open and honest conversations about money can lead to a stronger relationship and help couples communicate clearly about how they manage money. 

Moneyverse Matchmaking campaign, Barclays Bank
Moneyverse Matchmaking campaign, Barclays Bank

During covid-19, other industries capitalized on this 'safety' element such as MGM Resorts which launched 'Viva Las Office' a package that provides an alternative to people working from home during the COVID pandemic. Instead, of staying at home they could work and see a view of Las Vegas!

Takeaway: Brands that focus on the safety element have scope to be clever. Creating content that taps into people's need to protect themselves and their families can help to drive engagement and get across an important message that can improve people's lives.  

Social Needs

At the third level, the hierarchy starts to offer more broad opportunities for content inspiration. The need for love and belonging speaks to a desire for a close and happy family, fulfilling friendships and satisfying sexual intimacy. Many brands use this as a way to help consumers create deeper relationships.

Some brands focus on the family. McDonald's is renowned for tapping into family values and togetherness in its advertising campaigns. Take this ad that aired in New Zealand that looks at the special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. 

Friendship is also a big theme for many brands. Domino's launched 'The Last Slice' a social campaign that involved three pairs of strangers waiting for a pizza to be served the last slice. Despite having different interests, they bond and end up sharing the slice and starting a new friendship.

Friendship Day - Dominos campaign
Friendship Day - Dominos campaign

In its first major ad campaign, Snapchat's 'Real Friends' highlights the stories of Snap users who have been able to connect through the app. It highlighted individual stories of friends from 12 different countries and used quotes “from 15 luminaries and famous figures”, that was showcased on billboards. 

Read: 'How to Get More Views and Followers on Snapchat' for more information on using the platform.  

Snapchat 'Real Friends' campaign bilboard
Snapchat 'Real Friends' campaign bilboard

Sex and intimacy are also part of this social needs hierarchy. Replens focused on sex in older people with the tagline 'Sex never gets old'. The billboards and posters were shot in black and white showing people of all ages and genders in intimate embraces or simply touching. 

Replens 'Sex never gets old' campaign
Replens 'Sex never gets old' campaign

In Africa, a new campaign focused on sexual health wanted to take away any fear and focus on pleasure.  'Treasure Your Pleasure' is a digital campaign that aims to create a safe space for youth in Africa to talk about sex freely, reducing shame while also advocating for safe sex and the importance of pleasure. This could also fit into the safety category of the pyramid. 

Treasure your pleasure campaign
Treasure your pleasure campaign

Takeaway: Family, friendship, and intimacy can be powerful tools in your messaging and they can be used by many brands and industries to communicate and engage an audience. Remember that you can always use events such as National Friendship Day or World Sexual Health Day to create interesting and relevant content. Check out our '2023 Social Media Calendar' for important dates you can leverage. 

Create engaging content campaigns your audience wants!

It can be tricky to create content that offers solutions and drives engagement. Our short content marketing course will teach you how to create detailed personas, make an SEO strategy, conduct keyword research, use creativity and storytelling, and measure campaign performance. Enroll today to create engaging content that performs. 

Clodagh O’Brien
Clodagh O’Brien

Clodagh O'Brien is a content creator and strategist. Over the last 12 years, she has created and managed content for many SMEs and global brands. She's passionate about digital marketing and the impact of technology on culture and society. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.  

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