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Meeting Customer’s Highest Emotional Needs

Yesterday’s “Emotional Equations to Connect with Your Customers” with Chip Conley, a boutique hotelier, was equal parts self-reflection and marketing theory. He focuses a lot on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how to translate that in the business world. I’ll save the self-reflection for drinks at the Google Village but he had some great points to make about marketing to customers in a way that helps them feel more self-actualized.  3 key learnings:

Disappointment can be defined as the difference between expectations and reality. To avoid this, you have to make sure your marketing is never better than your operations. I think that’s why the best agency partnerships have strong client relationships on both sides of the business.

Redesigning Maslow’s pyramid for consumers puts “meeting expectations” at the bottom of the pyramid-akin to physiological needs. This is the bare minimum. One level up is “meets desires”, things customers want but wouldn’t expect-the surprise and delight factor. The highest level of customer satisfaction lies in “meeting unrecognized needs”. This is the hardest, and most interesting. How can we give people more than unrecognized wants but meet their  unrecognized needs? He offers 4 ways:

• Help customers meet their highest goals

• Give your customers the ability to truly express themselves

• Make your customers feel like they’re part of a bigger cause

• Offer your customers something of real value they hadn’t even imagined

Finally, Chip talked about the importance of authenticity in companies. This aligns really closely to the way GSD&M looks at purpose but his three key questions for defining and testing your company’s authenticity are nice and simple gut-checks:

• What business are we in? (Ask 5 times to get past “the airline” business to the “freedom” business, in Southwest Airline’s case.)

• What courageous, rebellious decisions have we recently made that could be perceived as brilliant or foolish?

• What would it mean to the world if we didn’t exist anymore?

Marketing alone can’t achieve any of this but company that’s willing to operationalize to meet the highest level of customer needs surely has something better to market.

I have no doubt I’ve butchered a part of this so I feel it’s only fair to plug his book Peak to hear it all in his words.

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