Transcendent Marketing

All effective marketing, one theory goes, is an appeal to something on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  And everything is marketing.

That girl in the short shorts and tank top (sans bra) standing at the Fort Lauderdale baggage claim last weekend?  Marketing to those who want sex (Belonging and/or Affection).

That ad for the Hummer, the one that emphasizes its size in comparison to other runts on the road? Marketing to those who want status (Esteem).

That preacher who’s always telling you what you’ll get out of doing what God wants? Marketing fulfillment (Self-actualization).

Every time you win someone over to your way of thinking, get them to listen, get them to feel or like or hate, or not walk away you’re appealing to one of their felt needs – whether you or they realize it or not.  I think.  What do you think?  (See there?  I just appealed to your need to be heard.  That’s your need for Esteem, my friend.)

This new partnership Compassion’s launched with bloggers is a great example.  As the guy communicating (marketing) this new venture to bloggers, I had to decide which need(s) I’d appeal to.  I mean, do I tell people that blogging will get them on God’s good side (Security)?  Earn them a gift of some kind (Physical)?  It’s somehow cool or relevant or trendy (Esteem/Belonging)?  It’s a learning experience (Learning)?  Do we launch a beautiful website (Aesthetic)? Or how about we emphasize the emotional angle, the warm fuzzies and mountaintop experience you get from blogging about kids in Uganda (Self-actualization)?

I had to decide.  And I decided to get out of Maslow’s basement (as the Heath brothers call it) and go to the highest need of man – the one we all have a hard time meeting, the one that Jesus appealed to often, the one involvement with Compassion over the years has met for me personally: Transcendence.

Transcendence is knowing that what we are or do positively impacts someone besides us.  When people talk about “making a difference” or “changing the world” they’re appealing to our need for transcendence. The problem is so few things actually do make a difference and change the world. So transcendence marketing (and those phrases in particular) are a bit stale these days and unmotivating in an age of cynics whov’e bought the bracelets and texted their senators and seen no impact – felt no transcendence.

So I’m doing it differently. I’m asking the question “Why blog?” on our new site.  And the answer: Because it matters to 1,000,000 kids.

Transcendence.  In this case it’s motivating AND true. That works out well.

And really, I’ve got no choice but the transcendence route you know?  I don’t look so good in shorts and a tank top.