Marketing Insight

Imagine if you had a secret way to get inside the mind of your customers - to know what they need and use that information to improve the way you market to - and serve - your customers, guests and clients. Well - That is exactly what we are going to talk about – today.

Hey It’s Peter Harman The Food Guru here with your weekly Pep Talk… My goal is the teach restaurant owners, managers and chefs, like you to focus on Eight Basic Fundamentals that lead to a better life and financial freedom.

Last week’s Pep Talk was about Dr. Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation. Today we are going to expand on the Theory of Human Motivation and look inside the mind of your customers to help you become a better marketer. Dr. Maslow believed - we become what we think about, and we think about what we need and these needs are what motivate us to take action and move forward.

Dr. Maslow divided human needs into a hierarchy with 5 different levels:

1. Physical Needs - Air, Food and Water

2. Safety & Security Needs– We need feel safe and secure.

3. Relationship Needs – We need people to share our lives with.

4. Esteem Needs – We need to be appreciated and important.

5. Self-Actualization – This is Living the Dream.

Maslow said, “Man is a perpetually wanting animal… human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of pre-potency, which means the appearance of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another pre-potent need. The premise is that we must satisfy our needs at the most basic level - before moving on to a higher level.”

Think of these levels as a pyramid, with lower needs on the bottom and higher needs on top. The levels help us understand – what business we are in and who we should design our services for.

In the world of marketing we have the market, the message and the media.

Knowing what people NEED and VALUE will help you craft a smarter message that is tailor made for your market. Let’s look at the five levels of human motivation, one at a time and relate them to Marketing.

Level #1: The Physical Needs We need air, food and water. This is the basic level. We need food to fill our bellies. This is the basic level where we need food for fuel to run our human engine. This level includes.

  • · People in a third world country and the homeless people, who will eat anything.

  • · A mom needs to feed her children something nutritious at home.

  • · A hungry teenager who needs lots of food to maintain their growing bodies.

  • · Elderly people need a completely different type of nutrition.

Marketing to level one people works great for soup kitchens, grocery stores, convenience stores and fast food restaurants, because they appeal to a very basic need. Now hear this - all grocery stores are not created equal. When we compare the local discount grocery store like Aldi to Whole Foods we see a huge difference. On one hand Aldi sells food – cheap, - you have to bring your own bag or use their boxes for your groceries. On the other hand Whole Food Sells a full-blown HIGH END, HEATHY, GLOBAL Experience… Big Difference.

When we fulfill our need at level one we move to…

Level #2 = Safety & Security: We need to feel safe and secure from predators and outside elements.

Insurance companies, home security companies and the people who sell car tires - use safety and security to scare us – They use FEAR to get us to take action and buy their products.

In the restaurant business, level 2 is about a - CLEAN – SAFE – COMFORTABLE - PLACE.

In the restaurant business, we rarely sell safety and security – because it is not sexy or positive. BUT – safety and security can be a real NEGATIVE. Just look at Chipotle for example, they have been pounded in the media for making customers sick over the past couple years. In my city, we had a burger joint that went out of business because too many people who ate there were having lots of stomach issues.

Here’s another point – People at the higher levels don’t want to go to a scary neighborhood for a fine dining experience, great BBQ during the day, maybe – but not a five star white tablecloth dining experience at night.

Maslow said - When we satisfy the need to feel safe and secure we will naturally raise our sights to a higher level of being, we will begin to crave companionship, we start to need other people to share our life with.

This bring us to…

Level #3 = Relationships: This is where the party begins. When we have enough money and feel safe and secure, we want to go out and have fun with our friends and family. This is a great opportunity for marketing your restaurant.

  • Olive Garden uses this angle when they say – When you’re here your family.

  • Buffalo Wild Wings uses the friends and community aspect – when they say – this is the ultimate place to get together with your friends, drink beer and watch sports.

The opportunity here is to let your customers know and think you are a great choice for them and their friends and family, and associates and colleagues. We want to make them say - YES – this is a cool place for me to hang out with my friends and family – I can see myself and my people there.

This brings us to…

Level #4 = The Esteem Needs: There are several different layers and types of esteem needs.

First is Self Esteem: I need to be happy with myself and what I have accomplished. Let’s think about this point for a second, we must be happy with who we are and what we have accomplished. If we are not happy with ourselves, nothing else matters. Self Esteem and happiness is an inside job, not something that is given to me by another person.

Maslow said; “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” - Wow, that is very powerful statement.

The point here is to appeal to the INDIVIDUAL – You deserve it… McDonalds used this with their –YOU deserve a break today – at McDonalds - promotion…

The next level of Esteem Needs is called RESPECT: At this level - We need and crave respect. We need someone else to recognize us as being important. Different people have different needs, in regard to respect. Some people just want respect from their small circle of friends and family, others crave respect from the masses, they need millions of adoring fans. This is a great opportunity to show great HOSPITALITY and make these people feel SPECIAL and IMPORTANT. If you do this - the customer will come back to you over and over and over again… AND they will bring their friends…

STATUS - This is HUGE... People go to certain restaurants because it gives them Status.

Some people are willing to pay a very high price for status, because they want to be where the cool kids are and do what the cool kids are doing. Give this idea some thought.

The next esteem need is Cognitive Function: We seek Intellectual stimulation - knowledge and Exploration. We need to learn and grow as people. We need to travel and experience the amazing things that life has to offer. This is why restaurants that offer a rare and exotic experience exist and thrive. This is what powers the buy fresh, buy local movement. This is what is powering the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle.

Above that is what is called the Aesthetic Level: Maslow said – At this level - It is as necessary for a man to live in beauty rather than ugliness - as it is for him to have food for an aching belly - or rest for a weary body.

This level includes concepts such as Harmony, Order & Beauty. This is where the homemaker thinks, I don’t just want a couch and some chairs to sit on, I want beautiful comfortable couches that make a statement about who I am as a person and a decorator.

These people are not looking for a wooden picnic table and rickety lawn chairs, These people need a beautiful dining room with all the luxurious touches, impeccable service, an amazing view. They need the best the world has to offer, form valet service to a bathroom attendant.

This brings us to…

Level #5 – Self Actualization. The Top of the Pyramid. Dr. Maslow said “What a man can be, he must be, this need is what we call self-actualization.”

Self-Actualization, which in modern vernacular means we are living the dream – Our Dream.

This is when we reach our full potential. AND – we want to experience places, things and people who have achieved their full potential too. Think of Masa Sushi and Per Se in New York City. BUT – it can also be a pace like IN & OUT Burger or a Great local pizza place that has mastered their craft and also resonates on a nostalgic level.

Self-Actualized people have MADE IT to the top. They have achieved their goals and are living their dream. Because of this - Self-actualized people tend to focus on problems outside themselves; they have a clear sense of what is true and what is false; they are spontaneous and creative; and they are not bound - by social conventions.

Maslow noticed that self-actualized individuals had a better insight of reality, they accepted themselves, other people and the world, as they are. Self-Actualized people are very independent and private when it came to their environment and culture.

These people NEED to give back. They need to show their PEOPLE (their associates, their friends and family) a great time. They get off watching their friends, family and associates experience - the best, the world has to offer.

Self-Actualization allows us to ask this question. If you have good health and more money than you could ever spend, what would you do all day long? Another way to say that is – if I had a bottomless credit card that would never run out, what would I do all day long?

Self-Actualized people are no longer concerned with what anybody else thinks. They want what they want, because they want it – and they NEED it. They only want the best of the best and are not willing to settle for anything less.

Let’s relate this to marketing…

It is important to understand the needs that drive your customers. Look at the pyramid and ask yourself, where does my restaurant fit on the pyramid, which of these needs does my restaurant fill? Which of these people does my restaurant appeal to? AND – How can I do a better job speaking their language in my marketing message?

The level that we are at – controls our needs and our needs control what we think about. At the bottom two levels a person may need a low price or a discount to get them to take action. Once we get past basic food and shelter – people are looking for companionship and relationships. Then, as those needs are met, we need a total upgrade, better food, better wine, better service and better places to go - until we reach the pinnacle. At the top we want the best of the best of the best… and we don’t care what it costs. You never see Ritz Carlton advertising Buy One – Get One FREE!

  • Who do you appeal to:

  • Do you appeal to a person at the bottom who only needs food and water.

  • Do you appeal to people at the relationship level who want to celebrate life with friends and family?

  • Do You Appeal to people at the ESTEEM level who NEED - STATUS - IMPORTANCE and RESPECT.

  • Do you appeal to the high achievers and the people who want the very best experience that life has to offer?


Your homework assignment for this week is to ask yourself – WHAT BUSINESS AM I IN? Am I in the relationship business? The Esteem Business or am I in the luxury business?

Who do I appeal to and what do they NEED?

As Dr. Maslow said “What a man can be, he must be, this need is what we call self-actualization.”

I hope this helps you realize that everyone is a little different and we don’t all want or need the same things. I hope this helps you understand your market better - and become a better and smarter marketer.

FINALE: My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner, manager and chef who joins us has the information they need to earn a 10% Profit, create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams. If you really want to get to the next level - here’s my simple Plan.

1- SUBSCRIBE TO MY PODCAST This weekly pep talk will keep you on your toes and give you inspiration to keep moving forward.

2- BUY MY BOOK I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals - it has the power to change your life and it's available on Amazon - Buy it Today.

After that - come to food guru . com and…

3- SIGN UP FOR A ONE ON ONE COACHING SESSION… We all need a Coach… as a restaurant owner you need SOMEONE TO TALK TO, someone who understands your struggles, someone who can help you build a strategic plan, and help you get to the next level.

This is NOT a webinar or large group event, I will not shuffle you off to an assistant. This is you and me working together to improve your restaurant and help you get to the next level…

Think about this opportunity for a second… What are you waiting for? What are you afraid of? This is your actual life – this is not a dress rehearsal – Leap and the Net will appear…

The fact that you are reading this, means you want to improve and you are looking for answers. I want to be your coach. I want to help you get to the next level – I want to help you live the life of your dreams… When the student is ready – The Food Guru will appear!

I’ll see you next week.

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