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What Abraham Maslow taught me about engagement

When the only tool you know is a hammer...

Image by Thales via Flickr

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.— Abraham Maslow

Whether you want to master or simply maintain the craft of customization, personalization, optimization, or plain out personality in connecting with customers, Maslow’s quote offers flash-of-lightning inspiration.

Once I’ve finished this post, I’m adding it to my quotebook, tagged as engagement.  Let’s say it once more: engagement is Web 2.0. The voice of the consumer / customer reigns. If you want relationships and ROI, hammers just don’t work. (Not that they ever did.)

These social commerce statistics compiled by BazaarVoice make it very clear: Word-of-mouth is the make or break in purchase decision-making.  In particular,

When asked what sources “influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product”  71% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence. (Harris Interactive, June 2010) Retrieved December 15, 2010 from

In the soon-to-be second decade of the 21st century, consider the implications of hammering out a push, one-all message. If your target audience:

  • Sees your (pick one) brand, campaign, promotion coming at them full force (i.e., mass marketing, push), they’ll start running. Or, they’ll take note and wait for the price discount.
  • Doesn’t see your (pick one) brand, campaign, promotion coming, you’re at risk of creating negative word of mouth. They, too, will go running. And they’ll share the negative experience with their friends.
  • Stays around for the hammer, make sure you’ve got lots of hammers to keep them coming back. If you’re wondering where’s the long-term ROI in that, so am I.

What’s the solution?

Customize, take the customer’s point of view in every situation and customize your message or engagement to the touchpoint (interaction), the media platform, and the sweetspot (expectation). Go back to your toolbox of marketing and creative strategy. Take a break from the computer and your phone, go out into the world and see people interacting face-to-face.

Has this quote from Maslow — or other quotes from his extensive writings — inspired you at times? Post your comments here, share with a friend, and bookmark this article.

Best, E.


Works Cited:

Abraham Maslow. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2010, from Web site:

BazaarVoice. (n.d.). Social Commerce Statistics, Case Studies, & Research. Retrieved December 15, 2010 from Web site:

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