Godin’s Hierarchy of B2B Needs

Seth Godin is, no doubt, my favorite marketing guru. At one point I decided to blog here less about what he had to say, because if you are reading my little B2Blog, you have to also be reading his blog.

Every guru deserves a “law” named after them, and its time for Seth’s. I make this particular pick because he took the consumer-based convention of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and re-invents it as a B2B concept.

Godin’s Hierarchy of B2B Needs

If you’re selling a product or service to a business–to a non-owner–consider this hierarchy, from primary needs on down:

  1. Avoiding risk
  2. Avoiding hassle
  3. Gaining praise
  4. Gaining power
  5. Having fun
  6. Making a profit

(The only tweak to this list, I added numbers to the needs.)

Application help:

This hierarchy gets worked a bit differently for two different types of B2B situations. I won’t dwell on these, but using the hierarchy without knowing which category you are in could be a problem.

  • Demand-based purchases – the customer needs to satisfy an internal need
  • Discretionary-based purchases – the customer can continue to ‘do nothing’.

My comments:

Seth’s six listed needs makes sense, I find myself getting to ‘gaining power’, and that is more than enough to make the sale. Pushing out ‘making a profit’ to the lowest need makes sense,  the more immediate need is to solve a problem, which is driven by #1 & #2.

The doozie Seth throws in before ‘making a profit’ is ‘having fun’. It makes sense, when I think about my typical customer who is an engineer or project manager. The doozie part of it is this:

How do I meet the prospect’s need for fun?

Figure that out, and the competitive edge is most certainly yours, IMHO.

I’m sure that others have tried to do this needs list before, but I’m biased enough to pick Seth’s hierarchy as excellent, and name it after the guru who created it. Thanks, Seth, for giving us a new tool for B2B marketing.

4 Replies to “Godin’s Hierarchy of B2B Needs”

  1. Seth
    Godin is the marketing guru with 11 books under his name and many marketing
    revolutionary theories world adheres to. This brain genius, who will be 52 on
    July 10th, is a remarkable entrepreneur, public speaker and the
    father of permission marketing.  I am
    into a small business and used industrial
    vending considering his theories which really yielded good results. He says
    marketers no longer
    have the power to command the attention of anyone. In a marketplace, marketers
    must show more respect; this means no spam, no deceit and a bias for keeping
    promises. Finally, Godin asserts that the only way to spread the word about an
    idea is for that idea to earn the buzz by being remarkable.

  2. I thought that this blog is going to deliver lots of information on B2B business but I can’t see any activity happening here and feel pretty disappointed. Keep updating this wonderful blog. 

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