Making the Emotional Connection for Sustainability, Efficiency

July 25, 2013

As nearly any salesman will tell you, emotion plays as much a part of a purchasing decision as anything—if not more. After all, we make decisions based on both emotion and reason, often feeling an emotional need first and then using our reason to rationalize it. This, of course, is what so much of advertising and marketing plays to: the manufacturing of need.

We love this video/animation of Virginia Tech's award-winning Lumenhaus concept home. Click the pic to see.

We love this video/animation of Virginia Tech’s award-winning Lumenhaus concept home. Click the pic to see.

And this is what sustainability, green and green tech advocates need to improve upon. We can make sterling arguments for using green and energy efficiency methods and technologies to help curb climate change, save money, ensure energy independence, live a healthier life, improve national security. You name it, there’s a good argument for sustainability for nearly any type of person, any business, any corporation.

And this is why so many great arguments can be made fruitlessly.

Emotion can close the deal.

bird's nest sculpture

Got to love this cool green home in Vermont, complete with an energy management system. Click to go to the story. Photo by Gerry Evelyn

In some cases the opposite is true. We also use reason to veto our “emotional” decisions.

More and more I hear of energy efficiency advocates say they can make the argument, but the buyer thinks it’s too good to be true, or the ROI isn’t quick enough. This may be allowing reason to take over, to veto the deal. The emotional component of the argument simply isn’t strong enough to withstand reason’s often ruthless cross-examination. The “but I really want this” component just isn’t strong enough. You’ve made a good argument, but you’ve allowed reason to win out.

So how do we create more of an emotional need for green tech and energy efficiency? That has been the challenge of marketers in this space. Smiles, handshakes, personalities go a long way. Videos and pictures create more of an emotional response because our visual cortex, the visual highway from the eyes to our minds, in linked with the primal fight or flight response, triggering emotion. This was needed so we could spot the motion of predators and run like the Dickens, instead of standing there like an idiot and trying to reason whether that brown moving lump really was really a lion in the grass. (Reading, meanwhile, lights up more rational and reasoning areas of the brain. This is why magazines and web sites use images to lure you in to articles. They create an emotional lure.)

So we make it visual, and not just with charts and graphs. We somehow have to show the benefits of these technologies, in an emotional way.

Check out the Wasting Water is Weird video below and at They do a good job of motivating through humor. I can’t run too much water without thinking “wasting water is weird.” This guy gets in your head and makes you feel creepy.



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Tres cool outrageousness works as well.

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