When we hear the word emotions, most of us think happy, sad, smiles, tears, anger, joy. We probably don’t think about the last decision we made. Whether we remember or not, chances are that last decision was driven by our emotions. Emotions are a common and natural force to how we make decisions. We often make quick decisions without knowing why and then, after the decision is made, we come up with a rational response to why that decision is just. These are led by our emotions. It’s that “gut instinct” that is in fact driven by emotions. When our brain feels an emotion our nervous system responds by sending “feelings” to the body. So, like it or not, emotions drive the decisions we make – even how we consume energy.
We’ve seen this firsthand in work that we completed recently for two energy clients. We found that energy consumption is a highly emotional and loaded topic. So, we needed to meet our audience where they make decisions, and communicate with them in that space. Research we conducted validated this approach. Simply putting new information out there and hope that audience members “make a switch” doesn’t work. In order to change a behavior, it’s essential to change how the customer feels about it.
Success lies in getting the consumer to be a part of that behavior change. Providing tools and information to help people understand it, believe in it, support it and truly feel it. Whether that means including them as part of the change or finding the common thread that ties them together in support of the change, emotional engagement is paramount. Storytelling and testimonials proved to be an effective tactic to achieve that end, helping customers become smarter energy consumers.
Determining the common denominator among the different target audiences is another approach to inciting behavior change. Are they all passionate about renewable energy? How do they feel about the forecast for the future of energy? Uniting them under a common goal can be the answer. But as stated so perfectly in this article, “To create lasting change, you need to first of all know where you are going and then engage both head and heart.”