From The Editor | September 29, 2015

3 Emotions Content Can Evoke To Drive Action


By Travis Kennedy


“Do not let another day go by where your dedication to other people's opinions is greater than your dedication to your own emotions!”

-Steve Maraboli

Creating content and brand publishing pieces that resonate with a water or wastewater professional is, if nothing else, a lesson in psychology.  What does a treatment plant operator care about?  What does a consulting engineer want to read?  What headlines will get them to click?  These are all key questions that you can explore by looking at how the human brain works.

There are three key emotions that will drive a potential buyer to engage with your content.  I offer them here as a guide for you when putting together your editorial calendar, subject lines and headlines, or even specific articles or blog posts.


According to, curiosity is important because it activates the brain, makes the mind observant of new ideas which opens up new worlds and possibilities and makes life more exciting.  Headlines like “STOP! You Have to See What This Municipality Did To Solve Its Contamination Problem” will get a lot more engagement than one that says, “XYZ Corporation fixes Contamination Problem At Local Municipality.”  Beyond people being naturally curious, the benefit here is that it stimulates the reader’s mind in such a way that they are anticipating some new information out of the gate and therefore, are more susceptible to it. If your solutions center around a new way of thinking, curiosity is an important emotion to elicit in your content.  

Thirst for Knowledge

Similar to curiosity, satisfying your readers’ thirst for knowledge is another great way to get your content resonating. In the water industry, there is a lot of information stored in hard-copy catalogs, operator guides and product manuals sitting on shelves in control rooms. However available, this content is often hard to navigate, can become easily outdated and doesn’t specifically address the reader’s immediate need.

This provides a huge opportunity to create content that fills this void. “How to” guides always generate high engagement rates on Water Online because they provide up-to-date and often novel approaches to tackling specific problems. After all, most of us love to learn. 

Fear of being left out

As we all know in the water industry, municipalities are very wary of being the first to try out a new technology yet they never want to be the last. Being late to invest in solutions that increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs can be as career-threatening as jumping in too soon.

Case studies and project-related articles legitimize your product or service in the eye of the reader and educate them on how your company is helping similar customers. Done well, these articles should press on the human emotions of envy, desire and the fear of being left behind.

The measure of success is to see how many potential buyers take a specific action after reading your article.  By tapping into one (or more) of the above emotions through your content, you are not only walking them through the purchasing decision process, you are also affecting their mindset without forcing your sales pitch on them.

Image credit: "brain power," © 2014 Allan Ajiifo, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: