In evolutionary terms, millions of years is a blink of an eye. In geological terms, a few million years is a rounding error. The process of evolution doesn’t perfect an organism’s ability to survive; it adapts the organism to survive and reproduce successfully in a particular environment. Unless it gets eaten.

And businesses get eaten everyday failing to adapt to changing environments.


At Blue Wolf Strategy, we use evolution as a marketing metaphor in two ways:

1. Successful campaigns result over time by testing, measuring, refining and adapting various strategies to survive, and reproduce, in a particular environment. In marketing terms, the opposite approach would be, for example, spending the entire budget on an untested strategy in an unfamiliar market. Sort of like thinking, polar bears are at the top of the food chain so lets relocate a few hundred to Phoenix to reduce the urban coyote population. Species and environments fit together because they evolved together. Successful marketing campaigns adapt to customers’ behaviors, habits and purchasing patterns in changing environments. Taking out an ad in a newspaper to attract the attention of a teenager is a strategy on the verge of extinction. Likewise, posting tweets on Twitter to attract the attention of CEOs, is not necessarily a solution just because everyone’s doing it.

2. There’s a school of evolutionary thought called “punctuated equilibrium” to explain the sudden appearance of new species seemingly overnight. In marketing terms, we’re experiencing this today. Seemingly overnight, new kinds of media evolved forcing traditional channels to extinction. Largely, newspapers have failed to adapt as advertisers migrated to the internet. Think of a group of hunters failing to follow a herd of their prey thinking they’ll return because that’s what they always do. Instead of following them, they starve.

In this rapidly changing environment, business to business and business to consumer marketeers are scrambling for an easy answer. A magic bullet. A quick and easy solution. And there’s no shortage of consultants and agencies claiming they have the answer. Search Engine Optimization. Google Adwords. Social Networks. Blogs. Text Messaging. Opt-in Email Lists. One company purports to having developed search engine algorithms guaranteeing your company will always be in the top ten on Google. Googling the company with various terms failed to produce the very results they claim they will produce for you.

The fundamentals of marketing (the fundamentals of human behavior) remain the same:

  1. The brand must represent the values of the company

  2. The brand must be clearly communicated

  3. The service or product must deliver the brand promise

  4. Your brand must differentiate your business from the competition

  5. Campaigns must be intelligent, creative and take into account behaviors exhibited by the target

  6. Campaigns must be delivered via channels used by the target

  7. Technology changes; human nature doesn’t

While these various strategies can work, they work best when they evolve after testing, measuring, refining and adapting them to the target market.

Despite rapidly evolving media, business environments, channels and technologies, one thing remains the same: human nature. Quite literally, humans haven’t biologically evolved, in any significant way, in a hundred thousand years. Fundamental human behavior—not stuff like being able to text and drive a car at the same time, multi-tasking, tweeting and having a half-finished profile on Facebook—hasn’t changed. Fear, greed, lust, desire, hope, love, joy, anger just keep on going.

Blue Wolf didn’t make the rules, we just understand them. And that’s why successful marketing campaigns incorporate strategies that elicit emotional responses from a variety of customers. All things being equal, like price, a similar competitive product or service, an emotional connection with customers can be the difference between success and being eaten.