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How evolutionary theory could help your business improve its blog content

Evolution is our greatest theory of nature. And just like the natural world, your business is a living organism made up of constituent parts with their own specialties and adaptations.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is 161 years old next month.

It’s easy to think of Darwin’s ideas of evolution and natural selection as done deals: an opposable thumbs-up and move on. And yet evolution itself is still evolving.

What can the latest developments in the field tell you about your business, and how you might improve the quality of your blog content?

Why the Good Samaritan survives

Survival of the fittest suggests that helping others at your own expense is a bad idea. And yet in practice, human beings are kind to strangers, form cooperative societies, and might even receive help from a form of ‘cultural group selection’, outside of our individual selfish genes.

Recent research from the University of Arizona suggests that working collaboratively within a shared culture can be beneficial, that evolution favours cooperative groups.

But what does this mean for your business and its web content?

It means don’t be afraid to share your knowledge. The financial planning profession is its own tribe and culture, and science tells us that such societies work best when they work cooperatively.

If you have useful insights, share them – through blogs, webinars, or social media. This altruistic act gets your brand and your expert knowledge out there and could make you the ‘go-to’ firm for clients.

Don’t be afraid of giving stuff away for free. Guides to evergreen issues, technical fact sheets, and regular newsletters all improve your visibility and the traffic to your website.

Being a ‘Good Samaritan’ isn’t an evolutionary dead-end.

Be a spadefoot toad

Adaptability and flexibility are crucial – in the animal kingdom, as well as in your business.

Tadpoles of the Mexican spadefoot toad begin adapting the moment they’re born, dependant on the primary food source available.

Usually content with an algae-rich diet, if fairy shrimp are plentiful in their birthing pond, the tadpoles literally change body shape, growing larger jaws and shorter guts to ensure they benefit from their gastronomic good fortune.

You don’t need to be an expert in neo-Lamarckian adaptation though. Just find out what articles your clients are lapping up – through trawling the data, tracking responses, or speaking to them directly – and then adapt your content accordingly.

Charlotte recently looked at ‘How to measure the success of your newsletter’ and this can help you decide what to write next. If team updates are popular, be sure to include them regularly. If aspirational travel pieces are getting great click-to-open rates, write more!

Also, don’t be afraid to take a risk. If you don’t know whether your clients will be interested in a particular financial or lifestyle article, either ask them or just give it a try.

As Nick’s recent blog, ‘What your clients want you to write about’, revealed, popular lifestyle pieces have included ‘5 reasons that breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and ‘The rise of the Silver Stoner – why over 50s are turning to marijuana.’

Remember, before fish could survive on land, they first had to evolve the ability to get oxygen from the air, a ‘bold evolutionary experiment’ according to Professor John Long of Flinders University, South Australia. And one that ultimately paid off.

Take solace from the Galapagos finch

Evolution isn’t the slow process we once thought. Genes can be turned on and off by chemical tags (known as epigenetic marks) created in mere minutes or hours.

Take the humble pea aphid. Existing in two varieties, winged and wingless, just last year a group of US scientists placed them at the mercy of a bunch of predatory ladybirds. Not only did the proportion of the winged variety of aphids increase (a literal fight-or-flight) but the adaptation passed through the next 25 generations.

Changes can be quick then. But they can also be reversed.

It was upon finding both small- and large-beaked varieties of Galapagos finch – dependant on their main food source – that Darwin first began to ponder matters of evolution.

Long after his death, a large-scale drought in 1977 saw the small-beaked ground finch wiped out, its large-beaked cousin better suited to the dry conditions. Just six years later though, in 1983, came a record wet spell. Within a matter of years, beak sizes shrank.

The birds had evolved, and then evolved back, to end up where they started.

All of which tells us what?

Be flexible and adaptable with your blog content, keep track of successes so that you can replicate them later, and don’t be afraid to go back to an earlier plan if it was working better. Like the theory of evolution itself, your web articles should be constantly evolving.

Get in touch

Here at Yardstick, we don’t just produce great content on your behalf, we are also flexible and adaptable, tracking the data to help ensure the articles we produce for you get the best open rates possible.

If you’re busy helping your clients and don’t have time to sit down and write, get in touch. Email [email protected] or call 0115 8965 300.

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