Biomimicry is the art and science of taking inspiration from, or imitating, nature’s best ideas. Velcro was inspired by the tiny hooks in burrs. The science behind medical patches (e.g. the nicotine patch) takes its cue from mosquitos, which can sting you without your feeling it (it’s the itch from the poison that you feel, not the sting). When developing Freenet, his peer-to-peer network solution, Ian Clarke was inspired by how ants used pheromones to organize behavior across an entire colony.
Here are six laws of nature that can serve as inspiration to marketers:
1. Nature uses only the energy it needs. A plant absorbs only the sunlight and nutrients it needs to grow. If you try to give the plant more than it needs, you will likely harm it. Inspired marketers put only relevant KPIs and metrics on a reporting dashboard. If you give your executives every single metric you can find, it will likely harm them.
2. Nature fits form to function. Hummingbirds have a tongue that has a w-shaped groove and is twice as long as its beak – all necessary to lap the nectar from flowers. Inspired marketers fit content to the delivery device. They don’t write a 1,500-word treatise if the content is intended for viewing on a smartphone.
3. Nature recycles everything. Nitrogen moves between plants, animals, bacteria, the atmosphere and the soil. Inspired marketers think of content as a set of components that can be reused in multiple assets. One great piece of data (e.g. a great benchmark) can be recycled through many deliverables (e.g. emails, presentations, Web sites) at multiple stages of the buying process.
4. Nature rewards cooperation. Egrets eat the parasites they find on the backs of mammals, which benefits both animals. Inspired marketers look for co-marketing partners. These include not only channel partners but also associations and companies that sell complementary products or services.
5. Nature banks on diversity. Monocultures do not survive in nature. Natural prairies thrive in harsh conditions, fight disease and flourish due to the diversity of plants that support and protect each other. Inspired marketers consider the entire buyer’s journey, creating a diverse tactical mix that generates dialogue. One-and-done marketing plans do not thrive.
6. Nature demands local specialization. The rare Hexalectris Orchid exists only where soil conditions and tree canopy are just right. It is so adapted to its environment that it dies if a biologist tries to transplant it. Inspired marketers gather information from local sales and field marketing teams in order to define their target personas. Cultural sensitivity ensures successful transplantation of a marketing program from the originating country.