The Charles Darwin guide to measuring ideas

By Neil Barraclough
Imagine a bird one metre tall and weighing more than 20kgs.

Strong and stocky, with a hooked beak over 20cm long that could inflict some serious damage – both to potential enemies and food sources as tough to crack as crabs and shellfish.

Compared to the pigeons most of us are used to, it sounds pretty frightening.

Four hundred years ago, this bird was found.

But the dodo had one fatal flaw: it couldn’t fly.

Fewer than 70 years later, after a combination of floods and hungry explorers had done their worst, it was extinct.
Tarantino quote

How to back the right ideas

Now, more than 150 years after philosopher Herbert Spencer first read Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’, the same principles need to apply to your content marketing ideas.

Like a David Attenborough documentary, where the weak and the feeble make a tasty lunch for the lions, only your strongest ideas should survive.

But how do you assess which of your ideas is the most robust?

How do you determine the strength of something as abstract as an idea?

Introducing NUF testing

At Tecmark, we take each of our initial ideas and score them out of 10 on each of the following criteria:


How new is your idea in the context of the current landscape and what your competitors are doing? Has anyone does this before? How different is it to what’s currently out there?


How useful is this idea in terms of actually meeting your goals? Will it secure social shares? Generate inbound links? Increase your conversion rate? Be wary of proceeding if your idea has no obvious use.


How feasible is it for you to deliver this idea, taking into account your budget, resources and time? Is it going to demand too much dev time? Do you have the necessary design and/or copywriting skills to bring the idea to life?

The final reckoning

If you score each idea out of 10 against each of the above criteria, you’re left with a final score out of 30.

Our general approach is to cull the ideas that fall below a mark of 20 – but you might experiment with different cut-off points.

Eventually, you’re left with only the strongest of your initial ideas.

And the rest?

Dead as a dodo.



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Tecmark Author Neil Barraclough

About the Author

Neil Barraclough: Brand Communications Manager

A former journalist with experience in radio, TV and a decade in national newspapers, Neil now focuses on communications and results-driven copywriting.

Visit Neil's Page
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