Marketers take note - limitation is the impetus for a better outcome

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 25 October 2016
Adam Morgan speaking at the AANA's Reset conference.

Despite living in a world of ever-increasing constraint, marketers need to embrace such limitations and use them as a launch pad to wield their ambitions, according to founder of UK-based challenger consultancy Eatbigfish.

Speaking at the AANA’s Reset conference, put simply, Eatbigfish’s Adam Morgan said: “Limitation is the impetus for a better outcome”, and that it is indeed possible to profit from the apparent varying constraints around us - particularly when it comes to marketing.

From budget constraints to overcoming regulations constraints, he says you can you turn constraint into a booming advantage.

“Good things can come from the constraints that you have to face,” he said. Adding that there is a “strong relationship between ambition and constraint”.

Morgan went on to outline the stages people go through during this process, from getting stuck in the ‘victim’ stage to moving on to the 'neutralisers' stage and lastly the 'transformers' stage.

When faced with constraints he says: “Of course you are going to feel like a victim straight away, but you’ll overcome this.”

He says once you recognise the problem it’s vital to “own it” and keep the problem solving mindset and optimism alive.

Make the constraint beautiful

As well as framing your question/constraint in the right way, Morgan says it’s important to be open to constraints opening up new opportunities.

Resourcefulness and inventiveness are also key and he referenced a TechCrunch opinion by Tom Goodwin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Havas Media, who said: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

Morgan followed this by saying: “As a brand you can scale by accessing other peoples resources, but as marketers I don’t see a whole lot of that happening."

Morgan says marketers can overcome constraints with the “we can, if” motto, followed by these five themes:

  • 1) Drama - as after all, brands need to get people to stop and listen and drama is a key part of that.
  • 2) Surprise 
  • 3) We are interesting on the inside
  • 4) We make our secondary medium our primary one - inferring to better harness your best assets and people to put them in the number one lane.
  • 5) Use other people’s resources - which is particularly important if you are trying to do more, but on a smaller budget.

“This is a strategic approach not a tactical one,” he says.

“You have to think like this if you want to do more with less,” Morgan says. He added that the world around us is full of people doing the most extraordinary things, and these can be learned from, but only if people learn to embrace their constraints.

“Our ability to learn, to turn constraints to our advantage lies at the heart of our ability to progress.”

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