I was listening to a CBC Radio show called Under the Influence, with Terry O’Reilly. The show is a regular series about the changing world of marketing.
The particular episode I was listening to had a segment about from where Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones got his unique dance moves.
In A Beautiful Constraint, a book by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden highlighted on the episode, Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones’ notorious guitarist, reveals that it was the small 4×4 area of the stage that Jagger was confined to early on in their careers that made Mick the dancer he is today.
The thinking is this: tension from constraints fuels a high degree of creativity.
From my early MediaMiser experience, I would have to concur.
In the very beginning, MediaMiser had some constraints of its own: we didn’t have money, partnerships, or even start-up experience — but we had an idea, and the desire to move like Jagger.
When I first started developing our platform, one of the big reasons we took a chance on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery method of content was because the development costs were low, if not essentially free. Furthermore, that’s what I knew at the time; I was the sole programmer.
It wasn’t exactly a revolutionary statement meant to overthrow the desktop establishment, we were just working within our limits.
Those constraints also helped us to find unique ways of aggregating content that our competitors didn’t even consider. Our goal was not to emulate our competitors, but to serve our clients in new and better ways.
Early on, when we initially went to market, most of the established media monitoring companies were still focused on delivering briefs by faxes, with armies of people reading and cutting newspapers. Because we had no start-up capital, we had a tiny staff and couldn’t commit the manpower to doing things that way. So we went digital. We focused on analysis, approaching the problem in a programmatic way and imparting meaning to the information by applying metadata and analyzing only the pertinent information.
This new approach to media intelligence, adapted because of the constraints around us, delivered greater return on investment to customers than traditional methods. As we worked closely with our customers to improve our solution ━ again, something we were able to do because we were such a small shop ━ we quickly figured out that clients loved the fact that not only did we focus on highly relevant content, but we were also able to exclude irrelevant content that interfered with comprehension and dissemination of the data.
MediaMiser was one of the first companies to introduce a highly editorialized service with a strong emphasis on customer support. But many potential investors actually saw this as a negative (turns out they didn’t see customer support as scalable). Ironically, the clashing of those philosophies and forgoing of venture capital ultimately helped both the business and our customers, as we were forced to keep driving forward with evermore creative approaches and a greater emphasis on customer support.
I’ve come to realize that if we had been a “have” company, able to move freely around the stage, we would never have developed these unique approaches, that it was those early constraints that made us the company we are today.
As MediaMiser continues to grow, like the Rolling Stones’ stages over time, we have to remember those early lessons of creative constraint and, like Mick Jagger, keep innovating.