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Digital marketing agencies are so important in this day and age. For companies young and old, a digital marketing consult is a one-stop-shop for all their web and mobile needs. This covers search marketing, paid advertising, social media, as well as all of the great things that can be done with “content marketing.” With such a high demand for quality firms, competition among agencies is quickly growing.

I spoke to Ric Dragon, of DragonSearch, about why his company sits at the top and how his approach to business left him successful and his clients happy.

What is DragonSearch?

DragonSearch is what we call a “digital marketing agency,” – meaning we take care of marketing in the Internet and mobile realm, as opposed to television or magazine advertising.

I see us all as living in a time of revolution – that the computer/internet/social media technologies have all together rewritten the rules about how businesses communicate with customers.  Revolutions can be devastating, just as this one will be for many businesses. Our role is to help our clients not only come out alive, but to be leaders in their own space within this revolution.



What was the inspiration?

Interestingly enough, I had to be pulled kicking and screaming into the business. In my previous entrepreneurial endeavor, I had a company that developed websites and applications.  While we always had to provide a bit of digital marketing to our clients, I thought the space was saturated with charlatans and snake oil salesmen. 

My now partner, Don Tallerman, convinced me that our clients needed these specialized services badly, so I relented, and DragonSearch was born.

What's the story behind the name?

There was another bit of reluctance on my part! The partners were convinced that we should name the business after me.After all, I was blessed with a kick-ass name!And at the time the company was founded, social media had yet to become a part of marketing – the emphasis was on the “search marketing” side – that is, the part that dealt with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and PPC (Pay-per-click advertising).

“Dragon,” by the way, is indeed the last name I was born with, coming by way of my French-Canadian grandfather.

How has business been doing since you started?

The firm has grown 20-35 percent yearly for over six years. The team has developed to an amazing level of expertise, with many of our team members guest-writing and speaking all over.  And the sophistication of our clients has matured to a point where through smart collaboration; we’re providing the best conceivable marketing services available. I’d like to think we’re on target!

What has your biggest failure been with Dragon Search?

Business is rife with failure:should we have taken that client? Did we fire that malcontent employee soon enough? Should we have purchased that software instead of this software? I could point to one of those things as a “biggest failure,” and yet it doesn’t seem so much that any particular failure would have set us on a different path.  The important thing was, in the popular saying, to fail quickly, learn from it, and move on.

I have been through a significant learning curve with my leadership style, however, brought on by a packed travel and speaking schedule: to lead by a strong vision and purpose, and enable the team to be their brilliant selves.  Leaders often interject themselves altogether too much, as opposed to really being facilitators.  If there has been a great failure, it was that I didn’t get out of the way faster!

What has your biggest success been?

This is a beautiful flip of the previous question, right?  It seems only logical that we should take the same conclusion about failure – that we should do it quickly, learn from it, and move to the next step. We’re only as good as we are now.

There is a success that I’m proud of, though, and that is embodied in the team that we’ve built.  We’ve gathered together a remarkable team of driven, enthusiastic self-motivated, self-learning individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.

What about your service is unique that your competitors can't offer?

There are different levels of digital marketing – and at the top of the game, all of us need to be creative, incessant learners that integrate all of the pieces of the puzzle. Those are all parts of the DragonSearch DNA, and shouldn’t be unique.

The next part that we bring to the game though is, and that’s process.

So much marketing is done ad hoc – what we call throwing spaghetti on the wall (if you throw pasta on the wall and it sticks, it’s cooked).  Because of our legacy in application development, we immediately set out to develop processes and a mindset to improve those processes over time. We’ve borrowed from Six Sigma, Lean, and Capability Maturity Model, and our own unique methodologies, to create marketing that maximizes value creation.



What people are you looking to add to your team?

There are many aspects of digital marketing that are maturing to a point where we need more and more specialists.  We’re anticipating team additions in specific creative content creation such as videography, as well as specialists in mobile marketing and analytics.

We have a “Noah’s Ark” mentality in our team development, meaning we always try to have roles developed to the point where there are at least two team members in a role. This helps to insure that should someone need to be absent, that the job can still be done.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs just starting out?

One of my greatest bits of good fortune in starting out was an introduction to an organization development (OD) expert.  Now, there are a lot of OD experts out there that aren’t worth the paper and ink on their business cards, but in this case, I’d met someone who really knew his stuff. He provided me with countless tools that helped to shape my thinking as I developed strategy and tactics over the years.

Those exercises around purpose, vision, mission, and values are critical.  And there’s so much more: become a tireless student of the business knowledge of our time – things like Balanced Scorecard, Blue Ocean Strategy, Good to Great, and Polarity Management. Subscribe to Harvard Business Review, or at least follow their blog every day.




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