Snail v Dragon: How to get marketing done

In today’s technology-focused world, we’re getting used to the terminology of Unicorns and Dragons.

But what are they and what does it mean?

I’ll first explain some background about unicorns and dragons (as I see them), and then explain why, at The Profitable Firm, we write in defense of the snail.

Unicorns are start-ups, who through backing by venture capitalists achieve the glorious £1 billion turnover mark, often in a few short years. They are given this mythical name because they are so rare.

The other rare beast, Dragon, is a company that the returns are entire fund – a “fund maker”.


Aspirations of a Unicorn – An iron fist in a velvet glove

The general consensus is that Unicorns are adored and loved by all. (At least they are by me.)

Mythical and romanticised. Beautiful, shy, gracious and gentle creatures. Trusting and sweet-natured and will be a friend for life if you are lucky enough to ever happen upon one. Yet, we all mourn a creature none of us have ever seen, for we believe these gentle and trusting creatures to have been hunted to extinction for the magical and medicinal properties of their horn.

This image of the gentle beasts that would not hurt a fly and that is to be protected, sought out and saved is an image that I question.

A creature that has a horn on its head that could impale a human would be totally gentle and docile? What if the horn contained poison? As a child, I recall the poem about the Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the crown.

An animal that is prepared to take on the King of the Big Cats for a bit of bling, in my book at least, is not as completely docile, submissive and trusting creature as legend would have us believe. There is a strength and power there.

Dragons – Maligned and vilified

When most people consider dragons they conjure up the image of a large, flying at speed, fire breathing, destructive creature that destroys everything in its path and is to be feared.

However on closer inspection (if we are to examine the mythical dragon), as with many things in life, not is all as it first seems. Who are we to say that all flying dragons were large? Without evidence, they could have been all shapes and sizes.

How do you perceive things?

I am all for following your dreams and seeing your own version of success. If you have the right team and support system around you then you have a strong chance to grow into a Unicorn or Dragon.

So if you are seeking to reach the power and awe that these creatures inspire and have the longevity to go with it, there is nothing wrong in taking a slower and more measured approach.

I would like to bring to your attention another creature. A creature we are all familiar with, that is tangible. We may have played with as a child, that we can touch, see, some may even eat.

Introducing….the snail.

An argument for the snail.

When most people think of a snail, they think of something that is small, easily trodden under foot. Something picked up by birds. Something that is slimey, ugly, pointless and noncontributing.

Whilst all of these things may seem to be true, let’s take another look at what they are.

Powerhouse of strength, poison and longevity

They are strong – for they carry their “home” on their back. They never take it off or ask someone else to carry the load for them.

They are not all small. The Giant African Land Snail can grow to the size of an adult’s hand. The shell is particularly tough and has the highest heavy metal content of any snail species. Handling live wild snails of this species can infect a person with a life-threatening infection. Equally, the sea-based cone snail is one of the most deadly creatures on the planet, with a single sting able to cause death. So it would be wrong to assume they are completely harmless and do not make an impact.

With an abundance of varying species and prey, to many, a snail’s lifespan is dependent on what exact species they are and the habitat in which they live. Some survive for 5 years, but some can be lucky enough to live as long as 25 years.

Life in the fast(ish) lane

We are always able to track a snail’s path and progress via the shiny mucus trail that they leave in their wake. They are able to traverse many different landscapes and environments. Equally, this mucus enables others to follow in their fast lane. The mucus a snail creates enables them to pass along various terrains with less friction and snails will often travel in the mucus trails of others to move faster.

These gentle non-descript often overlooked creatures have much more about them than we first give credit for.

What does this have to do with marketing?

So there we have it! Three very different creatures with different characteristics.

Which one works for you?

Well, when it comes to marketing your accountancy firm, it’s wise to consider what approach you will take: Unicorn, dragon, or snail. All of them have qualities that you can look to imitate and use as well as qualities that it would be advisable to ignore. The trick is to know and learn the right one for the right time.

In marketing, the temptation is always to combine the qualities of the Dragon and Unicorn. Do it now! Hurry! Take action! Be dazzling and capture people’s imagination. Make them want you. In essence, Flying Dragon and Unicorn attributes.

This is good advice, but if it’s applied across the board there are dangers. You don’t want to be hunted to extinction or literally be burning yourself out to the point that you are flying in your own smoke and cannot see your direction where to land.

And so it’s time to consider the path of the snail.

Being the snail doesn’t mean that nothing gets done.

We’re here to help you embrace your inner snail, take pride in being mighty and slow for now.

One of the ways to do that is to start adding to your learning & inspiration. The monthly Content Marketer Programme is a great way to start Snail, and you can upgrade to a Unicorn or a Dragon at any moment. And we’re here to help.

Or just begin – slowly – taking action on some of your existing marketing ideas. Snail your way through it, and when things really get going we can help you transform into a Dragon or a Unicorn. Or both!