Saying that local marketing agency RingoFire Digital is a jack-of-all trades is an understatement. That initial spark all started in a Clemson graduate classroom with an idea that expanded into plan. Since then the agency has been driven by old fashion creativity and teamwork. Now having collaborated with 14 local and national clients, the agency is ready showcase their team and what they’re all about! Recently we were lucky enough to be able to visit their office (located right in the heart of Downtown Greenville at The Liberty Building) and met the founders Brian Stearns and Cory Bridges along with the rest of their team. So jump right in and let’s go meet the team at RingoFire Digital.
360: How did RingoFire come to life?
Cory: We were both pursuing our MBAs and one of the classes was focused on entrepreneurship and innovation at work. And our objective was to come up with a business idea. Of course, we were suppose to come up with a full business plan and how we could quickly make that idea into a reality. We thought about both our backgrounds, we met in the MBA program at Clemson and just had something unique. Brian had the experience in marketing and advertising and then I had mine in supply-chain manufacturing and sales. We thought if we had a product idea, we had no doubt we could bring success behind it. We know how to create it, we know how to market it and we already had established relationships with key national retailers.
Brian: I really don’t regret doing corporate for almost 10 years. That’s what I did… and it was good training. We launched several brands, and products through multiple retailers. It was a great experience. So just going through those motions and doing it mostly digitally, I learned what worked best and how to bring a brand to the market through social media. You didn’t have to run a newspaper print ad or tv spot anymore. Cory and I were seeing all these innovative ideas through the class and in general… and wanted to help these people. Myself on the creative side and Cory on the business side. Just coaching them, helping them and that’s how it all started. How can we help bring their ideas and products to market, help people and eventually bring in our own ideas. We’ve successfully helped at least 6 of our clients, that simply had an idea, launch it and many of them are now carried nationally. Now Cory is leading up the division of the agency that’s going to bring our own product to market next year, so we’re very excited about that!
360: Tell us about your partnership. Why do you both work so well together?
Brian: We balance ourselves well. We’ve said that from the beginning, if we were both creative or both business operations guys, we would have tumbled already! But we complement each other nicely.
360: Why did you decide to establish the agency in Greenville?
Brian: We both wanted to be in downtown Greenville, with a Main Street address. When we launched the company, we wanted to come up like… we got this. We wanted that perception. It’s a competitive market in a really booming city, so we had to! We couldn’t just creep in as a side-hustle agency outside off Woodruff Road. We wanted to be downtown. We wanted to be in the mix of everything. It just brings instant credibility & legitimacy in what we wanted to do. Several of our clients are also our neighbors, right downtown.
360: You guys have only worked together for nearly 2 years now. That’s impressive. How has it all come to life?
Brian: It’s been a dream like scenario and it is due to our amazing team! If you think about it, this has all happened in a little over a year. You hear people tell their stories all the time about the blood, sweat and tears. It does take time… and lots of hard work… and we’re still working at it, but it did come together very quick for us. Again, it goes back to bringing in the right people, working with the right clients and we just make sure the customer service is first class. Our first team member, who recently became our full-time creative director, Todd Johnston, was is a complete creative wizard from the start. Cory and I have been fortunate to hire the right people for the right task.
Cory: Most companies have a traditional hierarchy or structure. It starts with your employees at the bottom, mid-level players, then the directors and finally the executives at the top managing it all… but we decided to flip that model around.
Brian: As you can see here, Cory and I do not have offices. We work in the conference room with the team! And our interns have desks that overlook downtown Greenville. We would be nothing without our team, so we try to motivate, inspire and educate them as best as we can.
Cory: We put our crew and our clients first. That’s part of the reason why we feel we’ve seen success so early on. We are here to offer strategy and direction… but the team takes off with every project and we’re constantly inspired by them.
360: That’s great. So what else makes this agency so different?
Brian: It’s how fast we are. That fact that we can produce a quality video for a client in a single day, or pull off a photo shoot for a national retail partner overnight is what sets us apart. The quick turn arounds and level of customer services are a winning recipe.
Cory: There’s at least a dozen agencies in a mile radius of us and we’ve set ourselves apart by truly being a one-stop shop. Not just through our digital marketing efforts, but with new product innovation support. There are a lot of marketing companies out there that can help you if you’re already established, market your brand, but less than 5% of any of those can actually help you go out and source a product. If someone has an idea, we can help you source that. We can help you on the manufacturing side, the retail side and the digital marketing. So from start to finish that’s how I think we differentiate. We’re not just full services marketing, but also for product innovation and development. We can actually help you with the distribution and sales of your product. I don’t think they’re many other agencies in our area that can offer that. We love working with our national clients… but really enjoy helping the local entrepreneurs and innovators too!
Brian: We both bring several years of corporate consumer goods and retail experience to the table, and gained this experience at a young age. I was thrown into marketing and retail. I never studied this during my undergrad at Appalachian State. Cory was also quickly thrown into logistics, supply-chain and business ops in his early 20’s. So we had that real & raw experience of being in the weeds and going through the motions at a young age. From that experience we created an agency! Where some creatives will just start an agency and not have the experience of what it’s like on the corporate side, we built this already knowing what it was like to be the client. That has helped make us a great agency.
360: Tell us about your current clients. Any in particular you’ve loved working with so far?
Brian: Not to sound cheesy, but we love all of our clients! Sometimes we’ll say “won’t it be cool to work with so and so” and then two weeks they’re in our office and we’re pitching to them! It’s that whole law of attraction thing. If we want a client then we’re proactively figuring out a way to make that happen. We still pride ourselves that we have not made a single cold call. I know that sounds cocky, but it’s a good testament of how hard we’re working and people are taking notice. It’s word of mouth too. People are seeing the level of service we’re providing along with the quality and care. But truly, each client is totally in a different category and unique in their own right.
360: Last question! Anything in particular you’re looking forward to in 2018?
Cory: I think we’re always looking ahead at what’s next. We have big plans in store for 2018! As we start to ramp up our own product innovation division. I think it’s really going to be a great year for us.
Brian: We’ll continue to move forward and think different. Greenville is flooded with incredible restaurants, artists, local music and so much more. We have a couple of new ideas for the new year and are excited to keep growing on both a local and national level with our clients.
Cory: When we moved into our current office we thought it would be at least a 2-3 year space, but already 4-5 months in and we’re thinking, “wow, we’re quickly running out of space!” and we were just talking this morning about how we have to start looking now. We just gotta keep planning ahead! We don’t want to grow too quick, and want to make sure we keep ourselves grounded. Baby steps.
360: Well thanks guys! It was great getting you and the team. We look forward to continuing to see you grow. We’ll talk again soon!
Of course, none of this would even be possible without their passionate and dedicated team. Here’s the full roundup of the RingoFire Digital team:
Todd Johnston, Creative Director
Logan Childs, Photographer & Videographer
Mike Johnson, Web Developer
Heath Bradley, Project Manager
Ellen Brown, Executive Assistant
Margaret McElwee, Associate Account Manager
Carlee Ashy, Graphic Design Intern
Brian Stearns, CEO
Cory Bridges, COO
Consensus quote from the team: “Do what you love, love what you do.”
As always you can follow along their daily marketing adventures via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You won’t have any problem catching fire from this team’s creative passion! For more information on RingoFire Digital, please feel free to contact their CEO Brian Sterns directly at (980) 621-7985 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fire away!