By Renee Moore
For business leaders John Hall and Kelsey Meyer, entrepreneurship is organic. Throughout their lives and careers, the two have found ways to identify needs and build businesses around meeting those needs. And in 2011, they brought their talents and entrepreneurial spirits together to co-found Influence & Co., an award-winning content marketing agency with offices in Columbia, Missouri; St. Louis; and Kansas City, Missouri.
Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing valuable content to attract and connect with an audience and drive the growth of a company. While it’s now practiced by many companies in one form or another, few specialize in this marketing strategy in the same way Influence & Co. does.
Hall and St. Louis native Meyer built their content marketing agency to help other business leaders communicate their knowledge, share their messages, and connect authentically with their audiences by creating and publishing content. But the two wanted to differentiate their approach to content. They say they do that by focusing on the unique ideas and experiences of the business leaders they welcome as clients, crafting content that showcases those ideas, and connecting this content with publications that are eager to publish.
“We’d seen leaders with really great insights and expertise to share with their audiences struggle to get those messages written and in front of the right people,” Meyer said. “So we built a company that helps them do exactly that.”
By building relationships with editors at more than 1,000 publications and using a highly collaborative process to extract clients’ ideas and transform them into content, Meyer says the Influence & Co. team helps its clients create content that’s authored by the clients themselves — not ghostwriters. And that’s exactly what Meyer and Hall wanted to deliver.
Because it uses the exact ideas of these clients, the Influence & Co. team is better able to help position clients as the industry thought leaders they are and achieve a wider range of goals.
At a time when digital marketing and online content was growing in popularity, the timing of this venture couldn’t have been more perfect.
“Content marketing was really starting to grow in practice, and businesses were starting to realize its value,” Meyer said. “We were fortunate enough to start our company right as the industry started taking off.”
To keep up with the growth of the industry, the Influence & Co. team has had to grow, too. It’s expanded from the two co-founders to 65 full-time employees in less than five years — and it’s still growing. In fact, Influence & Co. is hiring for positions in content and social media management and account strategy in its St. Louis and Columbia offices.
This fast-growing team is made up of young, energetic entrepreneurs, former journalists, and content experts who work in small client service and editorial teams — or “pods,” as Hall and Meyer call them — to deliver services to clients that range from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Together, the team and the leadership that guides it have created an award-winning company culture that aims to drive engagement, exceed expectations, and positively affect the company’s success, said Meyer. Influence & Co.’s culture includes unlimited paid time off, flexible work hours and locations, and work events that include an annual company talent show, an overnight retreat, and monthly team bonding events. And in 2015, Influence & Co. was recognized by Entrepreneur as one of the best medium-sized company cultures in America.
But Influence & Co. has adapted to more than just explosive growth. Beginning originally as a service-oriented company, the team has continued innovating to adapt to the industry and now uses proprietary software developed in-house to complement those services.
“We just launched our new software called ICo Core,” Meyer said. “We developed it ourselves, so it complements our unique processes exactly. It helps us communicate with our team and our clients, and it makes the entire content creation process much simpler.”
And with a team as young and energetic as Influence & Co.’s in an industry as ever-changing as marketing, the simpler the processes, the better and more successful the efforts are sure to be.