Kelsey Meyer is the Cofounder and President of Influence & Co., a content marketing agency specializing in content creation & distribution. Influence & Co. was named to the 2016 Inc 500 list at #239, and was named the Emerging Business of the Year Award for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program in the Midwest Region. Influence & Co. works with companies ranging from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between to help them utilize content to accomplish business goals.
How did you get into the industry?
I started in the content marketing industry when I was running a co-working space in Columbia, MO. I saw a lot of startups struggling with traditional PR, and trying to build trust and engagement with an audience, and started talking to Brent Beshore about his ideas for a different way of approaching PR and marketing. We didn’t know much about the industry of content marketing at the time, but just knew that there had to be a more effective way for these companies to engage with their audience in an authentic way. I had a background studying marketing and English at the University of Missouri, so combining those two passions was a natural next step for me.
Any emerging industry trends?
One industry trend I have loved seeing is the transition from companies just having a company blog because “they know they should” to companies having a company blog that actually educates, engages, and builds trust with their audience. Gone are the days of a stale company blog getting updated once a month with obscure company updates, and now we’re seeing companies treat their blogs as real publications that provide value to an audience. This is a trend I hope never ends because it’s the best way to scale education and trust.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Once challenge that online publications are facing is remaining or becoming profitable when everyone expects to get access to content for free. This creates an opportunity for publishers to be more creative in the types of content they create. One thing we’ve seen is publications being more open to guest contributed content when it’s from trusted sources, because they can receive content for free and many times the guest author brings his or her own audience with them to read their content.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I kind of spoke on this above, but the real inspiration for Influence & Co. came from conversations with Brent Beshore, founder of Adventures, when we talked about how many companies were struggling with traditional PR. They were paying thousands of dollars a month to traditional PR firms with zero guarantee of anything being picked up, and many times the mentions that were published were missing the mark on the client’s strategy. This gave us the idea for doing PR and marketing in a different way, and Influence & Co. was born.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are expanding from providing more thought leadership services to providing more comprehensive content marketing services. We are also adding additional analytic features to our proprietary software – Ico. Core .
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Right now we’re working on a few key initiatives that I am personally really passionate about.
1. We’re starting to offer services to our clients for creating and marketing books. We have finished one book thus far – Top of Mind, and are working on a second.
2. We’re going to be starting a do-it-yourself course for people who want to execute on content marketing strategies, but don’t have the budget to hire a firm like ours.
3. We are implementing a better organizational structure for our Account Teams (called Pods) which has been a big undertaking, but has resulted in better employee retention and client retention.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
My most difficult moment with Influence & Co. has been when we’ve had to let people go. It’s never easy to make that decision, but when you know it’s right for the company, and ultimately the individual, it has to be done. We’ve been fortunate to have an amazing team, so we haven’t had to do this often, but it’s never something we look forward to.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Our favorite clients are the clients who really understand how content marketing fits in with their overall marketing strategy, and they maximize each piece of content we work with them on. For example we love clients where we get to handle all of their marketing funnel. With these clients we can create awesome guest contributed content, that links to a really educational blog post on their site, that links to an in-depth piece of gated content that a prospective client can input their email to download, and then we can deliver that prospective client valuable insights through an email drip campaign, with the ultimate goal of getting them on a sales call. When we can handle every piece of this content we can see great results with clients.
How do you motivate others?
We look to hire employees who are intrinsically motivated, meaning that they don’t want us to motivate them, but they are self-motivated to do a good job. When we see people waning in motivation it frequently means we haven’t done a good enough of a job in explaining the why. If we are explaining why something is important effectively, we never have issues with our team being motivated.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Read, read, and read some more! One of the best things about working in the field of content marketing is that it’s a quickly-changing industry. There is so much in flux right now that it’s imperative to stay up-to-date on industry trends, and to be aware of what other big players in the industry are doing. You can subscribe to our blog for industry updates in your inbox on a weekly basis!