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In this day and age, reputation is no joke. We live in a media-driven world where every mistake you make, either as a professional or as a brand, leaves a permanent mark on the Internet.

More than ever it’s vital to be consistently on-point with your message, including being careful with spelling, grammar and content. Unfortunately, not every brand is as thorough as they should be, and that’s where Influence & Co. comes in.

The company, formerly known as Digital Talent Agents, started out with a mission to help their clients build their reputation, and thus their influence.

I spoke to Ryan O’Connell about the importance of the company’s mission and what it means for us in this ever-changing world of media.

What is Influence & Co.?

Influence & Co. is a company that helps individuals and companies grow their influence and credibility online by getting consistent content with their bylines published in reputable online publications, winning industry-specific awards, and obtaining Top Ten list recognitions.

What was the inspiration?

The inspiration came from our two co-founders, John Hall and Kelsey Meyer. Both felt there wasn’t a sure way to naturally grow someone’s credibility and visibility as a thought leader and expert online. They decided to start by growing John’s brand as an entrepreneur, based on his extended experience in real estate and running small businesses.



What’s the story behind the company name change?

When we first started, we felt that Digital Talent Agents was a good fit because it represented the fact that we were working in the digital space. It also was a good fit because we assigned each of our clients a talent agent, who essentially acted as an extension of their team to ensure that they were able to deliver expert content without spending a large portion of their time on it. After a year and a half in business, we felt that Digital Talent Agents wasn’t all-encompassing for the services we were providing our clients and partners.

Influence & Co. represents what we are truly doing for them: leveraging their expertise to grow their platform and influence online.

How has business been doing since you started?

Business is going better than we ever expected. On the client side, we’ve been able to work with some of the top thought leaders across multiple industries to get their expertise in front of more people. Publications have been great; they’ve been really responsive to our model. Because we’re only sending high-quality content, it makes their jobs easier.

What has your biggest failure been with Influence & Co.?

Our biggest failure was not vetting our clients enough when we first started out. Because we work so closely with major publications that are looking for high-quality, expert content, it hurt us early on to not be working with clients who not only were experts, but who wanted to grow their credibility and visibility online naturally.



What has your biggest success been?

Our biggest success has definitely been going from a team of two co-founders to a 30-person company — and becoming one of the largest content distributors online — in less than two years. To be able to work with individuals and companies that are affecting and driving their industries in a very big way is far above the expectations we had for the first two years of business.

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

To be honest, we haven’t seen much direct competition yet. Although there has been a huge shift toward building thought leadership and credibility online, most companies are just trying to adapt, rather than create a company like ours. Most of our competition has been more indirect, and we typically develop strategic partnerships with our competitors because what we do is so specialized. We’ve been able to develop unique relationships and processes that make us really good at what we do.

Our strategy — and the fact that we really are concerned with saving our clients’ time and resources — sets us apart from our competition.

Another big thing is our price point. Based in the Midwest, we don’t have the overhead to worry about that companies do on the coasts, which allows us to be much more reasonable with our clients.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs just starting out?

There’s nothing more important than growing your brand and network. If you don’t surround yourself with people who are going to be able to move your business along and give you transparent, honest feedback, you are much more likely to continuously fail without improving. Similarly, if you aren’t consistently building your credibility and expertise online, you’re setting yourself up to not be taken seriously, or worse, not be reaching your true audience.



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