John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that assists individuals, businesses and brands in growing their influence and credibility. They work with key employees to publish thought leadership content and use that content to benefit other marketing campaigns. Influence & Co., one of the leading providers of high quality expert content to the world’s top publications, is the creator of Contributor Weekly.
1. What was your inspiration to create a company that streamlines the process of establishing credibility and influence online?
We built the company because, as entrepreneurs, we needed the service and nobody was offering anything like it. My co-founder, Kelsey Meyer, and I first started doing it for ourselves. We saw that companies that were surrounded by credibility were the fastest-growing and had the most success. We were our first clients; we immediately saw value, so we built a company from there.
2. What is the most important aspect of marketing a business?
The most important thing is hitting a bunch of birds with one stone. Most marketing budgets aren’t endless, so you need to make what you do count. We started Influence & Co. because we saw the value in thought leadership and how it complemented other marketing campaigns. If you get quality content published with your byline, you can use that content to nurture leads or make your marketing material more robust. Then, you use that content to reengage an audience through social media.
You’re published in a media outlet, so you get a PR benefit of building your awareness. There’s also an SEO and reputation management benefit by earning quality links via each article. Most people halfheartedly attempt one or two of these areas, and that’s why they fail. If you do it right from the beginning and maximize the value of the content, you’ll see a lot of success.
3. What does it mean to be an expert in a field?
Most people are experts at something. However, being an expert is all about perception and exposure. Are you showcasing your expertise so people see you as the leader in your field? Some of the smartest people I know aren’t viewed as experts. It’s because they’re holed away in a lab or cave. The experts who have the most success are able to balance their intelligence in a field with sharing that information with the right market.
4. What is the best piece of advice you give your clients?
It’s important to actually earn credibility, rather than try to artificially create it. I see a lot of success when a client wants to be a trusted source for information and truly wants to help his customer base. Being an industry leader is more than just price and product these days. People want to buy from someone they trust. Positioning yourself as a thought leader and providing valuable information is a key part of naturally gaining potential clients’ trust.
5. What is your application process like? How do you know if someone is a good fit for your program?
We look for three things:
1. Good people and companies that treat people well
2. Companies that offer good services or products — nothing shady or spammy
3. People who are capable of being industry leaders and can speak intelligently about their work
We are honest with potential clients about whether they’re a good fit for our services. I always tell people if they’re interested in thought leadership or content marketing that it’s worth getting on a call with someone on my staff. We try to add value for anybody who gets on the phone. If it’s not a good fit, we’ll let them know and try to connect them with a better resource.
6. What is the most fun part about your job?
We have lots of fun: dodgeball in the office, happy hours, and ping-pong. But the best part is the team I’m around every day. Work isn’t a job anymore. We have a lot of fun in the office together, and it doesn’t prevent us from being productive. We are very results-oriented. Creating a fun atmosphere where people truly care about the success of the company allows people to focus on providing value, rather than “hours worked.”
7. Apart from the success with your company, what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of having a wonderful wife, baby girl, family, and friends. Entrepreneurs often sacrifice their personal lives to achieve success. I’ve always viewed true success not by the dollars made, but by the balance struck between business success and personal success. I meet a lot of people who are very wealthy, but completely miserable.
8. Who is someone that all FoundersCard Members should be following on Twitter right now?
Follow Rohit Bhargava. He’s an author (“Likeonomics”), speaker, entrepreneur, and professor at Georgetown University, as well as a thought leader in marketing.
9. Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next.
Right now, we’re really highlighting “Contributor Weekly,” a resource full of tips and trends to help contributors. We’re also starting to help companies execute on brand engagement programs. By positioning key employees as thought leaders, offering award programs, and supporting leaders in their target markets, the companies we work with are able to create loyal customers and brand ambassadors.
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