Working together at a digital marketing agency, Tom Yawney, Mike Landry, Stephanie Palasti-Walker and Noah Parker saw new things coming to the media landscape. Television was becoming streaming; radio was turning into podcasts; and social media and blogging were becoming more prominent. But their firm was not adapting – nor listening to their pleas for change.
So, in 2017, the four started The Influence Agency, a Toronto company specializing in influencer marketing and custom advertising solutions.
“Our hand was forced into trying to create the environment we wanted to be a part of,” says Mr. Landry, the company’s vice-president of strategy.
The Influence Agency has grown to 45 staff, tripling its headcount since the pandemic started. Income increased 543 per cent between 2018 and 2021, while average billing more than doubled between 2019 and 2021.
The founders say The Influence Agency is a company that practices what it preaches. Many agencies “don’t drink their own champagne,” Mr. Landry says, neglecting to market themselves through the tools they recommend to clients.
“We tell clients you need a great website; we have that. We tell clients you should be doing Google ads; we do that. We tell clients you should have great search engine optimization and organic presence; we do that too,” he adds.
Revenue growth has been steady, with the company today representing brands including Staples, Jamieson Vitamins, Skilled Trades College, Rakuten and Napoleon, says Mr. Yawney, the company’s vice-president of business development.
“We’ve never borrowed a dollar,” he notes. Meanwhile, the firm has spun off and added services, including a design-and-development team, videographers, photographers, writers, online advertisers, while maintaining a core focus on influencer marketing.
What’s ahead? Mr. Parker, vice-president of operations, says as the company grows, it will focus on process automation through software development, allowing the team to work more efficiently.
“We can scale the operation’s output without hiring at every corner, while maintaining our quality standard” he says.
Ms. Palasti-Walker, vice-president of client success, notes many of the company’s clients have grown with it. While technology is critical, “we want to ensure that we continue building strong relationships every step of the way.”
There are challenges: For example, it’s a highly competitive hiring environment and the post-pandemic, remote-working world brings complexity.
“We’re a collaborative agency, we brainstorm, we get together to come up with ideas,” Mr. Parker explains, so it’s critical to provide the right level of employee flexibility “while not letting the service offering diminish.”
A major gripe in the agency world is staff feeling overworked, underpaid and unappreciated, Mr. Yawney adds, and says the company aims to “completely change that experience.”
For instance, they celebrate the achievements of creative, operations and sales employees alike and offer
These benefits have translated into a 90-per-cent retention rate for staff and clients, “which is rare,” Ms. Palasti-Walker says. A big part of its culture “is finding really great teammates, supporting them and leaning into their skillset,” which is why brands want to work with us, we care and it shows in our work.
The Influence Agency is “not just building a company for ourselves, we’re building it for everyone around us,” adds Mr. Landry, who’s very happy with the firm’s growth trajectory. “We don’t need to be on five continents or in 15 cities in the next three years. If we keep focused on our passions and do great work for great people, the money will follow.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with The Influence Agency. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.