JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gus Wagner, former chief of staff for two state senators, has been in and out of politics for almost all of his quarter-century-long career. Currently, he is president of The Rocket Group, initially, an internet-based marking company that became a speaking and training organization, and is a partner and creative director of ARC Media, a marketing and communications company for electric companies.
“We frame everything that we are creating to a consumer or to a final stop in the communications chain,” Wagner said of ARC Media. “We want to, especially in this digital age, see information that is going to make them stop. That’s going to stop their thumb. That’s going to be #thumbstoppable – that’s one of our trademarked terms here.”
One of his best strategies to connect with his client’s audience is to “educate, inform, entertain” – another one of his trademarked lines. Ideally, he and ARC Media can craft messages that would utilize his trademarked methods to engage their client’s optimal demographic in such a way that would advertise to people without them knowing it.
It seems to be working for him. He currently manages a company that was awarded the Best of the Web ADDY Award by the Mid-Missouri Advertising Federation, has made over six million impressions on Facebook alone, and has helped over 80 candidates win election campaigns.
“There are relationships that we built before, during, and after my time in the dome,” Wagner said of the Missouri Capitol building. “We developed a lot of good relationships, did a lot of good work, and helped elect some really good people. We don’t do general election campaigns anymore and we haven’t for some time.”
Before merging with ARC Media in 2015, where he has been educating, informing, or entertaining citizens online, he was doing so in the political sphere. He served as the chairman of the Missouri Young Republicans for just over 7 years – making him the longest-serving chairperson in their history. He then served as chief of staff for both state Senators John Greisheimer and Dan Clemens.
“Things we worked on then, still impact my life to this day,” he said. “A lot of the things we were able to do, not just working with Clemons, but that entire legislative body, that first Republican majority in both chambers. Those things still stand today. It’s great to see that they’re still having positive impacts on Missourians today.”
He is proud of how his political career has shaped his marketing career. Under Greisheimer and Clemens he was able to advocate for manufacturing jobs as well as agricultural and rural electricity policies.
“Dan (Clemens) called me,” Wagner recalls, “and said ‘you’re going to work for me and you’re not going to say no.’ So I came up and Dan and I had a seven-year run together at the state Senate and did a lot of good.”
It was during that time that he was able to develop the Rocket Group. He would work both for the Missouri Senate and for his company, working before and after legislative hours to build his company. His work would pay off as he would become one of the biggest branding behemoths based out of Jefferson City.
“We were able to grow the company throughout those years,” Wagner said. “We’ve pivoted a couple times to different markets that we work in or different types of work that we do and now, many of the marketing aspects of Rocket have evolved into ARC Media.”
He is grateful for his own individual success and for his partners at ARC Media, Andy and Nip Neidert and Melissa Shaw.
“We’re onward and upward,” Wagner said. “We’re reaching audiences and we’ve got client connections all across the country, we’ve got national contracts, we have regional contracts, we have smaller, local contracts. It’s just going to continue to grow, the future looks very bright.”
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer