Business: Stellar Edge Marketing Group
Address: 120 Washington St., West Dundee
Contact info: 224-699-9789; www.stellaredgegroup.com
Owners: Cynthia Van Valkenburgh, who goes by Sin Van V, and Lindsay Coats
Years in business: 8
What does this business do? Full-service marketing agency
What was the impetus for starting this business? “Initially, we ran a nonprofit supporting local families and causes with unique and fun events,” Van Valkenburgh said. “More and more people began to ask, ‘Can you help me do this?’ and ‘Can you help me do that?’ It got to the point where we knew the skills we could provide would serve the market well and we could be an asset to companies that either don’t have the skills and knowledge to do their own marketing or simply don’t have the manpower.”
Who are your clients? “We support a national client base made up of companies ranging from mom-and-pops to multimillion dollar companies. Servicing a variety of industries, including restaurants, B2B service providers, fitness and family entertainment, and online retailers, it keeps our jobs very interesting. One day is never the same as the last,” Coats said.
What is the most popular service you provide? “Social media management. It’s a must for businesses today. People rely on social media for news, entertainment, business referrals and more. All companies, no matter the size, need to have a presence and we can help them understand how to best utilize each platform,” Van Valkenburgh said.
Why should someone hire a marketing agency? “Marketing is a necessary function of all businesses,” Coats said. “You can have a great product or service, but it’s not going to make you any money if no one knows about it. Hiring a marketing director is a big investment – one that many companies simply can’t afford or deem unnecessary due to the amount of marketing they plan to do. At Stellar Edge, we work to become an extension of your operation so that we can fulfill that need and provide you with even more skills than you would get hiring someone in-house, at a fraction of the cost.”
What goes into preparing a marketing plan for a client? “Our first step is always to gain a strong understanding of our client, their offering, their audience, and their short- and long-term goals,” Van Valkenburgh said. “From there, we can make recommendations on what efforts we feel would provide them with the best return. There’s no silver bullet in marketing. Every client is different and their plan needs to be customized specifically with their goals in mind.”
What are the top trends driving marketing currently? “Social media stories are huge right now. Currently, there are 500 million daily active consumption of stories on Facebook and Instagram each. And surprisingly, print media is making a strong comeback. With consumers being inundated all day long with messaging on their computers, TVs, and phones, a well-designed print piece can really make a statement,” Van Valkenburgh said.
What is the best thing about being in West Dundee? “We absolutely love the community. We’ve gotten involved with the chamber [of commerce], done holiday parades, and participated in events. We’re huge supporters of local business and love that our fellow Dundee business owners return the favor,” she said.
What is the biggest challenge? “Not eating out for lunch every day,” Coats said. “With so many great restaurants and bars within walking distance, it’s tough to stick to our diets.”
What is the best thing about owning your own business? “Creating my own work-home balance,” Coats said. “The flexibility that comes with being the boss is priceless to me. That, and working with my best friend.”
“I have to agree with Lindsay that the flexibility is a big plus for me,” Van Valkenburgh said. “I am also a big fan of creating the culture I want in the workspace and actively helping my employees grow our business.”
What is the biggest misconception about your business? “That what we do as an agency can be done internally,” Coats said. “Can pieces of what we do be done in-house? Sure. But unless you have a marketing budget of half a million dollars, the chances that you can find a team of individuals with all the skills you need to execute just about any marketing effort is near impossible. We offer web design, graphic design, social media strategy and maintenance, copy writing, event planning, customer communications management, and more – all under one roof.”
How has your business changed over the years? “We thought we’d primarily be providing event planning services,” Van Valkenburgh said. “But as our business grew and our clientele changed, we learned that we could offer so much more to our clients. Today, our favorite clients are those that truly want to develop a strong brand identity and deliver it to the market.”
What do you wish someone had told you before you started? “Know your value,” Coats said. “When we first started our business, we did jobs for dirt cheap because we wanted to work and felt the need to prove ourselves. Ultimately, while those jobs gave us some experience and connections, we didn’t need to cheapen our services. We just needed to find the right customers who would appreciate quality results at a fair price.”
Erin Sauder is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.