Julia Blake has a passion for marketing. In fact, she says, “Marketing is my love language. Marketing has this ability to engage and inspire people and that’s what I’m all about.”
That passion is what motivated Blake to form Sage Marketing, a Lexington brand-marketing firm that was recently named to Forbes’ list of America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. Such national recognition would be a feather in the cap of any agency, but particularly so when you consider that Sage Marketing was founded only three years ago.
Blake started the company at age 26 after moving to Central Kentucky from Los Angeles, where she worked in marketing and business development with clients such as Disney, HBO, Spotify and Sun Basket. She initially indulged her love of marketing by consulting for local businesses but it wasn’t long before she made the leap into business ownership.
Her first clients were a circus company (Sora Contemporary Circus, a local law firm (Williams Kilpatrick) and a chiropractor (Georgetown Back Pain Relief). Today, Sage Marketing’s clients are located in California, Ohio and Kentucky and range from IT companies to car washes, local eateries and CBD companies.
The agency’s services include everything from public relations, digital advertising, website design/development, marketing analytics and campaign coordination to logo design, brand identity and social media marketing.
Blake notes that her new clients have been averaging a 125% increase on their social media accounts within the first three months, along with increases in converting their qualified marketing leads into customers.
“I believe your business should stand out from the rest,” said Blake. “Your brand identity and marketing approach should be as unique as your DNA. Let’s be real: how you present that business both online and in person matters. Much like a first date, you only get one first impression with potential customers and it’s my goal, through strategic branded marketing, that that first impression will stay with them forever. My soul thrives when I am creating and uplifting brands to become their best selves through the latest marketing tactics.”
When the coronavirus first hit, Blake said, “We were worried about what this news would mean for our clients, our community and our business.”
To address those concerns, she partnered with Lexington blogger Jade Hollan to start the #lexsticktogther campaign, creating a one-stop website to help locals support area businesses.
“We’re blessed to have helped our clients successfully navigate the new world of business and even gross some of their highest annual earnings,” she said.
The company also works closely with the University of Kentucky and offers internship opportunities each semester to give students experience and training in the real world of brand marketing.
In addition to her work to grow and develop Sage Marketing, Blake is also the cofounder of Barley & Rye Co., a creative collective to support local businesses, and The Nomads, a local co-working/networking organization.
With the kind of passion that drives Blake, it’s no wonder that her agency was recognized by Forbes for its inaugural list of the nation’s best PR firms. To compile the list, Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista, which surveyed more than 12,700 PR experts and 20,500 customers who were asked to nominate PR agencies with which they had experience working. (Self-nominations and recommendations within PR agency networks were not considered.) Based on the results of that survey, Statista narrowed the list from 5,000 to the top 200. Sage Marketing and Louisville-based Guthrie/Mayes Public Relations, which has been in operation since 1977, were the only two Kentucky firms to make the list.
Blake says it’s her clients’ success that has resulted in such accolades for her young firm.
“We are so grateful to our communities and clients,” she said. “We hope to help more Kentucky businesses grow in 2021.”