Celebrating 10 years of Relish Marketing, founder Pam Willoughby and some of her team members talk about their marketing philosophy and how it all began.

Ten Years of Relish

A Conversation About How it All Began

As we celebrate our clients, our staff and the work we’ve created over the last ten years, it seemed appropriate to give Relish Marketing president and founder Pam Willoughby, along with original team members, Corey-Jan Albert and Paul Marquardt, the opportunity to reflect on our beginnings, our marketing philosophy and agency values.

Q:Pam, when you founded Relish, you said that you wanted the opportunity to start an agency that did it “right.” What problems were you looking to solve?

Pam: Coming off of experiences working with and for agencies I felt there was a better way to structure a client-agency relationship that could be more beneficial and productive as well as more enjoyable.

The traditional client-agency relationship was often centered on a discrete project or specific opportunity. I believed that if we approached it from the standpoint of a strategic, long-term relationship, we would provide more value and be better stewards of our clients’ budgets.

There was also the matter of what kind of team we wanted to create. It had to be relationship focused and based on the understanding that every team member has a unique set of qualities, experiences and expertise to offer. That collegial, collaborative relationship was essential in the beginning and remains essential to this day.

Q: CJ and Paul – what thoughts went through your minds when Pam said, “I want to start an agency, will you join me?”

CJ: I’m sure my first thought was probably, “OMG, yes.” I had known both Pam and Paul for years, and we all knew that we had complimentary skill sets, even though we were all doing different kinds of marketing work. We had suspected it would be great fun to work together, and it has been the most exciting thing in the world to discover we were right.

Paul: I have always had tremendous respect for Pam’s work ethic and intelligence, but I don’t think I knew how good she was at strategy and attracting great clients until we started working together. That has helped me turn my focus to developing strong designs to compliment the strategy.

Q: Pam, at what point did you realize that the agency was outgrowing your basement office?

Pam: When I started Relish, I really thought it was just going to be me working as a solo practitioner providing marketing strategy consulting to a small number of clients working out of my basement, tripping over the laundry baskets and the cats. But it quickly became clear that I could not do this on my own.

Yes, I could provide the strategy piece, but I couldn’t do what Corey-Jan and Paul do. Then, as we gained more and bigger clients, I realized that it couldn’t be just the Pam, Paul and Corey-Jan show anymore.

That’s where Ryan Fitzpatrick came in as our production manager, and he turned out to be so much more. He has since taken steps to grow his own career, but he was integral to growing Relish and turning this collection of individuals into a true team and company.

Paul: And don't forget the time when you met with a big new client at their office and they said, “Next time we should meet at your office.” You had been looking at the space we have now but hadn’t signed the lease. Then, practically overnight we made it look like we had been here for weeks.

CJ: It was like the movie, “The Sting.”

Pam: That really was a team effort. The client knew I was on the cusp of making a commitment to growth, and I think he saw himself as giving us a motivating push in that direction. Even so, they were expecting boxes and disarray – but instead, we were ready to get to work. We solidified that business relationship – and many more since.

Q: What has surprised you the most about the last 10 years?

Pam: I think it’s the longevity and the reception that we have gotten in the marketplace. In the beginning, I felt like this was something that we could do for seven or eight years and then we’d all move on to whatever is next. Then seven, eight, nine and now 10 years went by, and it still feels like this is where I want to be and what I want to be doing.

Paul: For me, the surprise is just how quickly it has gone. I’ve been fortunate to work in some really great places, and Relish has definitely been the best, because of the team mentality and working with some great designers. When Michael came on board as Creative Director, he reminded me of what it was like to really look at a design from a critical standpoint – to always look for ways to make it better. And then, Katerina with her eye for color and vibrancy. Everyone pushes me to be a little better and that helps all of us.

CJ:  If anything has surprised me, it’s how organically we have created this super healthy culture. I mean think about it: we have Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials – even a GenZ intern. We have diversity in terms of background, where we come from, how we live and what stage of life we are in. That adds a lot of strength. And no matter how we’ve grown, changed, pulled back, expanded, we’ve remained true to the core mission and values we’ve had from the start. I don’t know that I have ever worked anywhere that has been able to stay that healthy as its grown. It’s delightful.

Relish - Employer Brand Ambassadors

How to Turn Your Employees into Employer Brand Ambassadors


Wouldn’t it be great if you could hire people specifically to advance your employer brand, telling people why your company is a great place to work? Well, guess what – you already have.

Your employees can be the best advocates for your employer brand. According to the Harvard Business Review, job seekers trust the word of current employees over other recruitment communications. While it’s true that you can’t control what your employees think and say about your company, three things can help you encourage your employees to become active employer brand advocates:

1. Be Open and Honest

Who are you as a company – and who do you want to be? What kind of people represent your corporate culture? Are there adjectives that describe the experience of working there? What image and feeling should your work environment evoke? The answers will help you define your employer brand. Ask your team members what they think and feel. Listen to them and determine which perceptions to highlight, as well as whether any common perceptions could be a problem that you need to address. Likewise, be transparent about your efforts so that employees can feel part of the brand definition process.

2. Be Clear and Simple

As you talk to people throughout your company, you’re going to get a lot of input and information. Avoid the temptation of including everything they say. Encapsulate the identity you want to communicate as simply and clearly as you can. Use your top-line employer brand message regularly, so that it feels natural. And above all, clearly communicate the brand to team members so that it feels right to them.

3. Make it easy

Talk to your employees about the importance of bringing in the right people for your business – and the role that your employer brand plays in that effort. Create shareable content for social media that reinforces your employer brand, release it on a regular schedule and provide links that make it easy for employees to share on blogs and across multiple social platforms. Of course, these posts should include employment opportunities, but even when you don’t have open positions to share, develop content that reflects your employer brand, for instance:

  • If your brand is about making a difference, take photos that capture employees doing that.
  • Encourage storytelling with prompts and questions that help people share their experiences and encourage them to share those stories on employer review sites.
  • Consider making an employer brand video that you can show at career fairs, as well as on your careers website.
  • Think about what useful online tools you could offer to the kinds of people you would want to attract to your business.

Finally, include your employees in talent acquisition efforts through incentive programs and by involving them in the onboarding of new co-workers.

Engaging your employees as brand ambassadors does require ongoing effort, but the rewards are worth it. Attracting and hiring the right candidates becomes easier. Recruitment costs go down. Employee loyalty and engagement go up – and companies with high employee engagement have nearly four times the earning potential of companies that lack it. And both business results and customer satisfaction improve.

Download our employer branding guide or reach out to us anytime. We savor opportunities to help professionals make a difference in their talent acquisition and business results by improving their brands.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our brand development client work. Work with us! Contact here.

employer brand journey

The Employer Branding Journey: Beyond Talent Acquisition

Most HR and marketing leaders agree that investing in and nurturing an employer brand is essential, especially in today’s tight candidate-driven market. The error that many make, however, is thinking of their employer brand as talent acquisition only. The truth is that your employer brand only works when it’s present and thriving at every stage of the employee lifecycle - from candidate to employee to alumni.

Each stage of the employee’s journey has its own specific communication channels, challenges and opportunities. Skip or ignore any of them and you may miss critical chances to improve recruitment efforts, engage existing employees, increase productivity, strengthen long-term retention and reinforce your position as an employer of choice.


Employer Branding Journey


Stage 1: Awareness

Before you can attract candidates, they must become aware of your business. This often starts with the consumer experience – but awareness of your business as a potential employer comes from social media, word of mouth, your career website and recruitment events such as college and career fairs. Your employer brand should be deliberately infused through all of these communications media – including leveraging your employees as ambassadors for the employer brand.

Stage 2: Attraction

Once people become aware of your company as a potential employer, the next step is to make sure you’re attracting the right people. Enable candidates to see themselves reflected in the messages you weave through employee testimonials, videos, social posts and online content. Continually assess how your company is portrayed on LinkedIn, job search platforms like Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder, and on review sites such as Glassdoor and kununu.

Stage 3: Recruitment

At this stage, candidates are solidly within your business ecosystem. Help key personnel within your organization understand, embrace and comfortably communicate the messages of your employer brand. This means training your HR team, but also anyone who engages with candidates from offer generation and hiring to onboarding and training. It’s also important to not stop advocating the components of your employer brand when you decide someone is not the right fit for a job. Maybe the first role isn’t the right fit but an upcoming position is. Even a single sour experience can turn candidates off and spread via social media and word of mouth.

Stage 4: Retention

If your awareness, attraction and recruiting efforts are generating successful hires, congratulations! Now, it’s time to continue finding ways to keep the components of your employer brand alive and well for your actual employees. That means actively listening to the things that are most important to them and making sure that your employer brand aligns with supporting HR policies, systems and internal messaging. How you communicate about career mobility and advancement, learning and development opportunities and performance management says a lot about your employer brand. Are employees crystal clear on how their performance is measured and their options for career growth? Do they know which skills are most important for success and can they easily access the necessary tools and resources? Is there ongoing communication about the company’s priorities and performance so that employees can support them? Are employees inspired by what the company does and are they empowered to make a difference? And most importantly, do they feel valued enough to stick around?

Remind employees why they love working for you now more than ever. Because happy, engaged employees are more productive. Even when employees leave – by their choice or yours – your exit interview and alumni communications can keep them feeling positive about the kind of company you are. Ex-employees can become some of your best employer brand ambassadors!

Stage 5: Evolution

Your business is dynamic and your employer brand must keep pace. Assess your employer brand regularly against key performance indicators. Actively listen both internally and externally to what people are saying about your company and what it’s like to really work there. Examine how well your messages and objectives match the actual experiences of candidates and employees. Reinforce the positive components and determine where adjustments are needed for the employer brand to meet organizational objectives.

Put it all together and it’s easy to see why a successful employer brand encompasses so much more than talent acquisition. When managed across the continuum from candidate to employee to alumni, your employer brand can generate significant benefits – in the form of a better candidate pool, more successful new hires, and better engaged employees.


At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward. Savor your brand. View our client work. Work with us! Contact here.

seo relish marketing

5 Ways to Optimize Your Site’s SEO

Today’s digital landscape is ever changing, but one constant that you should never underestimate is the power of search engines. According to Internet Live Stats, there are 3.5 billion searches a day on Google. If you had the opportunity to ensure that your website was the first hit on a Google search, wouldn’t you? Well you can by optimizing your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), and here are 5 ways to help you.

1. Optimize Keywords

The first piece of the puzzle for optimizing your website is to determine the right keywords to use in your page titles and content. If the process feels daunting, let AdWords Keywords Planner or Keyword Tool help you out.

Page Titles

Using keywords in your page titles and headings will help Google (and other search engines) understand what the page is about. It also helps search engines determine page rankings. If your page is about Corporate Branding, but you title the page Employers in the Workplace, even a “smart” search engine may not recognize the connection. Your page title can have a huge impact on your rankings, so make sure it’s optimized accordingly.


Search engines don’t stop with your page titles. Your body text will drive higher page rankings with better use of keywords throughout your content. This includes using keywords in your headings, body text and alt text for images. However, it’s important not to overuse keywords. You don’t have to use your keywords 20 times for it to rank. You just need to ensure it’s appropriately used throughout the content.

2. Improve Your Page Speed

If your web pages don’t feel like they’re loading instantaneously, many people (especially millennials) won’t wait. People are impatient. They want what they want when they want it, and they want it now.

So, how slow is too slow? HubSpot recommends an ideal page load time of less than 1.5 seconds. Likewise, Google found that 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. But the same study found that it takes an average of 22 seconds to fully load a mobile landing page! Which means that a lot of sites aren’t getting the traffic they could because visitors leave (or bounce) before the page loads.

So, what does this have to do with SEO? For search engines, a better bounce rate translates to a healthy website that is appealing to customers. This is why it’s so important to maintain a speedy site.

Check your site’s speed with PageSpeed Insights. It will tell you how quickly (or slowly) your pages are loading – as well as what you need to improve to get your pages loading faster.

3. Create a Great User Experience

Search engines are judged by their ability to provide the best results to users, which goes hand-in-hand with the overall user experience.

Mobile Responsive

It’s no secret that we do just about everything on our mobile devices, so you want to make sure that your website is responsive in case someone goes to your site from their mobile device or tablet. In fact, one of the top reasons that visitors immediately leave a website is because the site is not designed to be mobile responsive. And this means more than a desktop site that also functions on a mobile device. You must make sure your site has a responsive layout and readable font that feels intuitive and comfortable on mobile devices.

Page Layout

Another reason visitors might be leaving your website after finding it on a search engine is poor page layout/navigation. Once again, people are impatient (think about it – you are, too). People are not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to navigate your website; it’s on you to make it easy for them. If you got the visitor there using the keyword “fashionable fall boots”, you want to make sure that they can easily navigate away from that and continue shopping. Again, use those heading tags to break up text and make it easy to follow. You also can include call-to-action buttons to make it easy for visitors to take the actions you want them to take.

4. Use Headings

I briefly mentioned headings in tips #1 and #3 – and that’s because headings are a critical component of your SEO strategy. There are six heading tags ranging from the largest, <h1>, to the smallest, <h6>. They tell search engines the importance of different titles on your blog page, which Google uses to index each page. Use a logical hierarchy and don’t make the mistake of thinking that “more <h1> is better.” There should only be one <h1> tag – the page header or blog title.

5. Link Building

As Moz puts it, “link building is an art.” Internal links and backlinks are both important in your site’s SEO strategy. Keep in mind that the type of solution that works best for you will depend on the type of website you’re running, but generally speaking, the following strategies can help you create links that make a difference to your SEO.


Backlinks are created when one website links to another. The link between the two websites is the backlink. Backlinks work as a way to validate your content. One of the easiest ways to generate backlinks is by guest posting – especially because it benefits both parties. It provides fresh and valuable content to their audience, while also giving you the opportunity to get your brand out there by including a backlink to your website. Think about your own expertise as it relates to your own website and reach out to like-minded businesses, blogs, or even clients that could benefit from a ‘guest post’ written by you.

Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is the process of finding sites that have mentioned you but haven’t linked to you, and requesting or suggesting a link. After all, if someone has written a great article about you or your business but hasn’t linked to your site, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to improve your SEO. In some cases, sites may have tried linking to you but the link is broken because of a misspelled domain or obsolete page. Search for your business online and you may be surprised with how many link reclamation opportunities you have.

As marketers at one of the Top B2B Digital Marketing Agencies, we’re always trying to figure out how to get our message in front of the right audience and using these SEO tips is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our client work. Work with us! Contact here.

It's the Most Pumpkin Spiced Time of the Year

It’s Baaaaaack…

It’s Fall, y’all. How do I know? Not by the calendar, although Fall did technically start on September 22 this year. Not by the colorful leaves and a nip in the air - it’s still hot, humid and green here in the ATL. It isn’t the spooky Halloween decorations in stores and scary movies on TV, either. No, you can tell it’s Fall by the ubiquitous return of the single biggest hit of Autumn: pumpkin spice.

It’s easy to see that the availability of pumpkin spiced flavored and scented items has exploded over the years. In fact, this blog post was inspired by a casual chat about this very topic one day in the Relish studio, and everybody has an opinion – and strong ones at that.

My curiosity was piqued, and I couldn’t help myself. I kicked into full on investigative mode to discover what I could about this autumnal wonder and how people feel about the pumpkin-madness.


First, what is pumpkin spice anyway? Surprisingly the spice concoction doesn’t typically involve pumpkin at all, but the spices you would use to flavor your pumpkin pie or similar treats, including cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger, and in some cases allspice and mace.

As for the craze, I think it’s safe to say that the pumpkin spice trend took off 14 years ago with the introduction of, you guessed it, the pumpkin spice Latte (PSL for you hipsters). It started in early 2003 when the Starbucks R&D team began working on a fall drink that they hoped might one day be as successful as their two winter espressos - the Eggnog Latte and Peppermint Mocha. Later that year, the PSL launched at 100 stores in the coffee giant’s Vancouver and Washington, DC test markets, with a complete US launch the following year. And what a launch it was – Starbucks is estimated to make about $100 million in revenue each fall from PSLs alone.

PSL Fun Facts:

  • One of the original ideas for the name was “Fall Harvest Latte.”
  • PSL was the original beverage code written by baristas on cups.
  • The beverage is now sold in over 50 countries and 6 continents.
  • Tweets with the #PSL average about 3,000 per day; PSL also has its own Twitter account.

What About Pumpkin Spiced Relish?

I was on a roll. And with all that history and trivia in my head, I had to know - is the Relish team for or against PSL?



Sorry Starbucks, the majority are anti-PSL. But how about pumpkin spice in other things?



A little more love for the pumpkin, generally speaking! True, 25% of us are a clear NOPE. But the rest enjoy the flavor in their pumpkin pie (60%), other baked goods (50%) and even their beer (20%)!

Is Pumpkin Spice EVERYWHERE?

In the words of Peter Dukes, the product manager who led development of the PSL, “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be. It’s taken on a life of its own.” No kidding, and not just for Starbucks. The Pumpkin Spiced Latte inspired an entirely new market of pumpkin flavored and scented items.

My curiosity wouldn’t quit. I had to know more. A short jaunt through my local grocery store turned into a fun treasure hunt of sorts. It didn’t take long until I had a camera roll full of all things pumpkin (along with a couple of side-eye stares).

First, I found this Starbucks display. No surprise here:


But it didn’t stop there. Here’s just a small sample of all that I found:



And online, there was even more! The People’s Comprehensive Guide to All the Pumpkin Spice-Flavored Foods Out This Year lists more than 30 new pumpkin spiced products released this year alone. Then, there’s this entertaining (or for some, maybe disgusting) list: 65 Foods that have No Business being Pumpkin Spiced.

So why so much pumpkin spice? Is it the flavor alone? Is it the feeling you get knowing that your favorite autumn holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner? As consumers are we simply just drawn to things that are only available for a “limited time?” Or is it just smart marketing?

Whatever the answer, whether it delights you or scares you, pumpkin spice is here to stay.

* What the Pumpkin Spice?

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our client work. Work with us! Contact here.