Fast Forward Marketing

Four years ago, Vanessa Baker was a busy advertising manager for a national digital news site. Her territory covered the northern Illinois suburbs, which required her to spend considerable time in her car traveling to meet clients and co-workers.

 Vanessa Baker, owner of Fast Forward Marketing in the first office location.

Vanessa Baker, owner of Fast Forward Marketing in the first office location.

The time and distance took her away from the people and things she loved the most: her husband, two young daughters and community. That national news site was struggling – having expanded too quickly - but Baker still managed to earn a good income and quickly rose as the leading producer of her regional sales team.

In her heart, she yearned for a change. In her mind, she worried about losing all she had gained.

Finally, with a little inspiration, Baker decided to strike out on her own and submitted her resignation. Drawing on 14 years of digital advertising experience, Baker founded Fast Forward Marketing, a firm providing online marketing, advertising and promotional services. She launched her business on Linkedin in December 2012.

“I had so many feelings – a mixture of fear and belief,” Baker recounts. “But, I believed in me. I am a hard worker and I knew if I worked hard for my clients, I would succeed.”

Baker started FFM with three small clients, managing their social media accounts. With more time on her hand – off the road and working from a home office - Baker quickly built a large clientele base and acquired a city contract to oversee its Shop Local campaign. She established relationships via the local business chamber and expanded her base regionally by utilizing

Within six months of striking out on her own, Baker was earning the same income she left behind. She had more time to spend with her family, the ability to attend her children’s afterschool events, and even time for herself.

Starting a new business hasn’t just changed Baker’s personal life, it’s shaped her professional outlook, as well.

“I’ve gained a sense of independence, freedom,” Baker said. “I don’t have any limits on my capacity to learn more and make more money. I have the ability to pivot and adapt to business changes and demands when necessary. I have more confidence and more respect for myself. Everything I have is within my control.”

“We provide real, measurable benefits for my clients because with digital marketing everything is trackable,” Baker said. “The impact on our customers is they have a local resource they can trust who can fill a need they have.”

Baker received the “Best Under 40 Award” from Shaw Media Business Journal in 2014, recognizing her accomplishments and community service. She received the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Presidential Award of Excellence in April 2014, honoring her commitment to the chamber.


"Vanessa Baker does an excellent job of serving her client's needs. She's responsive, creative, and a pleasure to work with. Vanessa managed social media for the City of Crystal Lake's "I Shop Crystal Lake" program."

James Richter II Community Development Coordinator at Village of Machesney Park, former Assistant Director of Economic Development, City of Crystal Lake

"Fast Forward Marketing is a valuable resource in our county. The owner Vanessa Baker has a passion for helping people and companies reach their goals. She is proactive, professional and easy to work with. I highly recommend Fast Forward Marketing and Vanessa Baker." 

Carole Peters, United Way of McHenry County

"My husband and I have been working with Vanessa on marketing for our small business. She's been great to work with. She's knowledgable and thorough, giving us great recommendations and showing us how we can better market our business. Vanessa is also a lot of fun to work with. The work would have felt overwhelming with her. But with Vanessa, we saw how simple steps could help us reach more ideal clients!" 

Beth McKinney, Ron McKinney Photography

Vanessa Baker, Owner of Fast Forward Marketing, accepts the Best Under 40 Award and give a short speech.