Archive for April, 2017


April 27, 2017




The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word integrate in the following manner.

Integrate: to make a person or group part of a larger group or organization

You are probably wondering why I am giving you a vocabulary lesson, but I promise, I have a point!

The first IMC Weekend took place in 2005. The event was founded to bring together WVU IMC students from across the country. It was intended to unite students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet one another. It was meant to make them feel that, even though they study online, they are, and will always be, part of the Mountaineer family.

The success of IMC Weekend warranted its continuation. In 2011, IMC Weekend transitioned into a full marketing communications conference. That’s when INTEGRATE was born!

The first INTEGRATE conference was held in Morgantown, West Virginia. Since then, it has traveled to multiple cities throughout America; cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and, soon, Huntington, West Virginia. The conference, which once attracted only WVU IMC students and faculty, expanded its audience and began drawing marketing communications professionals from all industries.

First you got a vocabulary lesson, and now a history lesson? What’s next?

The point is, despite its changes, the definition of INTEGRATE remains the same. INTEGRATE is a chance for marketing communications professionals to gather, learn, share and grow, both individually and as a collective unit. That is something that will never change, regardless of Merriam-Webster’s updates.

This year, we’ve teamed up with Marshall University to bring you INTEGRATE West Virginia. INTEGRATE West Virginia will take place June 2-3, in Huntington, West Virginia. This year’s conference will feature Andy Azula, senior vice president and executive creative director at The Martin Agency, as its keynote speaker.  For more information about the conference, or to register, please visit Contact Megan Bayles, public relations and marketing graduate assistant, at, with any questions.

The Keys to Event Marketing – Part 1: Know Your Audience

April 20, 2017


There are a multitude of reasons for organizations to host events, but planners and marketers tend to agree that the top reason is to build brand awareness, which will increase revenue or engagement, depending on what kind of organization.  To grow this awareness and drive revenue via an event, you must first generate interest, deliver registrations, and ensure attendance.  In this post, we’ll cover steps that should take place before you even hit send on the first email, post the first tweet, or spend your first dollar on a Google Ad.

Where it All Begins – The Target Audience:
There are multiple channels and tactics that can be used to get the word out about an event: email, social posts, direct mail, word-of-mouth, paid search ads, print ads, etc.  But before you choose how to reach prospective attendees, you must first consider the following – Who is your ideal audience? What do you know about them?  Why would they be interested in attending your event?  How will you reach them and persuade them to spend their money and time at your event?

Increase Relevancy by List Segmentation:
Once you have answered these questions and narrowed down your target audience, now consider how you segment them. By industry? By geography? By job title/job function?  By attendee type? Segmentation of your contact list will allow you to tailor your outbound messaging, such as email invites and paid digital ads, to be more relevant to the audience on which you are trying to reach.

Take IMC’s Integrate conference – the team marketing the event is targeting a variety of attendee types: previous attendees, speakers, professors, current students, former students, prospective students, industry professionals, and sponsors.  Imagine if they used the same messaging to try to invite someone to be a speaker as they did to invite a current student to participate… both the speaker and the current student would most likely delete that email because they wouldn’t think it was relevant to them.

Personalize with Data Tags:
Segmentation is the first step to being relevant and the second is using the information you know to personalize your communications.  Do you know their first name?  Use the <Insert First Name> data tag in the greeting to address them at the start of the email.  Do you know what industry they are in or company they work for?  Direct them to a page on the event website that is relevant to <insert industry here> professionals.  Were they an attendee at last year’s event?  Add a note at the top of the direct mail piece acknowledging that, something like: “We hope you enjoyed Integrate 2016.  We’re excited to invite you to join us again this year!”

Know Your Audience & Use It to Your Advantage:
In our world, nearly every experience is tailored to each person.  It is imperative that you look at all the information you know prior to launching your event marketing campaign.  Then see how you can use that information to make prospective attendees feel as if you are personally inviting them to your event.

Jennifer Maltba began her journey with the IMC program in August 2012; graduating in December 2014. Her favorite thing about the program was its ‘learn today, use tomorrow’ philosophy, which she felt truly made this a one-of-a-kind program.  A month after graduating, she took the position of Marketing Manager at Cvent, a global meeting and event technology provider headquartered in the DC area.  When not creating integrated marketing campaigns and tracking Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Jen can be found planning her next trip to somewhere new, exploring the neighborhoods of DC in search of the best food, or taking in the latest museum exhibit in our nation’s capital.  

Invest in Yourself

April 13, 2017


Tax Day brings up many mixed emotions—stress to hit the deadline, relief when it’s over and for many, excitement to receive a tax refund. While people are experiencing the many emotions of Tax Day, it is a reminder about empowering ourselves with the expendable money from our tax returns.

Graduate school is more than a financial commitment. Earning a master’s degree is an investment in your future with your time, energy and money, but the return on investment is key.


While the Big Bang Theory’s protagonist, Sheldon Cooper devoted an excessive amount of time to academics, I would be lying if I said graduate school wasn’t a time commitment. Luckily with IMC, once you complete the introductory IMC 610 course, the rest of the classes follow a similar structure. In my personal experience, I work around the deadlines in place such as the paper on Monday, discussion posts on Wednesday and discussion responses on Friday. I budget my time based on the deadlines in place and try to work around my full-time work schedule and personal obligations.

Mental Energy
Integrated Marketing Communications is a creative field, which is one of the many reasons I selected IMC for my master’s degree. However, after working a full day in our industry and coming home to continue writing sometimes it can be a challenge. In order to combat creative “fatigue”, I try to brainstorm writing ideas for school during my spare time and plan writing times when I’m creatively fresh, such as first thing in the morning. Everyone has a preference on the best writing times rather first thing in the morning, afternoon, evening or late-night. When you figure out your best writing time it will greatly improve your mental energy spent on innovative and original school work.

College students are often stereotyped as struggling financially. Fortunately, with the flexibility of an online master’s program IMC students do not have to abandon their full-time careers to go back to school. Of course, graduate school is a financial investment but there are opportunities to work while pursuing your degree and students don’t have to sacrifice career momentum in order to obtain a master’s degree.

With any investment, it is critical to figure out the return-on-investment. The IMC program is a commitment of time, energy and finances. However, the return-on-investment greatly outweighs the upfront work for the master’s degree. I may sound biased as an upcoming May 2017 grad but many alumni feel the same about the program’s ROI. Over 97.9% of graduate would recommend the IMC program and 88% believe the degree led them to a better position or promotion.

As Tax Day rolls around the corner this Monday, think about the ways you are investing in yourself and your future this year. It could be an excellent opportunity to invest in a graduate degree with the WVU Reed College of Media online programs.





Secrets to Starting Your Own Agency: Agency Owners Tell All Part II

April 6, 2017


Marilyn Heywood Paige shares the real-world application of IMC in marketing agencies.

If you’re thinking about starting your own marketing agency, you’re in good company. According to AgencySpotter, there are 120,000 marketing agencies in the US. Every one of them was started by someone just like you.

In my last post, I gave you tips from small agency owners on finances, charging for your services, and demonstrating your value to the client. In this post, I’ll reveal the secrets agency owners around the globe shared with me on hiring employees and getting clients.


When you finally get to the critical mass of client work that you need to hire staff to help you, it’s a great accomplishment. However, hiring employees is where many agency owners have the steepest learning curve. Here’s what some agency owners had to say about expanding their staff.

Think Carefully

Marcus Miller, head of SEO and digital marketing at the UK agency Bowler Hat, thought every hire would be as great as his first hire, his sister. That wasn’t the case. He writes, “My next three hires did not last six months. I suspect one even stole from the office. A fourth hire was with us for nine months but was a disruptive force in the office. My days became a hell of trying to manage people and creating processes to ensure work was done properly.” He continues, “My advice is to think very carefully about bringing extra people in. You must consider the culture and how to create a space that allows people to learn and do great work. You have to create a place that people will want to come to work in each day. Somewhere that is intellectually nourishing, fun and rewarding. You must do everything you can to hold onto the good people.”

Who You Hire Becomes Your Reputation

For some agency owners, taking on employees equates to feeling more personally responsible. Robin Donovan of the Bozell Agency in Omaha, Nebraska noted, “You’ll feel pride in every single accomplishment made by anyone in your company, and you’ll feel responsible for every single mistake or problem made by anyone in your company. You are completely dependent on the people at your agency, and you are completely responsible for them, too.”

Delegate Well


Nikki Bisel, owner and founder of in St. Louis, Missouri learned that hiring people meant trusting them to do the work so you can focus on the bigger picture.”I learned that it’s imperative to hire people better than you that you can delegate to. Your role as the agency owner is to keep the wheels greased and keep your business growing. The only way you can do that with confidence is to have a team of experts that you can delegate work to. You may love design or social media or copywriting, but your core responsibility to your employees and your clients is to build a solid business.”

Getting Clients

Even if you have been freelancing and have some clients with which to start your business, you’re going to need more to keep your business growing. Getting new clients can be the most challenging aspect of running your own agency.

“During our first year in business, I learned a valuable lesson; stellar customer service and a strong work ethic will not pay your bills. I was under the impression that once I got started if I did my job to the best of my ability that things would fall into place and my money tree would start to flourish. Well, consider that lesson number one that I learned, and a laughable one at that.” Rachael Ekey, President of The Markey Group, a boutique marketing agency located in Westlake, Ohio.

What Rachael is hinting at is that it doesn’t matter how good your services are, at some point you’re going to have to sell them to prospective buyers.

Become a Good Salesperson

Jeff Kear ran a marketing firm for fifteen years and is currently the founder and CMO for Planning Pod in Denver, Colorado.

On this topic he notes, “The biggest lesson I learned in my first year running my marketing business was that I had to become as good a salesperson as I was a marketer. Every marketer thinks they are good at selling, but what they’re really good at is presenting, and there’s a huge difference between presenting an idea or campaign to a client and pounding on doors to sell yourself and your abilities. Most marketers love the behind-the-scenes strategizing, conceptualizing, and campaign building that is so essential to growing a brand. But they aren’t salespeople because, for the most part, they don’t enjoy the constant prospecting, calling, and rejection that just seems to fuel salespeople to plow ahead. And you don’t tend to be as good at things that you don’t enjoy. . . The second piece of advice I have is to take sales training. The only way to get good at something is to practice it, and most marketers are extremely capable of becoming excellent salespeople. And the way you become proficient at something is to develop those skills through practice.

Perform on Every Project

Bob Bentz (WVU’81) is the president of mobile-first digital agency Purplegator in suburban Philadelphia.

He advises that retainer clients are a thing of the past and you have to perform well on every project. “The days of the Mad Men era are gone. Retainers for mobile and digital are uncommon, and you have to perform on every promotion, or you may not get another chance.”

He’s right. At my agency, Fig Advertising and Marketing and many others, retainer clients make up just 40% of the agency revenues.

Don’t Just Take Any Client

But while retainers may be fewer and further between, some agency owners feel that you need to be careful about the clients you take on.

Jodie Cook, the owner of JC Social Media in Birmingham, UK encourages newcomers to choose clients carefully. “I learned in my first year of business to be choosy about who you work with because their reputation will become yours. We see each client relationship as a partnership rather than an ‘us vs. them’ arrangement. This means we work with people whom we like, get on with, and genuinely have a great partnership with. Difficult clients will make your work difficult and your life difficult. Say no!”

Starting a marketing agency is a challenging endeavor. You can be successful at it, but it will test you in ways you don’t imagine at the start. Hopefully, the insights gained from these agency owners will help you avoid some of the same pitfalls they experienced.

Other articles by Marilyn Heywood Paige