Archive for the ‘IMC Coursework’ Category

Harnessing the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

August 18, 2015

Recently, I found myself on a trip for work that took me across the U.S. During the plane ride, I met an Army sergeant who was about to retire in a year and was working on his own small business. He told me that his business idea—a mobile phone app—was going to start out servicing his hometown area. He already had the programmers working on the app and he already had a target audience in mind, but he wanted to know more about how to market it during the product’s launch.

This immediately reminded me of the final paper I wrote for IMC 612 (Audience Insight).  For that paper, I chose to write about the power of electronic word-of-mouth marketing (e-WOMM) and how to use it to launch new products.

As many of us know, a significant number of new products fail. This could be due to a variety of factors such as a poorly designed product or a poorly designed marketing program.  However, if a product is designed well, meets the needs of the target audience, and is in demand, then a business needs to effectively break through the clutter and communicate the product/brand information to the target audience.

As I discovered when writing that final paper, word-of-mouth (WOM) is an effective tool to communicate this product information to the target audience. WOM involves consumers sharing information amongst each other whenever they are happy or dissatisfied with a product. Typically, traditional WOM refers to consumers physically talking to each other to share the information. e-WOM specifically involves consumers sharing this same information via the Internet through e-mail and social media. Businesses can benefit from this WOM because:

  1. Consumers perceive this WOM information as more credible when it comes from other consumers (as opposed to advertising which comes from the business)
  2. WOM (especially e-WOM) incurs very little monetary expense
  3. WOM leads to effective targeting because consumers will more likely share the product information with friends, family, and other acquaintances who have similar interests
  4. Through e-WOM specifically, information can be quickly spread to a large group of people

After discussing these points with the man on the plane, I told him how he could generate and manage e-WOM. First, I told him to become very familiar with the social media platforms that his target audience uses. Each social media platform is capable of different things, and each platform attracts a different crowd. Next, I told him to use these social media platforms (and other internet tools):

  1. To give his consumers something to talk about (i.e. good content)
  2. To create communities within his target audience and to connect them
  3. To work with influential groups/people that would interest his target audience
  4. To create advocate programs
  5. To study consumer feedback
  6. To engage consumers in open conversation
  7. To involve consumers in marketing projects

Then, after pointing out how to generate and manage e-WOMM, I talked about when the best time was to use WOMM tactics. When I was putting together that final paper for IMC 612, I discovered that using e-WOMM prior to the launch of a product was much more effective at enhancing product awareness and increasing the adoption of new products than using e-WOMM after the launch of a product or not using it at all.

Prior to the connectivity and speed of the Internet, conducting WOMM before a product launch was not as feasible. In fact, traditionally what would happen was that a product would be released, consumers would purchase it, and then consumers would talk about it. Now, however, the Internet has allowed businesses to efficiently share information about the product prior to its release and consumers can start having conversations with each other about it. In fact, consumers don’t even have to be on the same continent anymore to have these conversations!

Finally, I pointed out to the man on the plane that WOMM should not be the only marketing communications tool utilized for his product launch. It is very effective, but it should be incorporated with other marketing tools.

A Few Final Tips for the WVU IMC Program

July 15, 2015

kat shanahan wvu imc reed college of media

 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I keep reaching for my computer thinking that I have copy to write, an ad to design, or a budget to adjust. The reality is that I’m not missing anything. My final IMC campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is uploaded and in the mail.

I’d be lying if I told you submitting the campaign was all sunshine and puppies. I needed a reality check after I submitted it because I was worried that someone was going to steal the mailbox…yes…the entire mailbox. Putting everything you have into a campaign for roughly nine weeks takes a toll on you. I’m still working on processing the fact that I’m actually done, but as I reflect on my 3 years (90 weeks of class) in the program I wanted to share what I learned.

  1. Plan, but don’t over plan. I LOVE to plan.  I’m the kind of person that enjoys planning their free time. When I started the program I went through and planned out my entire schedule. I picked and scheduled all of my classes including my electives. While planning my academic future was beneficial, as I moved through the program my areas of interest changed. As I learned more about different areas of IMC I wished I could go back and change some of my electives. I will say it’s a good idea take your electives when they’re offered (because they’re not offered every term), but keep in mind that your interests may change over the course of the program.
  2. Remember why you’re doing this. Prior to enrolling in the WVU IMC program I told a friend of mine that I would never get a master’s degree. As I started to change my mind I looked at the WVU IMC curriculum and my mouth started watering. I fell in love with the content and immediately made connections between what I was doing at work and what was being offered in classes. I started this program because I wanted to grow as a professional. I didn’t start the program to earn As in all of my classes. It can be easy to get wrapped up in grades and making sure you get a 10/10 on discussion posts, but that’s not why we are here. Think back to your undergraduate days. Do you remember every single assignment in which you didn’t earn the grade you wanted? You’ll forget about grades, but you won’t forget about putting in the work and getting everything you can out of your time in the program.
  3. Get to know your professors: When I met Prof. Sader for the first time at INTEGRATE 2015 he told me that I worried too much. He was 100% correct. He also told me that he was there to be a mentor for me and not just give me a grade. He encouraged me to reach out with questions or problems. Professors actually want to help you grow as a professional. I didn’t take advantage of that enough while I was in the program. They want to get to know you and help you learn everything you can. Take advantage of that because you may not be able to find those resources elsewhere.
  4. Go to INTEGRATE! This is a big one. My entire graduate experience changed when I went to INTEGRATE. The second I stepped on campus I felt like a Mountaineer. You can’t get that feeling unless you visit campus. INTEGRATE is a fantastic conference. You get to meet classmates, build relationships, and talk to professors and program administrators, while hearing from amazing industry professionals. The first year I went I traveled by myself and knew no one in the program. Now, I’m in a book club with WVU IMC alumni and get to talk marketing with them every month. You never know who you’ll get to meet and connect with, so take advantage of it!
  5. Fill out course evaluations. I know this sounds like a plug on behalf of the program, but I promise you it’s not. My life motto is that I can’t complain about things I have the power to change but decide not to. So I either stop complaining or step up and do something about it. We have the power to implement positive change in the program, but change cannot happen if we don’t use the right channels.
  6. Develop your voice and personal brand. I’ve already shared my thoughts on personal branding, so I won’t bore you with that again. But, I will say that this is the time to experiment with your voice and your style. Use this as an opportunity show your style in a professional way.
  7. Develop and trust your process. In the program you’ll write roughly 99 discussion posts, 400 responses, 70 papers and 1 enormous campaign. Start to develop and trust your writing process. This took me a long time to develop and I’m still working on it. But here’s what I know
    1. I need to spit out a first draft before doing anything else (The Ugly First Draft if you’re an Ann Handley fan, which you should be.)
    2. I need to re-read things the next day
    3. Most of the time, I get a second opinion
    4. I need to cut myself off – If allowed, I will read and read and read until the absolute last minute. At some point, I need to stop overanalyzing and hit submit

I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could come up with 100 more things to keep in mind, but that I think it’s time to wrap things up.  If you’ve made it this far I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading my thoughts over the past few years and thank you for sharing yours. To all of you in the program – best of luck. You can absolutely do this and you will be a stronger marketer for it. Reach out to alumni if you need anything, we are nerdy marketers who love to connect with students in the program.

All the best,

Kat

Hello from the City that Never Sleeps

July 2, 2015

Hello everyone!

Hope everyone is having an amazing week so far. We are a few weeks away from the end of the first summer session, the 4th of July holiday is coming up and overall summer is officially upon us. Time for some good R&R, and vacation time with family and friends. I personally am looking forward to spending the 4th of July weekend with friends in Lake Tahoe. I hear its really beautiful down there, and this would be my first time in San Francisco so I’m looking forward to the experience.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. My name is Yvonne Unubun, I live in New York and work in digital marketing at an ad agency called Razorfish, as an account manager. I have a Bachelor’s in Communications from City University of New York’s City College with a concentration in advertising and public relations. In my downtime, which is scarce these days with school, you can find me catching up on some of my favorite TV shows – Nashville, HTGAWM, Grey’s Anatomy, or exploring New York City and the many attractions and fun things it has to offer all year around.

YUnubun_USOpen    YUnubun_BrooklynBridge

Top – bottom: US Open, Walking the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny summer day.

I am currently in my third class of the IMC program and so far I’ve taken Introduction to IMC, Brand Equity Management and right now I’m taking market research and analysis. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I began the program in January of this year. I had originally taken one class at a different IMC program here in New York, but seeing as the program was in a 100% classroom setting it was really tough having to leave work early to commute to class, and then begin the journey back home. Three classes in I have to say although convenient in the sense of not having to physically be in a classroom, online learning is serious business. Between the weekly readings recommended by the professors, reading chapters from the assigned text, weekly discussion posts/responses, and weekly assignments there’s a lot to keep you on your toes throughout the week. However with time you are able to figure out a routine that works for you and your schedule.

As a student ambassador, I look forward to sharing my experiences throughout the program with you all. Also, I’ll be sharing interesting articles, industry news, outstanding marketing campaigns or fun facts about brands, and companies. Feel free to reach out with any questions or suggestions of what you would like for me to blog about.

You can reach me at Yvonne.Unubun@gmail.com.

Seven things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program

May 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe that I started this journey to get my Master’s Degree three and a half years ago and it’s about to end in less than two weeks! I have learned A LOT in the last 3.5 years — about marketing yes, but also about endurance, time management, writing, research, and myself. Some of these lessons I picked up early on, and others only more recently. But all of them are things I wish I had learned a bit sooner. So here it is. For all of you who are just getting started in the program (and even those of you who have been with it a little while), here are seven (because five was too few and ten was too many) things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program.

1. Time management takes on a whole new level in the IMC program. No matter how good you think you are at time management, you will find yourself hitting that submit button with only seconds to spare at least once per semester. At first I thought maybe it was just me. But then I started connecting with some of my classmates offline and found out I wasn’t alone! Even the most dedicated and disciplined of classmates has had a week or two (or 9) when they have found themselves working feverishly on Monday night only to click that upload button at 11:54 p.m. I don’t recommend doing this a lot (I personally have had way too many close calls), but cut yourself some slack if it happens every once in a while. And know that Murphy’s Law will prevail and those assignments that you think won’t be such a big deal will end up taking you twice as long to get done! So try and start early as often as you can to save yourself the stress.

Calvin and Hobbs on procrastination

We all find ourselves hitting the submit button at 11:54 at one time or another.

2. Quality sources make all the difference! As I progressed through the program I learned from each professor which trade publications and sources they favored for quality information when doing research. Some of these I subscribed to early-on and used throughout the course, others I only discovered late in the game and I wish I had thought of them sooner. So, here are a few that I recommend you sign-up for now: AdAge, AdWeek, PR Week, DM News, Pew Research, and MarketingProfs. I also highly recommend you take advantage of the online library databases for accessing journals and competitor/industry information. They’re free and they will give you information you will not find in a Google search. I’m sure there are more that classmates can recommend, but those are the gold standards that have helped me through many a discussion board post and weekly paper!

3. INTEGRATE is awesome. Seriously. You should go! At least once. I almost didn’t go last year and changed my mind at the last minute and I’m so glad I did. Not only were there some great sessions, but it was the first chance I had to meet classmates and professors in person and see the WVU campus. It made me feel so much more connected to the program. I only wish I had gone sooner.

Evernote on an iPad

Evernote helps me work on school work from any place or device.

4. Empower yourself to be mobile. I think I was about 3 semesters into the program when I read a blog post by Kevin that talked about some of his favorite tools that helped him find success in the IMC program. It was the first time I had ever heard of Evernote. It has since become one of my favorite go-to programs for school, work and personal life. Using a tool like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allows you to save your research, and even write your discussion board posts or papers in one place, but access it from any device. So whether you’re in your office at your desk, sitting on the couch at home with your iPad, or even on your phone while waiting for your kids to finish their piano lessons, you can sneak in a little work and pick right back where you left off at the next opportune moment.

5. Every professor is different. It’s true. No matter how consistent the program is (and trust me, it’s pretty darn consistent compared to others I know about), or how standardized the syllabus, each professor is going to communicate differently and grade differently. They are human, after all! Yet for some reason I’ve seen a lot of classmates get very upset by this fact. Were your undergrad professors all the same? I highly doubt it. I know mine weren’t. You will have favorites and some that kick-your-butt! And there may not be consensus on this by your classmates…so just because your friend said they loved Professor so-and-so doesn’t mean you will. All I can say is accept this fact now and it will save you a lot of disappointment and frustration down the road. For my part (and I have nothing to gain by saying this since I’m pretty much done with the program), I found all of my professors to be reasonable and fair.

6. Connect with classmates outside of Blackboard. It wasn’t until very recently that I got invited to a Facebook Group for IMC students, that was created by a classmate (and is not officially affiliated with the IMC program). This has been one of the best discoveries of the last 3 years because it has allowed me to “meet” people I’ve never had class with, ask for suggestions, tips and recommendations relating to certain classes, share ideas, commiserate about our lack of a life on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and just in general talk…you know that thing you did in the hallways when you were in undergrad? The stories that got shared around the lunch table or in the lobby of your dorm room? That stuff is missing when you’re in an online program. But thanks to social media there are ways to connect with colleagues outside of class. Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or even email, I highly recommend you get connected to other students outside of the Blackboard classroom! In fact if you’re interested in joining the Facebook group let me know!

7. At some point you will want to quit. OK, maybe this won’t happen to everyone, but I know that a good majority of the people I’ve met through the program have contemplated it at least once before they finish. And some even do quit…for a semester or two. Whether your personal life changes, your work life gets too hectic, or you just plain need a break, at some point you may find yourself wondering – “Can I really keep doing this?” The answer is YES! Yes, you can, even if you have to take a break — don’t give up! You will be so glad when you cross that finish line.

A fresh summer start

March 4, 2014

For most people, spending their summer studying integrated marketing communications would not be their first choice – especially if this was their first experience in a graduate program.  Starting the IMC program in the summer wasn’t necessarily my first choice, but I am extremely happy that I was able to do so.  Initially I wanted to start the program in the Spring however; I was participating in a service learning trip to Ecuador and since the introductory class is only offered in Early Spring, Summer, and Early Fall I pushed IMC 610 back to summer.  Here are some of the best things about  my summer start!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.17.20 PM

“Slow time” at work – At UW-Whitewater our summer months are a little bit slower, not entirely slow – but a little slower.  More people take vacation, there are less students on campus, and things are a little more flexible.  I was able to dive into grad school and get a better understanding of the time commitment of classes.  I hadn’t been in classes for three years and I had never taken an online class. Starting in the summer allowed me to gain my graduate school footing while still maintaining my employment.  That’s been the greatest part of the program overall.  I am able to work, go to school, and sneak in a few hobbies here and there because of the flexibility of the WVU online program.

Summer Capstone Class – I will take the capstone class in the summer.  I know that my situation is a little different.  With the tuition support I receive I am only able to take three classes a year instead of the five that are offered.  The way the stars have aligned means that I will also take the IMC 636 class in the summer.  I am very excited about this because I will be able to adjust my schedule accordingly and take the time I need to be able to create a great campaign.  Sometimes you have to think about the beginning and the end!

Don’t wait! – I didn’t want to wait.  I could have decided to push back my starting date to the fall but I thought that if I waited, I would never start.  Yes, a graduate degree is a lot of work.  Yes, your life will have to change a bit.  Delaying the start of the program is not going to change any of that.

Fresh air and warm weather – I know this sounds a little bit ironic, but it really helped.  We’ve had some pretty rough winters here in Wisconsin.  I had always heard people talk about seasonal depression and cabin fever in winter, but didn’t think too much of it until recently.  In the summer you can go out, get some exercise, and let your mind relax just a little bit easier than you can in the winter.  Because of this I was around more people to bounce ideas off of and I was traveling more, which  helped create discussion content for my classes.

I highly recommend starting classes in the summer.  As I said before, you’re always going to have a reason to wait, but it’s not going to make starting any easier.  Once you start, you’ll be happy you did.

Capstone Survival Tips

December 5, 2013

Halfway up the mountain

WVU IMC students who attend the INTEGRATE 2014 conference will have an opportunity to attend an IMC 636 Capstone workshop and get survival/success tips from course professors and recent graduates. As a current Capstone student, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to come up for air and offer some advice for students who aren’t able to attend the conference or will be taking the course next semester. You’ll notice that most of the points are things that students can do now. Don’t wait until the Capstone begins to get your act together.

Review the Student Portfolio page. The Student Work page of the IMC website offers a video overview with the IMC Curriculum Developer Kristen Wilkerson and a gallery of previous projects. Don’t neglect to click on students’ names to read the various Capstone Experience sections. Renny Zackman notes under his project, “Students need to approach the course with the expectation that they will be living and breathing the workload for nine weeks.” Sentiments like these are exactly right and will help mentally prepare you for the journey.

Organize your previous coursework. I’m a fairly organized person, but my biggest pre-Capstone regret is not having a unified system for all my lessons, assignments, notes, articles, and all those helpful links that professors and classmates share throughout the program. I started out printing everything and putting it into binders, jotting ideas onto notebook pages, and saving links in my browser Favorites folder. I credit my program experience with upgrading me to digital and cloud-based organization, and even my local folders are arranged more logically. However, I didn’t go back and “fix” the beginning, so I’m all over the place chasing down previous coursework. As you learn better organization systems, consider investing some free time to reorganize older notes and files.

Keep up with your books. This may be a no-brainer to some, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Know where ALL your IMC books are, and resist the urge to sell them back to the bookstore or to Amazon. I found one of my early IMC books packed away in my garage (what was I thinking?) and I still need to flip my house upside down to locate another. (Even as I write this I keep looking at my bookshelf ready to tear it apart to find that book!)

Brush up on Microsoft Word. I’m still working through this issue, but making a project look “pretty” using Word is a bit of a challenge if you’re used to using Adobe or other design software. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what Word can do and how simple commands can make the project more visually compelling, but I recommend getting past that learning curve before the Capstone begins.

Clear your calendar. I admit that I’m a bit of a calendar junkie and like filling it up with stuff. As such, I probably went into the Capstone with still too many obligations, but I tried to be purposeful about clearing my social calendar. I did make allowances for Thanksgiving weekend and my son’s birthday, but I definitely felt the pinch (still no regrets, though). Don’t feel bad about being selfish over this last nine weeks. I blatantly pulled a Flava Flav on my side of the family. I can’t do nothin’ for ya, man. To add to the rudeness but to accomplish the survey research and a focus group, I even had to set an expectation for friends/family to help me. I can’t do anything for YOU for nine weeks, but I need everyone on deck to help ME.

I know that some of this sounds exaggerated, but you really do need to master time management for the Capstone. Reserve some free time to spend with your significant other and/or kids, and give your brain some downtime to rest and get creatively recharged. Remember that every extra commitment you make (other than work obligations) will take hours or even a full day away from your project.

Read everything upfront and make a project management schedule. Don’t wait until week 7 to read the Week 7 Assignment. When you start the Capstone, read through all the coursework and any extra documents from your professor. This will give you time to get over the shock, digest everything and plot an estimated timeline. Nathan Pieratt, a Spring 2013 Capstone student, notes, “To stay on top of the deadlines I had to create a set schedule to touch some aspect of the project every day.”

I’m still plugging away and have a little over 2 weeks (yikes) to become 100% enlightened, so if any other current or former Capstone students have any additional points for future students, please post a comment. I’ll also be happy to field any questions from other IMC students.

Summarize the semester up with a new form of poetry called a Dekaaz

October 21, 2013

If you could sum up the past few nine weeks into only ten syllables, what would be your statement? The syllable structure should be broken out as follows:

2 syllables in the first line

3 syllables in the second

5 syllables in the third

The name of this structure is called a Dekaaz.

Rachel Bagby, a leadership consultant, coined the term.  She describes it “as a new form of lucid expression that you create and say out loud.” Thanks to a TEDx event in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania I had the pleasure of listening first hand to Rachel speak and sing about Dekaaz’s.

TEDx

At this moment in time, my Dekaaz would be “I want to finish my PR final.”

As this semester comes to a close, what is your Dekaaz?  What would be your future Dekaaz?

Feel free to share and see how it feels to post it in the comments section below.

Why I’m glad I started the IMC program in January

October 8, 2013

I had toyed with the idea of going back to school off-and-on for three years before I first heard about the WVU IMC program. I remember it was a Friday afternoon in early August of 2010 that I sat at a Panera sipping iced tea and attended an informational session online. I thought “if this is an indication of what the learning experience will be like, I am sold.” That was the beginning of this crazy journey that I am now close to finishing.

One of the first thoughts I had after finding out about the IMC program was, “how soon can I start?” While I knew deep-down that this program would be the right choice for me, I was worried that since it was already August I’d have to wait a whole year to start. I was excited to learn in the informational session that the IMC program accepted new students in both the early fall and early spring terms. A January start? That would be perfect. It gave me time to get my application submitted, plan for how I would pay my tuition and just enough time to get used to the idea, without losing the excitement and momentum I felt.

On a Monday morning in early January of 2011 I logged-in to IMC-610 for the first time (I was so excited I couldn’t even wait till the evening to log-in). I had already received my orientation manual and new student packet, so I was ready to try out the Blackboard system and get familiarized with how everything worked. I was excited to see a video “welcome message” from my professor. Getting to see and hear her really helped take away some of the anonymity that can come with online interaction. Then I got to post my introduction and read introductory posts from all of my classmates…to be honest I felt like I got to know more about my “virtual classmates” through our online posts and conversations than I did about most of my classmates in undergrad whom I saw every week.

Professor Creely welcome message

I was greeted with a video welcome message from Professor Creely on the first day I logged-in to IMC 610.

While it was not intentional that I started the program in January, instead of the more “traditional” start date of August, I’m so glad that the timing worked out the way it did. Having three school-aged children, late August/early September is always a very hectic time, quickly followed by the holidays. Being able to get my kids settled into a new school year, enjoy the holidays with family and mentally prepare myself for the long journey I was about to take really made a difference.

The last 2-plus years have been an amazing journey. I will start my final course on a Monday in early January 2014…a bit of a full circle moment I think. I’ll follow-up that final course with my Capstone project and, hopefully, don that cap and gown in May.

If you are thinking about enrolling in the IMC program for early Spring 2014, I highly encourage you to just do it! January is a great time to start…a new year filled with new beginnings. And once you start, you’ll be glad you didn’t wait!

The Sociopath’s Guide to Strategic Planning

September 23, 2013
Catherine Ames

Catherine Ames/Cathy Trask. Illustration by arelia-dawn @ deviantart http://fav.me/d4ckirk

There’s nothing like sifting through a 600-page book to reference a 60-year-old definition of a sociopath, but I’m always looking for a good reason to talk about my favorite book – John Steinbeck’s (1952) classic, East of Eden. Plot aside, Steinbeck’s sociopath is a natural-born strategic planner whose method of achieving goals deserves a brief mention if not some bit of admiration. He likens her to a monster.

And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul? (p. 72)

When reading about Catherine Ames (aka Cathy, aka Kate), you root for her downfall, but at one point Steinbeck uses the character as a contrast to human tendency to falter on the course of our goals out of anxiety, hurry, or fear. He almost seems to pause to give readers a life lesson before returning to the flow of action.

If one were properly to perform a difficult and subtle act, he should first inspect the end to be achieved and then, once he had accepted the end as desirable, he should forget it completely and concentrate solely on the means. (p. 240)

The author notes that while “very few people learn this,” Kate’s one good quality was that she was able to form a plan and patiently work it to completion.

She thought to the end very quickly and then put it out of her mind. She set herself to work on the method. She built a structure and attacked it, and if it showed the slightest shakiness she tore it down and started fresh. (p. 240)

I’m currently building a strategic communications plan for PR Concepts & Strategy, and it occurred to me that the process is similar to the one used by Steinbeck’s villain. Textbook authors Laurie Wilson and Joseph Ogden guide students through a planning matrix that breaks down the classic public relations RACE model – research, action planning, communications, and evaluation. In the action planning phase, would-be strategic planners are instructed to begin with a goal, or “the end to be achieved.” Only after we have clearly identified what we want to accomplish do we begin constructing the method and identifying the means that will lead to success. It is not an easy task.

The goal setting part of the process is fairly simple. I compare it to that old Seinfeld episode where car the rental company tells Jerry that they’ve run out of cars despite him having made a reservation. To paraphrase, he complains to the agent that anyone can take a reservation, but it was the holding of the reservation that the company didn’t seem to understand. Similarly, I often think that anyone can set a goal, but it’s in the process of achieving the goal where so many people fall off. A well-constructed strategic plan is the bridge between starting out and reaching the finish line, but if you’ve spent at least 10 minutes in the marketing realm, that’s not big news.

Strategic Planning is Missing

Courtesy of Fran Orford http://www.francartoons.co.uk

The challenging part about strategic planning – and the lesson from our sociopath – is to emotionally remove ourselves from the end goal so that we can focus on the specific tasks and daily minutiae that are required to reach the goal. What’s great about corporate strategy is that the process is often spread out between upper-level planning and lower-level execution. In our own business and personal ambitions, however, we’re solely responsible to form the plan and work the plan. This means that we have to stop daydreaming about and brooding over our goals just long enough to be productive and objectively manage the necessary actions along the way.

Lifehack discusses this productivity practice in “How to Practice the Art of Detached Focus to Achieve Your Goals.” Author and Productivity Coach Ciara Conlon states, “And so the secret is to focus intently, but to focus on the path and not on the destination.”

In using Catherine/Cathy/Kate as an example, let’s remember to set aside such sociopathic tendencies as selfishness, manipulation, lack of empathy and evil plotting. Nevertheless, some of our goals could stand to benefit from a thorough strategic plan and an ice-cold determination not subject to emotional derailments, hurried mistakes or irrational fears.

Further Reading

Steinbeck, J. (1952). East of Eden. New York, NY: Penguin Books (reprinted in 1992).

The Desert Road and the Stops Along the Way

June 14, 2013

Hello everyone! This introductory post may start off sounding like the cover letter to a job application, but please bear with me because I almost can’t resist. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. My name is Kris, and I’m excited to be a student blogger because I am passionate about Integrated Marketing Communications. Okay, got that out.

Actually, I AM having a great time in the IMC program and have mixed feelings about it coming to end after I complete the capstone this December. It’s like we’re driving down a desert road with all these fill-up stations, and the capstone is this large object in the approaching horizon (you decide if it’s a mountain or a molehill). I see the object, but I can’t see what’s on the other side of it. You might be wondering, “Well, why does it have to be a desert road?” Why? Because I live in Texas, and it’s HOT. It’s always hot. But you understand my point.

Desert Road

The journey toward our goals can sometimes feel like a lonely path.

I want to take this blogging opportunity to talk about the IMC program journey and hopefully connect it to entrepreneurial topics and balancing real-life responsibilities. While I’ve already launched and re-launched (and re-launched) my business, I still consider myself to be an aspiring entrepreneur. It truly is the road less traveled, but I hope to share my mistakes and ideas while connecting with other IMC professionals who may be on similar paths or have some insight for the journey.

Now for some quick personal history. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me knows that I have a big crush on New York City. About eight years ago, I decided to uproot my life in Florida, quit my job of 10 years, and move to the big city of…Houston. Houston? It was a shock to me, too. Long story short, within a few months of moving here, I met my future husband and married him just eight months later. We now have a 3-year-old son who’ll likely be managing our household and planning our social schedule in a few more years.

Lakewood Church

This is where we met. In a church this size, it was indeed a divine appointment!

Our wedding day

We danced to Sting’s “My One and Only Love.”

Please reach out to me if you have any questions about the program/courses or just want to vibe out about starting a business. The four electives I chose were Mobile Marketing, Visual Information Design, B2B Direct Marketing, and Digital Video Production. Yes, I already know that I probably should have taken Entrepreneurship in IMC, but I didn’t budget my electives. First tip: Be sure to budget your electives!


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