IMC 636 Capstone Project
Completion Date – Summer 2016
Client – The Arc Baltimore
Residence – Smyrna, DE
Previous Degrees – B.S. – Education – Delaware State University, Dover, DE A.A.S. – Mortuary Science – Catonsville Community College (now Community College of Baltimore County), Catonsville, MD
Misc. Facts – My completion of the IMC program is the culmination of four years of part-time coursework. I finished undergrad in 1990 and began the program in 2012 -a long interval of time to say the least! Although I did not have a formal marketing background in terms of educational training, I have been the owner and operator of our family’s funeral service firm in Smyrna, DE since 1993. As I’ve wrestled with business/marketing challenges through the years, I’ve developed a strong interest and passion for all things marketing. My particular interests are in the areas of brand management, customer loyalty, direct response promotions and content marketing. Additionally, I’ve always had a keen interest in understanding why consumers form an affinity for brands and why they make the decisions that they do. The funeral service field is built upon a foundation of brand loyalty that often spans many generations, and my time in the program has given me knowledge and insights that I have been able to apply and scale to the needs of a small family-owned business.
Capstone Experience – Many have previously referred
to capstone as “610 on steroids”, and I can attest that this is
certainly the case. However, it is doable. There will be periods where
things are moving nicely and you will also have occasions where all you
want to do is to smash your computer to pieces. However, you can take
comfort in knowing that the courses that precede capstone will give you a
strong foundation and it will all come together.
The eight weeks of capstone fly by quickly so be sure to stay on
task and try not to fall behind. While it can be challenging – even
grueling – at times, I found capstone to be incredibly rewarding.
Completing the capstone and earning my masters has been one of the most
enriching and rewarding experiences of my professional life, and I am
confident that you will feel the same way. I thought I’d conclude with a
few hard-earned nuggets of wisdom – hope this helps!
Capstone Survival Tips: Brainstorm ideas for your agency before capstone begins. The program strongly suggests that you not select an existing agency name or simply use Lastname Marketing, etc. Dig deep…find your personal story and weave that narrative into your credentials section. Why do you love IMC? What life or career experiences brought you into the field and to the program? What is your philosophy of IMC? How will IMC help to achieve your client’s goals? Why should your agency be chosen? I must confess that my first agency concept was completely lame, and my second was already taken. It was only then that I was somewhat forced to really dig deep and come up with something that was creative, unique, and most importantly…my own. My personal experiences and philosophy about IMC provided the idea for my agency name and concept. In turn, the name/concept informed the creation of my agency logo. Have fun with this and let it showcase your creative ideas! This is the one component of capstone that you can begin at any time, so start early and it will save you many hours of time in the first week of the course. Begin your research as soon as you know who your client and target audience will be. As you may recall from the 610 course, this is a very time-consuming process but it will yield big dividends as you move forward in your campaign. Be sure to fully understand the industry that your client operates in, their chief competitors, and audit all of their brand communications and marketing channels. Be sure to take note of ‘what they aren’t doing’ – look for the gaps that you can fill. After you have acquired a strong working knowledge of your client, contact the appropriate person for the organization as soon as possible to learn about their marketing and promotional goals, PR initiatives, their marketing challenges, etc. Before you do so, prepare a list of key questions based upon what was revealed in your research. This will not only help you to ask the ‘right’ questions, but it will also expose areas that you were not able to obtain information on. It may also reveal ‘gaps’ in their marcom initiatives that you can probe when you contact them. Also be sure to ask your client to quantify their goals, assessments, etc. as much as possible – this will help you to establish benchmarks for your campaign. It can get pretty intense as you move from week to week in your campaign so take a step back from time to time and review the work you have previously done. Keep an eye on the bigger picture to ensure that your objectives, strategies, tactics, rationales, and your creative executions are on-strategy and well aligned. Do your budget after you have completed all of your tactics, creative touchpoints, and evaluation methods. I made the mistake of doing it before I had completed my evaluation plan and had to completely do it over to incorporate my evaluation costs! Finally, try to enjoy the process as it truly is a great learning experience. If you have problems or find yourself at a standstill, be sure to reach out to your professor, classmates, or the other members of the Capstoners group. They all fully understand the challenges you are facing, and I know that they will be more than happy to help.