In May 2012, I graduated from Suffolk University with a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication. Integrated Marketing Communication focuses on ensuring that the customer has a seamless experience in all of their interactions with the organization, presenting all aspects of marketing communication with a similar tone and style that reflects the company’s core message. This maximizes the organizational and brand’s cost effectiveness by getting all areas to work together, rather than existing as isolated “silos” in which each area of the company does their own thing.
In my 6 semesters (3 years) of grad school, I took three courses that were all taught by the same professor. The reasons for this were two-fold. One, before I had taken any of his classes, I heard my classmates talking about how difficult he was. Generally speaking, grad school was not the nightmare that I had imagined it would be, so I liked the idea of really being challenged. After I took that first class, I realized that yes, his classes WERE challenging, but I also learned a lot. I intentionally and purposefully signed up for his other two classes, and both times, I was glad that I did. He challenged me to work hard and give my absolute best in every assignment, from the “discussion” homework to essays, midterms and final exams.
While my major was IMC, I thought that it was also important to learn how each individual part works separately – in its “silo”, if you will – so that I could better understand how to fit each aspect of marketing together. I also wanted to make sure my education was as well-rounded and thorough as possible. Even if I’m not an expert in a certain area, I wanted to be somewhat prepared and at least have something to fall back on if the situation presented itself in the workplace. As such, I took courses in public relations, marketing and advertising, as well as some research and theory classes and a crisis communication class.
Intro to Marketing Communication (Fall 2010)
For my intro to marketing communication class, the class was divided into multiple groups. Each group worked on the same project for the same client for the duration of the semester. If that sounds clunky to you, it’s because it was. All of the groups presented to the class (the client no-showed our presentation), and there was a lot of overlap between projects. Our client was the Thornton W. Burgess society, a non-profit organization located on Cape Cod that focuses on raising environmental awareness through education. In the interest of full disclosure, I had my fair share of difficulties with this class: besides a personality conflict with the professor, the client was very difficult to work with, chaired by people in their 70s-80s who didn’t even have a vague sense of what they were expecting from us and were not very forthcoming with requested information.
However, I also learned a lot from this class, though more from my interaction with my group members than anything else: in the middle of the semester, I got hit by a car (yes, you read that correctly). I missed a week’s worth of work and school, though a severe concussion kept me mentally out of things for much longer. While I am normally the take-charge person in group projects, I found myself forced to rely heavily on my group members and to trust that they would get the work done in the timely fashion that was needed – and also that it would be GOOD work, not something that was just cobbled together quickly. In all, I’m pretty satisfied with what we accomplished. Our full report is available here.
Integrated Marketing Communication (Spring 2010)
At school, I took one class that focused specifically on IMC. Not surprisingly, the class was called integrated marketing communication. For the duration of the semester, we worked in groups to create IMC plans for real-life companies, with real-life budgets based on the research that we did. My group chose Jet Blue. This plan included everything you would expect from a marketing plan: SWOT and competitive analyses, financial/budget information, as well as a fully comprehensive advertising campaign. You can read our full plan here, and a PDF version of our presentation is available here.
Seminar in Advertising (Spring 2011)
As I mentioned, while my expertise is not in advertising, I knew that the only way I would be able to figure out how to make all of the marketing team’s components work together as one was to first learn how they work on their own. This advertising class took it for granted that we had some background knowledge on “how” ads operate – that is, why certain colors are chosen over others, what the human eye is drawn to first, etc. Much of this class focused on execution and reasoning – we would have to create an ad for any company of our choosing, then justify our ad by explaining why we chose to do it and why it will work.
For the individual project, I chose Payless. This ad (which you can view here) creates a message that is easy to understand: the girl shown in the ad loves shoes so much that she has a different pair for every day of the week. While she wants to be fashionable and trendy, she also knows she can’t break the bank on her shoe obsession – that’s why she chooses Payless over other stores.
For the group project, my group chose Captain Morgan Rum. For this project, we focused on just the advertising aspect of what would be found in a traditional marketing plan, analyzing competitors and Captain Morgan’s current standing among similar liquors, as well as past and current advertising. We then created a new advertising plan that was consistent with the company is known for while increasing sales and brand awareness. The full report is about 50 pages long, but feel free to take a look: Captain Morgan Advertising Campaign (full)