Is Google AdWords Certification Important for Digital Marketing Students? If you plan to enter the world of online marketing, I say yes, and there are many reasons why. Learn what Liz Gray and I had to say about why AdWords Certification is important in this video series about various aspects of the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC). Liz Gray is a faculty member at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, Canada where she coaches students in the GOMC. We both are very passionate about the GOMC and AdWords Certification opportunities for college students.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day the JMU College of Business (CoB) and the CoB Diversity Council introduced their first MLK Day of Service, inclusive of many CoB students, organizations, and faculty members. All of the students in my MKTG 477 class braved the cold and came together to make a difference for a local non-profit, the Explore More Discovery Museum (EMDM). Their task was to generate creative and effective marketing ideas for birthday parties held at the museum. EMDM’s birthday events are designed to be relaxing and stress-free for parents. They offer full assistance with event planning, a set-up and clean-up crew, and pre-made party themes including decorations. I asked five of my students, the “Brand Managers”, to write a guest blog post about their experience. Here is what Rachel Broudy, Taylor Glazebrook, Molly McDevitt, Christine Provino, and Cari Ross had to say…
The moment Dr. Clarke presented our Digital Marketing Practicum class with the opportunity to participate in a day of community service by developing a cohesive marketing strategy for EMDM, our minds buzzed with anticipation. Our goal was aimed at increasing sales of our client’s birthday party events by utilizing and combining our marketing expertise. We spent a total of five hours each, yielding 100 hours of combined service, working towards an objective that will ultimately benefit the local Harrisonburg community.
At the start of the day, Dr. Clarke divided us into cross-functional teams based on our team roles in the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC): Brand Managers, Strategists, Analysts, Team Leaders, and Account Managers. The specialized roles allowed us to work with other students in the class, outside of our GOMC project, to manage individual tasks that contributed to our overall goal. Our teams were positioned in an open environment, which allowed for greater collaboration between all cross-functional groups. As the day went on, teams were able to develop multiple marketing strategies to present to the Explore More Discovery Museum. This is the first time we, the Google Online Marketing Challenge students, have participated in a service event all together. Needless to say, we were eager to spend our time serving the community and sharing our marketing skills.
The Account Manager team consisted of Amy Goffe, Laura Hart, Claudia Schnorbus, Patrick Shamburger, and John Thompson. This group consulted with the EMDM Director, Lisa Schull mid-way through the day to ask questions and obtain information. In preparation for the client call, the account managers brainstormed a list of questions that were geared toward finding how we can better help EMDM’s event sales, specifically for birthday parties. The team was also in charge of taking the presentation template, designed by Brand Managers, and incorporating the class content to present to EMDM. Account Managers were an important component of our process, as their main objective was to understand everything about the EMDM’s current situation and then bring everything together in the end for the final the presentation to the client.
“It’s great to give back to the Harrisonburg community, especially kids, using the skills that we learn everyday in the classroom.” – John Thompson (Member of the Account Manager team)
The Analyst team was made up of Alex Adley, Jacob Brown, Anne Delafield, Caitlin Fikac, and Alex Murphy. Tasked with the job of creating an extensive competitive analysis for EMDM, this team went into great detail with regards to over 25 of EMDM’s competitors and their offerings. After developing and analyzing a spreadsheet full of competitive data, the team looked at trends among competitors, compared them to EMDM, and conveyed their findings to members of the Account Manager team through a perceptual map.
“It’s amazing to see a big group of people working together on one common goal and getting it done efficiently.” – Annie Delafield (Member of the Analyst team)
Contrary to their usual leadership role within the GOMC, the Team Leaders were assigned as ‘followers’ for the day of service so they could experience a supporting role. Their job for the day was to assist the other groups as needed. They began by helping the Analysts collect data for the competitive analysis, they provided edits to this blog post, and then assisted the Strategists with details for a recommendation plan. Team Leaders included Matthew Deters, Alexandra Ender, Morgan Foran, Emily Maynard, and Lynn Radocha. When asked what their biggest takeaway from this day was, the Team Leaders collectively responded, “the experience was a glimpse of what a real-world working environment is like, with cross-functional groups and departments coming together to accomplish a goal.”
The Strategist team included Drew Dyer, Elka Feinstein, Natalie Krewin, Maianh Phan, and Jacob Shibley. This team brought a lot of creativity to the plan as the task was to generate media strategy ideas, message elements, and theme ideas for EMDM’s birthday parties. The team commented that “narrowing down our ideas and expanding on them” was crucial to their part of the marketing plan. The Strategists initiated new ways of communicating the client’s unique selling proposition by emphasizing ideas such as “more fun less work,” to
promote the stress free events to parents. They brainstormed ideas to target the parties towards a variety of events beyond traditional birthdays, such as celebrations for local sports teams and other child-focused organizations. In addition, Strategists were tasked with developing potential revenue-generating “add-ons” for the party such as t-shirts, goody bags, or “green screen” pictures that could be added to their party package experience. The team came up with a few website-enhancing ideas in order to make the online experience more enjoyable for consumers, such as providing customers the ability to search for and book dates for a potential party. When Strategists were asked what the most challenging part of their day was, all agreed that “having to put ourselves back into kids’ shoes was definitely a challenge, but a fun one to face.”
The final team, Brand Managers, had a primary objective of publicizing the experience for the members of our class. This consisted of live tweeting and creating a guest post for Dr. Clarke’s blog to track and discuss the activities of all 25 students throughout the day of service. Brand Managers were in charge of taking pictures, inquiring and keeping up with the progress of the other teams, and collaborating with cross-functional groups. In addition, Brand Managers were assigned to design an aesthetically pleasing template for the final presentation to EMDM.
“It’s important for students to brand themselves using the work they’ve accomplished at JMU. The College of Business Day of Service was a great representation of what students are capable of doing to build their business skills while providing a great service to a local non-profit.” – Rachel Broudy (Member of the Brand Manager team)
By the end of the day, our class of 25 students alone devoted a total of 100 service hours to further benefit the Harrisonburg community. Our class was successfully able to develop a cohesive marketing plan for our client. The plan consisted of ways to enhance their current website, promote and advertise their birthday party experience, and create “add ons” to increase revenue. We had a great time working with EMDM and were happy to help them work towards their sales goal. Overall the first College of Business MLK Day of Service was a great success, filled with pizza, cakes, laughs, and camraderie among everyone involved!
Hard work really does pay off.
Alex Adley and Morgan Foran were students in my Integrated Marketing Communications course (MKTG 384) last year. They each won a scholarship from Marketing EDGE because of their overall performance in the course, which included the creation of an integrated marketing communications plan for DIRECTV.
Marketing EDGE (Educate-Develop-Grow-Employ) is a nonprofit organization that provides funding to support student scholarships, marketing challenges, internships, and teaching resources. They are the only national nonprofit solely committed to help college students become engaged in the field of marketing.
Learn more about Alex and Moran by reading JMU’s article Real-World’ Experiences Translate to Scholastic Success.
After much internal dialog and deliberation, as well as some coaxing from colleagues in industry and at my university, I decided it was time to make a big change to MKTG 477.
Instead of 16 students on four teams of four students each, I’m planning to admit 25 students to work on five teams of five students each. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is a very big deal. And, I fully understand if my former students are against this idea since “small class size” is a frequently mentioned statement on my teaching evaluations. Trust me, I like the small classes too, but…
I get so many applicants each year and I really hate turning away so many qualified students from such a great learning experience. It feels like telling someone who is hungry that they can’t have anything to eat.
Even with a larger class, I will still have to send rejection letters to quite a few great students. But by moving to an enrollment of 25, at least I can offer this experiential learning opportunity to nine more students compared to past years. Before moving to 25, my Department Head gave me his word that I can go back to 16 in 2017 if this doesn’t work with 25 in 2016. Keep your fingers crossed that I can deliver the same quality of the experience with a larger group. For example, I once again hope that 100% of my students pass the AdWords Certification to become an AdWords certified professional. A great book to help with the certification exam is Learning Google AdWords and Google Analytics.
Enrollments in MKTG 477 were always kept low in order to deliver a flipped-learning and coaching-oriented teaching experience that included engagement opportunities with the practitioner community. While moving from 16 to 25 may not seem like a big change, it will affect about 30 different aspects of the course delivery. Most notably, with more students and teams, I will have less time to devote to each student and team. Instead of 25% for each team, my time will be reduced to 20%. But I hope we can make up for this lowered level of support through my MKTG 477 alums. Last year for my 2015 cohort, I pilot tested a Professional Mentor Program whereby each MKTG 477 student was paired with a MKTG 477 alum. The program received rave reviews from both students and alums. This year, when I asked alums to volunteer as mentors, I had 21 alums fill out my JMU GOMC Interest Form within the first hour! Within the second hour I had more than enough alumni interest to cover a Professional Mentor Program for a 25 student class. Thank you to my wonderful group of MKTG 477 alums for your continued support in making this course such a special experience. I’m really going to need you this year!
Through brainstorming discussions with one of my recent alums, Patrick Cusumano from Workshop Digital, I have a really good way to use the new fifth teammate. So, in addition to our usual Team Leader, Account Manager, Strategist, and Analyst, we will be adding Brand Manager into the team mix. Look for the Brand Manager to have a very exciting role in personal branding, team branding, a service project for their client, and quality control with many different stakeholders. I shared the concept with Morgan Moore, Lauren Crain, Dan Froehlich, and Brea Zeise (2015 AdWords Business Americas Winners) during our visit to Google last week. They were enthusiastic about the idea and think it will work out quite well.
Sadly, a few of our traditions will need to change, such as our end of year Duke Dog picture in the exact same pose. Somehow I don’t see that being the same, but I will challenge my 2016 class to find a way to treasure our past while making room for exciting changes and future growth.
Once again, my MKTG 477 and MBA 625 students have shown the world what amazing talent we have at JMU. On behalf of my eight teams that participated in the 2015 Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC), I dedicate their recent successes to our strong network of alumni and agency partners. We are extremely grateful to our alumni and agency partners who support this experiential learning experience through guest speaking, mentoring services, and intern/externship opportunities.
First, I wish to congratulate Lauren Crain, Dan Froehlich, Morgan MacKenzie Moore (Team Captain), and Brea Zeise for being named Americas AdWords Business Winner in the 2015 GOMC! This marks the fourth time that JMU has won this same award which means they were the top team in the North America, Central America, and South America region of the world. They join the ranks of Rachel Bruton, Meredith Rauh, Brandon Lawlor, Molly Shea, Larissa Cookson, Lindsay Keller, Nicole Behr, Rachel Krause, and Tara Goode in holding this prestigious title. I look forward to our team visit to the Googleplex this weekend as part of their winning package.
Second, in addition to winning the Americas region, this same team won second overall in the Social Impact category of the GOMC. As result of this win, their client, the Calvert Marine Museum, a museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, research, and interpretation of the culture and natural history of Southern Maryland, will be given a $10,000 donation from Google. This brings JMU’s total Google Challenge donations earned for non-profits to $50,000! Lauren, Dan, Morgan, and Brea join the ranks of many Dukes who earned one of the top three prizes in the Social Impact category: Scott Guengerich, Melissa Dennis Allen, Jeremy Daniel Vogan, Josh Baugher, Baris Bilek, Chris Foster, Carla Larson Reese, Kelcey Troxell, Xavier Pickett, Craig Honeycutt, Dale W. Richards, Lauren Hale, Ashleigh Rojanavongse, Rachel Lam, Kaci Lassiter, James Carter, Monika Kelpsaite, Carly Calhoon, Aly Wilkins, Rory Salzberger, Kelly Pollhammer, Melissa Kniceley, and Hannah Irene Johnson.
Third, the MBA team of Chris Meyers (Team Captain), Glen Hollowood, Matt Ropp, Taylor Schwalbach and Naureen Versi proved to be strong contenders in the 2015 GOMC by winning two awards. They were named a 2015 AdWords Business Semi-Finalist which means they were one of the top 15 teams in the Americas region on the AdWords component. Students developed a campaign for Friendship Industries, the first organization in our local community to provide commercial work and training opportunities for persons with disabilities. Because they partnered with a nonprofit with public charitable status and they submitted an Impact Statement, they were eligible for the Social Impact Award. Their superior performance earned a second title as a 2015 AdWords Social Impact Finalist which put them in the top 10 teams in the world in the Social Impact category.
Finally, the other six participating JMU teams were ranked as a “Strong” team which means the students demonstrated strong AdWords proficiency and understanding of online advertising.
Over 1,700 teams competed in the 2015 GOMC and the top 322 teams made it into the Strong, semi-finalist, or winner category. Thus, we can confidently state that all JMU teams performed in the top 20% of the world! I am immensely proud of all of my 2015 students for these accomplishments. But moreso, I am proud of their drive, determination, hard work, and overall performance in my class. Because of their efforts, each team made a meaningful difference through the marketing services provided to their clients.
In the middle of showing a very gruesome and shocking ad, blaring fire alarms started going off in the building. You had to be there to know just what kind of effect it had on everyone.
After the fire alarm, we got settled into class again and some students wanted to know how the ad ended. So I played it again, and in the VERY SAME place as my first showing of the ad, the loud fire alarms started going off again. Several students, including myself, jumped in the air in panic when it happened. Very freaky.
If you are so inclined, take a look at the ads. It is a very graphic public service announcement from Western Australia with the message “stay in school”. http://mashable.com/2014/01/30/stay-in-school-psa/… Then imagine a class of students watching this ad with fire alarms blaring around the one minute mark. Crazy!
If future classes, I’ll have someone to pull the fire alarms at just the right time to get the full effect.
If you were a student in my Integrated Marketing Communications class between the fall of 2003 and spring of 2009, then you probably recall the name Andrew Lux. If you don’t recall his name, perhaps “the adidas project” rings a bell.
Andrew was a 2002 graduate of the JMU Department of Marketing and was recognized as the 2001 University Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the 2002 College of Business Outstanding Student in Marketing. After graduation, he accepted a position at adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany as the Communication Manager for Football (what we call soccer in the U.S.) and Rugby. Andrew was promoted to Global Advertising Manager and worked in Amsterdam before returning to adidas headquarters as the Senior Football Communication Manager.
During Andrew’s tenure at adidas, we collaborated to create a highly beneficial and reciprocal learning partnership between adidas and JMU. After drafting confidentiality agreements and figuring out how to assess course learning objectives, we crafted an experiential project for my course. The project involved students developing integrated marketing communication plans for one of adidas’ real soccer products, the F50. As students gained real-world experience, adidas gained fresh insights and new ideas about ways to market their products.
Donna Ragsdale Dunn (JMU ’94) wrote a feature story about our first semester working together, “Run with the Big Dogs: Marketing Students Get Real-world Toehold working with Adidas Exec on Top Secret Marketing Shoe“. The article showcased Andrew in the spring 2004 issue of JMU’s Montpelier Magazine as he juggled a soccer ball.
Each semester for the next seven years, Andrew and I tweaked the project so that it would be a different experience for each group of students. Over the course of 12 semesters we reworked the project to help students experience different challenges as the products moved through introduction, growth, and maturity while facing intense competition from rivals such as PUMA, Nike, and Under Armour.
To this day, I receive emails and phone calls from alums who ask if Andrew and I are still running the adidas project. My former students often comment on how much they learned, what a memorable project it was, and how it gave them such interesting things to talk about during job interviews. Some even say that it was a marketing project that best prepared them for the jobs they now do today. On behalf of my students who benefited from our collaboration and gained exposure to real-world marketing, I wish to thank Andrew for making this experience possible.
I was inspired to write this blog post when I spotted Andrew at a JMU football game recently. Not only was I absolutely thrilled to see him, but I felt excited to personally share with him what kind of impact he made at JMU. We owe a debt of gratitude to Andrew for truly making a difference for hundreds of JMU marketing students by collaborating, donating his time, and sharing his expertise. Thank you Andrew!
I am seeking talented JMU students with an interest in participating in the 2015 DMAW/EF Collegiate MAXI Oral Case Competition Challenge. Last year, I coached three JMU marketing students who won the first place gold award in the 2014 competition about the World Wildlife Fund.
This year, students have an opportunity to select from one of three nonprofit organizations and create a short IMC plan based on the stated focus of that selected organization. The three non-profts are:
- Central Park Conservancy (CPC) – a private, nonprofit that manages Central Park under a contract with the City of New York and NYC Parks.
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV) – an organization chartered by Congress for disabled U.S. military veterans that helps them and their families through various means
- Shriners Hospital for Children (SHC) – a network of 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America
The competition will be held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, November 13, 2015. I can assist with transportation needs and talk to your professors about missing Friday classes.
In order to compete, student teams of 2-4 members must submit an intent to compete/attend form, by Friday, October 23, 2015, before 5:00 PM.
JMU can enter three teams and I would love to coach at least one team of highly motivated and hard-working JMU marketing students. If you have an interest in this engaging learning opportunity, review the Complete Case Competition Document to learn more about the three non-profits and the competition requirements. If you are still up for the challenge, complete the sign-up sheet outside of 517 Showker Hall at your earliest convenience. I would like to form teams no later than September 25 so you can start the project right away.
Several teams of James Madison University participated in the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge as part of my Integrated Marketing Communications (MKTG 384) course. The Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge is sponsored by Marketing EDGE, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to Educate, Develop, Grow, and Employ college students in the field of marketing.
As part of the Challenge each team developed marketing plans, using direct and interactive channels, with a goal of encouraging DIRECTV customers to participate in their Refer-a-Friend Program. Students also created a visual summary presentation and an online video ad.
In the end, over 200 teams competed and seven JMU Marketing teams earned an award or honorable mention. One of the JMU teams emerged as the winner of the 3rd Place Bronze Award in the undergraduate division.
I asked this team to share their thoughts about the experience and provide tips to help future competitors. Here’s what they had to say…
John Bassford – Starting is the hardest part of this project. To me, it seemed a very daunting task, but as soon as we started working on the project, things began to pick up momentum and the pieces fell into place. Communication is important in order to be successful. Do not be afraid to bounce ideas off of teammates. Even if you think the idea is ridiculous, talk it out with the team. You never know what ideas you will help your teammates create by telling them your ideas. Once you find an idea that you all can get behind, use that idea to keep everything within your plan consistent. There will be some arguing and maybe even some very vocal disagreements, but do not forget that this is a team competition. Be open to each other’s ideas and make sure to communicate between each other to avoid confusion on what needs to be done. Don’t overthink things and make sure everything ties in with your main idea. Before you know it, you’ll end up having a great plan.
Alexander Dixon – Take into account how long it takes to finally settle in on an idea, but make it an idea that will resonate with your audience. We initially brainstormed many different ideas on specific topics that played to our client’s advantages — in our case it was DIRECTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. For example we had a bunch of ideas on the football packages, their refer-a-friend rewards already in place, and other DTV assets. We then realized that DIRECTV’s major selling point was their NFL Sunday Ticket, so we decided to combine the two to strengthen the refer-a-friend program. Brainstorming the ideas on the topics separately initially took most of our time. Once we honed down on our topic we were able to see ideas that we had on different DIRECTV assets. We were able to use them with our final idea which made it inherently better. The problem with this all was that once we finally found an idea that would work, we had about two weeks left in the semester to actually create the plan, which made us work quickly and under pressure. So my main piece of advice would be to not underestimate how long it takes to actually come to a solid idea that will stick out to place in the competition.
Kevin Harmon – I learned that staying organized and not procrastinating are keys to success. Once you come up with your main idea, have confidence in it and let it fully develop. Don’t veer too far off your original course, there are a lot of moving parts to this project and constantly changing your ideas will cost you lots of valuable time. Last but not least, have fun with it. This is a great opportunity to apply your knowledge from the classroom in a creative way.
Kelsey Jordan Hinkle – I often still think about my group experiences and what I wish I could’ve done differently. While there’s some I remain unsure of as a perfect solution, here’s what I would advise focusing on to fellow marketing majors:
1. Emotional Intelligence. A successful group begins with knowing yourself, your teammates, and yourself around your teammates. We learned in COB 202 to start group projects by taking the Myers Briggs test – a great tool for developing Emotional Intelligence. However, it wasn’t until Maymester as a senior, after being forced in COB 487, that I realized how beneficial this test is to a groups’ success. I highly recommend knowing your Myers Briggs score and your teammates within the 1st week. You not only discover personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your teammates, but also this reveals any latent imbalances early-on. So now your team can create a more relevant plan of action to address any potential issues, and also better allocate specific roles/duties. But my favorite part is about this test is how much personal insight you gain, as well as those around you, especially opposite personalities. It explains why you react a certain way to surrounding personalities/situations and how to more effectively control any negative reactions.
2. Logistics. Go over everything you have to do together. Set up weekly deadlines and stick to them. Google Calendars and Google Drive are lifesavers. Share everything. But, do not overly rely on Google Docs. Don’t assign a task to only one person. Have everyone edit/add writing up until at least 3 days before the due date. Then, pick one person to create a version in Word. Read it aloud slowly together. If there’s something you want changed but no one agrees, change it on your own computer first. Wait for everyone’s approval before changing it yourself. If you want to make a drastic change, be sure to sufficiently back up your ideas. More importantly, don’t be afraid to do so. We actually changed our overall theme less than 2 weeks before the due date, which was incredibly stressful, but worth it.
3. Taking Initiative. The busyness of the business school, and lack of group rooms, makes procrastinating even more tempting. Do not succumb. Even if “there’s nothing to do” that week, do something. Meet at least once every week for an hour. As a change of scenery, I recommend not meeting in Showker (i.e. the café in Martin’s, Barnes & Noble, Rose Library, etc…) although, so long as you can find a space, Showker works, too. The issues I faced with most group projects resulted from my own laziness and/or entitlement. When 1 or more members procrastinate, it’s easy to follow suit, especially in the beginning weeks. Start something, even if no one else will. But always try your best to include the team on your work. Regardless of how much more effort you put forth, avoid feeling like you deserve greater control or credit. Vice versa, avoid negative thoughts of what you don’t deserve, whether related to grades or treatment by your teammates. Unfortunately, groups do not work that way, and neither does life.
4. Direct Communication. The moment you have something you’d like to say to another member,tell them. Never be afraid of making things worse because, trust me, that rarely happens. Remaining silent is much more destructive. If you feel uncomfortable telling the person directly, go to your professor as early as possible, not another member of your team.
Thank you to John, Alex, Kevin, and Kelsey for sharing their advice. To summarize their key points:
- Get started early.
- Brainstorm and then stay focused on your main ideas.
- Keep communication lines open within the team.
- Develop a team plan for completing the plan requirements.
For even more insights, read what the 2014 Bronze Winners from JMU had to say about succeeding in the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge.
One of my students recently asked if I had any book recommendations regarding creative and strategic copyrighting for Advertising. Here are a few of my recommendations:
- The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells
- Copyrighting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide To Copywriting Tricks For Selling Millions
- Copyrighting Creativity: Creative Values, Cultural Heritage Institutions and Systems of Intellectual Property
- The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters
- Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, and Design
- The Copywriter’s Toolkit: The Complete Guide to Strategic Advertising Copy