My spring 2014 students at James Madison University participated in the *Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge as part of the Integrated Marketing Communications (MKTG 384) course.  Each team developed marketing plans, using direct and interactive channels, with a goal of increasing the number of orders driven through a Domino’s Mobile App.  They also created a visual summary presentation and an online video ad.  In the end, five JMU teams made it to the semi-finals and one of those teams emerged as the winner of the 3rd Place Bronze Award.

I asked our winning team to share their thoughts about the experience and provide tips to help future competitors.  Here’s what they had to say…

Haley SvadebaHaley Svadeba – I learned to not be afraid to go with an idea that seems to be random or completely unrelated to the task at hand.  These are the very kinds of ideas that end up being creative breakthroughs.  It is very important in the beginning stages of the creative process to not discourage any idea that your team has because you never know what could catch the target audience’s attention.  Once your team has decided on the “big idea” for the plan, I would recommend sticking with that one idea and building off of it.  Be consistent with your overall theme.  Even after deciding your main idea, your minds will continue to come up with additional ideas as you go through the semester but don’t try to make it more complicated by coming up with too many.  Keep it simple and make sure to use the one big idea very well by expanding upon it and integrating it into the plan.

Shawn MisarShawn Misar - Consistency is king!  Also, taking a few minutes of time out of each day, dedicated solely to thinking creatively is well worth it.  I would highly, highly recommend talking about your ideas with your friends, family members, or anyone else who can give you some feedback.  Go to your professor’s office hours. It’s great to be able to bounce ideas off someone who has had a vast amount of experience and who is so committed to helping you do well! Meet regularly with your team, set a schedule, and stick to that schedule.  If all the team members meet every few days with real progress, you will have a lot of extra time near the end of the semester to “polish” the plan and give you the best chance of success.

Lauren CrainLauren Crain – I learned is it is very important to know and understand your target market and your client. Being very familiar with your target market will help in every aspect of the plan. You need to think like your target market, envision how they would interact with the client’s brand, and figure out what is the best way to effectively engage them. It is important to immerse yourself in the brand, know what they stand for, how they currently communicate with their audience, and understand how they interact with their customer. Some advice I can offer to other students is to get started on the project as early as you can because it contains many intricate components.  The Challenge is a large undertaking as you have to learn about an industry, a client, the marketing environment, and the competitive landscape.  With that information, you will be challenged to make recommendations, come up with a very creative big idea, a media plan, a budget, ROI projections, a video, a presentation, etc.  Teams with the highest quality plans were started at the beginning of the semester.  You want to put time and thought put into the process throughout the entire semester…not just pulled together quickly at the end.  You really do get out as much as you put into the project and will learn so many skills that will be applicable in the future.  Don’t waste this opportunity.

Haley Svadeba

Dan FroehlichThrough the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge, I understood more deeply how motivation directly correlates with success. The first day we were assigned this project, our group had our minds set on winning the competition. We spent more time than we needed to just get a good grade.  We were dedicated to our client’s success and we truly wanted our ideas to make a real difference for the clients.  The extra effort and time we spent on the plan paid off as it positioned us to place #3 overall in the competition out of nearly 200 competitors.   One of the things we did that made the project so successful was our constant effort to improve our plan. We actively sought out our plan’s weaknesses, and built them into strengths. Your plan is only as strong as your weakest link, and this process helped us create a balanced and strong plan.

Thank you to Haley, Lauren, Shawn, and Dan for sharing their insights.  I concur with the advice and will summarize their key points:

  • Be open to all ideas during the creative process.
  • Once you decide on the main creative theme, stay focused on that idea and integrate it consistently into the plan.
  • Obtain feedback from other people outside of your team.
  • Plan a schedule of regular meetings and strictly adhere to it.
  • Learn everything you can about the market and your client.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Set high goals and work hard for your client.


*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.

James Carter was featured in a WHSV-TV video this evening.  Check it out now!

Carly Stephenson’s story shows how James and his team successfully conducted online marketing to help Cat’s Cradle develop a stronger online presence.  By using Google AdWords and Google+ in the Google Online Marketing Challenge, the team placed second in the Global Social Impact category and earned a $10,000 financial donation for Cat’s Cradle.

To learn how our students are making a difference with non-profits and engaging consumers online, read about JMU in the 2014 Google Challenge.




2014 Google Online Marketing Challenge AdWords Business  Global Co- Winners
Learn how our four undergraduate teams from JMU’s College of Business performed in the 2014 Google Online Marketing Challenge.



In the MKTG 384 (Integrated Marketing Communications ~ a.k.a. IMC) course at James Madison University, one of the requirements is that students must develop an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan.  An IMC Plan is designed to help an organization plan, integrate, execute, evaluate, and control the use of various promotion-mix elements, such as advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, internet marketing, etc., to effectively communicate with target audiences and meet organizational goals.  During the spring 2014 semester, this was the first time JMU students created their IMC Plans within the context of a global marketing competition ~the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge.  

Why ECHO?  ECHO isn’t an acronym, but represents what takes place when a marketer sends out a call to action and receives a response…an ECHO.  It is a sign that your marketing communication efforts were effective.

The Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge is sponsored by an amazing nonprofit organization called Marketing EDGE (EDGE stands for Educate – Develop – Grow – Employ).  Marketing EDGE, formerly Direct Marketing Educational Foundation – DMEF,  is the only national nonprofit of its kind solely committed to acquaint professors and college students with – and to engage and involve them in – the thriving business of marketing. Marketing EDGE is supported solely by corporations and individuals who want to give back to the community. Marketing EDGE offers many exciting services for students such as a job board, career resources, events, scholarships, and more.

The Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge is an opportunity for college students studying marketing to compete and work on a multifaceted marketing assignment for a major corporation.  This year, the client was Domino’s!

As dominos-mobile-appa part of the competition, student teams of 3-4 students submitted plans which include qualitative and quantitative research summaries, strategy outlines, media plans, budget and profit projections, and detailed analytics based on real-world metrics.  Students created plans that integrated direct and interactive channels including Domino’s owned and earned media channels (e.g., social media, e-mail, website, and print) with a goal of increasing the number of orders driven through a Domino’s Mobile App.  Students also created a video advertisement as part of their campaign.  Campaigns were designed to  focus on store retail space in 4,900 stores to drive consumers online for their next purchase.

Dan Froehlich, Haley Svadeba, Lauren Crain (Team Leader), and Shawn Misar

A team from James Madison University was named 3rd Place Bronze Winner in the 2013-14 Collegiate ECHO Competition Sponsored by Marketing EDGE and Domino’s. From left to right: Dan Froehlich, Haley Svadeba, Lauren Crain (Team Leader), and Shawn Misar

According to Jeff Nessler, Senior Program & Web Manager for Marketing EDGE, “there were approximately 200 entries in this year’s worldwide competition.  To review them, our judges, who are experienced marketing professionals, evaluated the campaigns, and from among approximately 30 semifinalists, Domino’s judges made the final rankings. I’m pleased to inform you that five of your teams were among the semifinalists.

We are so proud that five JMU teams were among the semifinalists and one of those semi-finalist teams won 3rd Place Bronze.  Pictured to the left is our JMU winning team:  Lauren Crain (Team Leader), Dan FroehlichShawn Misar, and Haley Svadeba.

The team’s campaign had a family focus that involved the target market in the Domino’s mobile app.  With a proposed slogan of “TAPP the App!  Family time is just a tAPP away” their creative strategy involved showing busy moms how the Domino’s mobile app can create more family time.

Because of their third place win, the team will split a cash prize of $500 and receive certificates of accomplishment.  Additionally, the JMU Department of Marketing will receive a trophy denoting the team’s accomplishment and a $1,000 scholarship grant from Marketing EDGE to award to deserving students interested in marketing.

Congratulations is extended to four other JMU Marketing teams that were named Semi-Finalists!  To make it into the semi-finalist category, teams needed to rank within the top 15% of all 200 entering teams.  I wish to recognize Patrick Cusamano, Jack Crowder, Marissa DeMilio, Lucas Falzetti, Nicole Gombos, Lindsay Jacobs, Oeuyowan Kim, Louise Lehmuller, Chase Murray, Ashley Musumeci, Mike Pazirandeh, Eric Pritchett, Patrick Shamburger, Austin Shifflett, and Jenna Ward.  Each of these students is featured with their respective teammates. For a list of all 2013-14 winners, please visit the Marketing EDGE Winners and Honorable Mentions page.

Louise Lehmuller, Austin Shifflett (Team Leader), and Marissa DeMilio

Louise Lehmuller, Austin Shifflett (Team Leader), and Marissa DeMilio


Patrick Shamburger, Chase Murray, Lucas Falzetti (Team Leader), and Nicole Gombos

Patrick Shamburger, Chase Murray, Lucas Falzetti (Team Leader), and Nicole Gombos


Ashley Musumeci (Team Leader), Eric Pritchett, Mike Pazirandeh, and Jack Crowder

Ashley Musumeci (Team Leader), Eric Pritchett, Mike Pazirandeh, and Jack Crowder

Patrick Cusumano, Jenna Ward, Oeuyown Kim, and Lindsay Jacobs (Team Leader)

Patrick Cusumano, Jenna Ward, Oeuyown Kim, and Lindsay Jacobs (Team Leader)

On behalf of all of my participating students, I owe special thanks to several people and organizations at JMU.  The Center for Instructional Technology at JMU has always come through whenever technological assistance was needed in my teaching.  For this project, E. David Stoops, Educational Technology Consultant and D. Lee Beard, Director of Media Production Services developed a presentation to help my students understand how to prepare the required video ad component of the project.  From JMU Libraries, Desirae Zingarelli-Sweet, JMU Business Librarian, delivered an informative presentation to my students about library resources that can be used in crafting the plan.  My JMU marketing colleague, Steve Hertzenberg, was instrumental in answering questions, sharing ideas about integrated marketing communications, and discussing teaching strategies.

Most importantly, THANK YOU to Marketing EDGE and Domino’s for offering such a rewarding educational experience.  I am confident that my students benefited in so many ways by creating an integrated marketing communications plan for a real client.  JMU looks forward to participating in future Collegiate ECHO Challenges.


Today is my last day of teaching MKTG 477 for the spring 2014 semester.

As I bid farewell to an amazing group of JMU students, there is one student in particular who is deserving of special recognition, James Carter.

James was the forJames Cartermer Webmaster at James Madison University and is currently the Web Developer/IT Support at Immerge Technologies and a Freelancer at James Carter Web.  Although James was my student for two classes, I always viewed him as a trusted friend, a valuable colleague and collaborative partner in the teaching and learning process.  He was also a great listener when I was feeling frustrated about certain technological developments.  If I experienced a technological challenge, James could be counted upon to answer my questions, test out an issue, or lend me a hand in solving the problem.

In one instance (actually there were several instances) very early the morning, I texted James a quick question about ADA compliance for a class lecture to be delivered later that morning on web design.  After a bit of texting between us, I convinced James to come to my class (scheduled for only 2 hours later) and guest speak about these issues.  James had no prep time and didn’t even see my ADA slides until he was in the room making the presentation.  Yet, his delivery was professional, informative, and interesting.  That is just the kind of talent James has!  And impromptu public speaking is JUST ONE of his MANY impressive talents.

Thank you to James for his willingness to share technological expertise, problem-solving abilities, and ideas. For when James helped me, he really helped ALL of the students that I teach.

As a result of James’ impact on my students from 2013-14 academic year, I hereby induct James as the newest solider in My Army of Technological Angels.


I often assume that marketing majors know how to market themselves.  Just because these students chose marketing as a major, are studying marketing, and are taking marketing classes, including a class in professional selling, it does not mean everyone knows how to transfer those skills to the marketing of themselves, especially during an interview.

If you need to brush up on your interviewing skills, schedule an appointment with JMU’s Office of Career and Academic Planning (CAP).  They offer a number of great services pertaining to interviewing and networking strategies.

Check out the CAP webpage on interviewing skills to better understand the process of interviewing, make the best impression during an interview, and learn strategies for dealing with difficult interview questions.  Also read about InterviewStream under the “Practice your Interview Skills” section.  This service allows JMU students to conduct free, online practice interviews with a webcam.

For more information, please contact our CAP Liaison to the College of Business:

Chad Gensel




Chad Gensel, MA
Academic & Career Advisor
Liaison to the College of Business
Career and Academic Planning
Wilson Hall 301


Amazon’s Trade-in Program for Selling Used Textbooks

On March 14, 2014, in Marketing, by Theresa B. Clarke

Amazon’s Trade-in Program looks like a great way to get up to 75% Back When You Sell Them Your Books.  The program is fast, easy, convenient, and includes free shipping (even if they don’t accept your book and need to return it to you.  I wish they had programs like these when I was a college student.


How One of my Students Collected Nearly 1,300 Boxtops

On December 11, 2013, in MKTG 470, by Theresa B. Clarke

This is the story of how Kristianna Cory “KC”  Hoffman acquired nearly 1,300 boxtops (a.k.a., Boxtop$ for Education) as an extra credit assignment in my MKTG 470 course.  KC blew me away when she turned in 1,297 boxtops on the last day of class.  The key to her success was successful networking through personal selling, email, and social media.  With KC’s permission, I am sharing her story…

#helpKCpass college – the hashtag that saved it all

well, maybe not saved… but definitely helped

When I first got the email over the summer about collecting boxtops for extra credit, I was interning at a little distribution office in Trenton, NJ. That very same day, I drafted my own email to send out to the company about the opportunity. The exact email read as follows:

Hello lovely employees of Hughes Enterprises!

One of my marketing professors for this upcoming semester has emailed and informed us that she holds a contest each year for extra credit.  She asks her students to collect Boxtops for Education and at the end of each semester, gives out bonus points based on the number each person has collected.  Extra bonus points go to the person who collected the most!

She then gives all these boxtops to her son to bring into his school! The school gets money from each boxtop, students get extra credit in class, and it all benefits a great cause (2 if you count me passing my class)! Talk about a win-win.

So the point of all this (and yes, I promise there is one) is that I am asking for you to please bring in any boxtops you may have lying around your house (or your parents, brothers, sisters, kids, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.).  I will be putting a collection box on the front desk and you can just swing on by and drop them in there. Easy peasy!

Thanks in advance for your help! 

KC Hoffman’s College Degree – Made possible by James Madison University and Hughes Enterprises

Your lovely Hughes Intern,
KC Hoffman

That same day, I got some replies to my email like this one:

Not to sound dumb but what is a box top?

To which I replied with an explanation, link to the Boxtops For Education website, and an attachment with examples of products with boxtops (all found on the Boxtops For Education website!!). Turns out the guy had 9 kids, all home schooled, and almost every single product at his house had a boxtop on it! Jackpottt!!!

I also got some teasing replies like the one below:

I hope a couple extra credit points are not that detrimental to you graduating. Should have hit the books a little harder!

Ha. Ha. Ha. Hope he doesn’t close his deals with jokes like those :-p

Anyway, the response I got to this ONE simple email was astounding. By the time I left Hughes a mere 2(?) weeks later, I had over 300 boxtops and I had yet to cut out a single one on my own. I by no means ever expected that much involvement. And on my last day of work, I baked treats for everyone, and then handed out little personal goodie bags to those who had contributed boxtops with a note that said “KC Hoffman’s College Degree – Made possible by James Madison University, Hughes Enterprises, and ___(insert their name here)___”. They all got a good chuckle out of it and I got well on my way to those extra credit points.

That same week, I also posted to Twitter and Facebook a simple message asking for friends to send me boxtops as well, using the same hashtag of #helpKCpasscollege – it was a little humorous and also informational but it was so long ago that I can’t find the actual Tweet. But knowing social media, I actually doubted anyone would even read it.

But again, to my surprise, about a month later, 3 different friends had told me that they had bags of boxtops for me! They had apparently, like me, just told a few people about it and collected bags worth, barely doing anything themselves. One of the girls was one of my friends from elementary school, whom I hadn’t talked to since literally 5th grade! So I met up with them all over Thanksgiving break to get the boxtops and to personally thank them for helping out. All had offered to drop them off in my mailbox but 1) I hadn’t seen any of them in a while and 2) I thought it would be better to thank them in person.

Last but not least, I told my mother about the assignment. Who then told all her friends, her one class of college students, and my Grandmother, who then in turn told all their friends. Next thing I know it, I’m coming home to visit and my mom’s telling me to close my eyes and hold out my hands because she’s got a surprise for me. I do what I’m told and she put a bag of about 20-25 boxtops in my hands. I thank her profusely and she goes, “But wait, there’s more!” (she likes to make things dramatic like that) and proceeds to hand me, one by one, 18 more bags of boxtops, each bag from a different person. I didn’t even know how to react.

And when I went to my grandma’s house, at least 10 more bags. And this happened all semester. Until I reached almost 1,300 boxtops.

Now, If you want to know how I did it, the answer is simple: I didn’t.

And that’s the God honest truth. I MAYBE cut out 7 boxtops on my own.

Everyone else did it for me. They’re the reason that I collected so many boxtops. They’re the reason I got the extra credit I did. And they’re the reason Professor Clarke’s son’s school is getting the money from them.

All I did was put it out there. When I could, I tried to be funny, genuine, and make an impression that people would remember. One that they would remember as they were putting that box of Frosted Flakes in the garbage. Did I have any idea that it would be this successful? No way. I thought people would read it and forget about it 30 seconds later. But for some reason, it stuck. Whether they wanted to contribute to a good cause, help out a coworker, or make sure KC passed college, they collected boxtops and made an effort to give them to me. And in return, I made a genuine effort to thank them and remind them of where their contributions were going (and not just to my GPA).

The bottom line is that word spreads. I sent my message out through 4 mediums: email, Twitter, Facebook, and my mother. I did not promise them anything, bribe them, or even guilt them into cutting boxtops out. I also did not pester them. I announced it once and reminded them every now and then, that was it. I didn’t blow up their phones or social media feeds telling them that I was collecting. I sent it out, and let it be.

And I had over 30 people contribute, many of whom I didn’t even know. Friends told friends who told friends and that was the end of that.

I also framed it in a way where it wasn’t all about me. Yes, I used the joke about “helping KC pass college”, but I also made it a point to let everyone know that there was a reason for the collection, a bigger reason. I also made sure to point out just how easy it was to do. Deep down, people like to be charitable. And it may be a hard truth, but most people like the easiest and least amount of work kind of charity that can still make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like their making a difference. And what’s easier than cutting out some cardboard from something that’s already at their house? No extra money spent, barely any time and effort involved, yet still the warm and fuzzy feeling of helping both a college student “friend” and an educational system.

And there ya have it folks. That’s all I did. It wasn’t magic, or buying everything off the shelves, or bringing scissors to Wal-Mart and stealing them of the tops of containers. I just took a few seconds and used the connections that I already had, and some that I didn’t even know I had. I played on their willingness to help, their desire to contribute to a bigger cause, and their need for minimal effort. And ya know all those sayings about everyone doing a small part and making a huge difference? Well, I think this was a pretty prime example of that.



As usual, my MKTG 470 students at JMU completed a major course assignment using Google AdWords.  The primary learning objective was to acquire hands-on experience using AdWords to drive traffic to any one of their own web pages and any one of their own blog posts of their choice.

Through this assignment, students developed some initial skills in paid search.   With a total account budget of $25.00-$30.00 and a window of 14 possible days, students had an opportunity to learn how to structure accounts, create campaigns and Ad Groups, develop and manage keyword lists, utilize effective matching options, test ad copy using A/B testing, modify keyword bids,  assess account performance, adjust daily budgets, utilize keyword tools, and much more. Through GoDaddy, students new to AdWords were able to utilize a $100 AdWords credit to complete this assignment.

I want to recognize a few students from my Fall 2013 Internet Marketing class for exceptional performance in a few key areas from this assignment.

Aside from seeing my students perform well, another rewarding outcome is having former students contact me to volunteer to help current students on this assignment.  I love receiving a call or email from a former student saying “Hey Dr. C., let me know when you are doing the AdWords assignment in 470 so I can come in and help!”
My classes were treated to three separate visits from JMU Google Challenge alums to offer their assistance.   Having been through this assignment themselves, as well as participating in the Google Online Marketing Challenge, these alums know what it feels like to be a newbie at AdWords. Thank you to Andrew Nelson (Director of Search Marketing at Silverback Strategies), Shay Meadows (PPC/SEO Account Manager at Silverback Strategies), Sarah Carpenter (Paid Search Analyst at RKG Digital Marketing), and Mollie Delp (PPC Analyst at Dynamic Web Solutions) for volunteering their time and sharing their expertise.  Andrew, Shay, Sarah, and Mollie ~ thank you for sharing your passion for digital marketing and for giving back to JMU in such a wonderful way.



SEO Assignment Using the Phrase “JMU Experience”

On November 21, 2013, in MKTG 470, by Theresa B. Clarke

As an application of SEO, my Fall 2013 MKTG 470 students were tasked with learning how to optimize any one web page or blog post within their site using the phrase “JMU experience“.

This assignment was introduced at a very interesting time in the semester…just 13 days after Google made an official announcement about their new Hummingbird algorithm.

Even though the media started shouting “SEO is Dead!”, and “SEO is Dead Again!” I know that “SEO is NOT Dead” and we just need to approach things in a different manner.  So I forged ahead with the assignment using insights about how organic search, social media, and content are becoming increasingly intertwined.

On October 10, 2013, students performed a diagnostic test to determine where their personal websites were currently ranked organically using the phrase “JMU experience”.

  • In the majority of cases, students reported that their page was not found within the first twenty search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • The students were challenged to get one of their web pages into the top twenty results pages in the next six weeks through optimization of on-page factors, but especially through off-page SEO link-building efforts and use of social media.

On November 21, 2013, students performed a second diagnostic test to determine where their site currently ranked organically using the phrase “JMU experience”.

  • On this date 72.1% of the class observed an improvement in organic rankings and made it into the top twenty pages.
  • Out of 200 possible pages that could be listed in the top twenty pages, 62 of the pages were created by students in my class, representing about a 31% share of the rankings.

I wish to congratulate these 62 students for their effort,  application, and performance in optimizing a page or post using the phrase  “JMU experience”.

A special congratulations is extended to the students with the top three highest ranked pages from the Fall 2013 classes:

  1. Kaci Lassiter

  2. Monika Kelpsaite

  3. Alex Kuhn

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