Surfing Your Way to Success

Entrepreneurs, as well as many other companies, rely on Integrated Marketing Communication to get the word of their business out to the public with multiple methods. A fellow UNCW Senior in the Communication Studies department, James Connolley, has been an entrepreneur using IMC to promote his business, JC Surf Camp. James has been teaching people of all ages how to surf for 8 years and has been an entrepreneur, owning JC Surf Camp for 6 years. His decision to start his own surf camp business started with a conversation with his high school bible study leader. James has a love for surfing, kids, and Jesus and decided the best way to combine all the things he loves into his surf camp. He likes to share his message through his surf camp by the quality and professionalism in his every day work.

When the surf camp started in 2006, the only way James was communicating with his publics was by posting fliers in the storefront of a local surf shop. His business quickly started to grow and in 2007, James decided he wanted to market his business to a broader audience. He paid someone to build his own website and just recently added new content and features. James uses many other ways to communicate to his public by using mass emails, direct mailing, brochures, website, and social media. The best marketing overall with JC Surf Camp is word of mouth advertising and partnerships with other local camps in Wilmington. More recently, James was able to advertise his business through the local news station WECT.

Link to WECT Live bit on JC Surf Camp

The JC Surf Camp team considers surfing one of the greatest blessings in life and goes to great lengths to ensure others see it the same way. Each instructor at JC Surf Camp has gone through an extensive SurfInstruct Training Program before becoming a surf instructor. This program was developed to ensure every instructor knows ocean safety, surf safety, CPR and First Aid certified, and knowledge of different teaching methods for all levels, such as, kids, teens, groups, or private lessons. Another way James and his team ensure safety is by providing UV protected rash guards and soft-top surfboards. Safety is very important to all the JC Surf Camp instructors to make sure they are providing a safe learning environment. James stated it perfectly when he said if people feel safe, they are able to have fun. This is one of the messages James tries to communicate to retain and maintain customers.

Many times entrepreneurs start from the ground up and have to take what they have and make the most of it. Since James is in the communication studies department at UNCW, he has been able to take the knowledge learned in communication classes and IMC classes and implement that in his business. James, as a student and entrepreneur, thinks of entrepreneurship as an adventure and has far exceeded what many entrepreneurs his age are capable of.

Learn how to surf today!

By: Laura Simmons, Dorothy Conley, Christina Stevenson, Mollie Berthold

10 thoughts on “Surfing Your Way to Success

  1. I had never heard of the JC Surf Camp before reading this article but its an awesome idea and even cooler that James started it before even entering college. I am hoping that my communication classes, IMC especially, will help me better promote myself as a brand when entering the business world. Its very encouraging to learn that another COM major has benefited so much from taking these courses. Thus far IMC has truly helped me to understand what is good advertisement and what I should avoid and I think James understands this as well. The measures he is taking to promote his business are all very important in order to reach a larger number of people. This article alone will spread the word to at least 50 people and the share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr will spread the word even further. I hope I will be even a fraction as successful as James when I leave college with a degree in Communication Studies.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article! It is awesome to see someone put everything that we have learned as COM majors into action. It is scary to think that once we leave UNCW, we are going out into the ‘real world’ with no guarantee of getting a job. It is nice to see something like this. I am motivated and excited to use the skills I have learned as a COM major, not only in my future career, but in life, in general.

  3. One reason I enjoyed this blog was because it was not only promoting a local business, but promoting the work of a UNCW student. I feel like after reading this, I have a good idea of the history behind JC Surf Camp, as well as the marketing strategies it uses. The blog mentions how James Connolly expanded his website and started to utilize mass e-mails, brochures, social media, and even the local news to advertise his surf camps. The ethos of the company is established by mentioning the training the instructors have to go through in order to be employed, as well as the specific type of safety precautions JC Surf Camp takes to ensure that their customers are comfortable. Another thing I liked was the explanation of how Connolly applied communication studies to his life as an entrepreneur.

  4. It’s crazy to think that only a few years ago, things like Facebook and Twitter weren’t around to help our small businesses to spread the word! Social Media has definitely played a big role in how entrepreneurs get word out about their businesses and products. I know I follow businesses all over Wilmington and it creates marketing for them and a means to truly connect with their publics.

  5. Great article and story! Being able to implement IMC into a successful entrepreneurial venture is truly an amazing process to go through. The marketing plan that he has going is cool to watch because he goes from just word-of-mouth marketing to finally advertising on t.v. It shows that IMC must really work and can be applicable to any business venture. Hopefully I can become as successful as this guy!

  6. It’s inspiring as a student to hear about how someone applied what we learn “in the classroom” and use it to pursue a career. I agree having a website and spreading awareness online is key for any new business.

  7. Even though I have only surfed twice in my entire life, I thoroughly enjoyed myself both times and would love to learn how to surf better. I think it’s great that James was able to make a name for himself and his camp through the knowledge he has learned both from IMC and outside sources. From this blog I can tell that he has learned how to appeal to all ages, even the parents that are mostly only concerned with the safety of their child. It sounds to me that his camp can go nowhere but up with the advancements of social media aka the best way to promote freely and to a large audience.

  8. This is such a great post! I love being able to look at my fellow students at UNCW who are not “waiting for the perfect time” to begin one of their dreams. I think it is a wonderful thing that James had an idea and just went for it, even though his resources were scarce. What an awesome opportunity for our school to support James and more specifically the students of the Communication Studies department. With their support, James was able to get his brand out to even larger audiences. I hope James continues to do what he loves because he has inspired many students, including myself, to just follow your dreams (and they do not have to wait until you graduate college).

  9. Interestingly, I have heard about this surf camp recently which means they must be doing a good job marketing around the Wilmington area! With Wilmington being right on the beach there are inevitably other, competitor, surf camps in the area. Yet, JC Surf Camp has done a great job of positioning themselves as not only a surf camp but also as means of spiritual growth. This aspect it what sets them apart from the competitors in the area and will prove to be beneficial for their business in the long run.

  10. I have never heard of this surf camp before reading this article. But after reading this I am blown away by his success. Creating meaning is what communications all about and him being able to create that he wanted to start and run this camp, along with the decisions on why he started it here in Wilmington and etc. really shows how he used his communication and IMC skills to get the word out. Similarly to him, I am hoping to use my IMC skills and my communication skills that I learned throughout college and hopefully help better market myself and communicate the messages that I want to send.

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