How to persuade your boss to invest in your marketing education and career development
Marketing qualifications are becoming more important and can set you apart in a competitive job market, but securing funding is a constant challenge. Here’s some practical advice for persuading your boss to invest in your career from principal of the internationally accredited Australian College of Marketing, Emma Blackburn.
This article was sponsored by the Australian College of Marketing to let readers know they can access their copy of ‘Persuading Your Boss to Fund Your Education’ »
As marketers, we live in a rapidly changing world. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of content marketing, mobile marketing, and marketing automation, to name but a few.
This year alone, we’re about to see more ad-blockers built into browsers, a mobile-first index, and the increased uptake of voice search.
Continuous innovation offers many new opportunities, but also brings many new challenges. Staying abreast of these new trends and complex technologies is very time consuming, especially on top of day-to-day duties. It’s no wonder that a recent survey by the CIM and Hays Recruitment found that over a quarter of marketers consider their skills out-of-date.
Staying ahead in marketing
Updating your skills through a marketing qualification is certainly an effective way to stay ahead, and there are significant benefits, both for marketers and their employers.
Qualifications provide you with a shortcut to the latest knowledge and skills, along with practical experience through work-based assessments. For your employer, it’s an investment that aids retention of you – their top talent – and there’s the potential competitive advantage through your newfound expertise.
But qualifications can be costly. This article offers actionable, down-to-earth advice to help you convince your boss to pay, or at least contribute to, the development of your marketing career.
Research your own organisation
A great place to start is a bit of research into your own organisation. Is there a training budget in place, and if there is, which hoops do you have to jump through to get your hands on it?
There might be company policy that says you need to have been an employee for a certain period of time, or you might need to make some long-term commitment in return. You might need to pay up front, and then be reimbursed when you’ve completed the qualification successfully. These are the sorts of things you need to know before going any further.
Also, knowing what’s available will equip you when it comes to overcoming objections later. You’ll be ready for any bland rejection along the lines of ‘sorry, there’s no budget for training.’
Research what’s on offer
Next is the qualification. This is going to take some digging around so that you’re well equipped to make an informed choice.
You’ll need to unearth a little more detail and insight than is usually available from an education provider’s website.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Who awards the qualification?
- Are they credible?
- Is there impartial proof of the qualification’s quality? For example, Facebook reviews are a great indicator here, as they can’t be edited or deleted by the provider.
- How frequently are the course materials updated? This is particularly important when investigating a qualification in digital marketing.
- Has the course provider developed the course content with the Australian market in mind? Beware professional qualifications that providers may have purchased off-the-shelf from overseas.
- How much will the qualification cost?
- How long will it take to complete, and will it require any time away from work?
- How practical are the assessments? Can they be instantly applied to your workplace?
This last point is absolutely crucial. A work-based assignment amounts to a piece of consultancy and will show your employer the potential for instant ROI.
However, assessment through a purely theoretical report or a multiple-choice test just isn’t going to cut it. So ask each course provider for a sample assessment and, if it’s up to scratch, include it in your proposal.
Benefits to your employer
Let’s face it, all your boss will really be looking for is ‘what’s in it for me?’
With this in mind, here are some areas to cover in your proposal:
- Practical, work-based assignments deliver a working document that would cost more than the course fees to outsource,
- new knowledge and skills will potentially put your organisation ahead – or allow them to catch up with the competition,
- updated skills will return savings by reducing the requirement to outsource. (Quoting some of those impartial Facebook reviews might be helpful here), and
- other possibilities might be that you’ll be able to take on more responsibility, be more efficient, and be able to train colleagues in new areas.
According to your organisation’s individual scenario, you could also go into specifics about potential marketing ROI. For example, you could mention that you’ll be able to write a digital marketing plan, implement tactical campaigns through the likes of paid search and social media, and monitor and report on the results.
Maybe fire them up a little by including in relevant keywords, such as mobile marketing, social media marketing, and Google Analytics.
A solid proposal outlining benefits including the ROI is going to be your best shot at convincing your boss to pay.
Emma Blackburn is principal of the Australian College of Marketing (ACM). ACM specialises in providing rigorous, internationally accredited digital marketing qualifications. Emma has been actively involved in developing and teaching marketing qualifications for over 20 years. She has worked in universities and the private sector as a lecturer, trainer and curriculum developer. Prior to teaching, Emma was a business-to-business marketing manager in the telecommunications industry.
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