This article is part 2 of 4 on marketing education and qualifications that first appeared in the June 2011 issue of Marketing magazine, comprising four perspectives: The Researcher, The Boss, The Educator/Practitioner and The Independent.

 

The Boss

Adam Joseph is readership director at HWT (News Limited), a Victorian councillor with the AMI, a certified practising marketer (CPM), a past graduate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and a lover of three-letter acronyms. 

Being European and multilingual (and, more to the point, having access to Wikipedia), I can reliably inform you, dear readers, that the word ‘charter’ comes from the Latin word meaning ‘little paper’. In other words, a charter started out as just a humble piece of dead wood. And a charter is a bit like a brand – a highly symbolic thing that carries a value equation in the eye of the holder/beholder.

So what exactly is the point of having a charter system? Well, as with brands, a charter is a simple shorthand to represent an assortment of collective perceptions for customers. Numerous professions offer some form of chartered status that is often pitched to their membership base as a badge of pride and prestige, exclusivity and excellence. To the outside world, being ‘chartered’ is supposed to identify a member of a profession who possesses specific credentials and has gained a certain level of competence in their chosen field.

And so we have chartered accountants, chartered engineers and chartered surveyors. In the UK we also have chartered marketers, through the CIM.

In Australia, accountants can become a CPA through CPA Australia and marketers can become a CPM through the AMI.

 

What’s in it for me?

As with all pieces of paper, the trick is to ask what having it ultimately does for your career. What is the Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) of being ‘chartered’ or being certified through CPM?! In other words, as an AMI member what do I get back from my $70 CPM application fee? (Or, if I’m a non-member, what do I get back from my combined $370 joining and CPM application fee?)

From a personal branding perspective, you’d hope a key deliverable is improved brand equity for the individual: by which I mean a higher and better profile with regard to awareness and positive associations.

But sticking a meaningful marketing metric on this can be tricky. How to measure the extent to which a marketer feels a warm and fuzzy glow from belonging to an elite group?

It would be so much easier if we had a more direct metric for ROMI. Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if we could say that being chartered or certified leads to an instant five percent rise in base salary?!

I think some MBA schools have grasped this way of thinking when justifying MBA fees. They do a simple ‘before’ and ‘after’ comparison, that shows an MBA helps you to earn more money. I appreciate this is highly idealistic thinking. But a charter or certification needs a simple yet compelling hook, a proposition hard to argue against. I’m using a five percent pay rise as just one example!

 

You had me at ‘hello’

OK, so let’s assume that you’re a marketer and you like the idea of being certified or chartered. After all, it sends out a signal that you are a peak professional and not just a mere mortal member.

It’s one thing to be a member of a professional body, but another to be in the elite ranks. Being a master builder simply means you’re part of a paying club, not a stonemason extraordinaire. If you decide to apply for the AMI’s CPM program, you need to be committed to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The AMI advises that all CPMs should undertake a minimum of 100 hours of professional development over a three-year period to foster their continued learning and development. That’s around 33 hours a year committed to your personal professional development, covering a diverse range of activities including training, workshops and conferences.

 

What role for educators? 

To become certified or chartered, a marketer must usually have a combination of credentials and then undergo a formal assessment of some sort. Desired credentials are usually several years’ marketing experience (often at management level) and, in addition, relevant (marketing) qualifications from an accredited educational organisation.

Educators can obviously help here with the qualifications component. They can also help with work placements, building strong ties with companies that employ freshly graduated marketing folk. Like all good leaders, I think these educators should lead by example by themselves being chartered or certified by their peak industry body (and perhaps earning five percent more as a result!)

 

What role for industry bodies? 

I think the key challenge for marketing industry bodies like the AMI and the CIM is ultimately one of brand building – they need to build the brand equity of chartered/certified programs.

And there are multiple target audiences here. It’s all very well for marketers to feel warm and fuzzy about their freshly minted piece of paper, but that’s unlikely to get them five percent more salary. One core focus should be on the employers of marketers – and their trusted advisers in recruitment consultancies and executive search firms. They are the ones we most need to be true believers.

The C-Suite wouldn’t dream of employing a finance person without a CPA or a legal counsel who hasn’t passed the Bar, so why would they hire a marketer without an equivalent standing?

Being certified or chartered should send a clear signal to the C-Suite: this person is a commercially-minded marketer who will strive to create sustainable growth for your organisation.

 

What role for recruiters? 

Senior marketers charged with hiring marketing professionals can help the chartered/certified cause. First of all, they can get certified themselves and in doing so lead by example.

If an aspiring marketer ultimately covets the boss’s job, knowing that the large fromage has chartered status or a CPM clearly sets them apart from the garden variety marketing boss.

In Australia, I’d like to see more job ads with ‘CPM candidates preferred’ on them. And I’d like to see recruiters screen for CPM as a matter of due diligence.

I think the ultimate marketing challenge is one of demand creation. There needs to be demand for certified marketers from those people charged with hiring marketers.

Demand and supply should settle in equilibrium.

Too much demand and not enough supply could result in asking prices (i.e. wages) being inflated for certified marketers. Although, as a CPM, I for one will not be one of those complaining.

Oversupply and under demand will devalue the whole process of being certified – after all, if nobody charged with hiring marketers really cares about CPM, then why should the marketers themselves?

The AMI has got a major role to play here in demand generation for CPM certification. It’s time to supersize the marketing efforts for marketing maestros.