Yearning for learning
In an age when margins are tighter than Britney Spears’ concert outfits and career opportunities in the industry are about as frequent as Portugal players that stay on their feet, the need for marketing and media individuals to be on top of their game is more intense than ever before. The opportunities for graduates and young professionals, on both agency and client side, to become patrons of education or training courses is in abundance, whilst marketing agencies and client companies also have the option of sending groups of staff on courses or getting someone in to teach the staff.
As the industry gallops forward, agencies, clients and their staff will need to have the legs and stamina to keep up. Helping the industry to get in shape, Adline asks the personal trainers to educate us on what’s out there.
\"Whether a company has 4,000 staff or 4, it is essential that everyone has all the key skills and knowledge for their role,\" explains Chris Bestley, education consultant at the Institute of Sales Promotion (IPR). It is Bestley’s view that, for any company, education and training is a direct route to destination \"happy customer\". He adds, \"Organisations with trained, knowledgeable staff are usually better able to meet customers’ service expectations, more efficient and more capable of making the most of opportunities. In short, appropriate training usually provides a good return on the investment.\"
Charles Nixon, founder of Cambridge Marketing College (CMC), believes it is imperative for individuals to be optimally skilled. He says: \"In the world of recruitment, no employer would consider employing an accountant, engineer or legal counsellor without an industry-recognised qualification as a mark of his or her capability. So why should companies look to recruit marketers without any formal marketing qualifications and settle for on-the-job training?\"
CMC offers practical marketing training and assistance to business executives and entrepreneurs through a range of courses, predominantly postgraduate and professional marketing training. Its courses include programmes from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, CAM Foundation, Market Research Society and the Institute of Public Relations, as well as numerous specialist offerings.
Dmytro Bojaniwkyi, development manager at Cheltenham Tutorial College, believes \"Qualifications are the prerequisite for going into senior management positions.\" Cheltenham Tutorial College is a distance learning college, communicating with students via e-mail and by telephone. A result of which is that people from around the world choose the college to study on a flexible programme. \"We get some people wanting to get into the industry and others wanting to progress in their careers. Most enrolments are people working in the industry already, commonly on the client side,\" he adds.
Professional bodies for the different sectors of are often the most auspicious routes both into the industry and as means of progression within a career. The Institute of Public Relations (IPR), of Direct Marketing (IDM), of Sales Promotion (ISP) and of Advertising (IPA) are just some of the organisations that have been structured to promote the industry and improve standards through education and training.
As well as supporting a range of higher education courses across the UK, the IPR runs two of its own qualifications: the Advanced Certificate Course and the IPR Diploma. The Advanced Certificate is aimed at graduates or people working in junior levels of public relations and is designed to prepare students for the IPR Diploma – a qualification widely regarded as the benchmark for the industry. Structured to \"raise professional standards and offer PR practitioners a platform for continuous professional development\", the diploma includes 48 hours of teaching over a 24-week period.
Similarly, the IDM provides a thorough offering to its sector, with certificate and diploma standard qualifications. The IDM Certificate can be achieved in direct marketing, CRM or e-marketing and can be studied in a variety of different ways. The IDM Diploma in Direct Marketing, like the IPR Diploma, is commonly held up as a standard of excellence by industry practitioners.
Fidelma Haverty, in-company director at the IDM, comments: \"We have a wide range of courses, and we use actual practitioners as tutors – people who’ve been there and done that. We also have a portfolio of qualifications that can be achieved in a variety of learning methods, such as intensive study or distance learning.\"
The IDM also offers companies an opportunity to have practitioners come in-house to teach or train a group of staff. \"We have a fairly broad client list when it comes to in-house,\" Haverty states. \"We get both clients and agencies come to us for the service because we are able to tailor a programme of study so that staff can learn about a very specific aspect of direct marketing.\"
Bestley heads up a similar offering at the ISP. Commenting on the benefits of in-house training, he says: \"If there is a group of individuals with a specific need, then an in-house course tailored to the company and audience would be the best solution. Course exercises and briefs can be designed around a company’s products and markets and adapted to meet all experience levels. In addition, specific company issues, concerns or requirements can be addressed on matters that employees may not wish to raise in front of people from other companies.
\"An increasing number of companies are realising the benefits of in-house training courses as they are able to match the content accurately to their needs and delegates gain a real sense of the company’s commitment to training.\"
When it comes to qualifications, the ISP runs both certificate and diploma level education. The ISP Diploma course is pitched as the only comprehensive course in promotional marketing and is strongly supported by sales promotion and multi-discipline agencies. Students for the diploma are usually account handlers in agencies or executives within promoter companies. The ISP Certificate, co-operated by the ISP, British Promotional Marketing Association (BPMA) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), is for people wanting to appreciate the breadth of the industry without the detail of the diploma.
The IPA also helps to develop standards in advertising, offering over 40 specially designed training courses for members, which cover core business skills and up-to-date theory and practice. The IPA also has a Training Forum, where in-house agency trainers pool resources and training ideas for future courses.
With training and education constantly being revised to ensure that courses and exercises meet the needs of clients and agencies, and the needs of the industry, the necessity of being up-to-date and effective, keeping up with the Jones, is paramount. Nixon echoes this and believes the secret to success is having a broad and comprehensive knowledge and ability.
He remarks, \"Today’s marketing teams need to be one hundred per cent accountable for their actions. With this in mind, marketing employees need to know what they are doing and what they are talking about.
\"The best marketers will be the ones who can turn their hands to all areas of the marketing mix rather than being confined to their specialist experience area. Delegates of marketing qualifications gain experience and knowledge to cover the whole marketing arena, therefore opening up their minds to a plethora of opportunities.\"
He concludes: \"Marketing has at last started to reach its potential within modern companies. For the first time, the marketing department now has representatives amongst top management, wielding more influence – and skills – than ever before. If an employee of a company has undertaken a professional marketing qualification, it instils a great sense of confidence in their employer, that the employee is committed enough to their career to pursue such a tough qualification.\"