Our very own designer Claire Harbour has just undertaken the Level 4 Chartered Institute of Marketing course and completed it with merit. Find out what she had to say on this renowned qualification:
Why did you want to undertake this qualification? And how did you hear about it?
I’ve had an interest in marketing for a very long time. I felt that as a web designer, it would be beneficial for me to have knowledge in this field in order to create more effective websites, brands and marketing campaign materials. My primary interest is in social media and digital marketing and I hoped that through the course I’d learn more about utilising these platforms effectively in order to make a profit.
I did some searching around the internet after deciding I wanted to actively study marketing. The Chartered Institute of Marketing was the top of the list. So I dug into their website and found that they did degree level courses, the qualifications for which are recognised worldwide. I was sold!
How long did the qualification take you?
I undertook The CIM’s Certificate in Professional marketing level 4 course part-time at Yeovil College University Centre. It took about 9 months to complete. I’d pop along to Yeovil every Monday after work, and our lectures ran from 6pm – 9pm. Aside from actual in-class learning, I spent many hours studying and writing the required assignment papers. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.
Could you explain a little bit about the course in general?
The course is comprised of three modules. Two were mandatory, they are ‘marketing’ which covers the basics and ‘integrated communications’ which covers internal and external marketing with stakeholders. The final module was elective with a choice between ‘customer experience’ and ‘digital marketing’. With digital marketing being of special interest to me (and relevance with my job), it was a no-brainer!
The first module was an exam and for the second two, we had to write a 15-page paper for both. These papers were based on a company of our choice and I chose to write about authenticstyle, and as a result I now have an integrated communication and digital marketing plan to further the company.
What did you learn that can help our clients and authenticstyle as a business?
I’ve learnt so much, it’s difficult to pick. I think the things I’ve learnt that hold the most value to our clients is relating to target segments and positioning. It’s seeing which portion of the market a company is aiming at and being able to succinctly connect to that audience. It’s looking at how to convert customers and what language, offers and imagery you can use to make this easier. Then it’s linking it back to web design, and designing a site around the client’s goals. Approaching design this way means websites are more effective at converting customers and have a stronger brand message.
I’ve also been able to learn how to better analyse marketing plans and statistics. When performing site audits this is invaluable. It’s not just a case of looking at the numbers, it’s trying to figure out what’s positively and negatively influencing the numbers and being able to suggest steps to improve.
Has the qualification impacted on how you look at design now?
It absolutely has, I have more of a focus on goals now. I think it’s imperative that every web page has a goal for the user to reach. Putting together customer avatars at the start of a project helps us to envisage who we’re talking to, and gear everything to match them, their needs, desires and problems. This helps to create a website that has absolute clarity, yields high conversions and is effortless for visitors to use.
A website is a huge tool in portraying a businesses brand online, and a large part of web design is presenting this material in the most attractive light to potential customers.
I also have a more creative outlook on marketing and how businesses can increase their marketing efforts in a way that matches their brand personality and ethos.
Would you recommend the qualification to others?
Absolutely, yes, but be prepared to work hard! This is such an intensive course, and much of it relies on independent study. That being said, it’ll prove invaluable for anyone looking to learn about the subject and businesses who want to invest in marketing. It has applications in every industry!
What are your top 3 tips to anyone undertaking the qualification?
Make full use of the members content, particularly Ebsco and Ebook Central. The studies and articles on Ebsco were a great help to me and provided huge insights that I’ve been able to use in my work. The Ebook Central is great too, you can ‘borrow’ books, and the best part is that you can search within them – this means that you can find exactly what you need without wasting tons of time trawling through endless chapters.
For the assignments, get as much info about your chosen company as possible, including key metrics from Google Analytics such as conversions, along with other key figures such as profit margin, turnover, market size, the share of voice etc. The more you know the better you can apply what you learn in your writing, this is an integral part of the qualification, depth and application are rewarded.
Stockpile references, you never know where they might slot in! I used to keep a list of great quotes along with all of the correct Harvard referencing information. Then when I was writing and thought ‘hey that quote would go great in here’, I already had it to hand.
Are you hoping to undertake any more marketing qualifications in the future?
I hope to do the CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing at some point in the not too distant future. But for now, I want to take a bit of a break and focus on applying what I’ve learnt. My eventual goal is to become a chartered marketer.
What’s the most exciting part of having the qualification? Do you get letters after your name?
As a result of achieving the qualification, I’ve been able to achieve associate status within the CIM. In order to obtain this level, you have to have a CIM qualification and 3 years of marketing experience. You submit your CV to the board and if they think you reach the grade they elect you as an associate member. That’s what’s been the most exciting thing about the qualification, achieving my letters – ACIM (associate of the chartered institute of marketing). I would have never of dreamt of achieving this, even a year ago, I’m thrilled!
What would be your top marketing tip to any business?
Marketing is a huge factor in business, and so many companies unfortunately place other functions like accounting over marketing in terms of importance. Marketing should be an activity that’s always being pursued as it’s the main breadwinner!
For startups, I’d say the most important thing to consider is your target audience and how you can align yourself with them. You need to sync your brand and marketing to them and their values. Building a strong brand is key to building a business that’ll have a great future.
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