February 3, 2009|Kim's Blog, Marketing|

On Wednesday evenings after a hard day in the office between 6pm and 8pm, a group of dedicated young marketers from the professional services sector study hard for their Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) professional qualifications in the lovely Barclays building in Canary Wharf. As well as some students from Barclays there are large and small, international and domestic firms of accountants and lawyers represented. Professional service marketers face challenging syllabus change.

Whilst the particular diploma course that they are studying is tailored to the particular needs of professional services marketing (through Cambridge Marketing College), they do have to cover the normal syllabus of the qualifications – which means that they also develop an understanding of consumer and industrial marketing methods and case studies.

Yet the syllabus is about to change. The current syllabus builds on the knowledge of the previous level – it has a kind of elegance although some found it repetitive:

• Marketing fundamentals
• Marketing environment
• Customer communications
• Marketing in practice

Diploma (The courses are currently available for professional service marketing and designed for the average age of students between mid to late 20s. Currently general students can choose either a three hour examination or an assignment of 7,500 words)
• Marketing planning
• Market research and information
• Marketing communications (this is the one that I am presently teaching part- time)
• Marketing management in practice

Post graduate diploma (This is positioned as a Masters level course and some see it as an alternative to an MBA)
• Strategic marketing decisions
• Analysis and evaluation
• Marketing management processes
• Strategic marketing in practice

In future, the diploma and post graduate diplomas will be as follows:


• Marketing planning process (Marketing plan preparation assignment. This is similar to before – a focus on the marketing audit, segmentation, targeting and positioning and marketing planning in different environments/markets)

• Project management in marketing (Work based project assignment. This is a major but well timed departure from before – as increasingly in the professions I am being asked to assist on project management training. Risk management is also covered in some detail)

• Delivering customer value through marketing (Exam on pre-seen case study. Happily, this seems to have more emphasis and linkage between innovation, product development and branding which is somewhat lacking in the current syllabus. It also appears to address ROI and contractual requirements of channel partners more effectively. But marketing communications is now just one element of this paper)

• Managing marketing (A work based assignment. This now addresses marketing infrastructure, quality and effectiveness measurement in a more coherent way. The section on managing marketing teams looks suitably pragmatic – particularly in the international context and there is finally material on operational finance).

Post graduate diploma – stage one

• Emerging themes (This addresses the point that marketing is undergoing phenomenal change and will continue to do so in the future – delivery will be through master classes, podcasts and webinars but essentially self-managed learning). Assessment will be based on the writing of a journal article.

• Analysis and decision (The stretch from marketing audit to strategic audit and financial and risk analysis play a key part. Pre-seen case study examination)

• Marketing leadership and planning (Helping to see how to implement strategic initiatives at Board level. Assessed on a work based project)

• Managing corporate reputation (Aspects of the communications process – particularly brand – have been returned to the post graduate level to reflect their increasing importance in today’s market. Assessed on one compulsory task and one elective from three options).

Post graduate diploma – stage two

This paves the way for Chartered Marketing status. Students must adopt one of the emerging themes from stage one and, through a programme of facilitated self-learning, prepare a work project. This will be assessed in three phases – project definition, project implementation and assessment and self-review and professional development plan. The focus is on developing practical and business skills and the influence of modern coaching is evident).

It still seems a little light on the huge impact of the digital marketplace and digital marketing methods but maybe as the materials are produced this will be addressed. Also, there is still a lack of sales and business development content to really meet the needs of the professions – although CIM would probably argue that it offers a similar course structure for those in sales and account management roles.

Overall, it seems that professional marketing qualifications are really growing up and recognise that marketing has developed into a more sophisticated function which has a much greater role to play at Board level in commercial and NFP development. I look forward to meeting the new “graduates” in due course – they should be very impressive marketers.

Further information at the Chartered Institute of Marketing

Please note that there are later posts about changing CIM qualifications and standards:

2020 New CIM syllabus

2014 New CIM marketing professional standards