Thursday, February 06, 2014

Double dip doesn't always mean recession

Get qualified
I have been a marketer almost all my career, yet I got my first fully fledged direct marketing qualification from the Institute of Direct Marketing after I hit 50.

I have enjoyed a varied career so far including retail marketing, business to business and charity/higher education fundraising. So why the IDM, and why at this point in my career? 

Why wait so long?
I did most of a CIM Diploma in the 90s but didn’t complete due to a life change (babies). It wasn’t so much ‘waiting’ to get the qualification, as doing what I needed, when I needed it. The CIM Diploma course gave me a good all round general marketing background, which suited my early career.  When my new job demanded a much higher competency in direct marketing, it made sense for both me and my employer for me to get qualified.

Been there, done that
I was in a class full of younger marketers who, though university qualified and expert in their current jobs mostly did not have the breadth of experience I did (due to the advantage of age). I had to be careful not to give an example for every single case study or scenario – quite simply because I really had ‘been there, done that’; but it didn’t mean I’d been there perfectly, and done it perfectly.

There’s no doubt about it, learning when you are older is tougher, and when you have an extremely busy job (oh, and a strategic review as well), it’s harder to juggle the work and study load. Not being based in London, like the majority of fellow students, was also a disadvantage for group work. No after work catch ups with the rest of the gang in London bars for me... alas.

Was it worth it?
Beware the marketer who knows it all. I worked in computing in the 1980s, when the idea of a ‘desktop Cray’ was a revolutionary concept. (You can probably fit the same computing power on a mobile phone these days.) Technology has changed, marketing channels have changed, and even behaviours have changed (multiple touch points, for starters).

By undertaking an up to date relevant marketing qualification, I didn’t just update my knowledge technologically and in today’s market place, but I learned more about the direct marketing techniques that I already use. I got the improved results I was looking for, and my employer expected.  

What next?
Given the opportunity, I would like to convert my Diploma to a Masters, but I have instead opted to take another Diploma - this time from the Institute of Fundraising. Not only will it enhance my direct marketing skills in the sector, but will broaden my expertise in areas that I have hitherto only touched on.  And if I complete it, I'll be a double Dip!

Completing the IDM Diploma most certainly has given me a taste for formal learning that I thought had left me many years ago and I intend to continue my personal professional development right up until I retire. There is no reason whatsoever to stop trying to get better at what I do, and I enjoy it.

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