Downsizing? Yes, but the nasty nineties spawned a new era for marketers

Editorial by A. Grant Lee

Some people have already judged the last decade of this century as a time when people were brushed aside with little notice, all for the corporate good. Jobs have been lost forever, careers terminated earlier than planned, company cultures changed (almost overnight) by mergers and acquisitions. Much of this has been due, to a large part, to a growing global economy, regional recessions, and decisions taken by captains of industry to stay competitive. To many workers in developed countries, the nineties have been down right nasty.

But to others, the glass has been half full. Opportunists recognized that we are well within the global change foreseen by many academics and futurists over the last three decades, and took advantage of it. New careers were launched on the roots of old ones, and many young visionaries went back to school and learned the tools, and information, required to compete in a wired, knowledge-based global economy. Marketing has fared well through the fast pace of recent change, primarily due to marketing associations, their active members and heads-up officers. Now, the fluid in the glass is rising.

Marketing associations such as the Canadian Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK), Institute of Marketing Management (South Africa), and others, have developed strict guidelines for membership to bring students and individuals into the profession. There are academic requirements from programs at colleges and universities as well as a Code of Ethics. Members of professional associations can lose their professional status by not following the Codes of Ethics or practising in a dubious manner. They owe a duty of care to the public, their peers, employers and the association. Membership in these organizations involves much more than completing an application form and paying a small fee.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) is leading other international professional marketing associations by introducing individual chartered status. The Canadian Institute of Marketing is poised to adopt a similar program for Canadian marketers, as it will reinforce the standards placed on its members and ensure credibility of its members through continuing professional development. Within the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK), chartered status is granted by the Queen's Privy Council, and recognizes the profession of marketing and its practitioners. Chartered marketer status is open to full members or fellows of the CIM who have completed the Institute's continuing professional development (CPD) program for two consecutive years in every three. CIM members are asked to complete a minimum of 35 hours of CPD each year. This can include private study, attending conferences, exhibitions, courses and training, reading business books and magazines and local CIM branch involvement.

Chartered marketer status is a professional recognition that is being considered by global umbrella marketing organizations such as the Asia Pacific Marketing Federation and the new World Marketing Association.

Membership in professional marketing associations requires a greater effort to become a member and to maintain membership status, than many non-professional marketing associations. This is one very good reason why the ranks of non-professional organizations tend to grow quickly and sustain themselves. People are welcome to join, and rejoin at will, with little preparation or career commitment. And this isn't bad. In fact it is needed, and a very good way for people to learn about marketing and get involved with little up-front cost, or long-term commitment. Some marketers do not require, nor are they interested in having professional status. Non-professional marketing associations fill networking and training needs of many marketers who serve these associations well throughout their careers.

But marketing is entering a new era, where owners of businesses want marketers with professional designation running their marketing programs and helping shape corporate business plans. They look beyond work experience and even the superb personal attributes which were historically sought as the essence of the firm's marketer. Now adding value to a company's success is a hot commodity in any candidate for a marketing position and professional status does this. Professional status proves that the marketer is prepared to work hard in developing and maintaining skills through life-long learning to add value to the corporation as a fully qualified professional.

Just belonging to an association for marketers won't be sufficient for marketing staff in many organizations of the new millennium if they want to succeed, especially if they have global interests. For these people, becoming qualified as a professional marketer, and belonging to a professional marketing association, with its professional status for members, may be the solution for success.

Professional and non-professional marketing associations have a common interest to collaborate and develop programs for all marketers. Some people may move on from non-professional associations to become members of professional associations, and others may find that the rigors of professional status are not needed in their career and opt for continuous learning through membership in non-professional associations. The bottom line is that marketing is finally gaining the recognition in business that it has been seeking for decades. Now is not the time to fracture the field with competition for members. It is the time for collaboration and cooperation to advance Canadian marketing and marketers around the world.

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