Apr 2010
CIM's failure to meet the market
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) celebrates it centenary next year - I am sure that every marketer will congratulate them for that... No not really!
Unfortunately the CIM suffers from an identity crisis - is it a membership organisation? Is it a examination body? Is it a training organisation? Is is a conference centre? It tries to be all of these things.
The CIM only 'represents' about 10% of all UK marketers (the actual figure is probably closer top 7%), so using our trusty Paretos Rule - the CIM are irrelevant. But, no other marketing body has as many. I think this just shows how highly fragmented and uncontrolled the vocation is - anyone can call themselves a 'marketer'.
I recently had a conversation with a good friend who had been given the role of Marketing Director. He has very little sales experience and even less marketing. He asked me what organisations he could belong to as a marketing director, and what he had to do in the role! And I wonder where my cynicism comes from?
The CIM do not 'protect' the role of marketing, it is only in the last few years that they have even started talking talking about it. The CIM qualifications are very highly regarded, BUT they are regarded by many in the form of a degree or 'A' Levels - you take them, you move on. The CIM wants people to take the exams as the first step on the ladder of CIM life-membership. My wife is one of many millions who ignored this.
And this brings us to the issue. The CIM as the exam body is the gatekeeper. The CIM as the membership organisation is the poacher trying to entice you to join and stay. The training arm of the CIM is an outreach to the 90% of non-members who are often given some form of preferential access to membership.
It is just as well for the CIM that as a rule, marketers hate figures. The 55,000 members would otherwise be applying an ROI calculation to their membership. Why be anything more than an Associate? Members and Fellows have to pay more, for very little return. The premium award in the Institute, the Chartered Marketer status is little known outside the CIM, and costs members more subscription, and more work, ensuring that they maintain their 35 hours of CPD.

Chartered Marketers


The chartered marketer status involves members (MCIM and FCIM) undertaking 35 hours of CPD per month split into 10 different categories. I avoided the first rush to become chartered because I thought it was poorly marketed and executed. 35 hours appeared to be very low, and certainly 28 or so hours are relatively easy to get.
I was in the second year of awards and have held this every year since. To get the 35 hours involves the member attending events, reading business and marketing literature, imparting and collecting knowledge.
Every year there is an audit of 10% of Chartered Marketers to assess whether they should keep their status or not. This is supposedly a random audit, but I have seen 'favourites' who have not been audited. In 11 years, this year is my first year of having to submit a new format return (the original returns meant that everyone sent their evidence in).
I did this on the online CPD portal, but as usual - the CIM digital presence is extremely unsatisfactory. As the owner of a small business, I have had a torrid time with regards the UK economy, so my goals have been very business-survival orientated rather than pure marketing. The system is also very inflexible - the paper return provides a far better method, but requires not only time, but also money in copying 'evidence' and posting it off to Moor Hall.
The Chartered Management Institute introduced their Chartered Manager status a few years ago, and their criteria are extremely strict, expensive and thorough. The CIM process is open to abuse, the 10% audit and the 'self-assessment' providing fraud opportunities, not that I know or have heard of this happening - after all, the Chartered Marketer status is not that important.
So members have the issues in terms of time, money and effort, but they pay extra for this 'privilege'. The CIM, however, have done little in communicating the benefits of Chartered Marketers to the marketplace. This is probably because they do not really communicate with those companies anyway.

A Solution?


I do not claim to have the answers - I have been involved as an activist in the CIM in the South East of England for 11 years, so I have seen some of what the CIM is or is not doing.
The CIM should split up their business sectors. The qualifications should be independent from membership and training. The membership section should start talking to the industry - not just members, and not just marketing directors - and find out what it is that they are looking for from the institute.
Local activities rely very heavily on local activists - unpaid members who give up a great deal of their time, and their own money to put events on for more passive members alongside paying the same amount for membership. The membership and regional organisation is also, increasingly becoming highly bureaucratic and inflexible. There are a wealth of experts in the local branches, but Moor Hall chose to ignore these 'amateurs' (amateurs because they are unpaid in the CIM's view)!
In the South East region, we were leaders in the field of digital marketing, developing intuitive, useable online tools for 'customers' and activists. Moor Hall took some of the ideas (eventually - about 6 years later), but refused to talk to the local experts!
Commonsense appears to be lacking in many of the activities and resources. The constant changes at the top of the CIM over the last ten years have obviously had a impact, the job insecurity of some of the 'workers' at Moor Hall, and the confused roles the institute has.
Educator?
Membership Organisation?
Trainer?
Venue?
It is coming up to 'Make your mind up time'. In the meantime, members like me still pay, loyally. Fellows like me pay more (with very little ROI). Chartered Marketers like me pay more again (and again with very little ROI). The bubble will burst very soon with members leaving the sinking SS CIM!
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