Why joining a professional marketing association is a great career move

I have been a member of the leading professional marketing association in Australia, the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) for over 10 years.

Join a professional marketing association

Through my many role and company changes, the AMI has been one of the few constants in my career. I believe in the value of associations like the AMI so much that I recently applied to join the AMI’s QLD State Advisory Committee for a two-year term, and was accepted! I’m really excited to play a part in shaping the future of the association and helping marketers reach their full potential.

Here’s why I think joining a professional marketing association is a great career move.

Joining an association demonstrates you’re serious about your profession

Most professions have associations. In fact in many professions, you are only allowed to practice if you are a member of a professional association – this is true for doctors, lawyers and other professional service practitioners. And while membership to a marketing association is not compulsory for marketers, I believe that being a member of one demonstrates your commitment to professional excellence.

Associations such as the AMI have a code of ethics which members agree to abide by – this helps to raise the bar, and best practice across the industry. The more marketers we have in professional associations, theoretically, the more the quality of our marketing improves.

Associations promote continuing professional development

As I have mentioned in other posts, I believe that the best way to build the career of your dreams is to develop a passion for lifelong learning. Continuing professional development is one of the key pillars of marketing associations such as the the AMI.

The Australian Marketing Institute has a full program of short workshops designed to help marketers at any level of experience continue to develop their skills and knowledge.

The workshops, short courses, webinars and podcasts help to bridge the gap for marketing graduates going into their first marketing role. There are also courses for more experienced marketers who want to refresh their knowledge or perhaps transition into new areas of marketing.

Add extra credibility and become a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM)

AMI Certified Practising Marketer

The AMI offers a program called the Certified Practising Marketer (CPM), which really sets the benchmark for professional marketers in Australia. There are currently about 1,200 Certified Practising Marketers in Australia.

I became a CPM over ten years ago, and found the accreditation process really useful (and rigorous!).

CPM accreditation requires a combination of tertiary qualification, years of experience and references, all of which are designed to:

  • Define the marketing profession by achieving a balance between experience and conceptual competence and establish an industry-recognised imprimatur
  • To ensure that the marketing profession continues to advance with knowledge and information expansion
  • To protect the image of the profession by ensuring that only experienced and qualified practitioners are recognised as “professional marketers”

It is hard to determine the exact value that being a CPM has had on my career, but together with my qualifications and experience, I feel that the CPM designation has helped me to stand out in the roles I have applied for over the years. I also feel it added credibility when I was running my marketing consultancy business – I feel it gave my clients added confidence in my ability to provide them with solid marketing advice.

From a hiring perspective, I would be more likely to hire a marketer with the CPM designation than one without. I might be labouring the point, but candidates who demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning – and can back it up with experience, enthusiasm and the right attitude, are more likely to succeed in their career.

The other key part of the CPM program is the commitment to continuing professional development. I like the fact that to maintain the CPM designation I have to demonstrate that I have undertaken a certain number of hours of continuing professional development each year.

This ongoing development can include attending AMI events, industry conferences and workshops; tertiary courses conducted by universities, colleges and other institution; researching and writing technical publications and refereed journals; serving on appropriate committees; and structured or unstructured self-study.

If you have over five years of marketing experience, I would highly recommend applying to become a CPM. If you’re not quite at that level of experience, perhaps set a SMART goal to become one in the next year or two.

A professional marketing association provides great networking opportunities

Associations like the AMI also offer excellent networking opportunities at a range of regular, state-based events and conferences.

The AMI’s QLD State Advisory Committee is in the planning process for next year’s Marketing Summit in Brisbane. And all of the other States are planning their 2015 events calendar.

Networking events provide great opportunities to make real connections with other marketers at all levels. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn at a networking event! If you haven’t attended any AMI events, perhaps add it into your development plan for 2015.

There are also a bunch of online networking opportunities with associations. For example, the AMI has an active Facebook page, Twitter account and private LinkedIn Group with over 4,000 members.

Even in the few weeks I’ve been on the State Advisory Committee, I’ve met some fascinating, experienced marketers from both the AMI executive leadership team, as well as from the education and not-for-profit sectors. It’s always helpful to meet other marketers in your industry and outside it – I’ve never met anyone I didn’t learn at least one thing from.

Other associations you may like to consider

The Australian Marketing Institute is one of a few professional marketing associations in Australia, and there are a number of others globally. Here are just a few that you might find useful to investigate:

I joined the Public Relations Association of Australia (PRIA) earlier this year to see what they offered. PRIA’s focus is obviously more on public relations, but I am finding their webinars quite useful. I’m hoping to get to the PRIA National Conference in 2015 as well as some of their State networking events.

In summary, I feel that it’s really valuable to join a professional marketing association. The cost of membership is usually tax deductable, and some companies even pay for their employees to be members of professional associations.

I encourage you to attend at least one networking event run by a professional association next year. Use that as a way of testing whether the association is going to fit your professional development goals, and then take the plunge and become a member!