“The more you learn, the more you earn,” says Warren Buffett. Or Frank Clark, if we’re to believe Goodreads.
Either way – this week’s post is inspired by a little background project I’ve been doing. I’m not sure how to put this, so I’ll just be blunt.
I have no qualifications in marketing.
Run for the hills, dear clients. Oh God, no, please don’t. Allow me to explain – my career path has gone something like this:
- Spanish and Linguistics degree
- Print journalism (local magazines and papers)
- NCTJ Level 3 Diploma (National Council for the Training of Journalists)
- Content mills (nasty)
- Digital marketing agencies (yay)
- Freelancing…in content…which I like to think is a lovely blend of my five years’ agency experience and three years’ journalism experience.
There are those who believe the University of Life is all you need, and indeed, I like to think my experience has taken me this far. However, as my LinkedIn network grew, I started to see a lot more people with the CIM initialism in their title.
That’s the Chartered Institute of Marketing, just to be clear.
So what did I do? I signed up. As it turns out, that experience is useful – I was able to fast-track my way all the way to Level 6. (I believe Level 7 is the top.) So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been whiling away the hours learning all about Ansoff Matrices and micro/macro analyses. Such fun.
What’s the CIM course like?
I’ve signed up to a virtual learning course, and it’s scarily like being back at university again. By that I mean, logging in to a virtual learning environment and getting telling-off emails from your tutors. (I got an email asking why I’d not logged in for a while. I was jumping out of a plane! Great…two weeks in and I’m already flunking.)
Jokes aside, the course is really well laid out and it seems like there’s help on-hand 24/7. There’s a lovely forum where members can chat with one another and voice concerns about their assignments. In terms of content, it sort of reminds me of my A2 Level Business Studies course. By that I mean, there are an awful lot of principles that we use in marketing without thinking – it just turns out they have a fancy name!
Anyway, it’s given me a chance to flex my essay-writing muscles. They’ve been sitting in the shadows for many years now, drinking lattes in the gym café while my copywriting biceps are upstairs pumping iron. I’m profiling a travel company in York and I’m loving it.
So, why bother?
This particular course recommends 10 hours per week of study. I’ve been playing catch-up what with the skydiving tomfoolery, so it’s a lot of hard graft. So what’s in it for the student? Well, for one thing – money.
According to Findcourses, the average full-time salary for a marketing director in the UK is an eye-watering £93,967. This role doesn’t land in your lap easily – Campaign Live recommends a Master’s degree as a minimum, while some roles even require applicants to be a chartered marketer with the CIM.
Topuniversities.com paints a slightly more optimistic picture for those who only have an undergraduate degree. Tut tut. It notes that the average marketing director salary (if you land the role with an undergraduate degree alone) is £64,948. That’s still pretty tasty, especially when you consider the average salary for UK full-time employees is £30,353. A Level 6 is equivalent to an undergraduate degree.
Beyond the pay cheque
Of course, money should by no means be the sole motivation for expanding one’s skill set. When you learn more, not only can you offer your clients better value, you can make yourself a more well-rounded person with better experiences.
These may present opportunities in themselves – for example, a public speaking gig to share your wisdom. In turn, you’ll expand your network, further your brand…and back to square one. There’s also the sense of achievement – Lord knows I’d be pretty smug if I could play piano. (“Your voice is your best instrument.” Thank you, music teachers.)
It’s not just academic – it’s about survival
This post was also inspired by an event I recently attended at the Digital Marketing Hub in Leeds. Speaker Kenneth Nel taught us all a valuable lesson about learning. He cited the story of the ‘Race to the South Pole’.
Long story short: in 1911, two teams were competing to get there first. One team was arrogant and relied upon technology (which broke) and ponies (who died) to get there. The other trained for the event by eating raw dolphin meat, and paced themselves by sticking to 20 miles per day. As Kenneth put it, they learned how to adapt to situations and put it into practice.
So, you never know when that knot-tying course you went on might come in handy. We can also apply this to business survival – for example, learning how to pitch to new clients in case one of our biggest contracts falls through.
Scientia est potentia, so they say. If, like me, you’re working in an ever-changing environment, you simply can’t afford not to learn. You don’t have to fork out thousands for academic courses either. (Full disclosure – my course was around the £2.3k mark.)
There are tons of free resources out there, from sites like Econsultancy and Search Engine Land to LinkedIn contacts, Twitter chats, podcasts and more.
Want to know where I learn my stuff? Get in touch, or check out the podcast below.