CIM Chief Executive impressed by Lankan members’ passion for marketing

Thursday, 1 August 2013 01:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chief Executive Anne Godfrey was in Sri Lanka this week on her first visit since assuming office in August last year. She was highly impressed with the progress of CIM Sri Lanka Region and found that Sri Lankan members are passionate advocates of CIM in particular and professional marketing in general. Godfrey was the Chief Guest at the CIM Sri Lanka 2013 Graduation Ceremony, Chartered Marketer and Membership Investiture on Tuesday. Those who have successfully completed the Postgraduate Diploma in March, June, September and December 2012 were recognised whilst five World Prize Winners, two Best Stage Winners and 24 Sri Lankan Subject Award Winners were also recognised. Since 1979 CIM Sri Lanka Region has produced 23 World Prize Winners and two Egerton Canagasabey Award Winners; Best Performance at the final examination. The CIM Sri Lanka Region is the first international branch of CIM UK and comprises of the largest number of members, both professional and students, of CIM outside the UK; 3,000 student members and over 1,500 professional members, respectively During her visit Godfrey met CIM members and key officials to discuss and explore the possibilities of CIM’s contribution towards education and professional development in Sri Lanka. The CIM Chief Executive also said she will test the viability of her innovative plans in the country first before taking it to other regions as she is confident with the team here. Calling herself a ‘sales and marketing’ person, Godfrey’s career has spanned the Guild Travel Management, the Law Society, and the Confederation of British Industry. During her short visit Godfrey spoke to the Daily FT about the recent developments in CIM, the marketing profession, and the function. Following are excerpts:   By Shabiya Ali Ahlam Q: What is your opinion about Sri Lanka now that you are here? A: This is my first time here. I have loved it so far but I haven’t seen much of it. I have been able to see Colombo as the CIM officials here are keeping me quite busy.     Q: Could you tell me the purpose of your visit and what you plan on doing during your stay? A: We are having the graduation so I timed my visit to accommodate that event as well. This being my first visit here, I am trying to see as many CIM members as I can. The most important purpose of my visit is to pitch the annual global strategy of CIM which was formulated in January this year. We have an international aspect to that strategy and Sri Lanka is a very important region for us. It is the single biggest region outside the UK, so we plan on doing something quite exciting here in terms of the new model. We hope to launch in quite soon in the country.   Q: Would you be able to tell me more about this global strategy? A: Yes. Sri Lanka has more members here than anywhere else. What we are planning to do is to make Sri Lanka a hub for CIM in the region. This would allow the country to have a full range of benefits. It will have our educational frame, which it does quite well. CIM Sri Lanka will also be able to offer training to individuals and corporate and much more. So we will bring here a different model which we don’t have in other regions yet. If it works well, we plan on moving it to other regions. This is very new, and we haven’t tried this before. This is meant to be a compliment for CIM Sri Lanka since there is an amazing team here.     Q: So how is CIM Sri Lanka doing? A: CIM Sri Lanka is doing really well and so are the members. People here understand CIM probably more than anyone that I have met. They are passionate advocates, so everyone I meet here tells me how great CIM is, and this is really good to hear being the Chief Executive. I get this lovely sense of family, community, and commitment amongst the marketing professionals here. This is a joy.     Q: I came across a survey conducted by CIM UK titled ‘Marketing Confidence Monitor’. Are similar activities done by CIM Sri Lanka, since it does help to understand the extent of marketing practice for which there is very less information in Sri Lanka? A: I was at breakfast forum during my second day here and we presented to some senior marketer this monitor. In UK, this August will mark one year since this meter was introduced. I presented this since the index captures different aspects of the marketing function and profession. What they feel indicates how their companies are doing which in turn indicates where the economy might be. I was interested in talking to Sri Lanka first in terms of it working here and if they would like to introduce this monitor to their members. We plan on going global with this survey in partnership with Sri Lanka. For us, in the UK, this was quite interesting since we are coming out of recession. When we looked at what marketers had to say over past few months, they were optimistic. We started to note that companies were setting aside money for investment; there were more product development ideas, and much more. In Sri Lanka this monitor will probably be introduced with more of a local flavour and figure so it will be more precise and relevant to the county.     Q: So Sri Lanka doesn’t have anything similar as yet? A: Not yet. This will be the first. It was the same in the UK some years back. There as just one index that measured the reach of advertising and that was it. The reason CIM launched it was to find out more and gain better insights on what was happening. It has been incredibly successful and we had more than 1,700 companies replying to this within the first few months. What we found was that it was not only UK companies that were replying but also international companies who are based in the UK. 50% were SMEs and the remaining was large and medium companies and was spread across diverse sectors. It will be good to take what we do in UK elsewhere.     Q: What is your opinion about the marketing practice in Sri Lanka? A: There seem to be a really strong commitment here to marketing education, CIM and the marketing profession in general. This is fantastic. Beyond that, there is a real commitment to continue education in marketing once you are a member. I met some great leaders in this profession who are Chief Executives and MDs of companies. This says a lot about their skills as marketers and with that I am highly impressed.     Q: Where does Sri Lanka stand in the South Asian region in terms of marketing practice? A: I think each region is different and each has its own flavour. The flavour in Sri Lanka is very education driven and they are increasingly looking at their life journey. In Hong Kong, which is the only other region I have visited as CIM Chief Executive, the community is very different and very much towards practice.  So in Hong Kong we are looking at building a strong senior practitioner model and to bring in what Sri Lanka does which is the commitment of getting a diploma first and then continuing the journey. We want to create a whole lifecycle from cradle to grave.     Q: There are always new trends in marketing. Could you highlight a few? A: Digital, social and big data. This is what everyone is talking about now. For me I love digital but it is just another channel. Any course that has the ‘D’ word in it will sell. Companies are struggling with social media as they are trying to figure out how best it can be used. We at CIM are doing a lot to help companies in this area. Big data is another one. We have always had technologies and tools to capture information, and marketers now need to make use of this to gain better insight so they can make better decisions about their products. Also once you have this data, there are things that marketers should and shouldn’t do. A good marketer is a responsible marketer, so he needs to be tactful in using this data.     Q: So there are the traditional channels and then the new channels such as digital. According to you, what should be the best fit? A:      It’s how you use the mix. The problem is that the mix just got bigger. Now more skills are required by marketers than before to make the best out of the new and traditional channels. Companies haven’t got any more money and staff. So the challenge for marketers will be picking the right tools for their campaign to work. This mix will vary for each company since when aiming to get the right fit one should consider the size of the company, sector, and the type of customer reached. No matter what new channels are emerging, the old and traditional stuff still works. So you don’t ignore it. You will be surprised to hear that the two most popular programs in the UK are digital and copywriting, and this is like two ends of a spectrum.     Q: How is Sri Lanka is coping with these trends and do you think marketers here are getting the fit right? A: In terms of digital Sri Lanka is still testing and trying things out. The country is still at a basic level in terms of utilisation but CIM is promoting the use of these approaches. Sri Lanka is getting there. What I learnt while speaking to senior marketing professional here is that there is a more allocation of budgets for digital avenues. So there is a shift.     Q: There was a hot debate on CIM UK urging companies to merge their marketing department with sales. What was that about? A: We weren’t urging companies to do that. What we did was a thought piece, a provoking paper, called ‘Marketing and Sales Fusion’. It was done to get people talking and it was really successful. It generated a lot of heat and conversation which was great. What we were saying is that, historically there was sales and marketing and probably one day both will be integrated. Some marketers were all guns about it while others didn’t seem to bother much about it as much. We initially started as an organisation for sales mangers and then we became sales and marketing. Eventually, we changed our name to CIM in the mid ’60s since people then tough sales will be incorporated into marketing. We are still having that debate. CIM has over 5,000 members who are sales professionals already and I am one of them. Sales and Marketing cannot survive without the other. Even if they are two different departments, as long as they respect and communicate with each other, it should be fine. This is a topic many are highly passionate about.     Q: It is noted that the representation of marketing professionals on a board is quite low. Your thoughts? A: I don’t think marketers have any right to be in the boardroom anymore than anybody does. I think what they need to have is influence and access to board level. Important is for the customer to be represented in the board, and for me the marketing people are the voice of the customer. Marketers should earn that access and respect. If the board can’t understand marketers then they won’t get that access.     Q: What is your message to marketing professionals? A: Continue learning.   Q: For students? A: Enjoy it. It’s a very creative profession.