Life as a Cambridge Marketing College distance learning student Lauren Pettitt | 12 May 2017

As soon as Eleanor found out about the opportunity to be a Conservation Marketing Intern and market the wildlife conservation programmes run by Fuze Ecoteer, she was curious. Add to that the opportunity to first undertake a Certificate in Professional Marketing by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as a distance learning student with Cambridge Marketing College, and the idea was fully sold.

Article courtesy of Eleanor Devenish, our Conservation Intern and distance learning student.

Here's why I haven't been disappointed...

Right from the beginning, the process of registering for the course and getting started has been smooth and hassle free. I've spent the past 5 weeks learning an array of marketing concepts – from marketing planning, to understanding customer behaviour, to analysing and drawing insights from the internal and external factors influencing the marketplace. It's a fascinating area, brought to life with real examples of both good and bad marketing. Next up, I'll be learning about the marketing mix, which Cambridge Marketing College defines as 'the set of tools which can be coordinated by marketers to target their market segments, generate demand for their offerings and meet customers' needs.' Just with all other topics, it's much, much more than simply learning the theory. We're taught how to use it and are guided on how to apply the concepts to our own organisations through ongoing exercises. It helps you ask the right questions to better understand where your organisation is at and how to satisfy customer needs.

What resources are at hand?

Cambridge Marketing College has produced guides for each of the modules on offer. These not only cover the core reading and learning outcomes, but include links to useful websites, videos and last but not least, Cambridge Marketing Handbooks, which home in on certain topics in more detail. The college website also provides magazines and journals, lecture webinars and its own radio show, so whether you learn by reading, watching or listening on the go, you're spoilt for choice! One of the most useful resources I found is the sample assessments which you can use to practice. The best thing about this is that whilst the course is distance learning, you're connected with tutors who are happy to help, especially with looking at the way you've answered practice papers and advising which areas to focus on.

It doesn't stop there. The Chartered Institute of Marketing also provides a module guide with core reading, as well as practice exam questions, an online library, relevant webinars and 'Marketing Expert', one of the most useful aspects I've found on the site. Consisting of practical guides and templates to help you at each stage of the marketing process, it provides you with tools to carry out market research and analysis, plan, implement and monitor marketing programmes, manage your brand and finally, embed ethics and social responsibility into your company. I've already used the tools and templates to plan market research to understand the customer buying journey of Fuze Ecoteer's target segment. I can honestly say that it helped me think about the information that we needed in an organised and methodical way.

It took me a while at the start of the course to navigate the CMC and CIM sites to find these resources, but it was definitely worth the effort! I'd recommend investing time in this at the beginning and there's a video for college students to watch in the delegate area of the CMC site, where you can learn more about navigating the CMC learning zone.


Flexibility – anywhere, any time, any way.

The great thing about distance learning is that it can be scheduled around work. There's no particular time that anyone must study as long as all the reading is done for each week, so it can be done all in one go or broken up around other commitments. There's also a study plan available, which recommends which chapters to read, as well as webinars and radio shows to listen to each week - this really helped me structure my time and avoid getting lost in the endless learning resources, something that's super useful for anyone considering doing the course alongside lots of other commitments and limited time! With all learning done online, it can also be done anywhere with an internet connection – on a laptop at home, with a smartphone on the train to work, or listening to a podcast while out for a walk.

Why study for a marketing qualification?

'Should I study for a marketing qualification?' and 'what do employers look for?' are questions that are asked often, especially when there are entry level jobs that do not always require a marketing qualification. One thing I've learnt already is that marketing isn't simply about promotion. It's about scanning the market and the factors influencing it to understand customer needs, anticipate future trends and ensure that these needs are championed within your organisation. It's about working across different departments to ensure that customers are satisfied and that the company's brand is lived up to. It encompasses so much and is so involved, that in my view, learning how to do it properly is the only way forward. We've all seen bad marketing, but good marketing is a skill much sought after!

The second thing I've noticed is that marketing forces you to think on a strategic level by analysing different factors and thinking ahead in order to problem solve, plan and make decisions. Multiple studies have shown that strategic thinkers are among the most highly effective leaders and according to Management Research Group, 60,000 managers from over 140 countries also believed this when questioned. With this skill being highly valued by employers, learning it will allow you to see the big picture and add real value to your organisation.  


What modules does the Certificate in Professional Marketing cover?

My first module – 'Marketing', will end in July with an exam. Next up is the Integrated Communications module, which covers the different ways of communicating with customers, both inside and outside the organisation. I'll be putting theory to practice by creating a marketing communications plan for Fuze Ecoteer, which is how this module is assessed. Both these modules are mandatory, however the third module is by choice – either 'Digital Marketing' or 'The Customer'. I chose Digital Marketing, where I'll be learning how to apply practical knowledge, including the effective use of a digital marketing toolkit, before creating a portfolio.

What I like about this course is the hands-on approach and opportunity to apply what you learn by marketing your own organisation.