Coming this December - 24 days of Advent Calendar Advice from Professional Academy

Published: 26 November 2014

Business Advice from Professional Academy

At Professional Academy Head Office we had been racking our brains on how we could give back to our students and the business world this Christmas.

In the end we thought the best thing to do was to answer some of the big questions in the marketing, management & leadership, sales, marketing communications, digital marketing and customer service communities.

Business Christmas Jumpers

To add a festive twist to things we decided to create our own Advice Advent Calendar complete with 24 videos of festive business advice from the Professional Academy team.

We aren’t going to share exactly what will be in the videos just yet but from December 1st we will be sharing our business advice on a wide range of subjects from Native Advertising and Cold Calling to Explaining Marketing Theories and a rather fun video on Christmas Eve looking at Sales & Marketing teams.

Check back every day up to and including Christmas Eve or keep an eye on our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages for regular postings throughout December.

In other Christmas News – Professional Academy will be open until midday on December 24th so if you have any questions about qualification over your Christmas break please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help. 

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How to use examples in an exam scenario - Advice from Tutor Peter Sumpton.

Published: 24 November 2014

How to use examples in an exam scenario

By Peter Sumpton

In every walk of life we often learn from what has gone before us, improving on what was good, avoiding the errors and trying to emulate the elite. This is just one of the reasons why including examples of good and sometimes bad marketing practice in an exam paper is a great way to rack up those all important marks.

Learn from the bestLearn from the Best

If you are going to successfully demonstrate your knowledge as a marketer in any exam based scenario then the statements you make will need to be backed up by solid evidence that what you are stating is accurate. This can be done by utilising well founded marketing models and their various components or relating a statement to a similar real life case study that has been executed successfully. In doing this you are showing the examiner that there is a fundamental principal or successful real life implementation of why you have written your answer, basically you are proving that your answer would and has worked!


Answers on a postcardAnswers on a Postcard

Answering CIM / CAM exam papers is very different to answering an academically proposed question, you need to think a little differently and try to answer (in the style of the question being asked) as if the conundrum was placed on your desk at work – how would you deal with what the paper is asking of you? Again, this is why good examples are so important, as they are proof that they have worked for other orgainsations.


No Need for a boring slide showThanks for the Memories

Now there is no point in plucking such examples out of thin air on the day of the exam, nor would it be fruitful to memorise hundreds of case studies off by heart when you are trying to remember so many different marketing models and acronyms such as PESTLE, SOSTAC, SWOT, 4 P’s, 6C’s, 7P’s or even the 12 different C’s of international marketing.


Know where to lookWhere to Look?

A better way would be to start a portfolio of marketing in action examples that you can build upon throughout your study period, help you to understand how successful companies have taken individual elements of the marketing genre and applied them successfully.

These case studies can be found in various different ways, but it is vital that you start to document these and build a portfolio of examples that can be applied within your exam(s);

Trade publications are an excellent source of recent marketing activity, and these publications don't necessarily need to be marketing specific. Publications catering for various industries often focus on current or topical stories or campaigns that are or have been successful from a marketing perspective.

Marketing text and other educational sources often use case studies as example to back up the theory they are explaining in various chapters (in a similar way to what this article is communicating).

When studying for a particular module it is always worth noting the examples set out in the recommended text books apportioned to that module as the cases presented will generally be specific to a particular theme that is covered in the module syllabus.

Why not glean from your own working knowledge and utilise what has been successful for the companies you have worked for or might still be working for.

And don't forget the online facilities that are available, a world of case studies and examples at the end of your fingertips (just remember to make sure they are valid examples).


an example theoryAn Example Theory

There are no hard and fast rules for the application of real life examples in marketing examinations and it will always be down to the student to determine where would be appropriate to reference these examples. The main thing to remember is that if there is an example relevant to your answer and the appropriate marks are available use it!



Peter Sumpton

This blog was created by Pete Sumpton the very knowledgable Marketing Director for moocreations and a Digital Marketing Communications Tutor for Professional Academy. For more of his insights in to the world of Digital Marketing Communications follow moocreations on Twitter or download a prospectus for a Digital Marketing or Marketing Communications Qualification accredited by the CIM's CAM Foundation!

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How To Influence Decision-Makers [Infographic]

Published: 20 November 2014

Have you ever wondered about the science behind influencing key decision-makers? This Infographic created by Raconteur looks into the methods and techniques used to influence key decision-makers.

Click on any of the infographic pages to launch a full page PDF in your browser.

How To Influence Decision Makers

How To Influence Decision Makers Understanding The Math

How To Influence Decision Makers The Science of Purchase Decision Making PT1

How To Influence Decision Makers The Science of Purchase Decision Making PT2

How To Influence Decision Makers The Playbook

How To Influence Decision Makers The Cheat Sheet

How To Influence Decision Makers The Recap

If you would like to download the full special report or any of Raconteur's special business reports you can find them all here. 

If you would be interested in learning more about Account Managment or other Sales techniques you may wish to look into the ISMM Sales qualifications run by Professional Academy.

For further information contact our qualification advice team or download a Sales prospectus today

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Retraining for Civvy Street – Training options for those leaving the Armed Forces

Published: 18 November 2014

Retraining after leaving the Armed Forces

By Michael O'Flynn

Are you aware of your training options and transferable skills when leaving the armed forces and how desirable these may be in white collar professions such as management, marketing or sales?

This December will be the final tranche of the 4 year redundancy plan for the UK armed forces with just over 1000 personnel from the Army moving back to Civvy Street [source]. This is on top of the previous three rounds of armed forces redundancy, a figure around the 11,000 person mark [source].

Growing up in a military family, I have been surrounded by forces personnel for most of my life and have seen many people join and leave the forces at various levels and ages. Both my uncle and father (Army and RAF respectively) are still in the service but will one day return to civilian life, a transition that can worry a fair few of those coming to the end of active service.

The British Military has always been exemplary in preparing those who have served for life post forces with support, advice and vocational courses but what options are available to you if you have recently left the armed forces and are looking to step into a white collar job role?

Transferable skills of former military personnel


what are The Transferable Skills of Forces Personnel?

Let’s start with those key skills and character traits you will have picked up during your tour of service.

  • Leadership –

An obvious one to start with but if you have progressed through the ranks of the Armed forces chances are you have been in charge of a team, their wellbeing, morale and completing objectives as a unit.

  • Teamwork –

The second most obvious of all the transitional skills for forces personnel is that they are trained to work and thrive in a team environment. Supporting the person next to you is one of your key roles in any of the services.

  • Ability to learn and adapt –

Having been through several levels of training from basic training up to technical job specific training, you will have a heightened ability to absorb and apply whatever training you may be given.

  • Real world experience –

You will have “been there and done that” meaning you will be equipped with some great stories, an outgoing personality and the ability to settle into new environments quickly.

  • Commitment –

You committed a portion of your life to the Army/Navy/RAF and that level of commitment is always desired by potential employers.

  • Discipline & Determination –

Your training taught you to be disciplined in situations of high stress and pressure. Your experiences and challenges you would have faced during your time of service demonstrate determination.

  • Problem solving skills –

You will have no doubt been in a situation where you have had to use your initiative and problem solving skills to overcome an obstacle. That combination of practical thinking and ability to think “outside the box” can really help you stand out in the work place.

So there are 7 transferable skills you can put on your CV when returning to Civvy Street and you can apply these in an interview to demonstrate your capability as a potential employee but how about backing this up with a Professional Qualification?  


Management and Sales Training Options


what are the Training & Qualification options?

Whilst serving you were probably made aware of vocational courses as well as training providers e.g. City & Guilds or qualification providers such as Open University, but there are also certain awarding bodies for Management, Sales and Marketing.

  • ISMM Sales Qualifications

ISMM is the leading awarding body for sales training in the UK. Now you may be thinking “how does my previous experience lend itself to a role in sales?” The answer lies in your transitional skills that we listed. Your real world experience, teamwork, problem solving and determination being key but all of these skills are applicable to being successful in a sales role. The ISMM will provide the training that will marry your life skills with professional sales knowledge and techniques. Progressing from entry level to account management roles there is also a significant number of job roles and a real chance for progression with in the industry.

  • CMI Management & Leadership Qualifications

If you are leaving the forces having held an Officer or NCO position you may well consider a career in management. This would lend itself to your leadership experience as well as other transferable skills. The job role is also industry transitional which would allow you to pursue an industry you are passionate about in a management position. The CMI, much like the ISMM with sales, provide the knowledge and training to link your skills with academic theory and practical learning outcomes to prepare you to excel in a professional management role across any sector.

But won’t this all take a long time and cost a fair bit of money? – It isn’t as bad as you may think. In regards to costs there are funding options available as well as payment plans with accredited study centres and time wise you are looking at a part-time commitment to flexible learning and completing the qualification in a year to 18 months, something you can do alongside your current job role.


Funding and support for those moving out of the armed forces.

A couple of places you may want to look for information on available funding and advice after you leave the forces can be found online, for example Civvy Street that works in partnership with the Royal British Legion and has general advice as well as advice on funding after you leave the forces which is well worth reading up on.

We wish you luck on your return to Civvy Street and all your best in future job roles. We hope this blog has proved that your military service has provided you with some skills that are highly desirable in the civilian work place across a number of job roles.

If you would like to discuss the Professional Qualifications on offer via Professional Academy, you have a few options: you can download a copy of the prospectus you are most interested in, contact Paul for advice at any time or call our Head Office on 01223 221 934 to discuss the options available to you.


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How we can be better Digital Marketers in 2015?

Published: 13 November 2014

How to be a better digital marketer

By Dave Thackeray

I spend too much time voluntarily chained to a keyboard, my eyes straining to the beat of ever-changing pixels.

What my professional lifestyle depletes in social competency, it strengthens in opportunities to act the smart arse when conversation turns to the hysterically fast pace of change in how we do business.

I can compete with the finest when it comes to handling matters of digital marketing. Worse yet for my smugness quotient in the eyes of my more normal pals, I've been known more often than not to figure out what's round the corner when it comes to technology and paradigm shifts in business because of it.

But irrespective of whether you'll buy me a Christmas drink in a bar of our mutual choosing or not, I do hope what I'm sharing with you below in the shape of half a SWOT analysis (see, Carol - I really am learning my way to success in this CIM course!) is wisdom-building and gives you a snapshot of what digital marketing lacks right now, and how it should adapt to embrace its potential into the future.



Never Cross Communication Streams!Fragmented audience across many communications channels.

Segmenting, targeting and positioning becomes ever more complicated and time consuming with the dawn of every new social network. Android is another great example of digital fragmentation - developers struggle to create a one-size-fits-all app when many millions of users aren't able to use the latest version of the mobile operating system. This leads to dilution of effectiveness.

Ignoring relationship-building benefits of social networks in favour of pure sales focus. At the moment internet marketers are giving social networks a bad name with their $97 sales antics.


How authentic is your customer?Authenticity of customer identity.

Think about TripAdvisor. I work with many clients in the hospitality industry and a high percentage have been victims of attempted blackmail by users threatening bad reviews unless they receive payment. Until all such social networks use a secure authentication system - Facebook Connect being the most ubiquitous, but not necessarily the best - this will continue to blight digital marketing


Don't get conned because of digital naivety 110% confusion among the majority of vendors.

Digital is new. Digital is raw. Thus many, many businesses fall victim to predators, otherwise known as internet marketers, who capitalise on their rampant naivety by selling entirely unuseful and incompatible products and services that give digital marketing a bad name.





The AIDA Model wear digital lives and diesPeerless customer service.

The secret of successful digital marketing is not in sales but in the AIDA model. And being there when your customers are. And helping when they need you to (great read here is Youtility by Jay Baer)



Velocity is key to Fast Data#FastData.

Everyone talks about Big Data but it's doing the best with what you got. Resources and people. The vast majority of business can garner incredible intel from Google Analytics. There are an increasing range of cost-effective solutions helping even luddites get to grips with the data generated by their organisations - and quickly.


Primer - I quick brush up for marketersComprehension.

There needs to be a great deal more training on the simple side of digital marketing to get businesses savvy. Thankfully Google is taking the lead by producing a varied range of training tools ranging from AdWords tutorials through to a mobile app focusing simply on the basics of digital marketing (Such as Primer which is available on iTunes).


Shopify - one of many cost effective simple eCommerce systemsStandardised set of solutions.

Even just a couple of years ago it was difficult to find the right things to use to complete simple digital marketing strategies online. eCommerce was a costly business. But now we are reaching a point where with a small amount of education the business owner can get up and running in a few hours. Tools like Shopify and Stripe combined can get any bricks and mortar store into the digital realms; Squarespace is another great provider of transactional websites ready in moments. The team over at Stylefactory have written some great comparison blogs for the out of the box eCommerce options which are well worth a read including this Squarespace vs Shopify comparison.


Find the right digital fitThe right fit.

You are correct in saying it's difficult to see how digital marketing integrates into a business when you're accustomed to doing things the old ways. But you can teach old dogs new tricks when it comes to digital - we're not doing anything differently, just swapping pens for pixels.

I'd love to hear what you think are the challenges and opportunities for digital marketing for 2015. Let's carry this on over at the Professional Academy LinkedIn Group...


You can learn more about the changing world of Digital Marketing via The CAM Foundations Digital Pathways. For more information you can speak to a qualification advisor or download a copy of our Digital Marketing Prospectus today

Dave Thackeray Documents his CIM Student JourneyFormer journalist, editor and company owner Dave is now the web and social media officer at WLCT, a charity operating leisure services for councils. After years making his way through the marketing maze he decided to go back to basics and learn how to do it properly with Professional Academy and CIM. Follow his progress on this blog and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter to ask about his experiences. 

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