10 questions with my Marketing Tutor - Dave Thackeray's Guest Blog - Part 2

10 questions with my Marketing Tutor - Dave Thackeray's Guest Blog - Part 2

A CIM Marketing Student Journey

As CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing student Dave Thackeray prepares for his first two-day workshop in Manchester with Professional Academy tutor Carol Laing, he quizzes the marketing expert on what to expect from it and the course at large...

I'm right in the middle of a holiday. I don't say this to induce jealousy but simply to show how obsessive I have become about boosting my career prospects since discovering this CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing.

It's still early days but I'm already counting down the weeks to the first assessment. December 2. It's like Christmas only horrendously scary. I haven't been in a proper studying environment for years and if it wasn't for the promise of these two-day workshops offered by Professional Academy to help you make the grade, I'd probably have buckled or simply found solace at the bottom of a big bottle of bubbles.

I'm really excited about the first one. If you read my first blog post (if not, congratulations on having good taste) you'll know I'm working on the Strategic Marketing module. And figuratively taking my hand by hosting this and all Manchester's double-day workshops (which conveniently fall on a Friday and Saturday or Sunday and Monday to keep the boss sweet) is Carol Laing.

I've not met Carol yet but doubtless if you're doing the course you want to get 'the skinny' on what's going through your tutor's mind. So I asked her a few questions to get the measure of what makes Carol such a great marketing mentor...

Getting in the Swing of things with Carol LaingDAVE: Give us an idea of the kind of people who sign up for a marketing course with CIM and Professional Academy:

CAROL: It runs the gamut - we see those coming straight out of college or university who have only heard of marketing and fancy it as a potential career path, right through to those who have worked in marketing for many years and are looking to keep their knowledge fresh and maybe fill in some skills gaps.

D: Sometimes you look at courses and wonder whether there’s more in it for the providers than the students. What makes CIM courses any different?

C: CIM courses delivered through Professional Academy, have always been professionally applicable from day one. Knowledge gained via reading, interaction with peers and tutors alongside the assignments (or examinations) will, when applied to your chosen profession, help to make you a better marketer. CIM courses have been created to develop marketers to their full potential, and we do our best to help with that development.  

D: I was initially a bit sceptical about doing this course because I thought I couldn’t fit it in alongside a demanding full-time job. Convince me otherwise.

C: I won’t lie - it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to complete the CIM courses but it’s worthwhile. I’ve developed so much since I completed the postgraduate diploma and have certainly extended my career as a result.  The kudos and the respect that you acquire through the qualification makes it all worthwhile. Since becoming a ‘dippy mare’ (as one of my friends affectionately calls my DipM status), I haven’t looked back.  These courses enhance your demanding full time job and make you look differently at all aspects of marketing, some of which you may not have thought of before.  It’s also possible to attend the Professional Academy workshops in an evening after work, so there’s no disruption to your working day.

D: As a tutor, how much work is involved for you in helping us students achieve greatness with Professional Academy?

C: There is a lot of work involved if, like me, you are serious about giving everything in your power to your students to help them achieve their qualifications.  I personally get an absolute buzz out of seeing my students learn and develop.  It’s amazing when the ‘penny drops’ at some point during the workshop. I can be presenting real life examples of a theory when suddenly someone will say: “Yes! I get it!” which gives me such a rush.  That’s why I now teach part time, it’s so rewarding.  I am a full time marketing consultant but my teaching with the Professional Academy is what gives me the buzz; l love to share my 30 odd years in business and marketing with my students.

D: What’s the greatest success story you can remember of a past student after finishing one of your courses with the Professional Academy:

C: There are two. A past student from Jersey (Joe McKenna) is a senior project manager at a prominent market research company in the UK & Channel Islands (4Insight) and has also returned to us as one of our most well respected tutors on the island.

And Kathryn, a young lady from my workshops has recently become Regional Fundraising Manager for a large North West charity – as a direct result of taking her CIM qualifications. She has just passed her first module. Kathryn is a natural marketer and has taken to studying really well.  She has thrived in the short time I have known her – and that’s what studying for the CIM qualifications does!

I am of course a past student of the CIM and my story could also highlight the success of doing such qualifications.  I left school at 16 with just one O Level (as they were in my day). I started work with an insurance company and realised very quickly that qualifications were good to have so  I started by taking my insurance examinations, then when I got a job as a marketing assistant progressed to the CIM qualifications. I then got myself a job with GE as a marketing manager where I set up a marketing function and progressed to European Marketing Manager. I set up my own marketing agency in 2002 and can hand on heart say that I wouldn’t be where I am today but for the CIM Diploma.

D: Give me a couple of study tips to help me make the most of my time and give me the best chance of succeeding first time...

C: Be committed; be well prepared (plan your study time, do your research, open your eyes to the marketing and business world around you); listen and make good notes in the workshops; participate fully in the activities during the workshop and do any homework he/she sets you – it will really help you!

D: I’ve heard Professional Academy guarantee you’ll pass the course. That sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?

C: There really is no catch, there are Ts and Cs of course but those are based around one solid principle – if you work as hard as you can and do what you feel is the best of your ability to pass the course, the Professional Academy will back you to pass the qualification at no extra cost to you (in regards to Professional Academy, there are CIM resubmit and membership fees out of our control) whether this means you need some extra assistance, to attend another workshop or just need another crack at the exam we are happy to help. That being said those students who use all the tutor support, attend workshops and fully use all the resources rarely need to take advantage of this but we know life can sometimes throw an unexpected spanner in the works from time to time.

D: Is digital marketing as important as some people say?

C: You only have to look around you when you are on the train, in a bar or even in a restaurant: everyone is online, whether checking messages, using social media, or shopping. if we marketers don’t keep up to date with it then we are likely to get left behind. Simple things like making sure you have a website that is mobile-friendly is a must. I also think it is getting slightly out of hand with lots of companies wanting to ‘go digital’.  Many of our clients have gone down this route with varied degrees of success.  The key to going digital is to have a digital marketing strategy, which many companies just don’t have. Digital marketing should enhance, and be closely aligned with, other marketing activities and not stand alone.

D: What current marketing trends excite you most?

C: I think the trend towards customer experience marketing is really exciting, as it looks like it’s bringing back good old fashioned marketing approaches and focusing on the customer again. The use of customer data and personal interaction with customers really appeals to me – maybe that’s because I’m an old fashioned marketer! The other trend is the new attitude towards market research. There seems to be a trend towards calling it marketing insight or market insight, which is exciting. Research is such an old fashioned word and it to me it says ‘researching, investigating, looking into’, whereas in actual fact it is so much more than that. Insight is such a good word – so yes, I’m excited about how that develops.

D: Describe the future of marketing from your perspective in 75 words.

C: Marketing is an exciting industry to be in.  The use of digital and social media is fantastic and incredibly successful in certain industries – it’s just so powerful. CIM qualifications are also helping to give recognition to marketers as serious business professionals. In the past there has been a tendency to see marketing as the ‘mugs and pens’ department – this is definitely changing.


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. 

If you would like to Join Dave on a CIM Marketing Qualification Course you can contact Professional Academy for some advice or Download a copy of the Marketing Prospectus today