Straight Talk: Getting Certified for the Future

You’re already aware that the field of direct marketing is becoming more “integrated” than ever, with new media like email, social networking and mobile saddling up next to direct mail and other traditional channels. But did you know that more than 52 percent of all advertising expenditures in the U.S. have shifted from general advertising to direct marketing?

That’s occurred because of the economy, rather than in spite of it. Globally, marketers are reviewing and revising how they do business and are turning to measurable marketing more than ever. Suddenly, there’s a need for an education standard that’s accepted and can be used by marketers worldwide.

Along those lines, the Direct Marketing Association just created its Certified Marketing Professional Program, the first of its kind and what it hopes will become the global standard for direct marketing education. I spoke with Jodie Sangster, vice president of global compliance for the DMA and orchestrator of this pioneering program.

Boldt: How did this program develop?

Sangster: Education has always been at DMA’s core. Our Certified Marketing Professional Program has been in the works for about a year and was created out of the growing need for a globally recognized education standard that has arisen due to the changes in the economy. Our program is designed to work with international direct marketing courses by allowing an individual that has already completed such courses to gain credit towards DMA’s certification.

Boldt: Is this program designed for newcomers as well as seasoned direct marketers?

Sangster:
Yes, [it’s] designed to help every individual during the course of their career. It is structured to cover all foundation aspects and core areas of direct marketing with the flexibility of additional e-learning and special conference sessions so the program is tailored to the marketplace relevancy and the individual enrolled. The certification also requires yearly follow-up courses and retesting every three years to reflect the changes and advancements in technology and practice within the marketing community.

Boldt:
With direct marketing’s rise in popularity, do you expect this to become a sought-after program?

Sangster:
The program is timely and reflects today’s current business landscape. In order to survive this digital/direct/multichannel environment, marketers are re-evaluating how and where they do business. DMA’s Certified Marketing Professional Program is the foremost all-inclusive educational program keeping marketers connected and current.

Boldt: What can a direct mail copywriter, for example, learn from such a program?

Sangster: DMA’s vision is one of increasing the intelligence in all networks, as a way to strengthen every channel … and improve the ability of marketers to integrate any and all in a one-on-one conversation with a customer. Copywriting means different things in different channels, and as the channels grow copywriters need to adapt.

DMA’s Certified Marketing Professional Program is designed to help identify those differences—writing for print vs. writing for web vs. writing for Twitter—and teach marketers how to consistently integrate their messaging across all of them. The program will create an elite group of professionals, from a variety of backgrounds, that can travel anywhere in the world, at any time, with exceptional knowledge of the direct marketing process that exceeds community standards.

Boldt: How important is the international education standard to the program? Will this boost DM’s reputation around the globe?

Sangster: Yes, allowing marketers to gain worldwide recognition for their direct marketing expertise will elevate the stature of direct marketing around the globe. Japan is only the first partner, as DMA currently has discussions underway with other international organizations to tailor the course program in Spain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Dubai, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.


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