THE Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is the world's oldest and leading professional body for marketers. It was established in 1911 with its head office in the United Kingdom and represent over 70,000 members. The patron is queen of England.
CIM Eastern African branch is an integral part of the CIM UK and represents the local membership. In the region, CIM has over 3,500 professionals, with 120 chartered marketers and eight fellow chartered members.
James Ngomeli has been re-elected as the chair of CIM and East Africa Chartered Marketers Forum. He spoke with Star's Peter Kiragu.
1. Congratulations on your re-election. What are your plans now?
My role is to provide leadership guidance to the profession here in the region. My aim is to fully intergrate the professional marketing qualification and experience into the real life of our society.
My intentions are also to bring in the marketing skills at the centre of government operations as we rally behind the president call of value addition to our products.
2. What does CIM do?
The institute's priority has been to support the development of professional marketing and marketers. Now more than ever, the institute's purpose is to be at the heart of marketing by giving the profession a place to learn, develop and belong. We create opportunities for marketers to meet and interact . It's also a hub for knowledge and exchange of ideas with over 70,000 counterparts all over the world. The institution is also a referal center for job opening and career mentorship across the region with our membership constituting of top CEOs and entrepreneurs bringing them together to build the profession and members.
3. Who qualifies to join the institute?
Our membership is open to all professions who want to enhance their careers in this competitive market. We have engineers, doctors and architects taking up the professional qualifications.
4. What are some of CIM successes?
It has increased awareness of the profession across the region leading to an increase in number of those doing CIM. The courses are practical based and end up bringing up members who understand their external and internal environment leading to high confidence and innovation in their area of specialisation. We have seen bluechip companies now placing CIM as a key requirement for job placements. We have had collaborative forums with Brand Kenya Board, the National Economic and Social council and now the counties. Together with the Marketing Society of Kenya we want to engage the government more strategically and value addition activities with the government
5. What do you consider as some of its failures?
The penetration is still poor in the country and there is little awareness about the profession. Marketing at times does not occupy the strategic positioning it should therefore leaving everyone claiming he or she is a marketer certainly with disappointing results. Therefore the failure to sit in boards and yet we drive the commercial cycle process...but this is something the association is addressing. In addition, we are yet to be at the centre of government operations but we are engaging the government fully.
5. What are some key challenges facing marketers in Kenya?
There is no professionalism in the industry...provided anyone can claim he or she is a marketer which has led to a high mortality rate of innovation and products and services are not achieving their full potential. Most government bodies are happy with just nominal improvements year after year. We look at the Jubilee manifesto which is about transformational marketing therefore CIM is joining hands with government in creating value addition processes across board that can generate premium pricing for what we present in the market.
The government needs to engage our profession to help them develop competitive marketing communication to drive the Jubilee manifesto and milestones right across the counties to the last man. The government's major weakness is lack of driving force of the national agenda to the local person and showing the benefits. With noise from the counties and competitive politics, we are worried the Jubilee manifesto is getting lost in the noise but as a profession we are coming forward to help drive the right perception in the market.
6. What is the institution doing to address these challenges?
Evidence suggests that employers increasingly want to see proof of relevant skills and workplace experience - not just academic study. Businesses want to employ people equipped with the right skills to do the job, and professional training and qualifications provide this assurance. CIM wants students who finished school last year to strike up a relationship with the professional body in their chosen career, whether they choose to go to university or not. Professional bodies can help at each stage of every career path, providing support, training and trusted professional qualifications which can be studied for while working or alongside a traditional academic qualification.
University is absolutely the right choice for many students who left school last year, but many students will also be thinking of other options - and there are more choices than ever before. Vocational training and academic study are both valid choices, and it's easier than ever to combine them. CIM Kenya is working on a partnership with local universities to deliver our new Multi Award Pathway programme, which allows students to study for a professional qualification alongside their degree. We want students to make the right decision. With the cost of studying so high, it's worth considering every option, and it's worth knowing that professional bodies can be a great first port of call.
We would like the government to engage our professions in creating sustainable messages to the local mwnanachi. Because however good services or products are, unless their is right perception, then all fails and that is the critical role our organisation wants to play and advise the Jubilee government.
7. What are some challenges facing companies in search of marketers today?
The key is attitude among the students and prospective job seekers. No one wants to struggle...everyone wants a fat salary. So whether a product sells or not, you earn your pay. The best sales people make very good marketers so unless you have sold something, then how do you market it.
8. What are the opportunities presented by CIM to young marketers?
We have a network of over 50,000 marketers across the country which presents a whole new world of ideas to our members. Network with like-minded professional and become chartered leading to recognition across the world. We have networked well with the industry and our offices are normally the first call for recruiters.
9. What should someone willing to join the institution do?
Choose a qualification. Contact our Local Accredited Study Centre which will confirm whether the qualification level you've chosen is right for your experience. They will ask you to sit for a diagnostic entry test to help make this decision. Our core marketing qualifications provide knowledge to support your career, from entry level to senior marketer.
Delegates usually have at least one year marketing or business experience or the introductory certificate in marketing or a non-marketing degree.
10. What are the opportunities for marketers under the new governance structure?
The challenge is the country is mainly on a promotional campaign mode all the time. We have not taken time to build a strong brand for the country but with the president's call for value addition, we see a strong marketing opportunity for our country and marketers. The counties present opportunities for the country to sell premium products at premium prices but at the same time if not well branded and packaged, we might end up with substandard goods in our markets.
We have a very strong association across the world and we have been approached and helped craft marketing plans for counties and regions across Europe and North America. We will work very closely with the Cabinet Secretary of Devolution to offer technical support for the counties.
CIM will also play a key role in advising the youth and women who will benefit from the loans that the government will disburse. We have already subdivided ourselves into cluster of counties and we will engage the governors and their teams on the best practice.
11. And what are the challenges and opportunities for marketers in the EAC region?
The region as a block presents enormous opportunities for marketers as multinationals continue streaming into Kenya. Their only competitive advantage they will have is how they will position their products in markets and their communication. I believe for a very good product in the market, there are four or five cheaper brands trying the same market as yours.