Friday, November 25, 2011

Another award winning student!

Really delighted that one of our CIM Chartered Postgraduate in Marketing students has been awarded the Top International Student award for the Analysis and Decision exam paper at the CIM Graduation Ceremony in Birmingham. Congratulations to Catherine May, this is a fantastic achievement!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Google+ Pages

Google have released Google+ Pages for business today -Google Blog - so we have created a page for SPA Professional Academy to have a look at how it works. I think there is probably still quite a lot to do on the page but hopefully there will be time to investigate all of this soon. The page can be seen here - SPA Professional Academy Google+ page

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Just posted a new resource on our website - from PEST to STEEPLE and beyond - looking at the different categories of macro environment analysis acronyms. The resources covers PEST, SLEPT, PESTEL, PESLEG, LEPEST and STEEPLE along with a couple of others. Useful for students at all levels of CIM qualification, Professional Certificate, Professional Diploma and Chartered Postgraduate Diploma. The resource is available here

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Which plan will work best?

I make no apologies for another blog related to the motor industry, but this week in Autocar magazine there are two interesting, but very different, interviews with car company CEOs which demonstrate contrasting approaches to strategic planning. One interview is with Dany Bahar of Lotus and the other with Ratan Tata of Tata, owners of Jaguar Land Rover. One of the approaches is already being shown to be successful and the other which still needs time, but is worrying – I’ll try to explain.

Tata have shown a very considered approach to running Jaguar Land Rover since they bought the company from Ford. The interview with Ratan Tata starts off with him stating “When we took over Jaguar Land Rover, we saw a company that had considerable pride in its heritage but very little confidence in what could be done…….One of the first things we did was to create an environment to give this company its head and allow it to define its own destiny. Tata have understood the capability and recognised the skills available, putting them to good use, building up resources in a controlled manner and spending wisely. This has resulted in great profits for JLR last financial year, and an expanding range of cars with great appeal.

By contrast, Dany Bahar says that when he arrived at Lotus “The priority was on the product plan and showing the new cars”. He says he then had time to go and see where he was. Essentially he took no notice of the capability and strengths of Lotus before deciding where to go. This product plan is creating large losses for Lotus now and there is no certainty about the future. This does go against a conventional planning approach and there are many commentators (some with good inside knowledge) who are indicating that the plans may never come to fruition because the funding may not be available to see the plan through – it certainly is not self funding in the short term, relying on parent company Proton funding the turnaround plan. Lotus did need to change as it has barely made a profit for many years, but recognising why people buy the products and what the brand stands for before developing new product always seems like a good idea.

Time will tell if the Lotus approach will work – as a British car enthusiast I hope it does, but I am not confident at the moment. I hope my lack of confidence is proved wrong!

Unfortunately the interviews do not appear to be on the Autocar website

Friday, August 26, 2011

Open day

We are having an open day so prospective students can come and discuss course options for any CIM marketing qualification or CAM digital marketing qualification.
Details are:
Date: September 14th
Time: 2pm to 9pm
Venue: Bewleys Hotel, Leeds

You can either book an appointment by phoning 01977 649000 or just drop in and have a chat - coffee and biscuits provided!

More details here

Friday, June 24, 2011

Student award winner!

Really delighted tonight - at the CIM Yorkshire Celebration Evening one of our students from SPA Professional Academy, Rebecca McGuinness, won not only the award for the best Chartered Postgraduate student but also the Yorkshire and Humberside Top Student of the Year 2011 award - congratulations Becky, a really well deserved award. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

What College Degrees Are Really Worth?

It would be really interesting to see an equivalent study for the UK to this one which is discussed in Fast Company magazine:

What College Degrees Are Really Worth | Fast Company

It certainly looks like graduates from Business degrees in the US do better than quite a few others in the salary stakes and this may well translate to the UK. However, with the increases in fees for degrees which will be implemented in 2012 it will require a large difference the income a graduate receives to pay back the fees.

Professional courses and qualifications, such as those from CIM, could help here - either by helping maximise the salaries of graduates through differentiation or by providing an alternative route to those who choose not to take the University path.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CIM Centenary Banquet

2011 is the Centenary year for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and on Monday this week they held a Centenary Banquet at Windsor Castle with HRH Prince Philip (Patron of the Institute) in attendance. I was really lucky to receive an invitation so decided I really should attend - it might well be the only time I get an invite to eat there!

It was a great evening, really good food, the service provided was excellent - as was the wine, and it took place in a fantastic place to celebrate - the banqueting hall is very impressive. Many thanks to all those involved in the organisation, it was a great event and I felt honoured to be able to be there.

You can (just) see me in the above photo - I know where I was sitting which helps!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marketing Audit

One area of the CIM assessments which students sometimes struggle with is the preparation of the audit for marketing plans and other areas which need an audit as a base. I have just produced a document which outlines the areas which are likely to be included in a typical audit, although this may not be appropriate for all situations and will need amendments to suit the particular context of any organisation.

The document is available as a free download from our website here

More documents will be added shortly so do keep checking the site.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Conference and Seminar filled day

Today was busy and interesting, most of the day was spent at the Yorkshire Mafia conference in Leeds meeting lots of local business people and attending seminars and then this evening at a CIM Mid Yorkshire event on Social Media. The great thing is that I learned some things new, and discovered that there was a lot I already knew and practice which is reassuring!

The best seminar at the Yorkshire Mafia conference for me was the one from Gary Verity – Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. Interspersed with references to the very successful activities undertaken by Welcome to Yorkshire to promote Yorkshire as a tourism venue Gary discussed his views on what makes successful businesses, leadership and how he has helped to turn around businesses he has been involved in. He stated that in his view business is simple, and that there are three things which are needed to make a difference – understanding the problem, finding a solution and execution of the solution. Whilst he was talking I was relating it to CIM qualifications and there are direct links in two ways:

1) The major elements of course content, especially marketing plans.

  • Problem – recognising the situation the organisation is in relative to marketing, the first stage of the marketing planning process whether at an operational or strategic level. For business turnaround Gary said how important it is to talk to the staff in the organisation to understand their views, they are close to the day to day running and often well aware of what is happening and what customers think – a point marketers can often miss!
  • Solution – looking at the options which are available to overcome the problem. What are the marketing strategies which can be applied to make a successful difference? As Gary pointed out, the key thing is to make sure the solution actually matches the problem.
  • Execution – the tactics and actions which we put into place to ensure the solution is successfully delivered to return the results required. Being aware of the barriers to successful execution is vital, as Gary said, when executing the solutions people often go pear shaped!

2) The overall benefits from the CIM qualifications

  • Problem – people do not understand the full capability of marketing, it is an underutilised capability within the organisation, and people do not recognise the difference good, comprehensive marketing can make.
  • Solution – choosing the right qualification for your existing knowledge, capabilities and aspirations.
  • Execution – taking the learning and applying it thoroughly to the context of the organisation to achieve the desired results both in terms of successfully completing the course and building a better business.

Many thanks for this wisdom Gary. Just to add, the 5 things mentioned for success are:

  • Reason – why you are doing what you are doing
  • Opportunity
  • Method
  • Belief
  • Commitment

All of which can apply to the qualifications just as to business.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

3D Printing

One subject I have been covering with my groups when teaching the Emerging Themes unit in the CIM Chartered Postgraduate Diploma is 3D printing - it is a really fascinating technology which will potentially allow us all to make products tailored to our own specification, potentially an exact fit for our own hand or similar depending upon the product being made - see for some information about how we can use this technology at home. From a marketing perspective this has massive implications for appropriate products, and the way they are marketed in the future, organisations may only be involved in product design and promotion with the customer taking responsibility for manufacture themselves, cutting out physical distribution channels as designs can be sent electronically.

The technology is now being adopted commercially for short run production and is bringing great benefits in terms of material and weight saving in components for aircraft and F1 race cars. It seems the current issue is that the process is slow so not appropriate for mass manufacture, but this could all change as technology develops. There was an interesting article about it in the motoring magazine, evo, recently - see this link -

16-2-11 - As an add on to this, there is an interesting article in The Economist this week covering 3D printing -

Monday, January 31, 2011

Facebook Deals

The launch today of Facebook Deals may change the way people think about letting their friends (and potentially others) know about what they are doing. Whilst people have been checking in with Facebook and Foursquare for a while the incentives to do so have just increased – at least through participating organisations. But really, this is potentially a very big change in the way organisations can use sales promotion on a local scale – a new tool in the marketers communication box.

It is easy to see the potential benefits which could come from some retailers using the service – of those signed up so far (Yo Sushi, Mazda, Starbucks, Benetton, Debenhams, O2, Argos) the discounts available from Starbucks and Benetton, for example, can be easy to understand. You tell your friends that you are there, your friends join you and in combination you and your friends spend more money than would otherwise have been the case making the discount worthwhile for the retailer. I am struggling to understand the Mazda one slightly though – by checking in I could get a 20% discount off an MX5. If I was buying a Mazda MX5 those friends who would be interested would know anyway, but I wouldn’t need them to come and see me in the showroom. So I am not sure what is in it for Mazda, except that maybe I would get a 20% discount with some good negotiation anyway and they are getting publicity from the tie-in with Facebook today.

As someone with a B2B background, however, I am wondering how it might be able to work away from the high street. Could there be deals available which would move Facebook from the personal to the business arena? It will be interesting to see if people would be interested to check in at their local widget supplier for the sake of a 5% discount!

Whilst considering it, however, any suggestions of what deal I could offer students who check in with SPA Professional Academy that help both them and us would be welcomed….