Common standards needed for fragmented global marketing profession

By our News Team | 2023

Given the increasing extent of expectations being placed on them, marketers must also keep upskilling, conference hears.

The global marketing profession must become less fragmented and have common standards in the same way as pilots, accountants and doctors do. This is according to James Sutton, Strategy and Commercial Director at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in the UK. 


He was speaking at the second annual marketing conference of the African Marketing Confederation, which concluded in Entebbe, Uganda on Friday evening.

Marketing Conferences

James Sutton of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in the UK. Photo courtesy of Uganda Marketers Society

Sutton said it was important to avoid the silos in which the profession tends to operate – given that there are corporate marketers, marketing consultants, people who work in agencies, marketing educators, recruiters and others.


He added that it was also important for professional bodies, of which the CIM is just one example, to look beyond just the profession in which it operates. “Their focus must be broader than that, it must be societal,” he explained. 


Looking at what is happening on the UK marketing scene now, Sutton said expectations of what marketers ought to be able to do was continually growing. Given the increasing extent of these expectations, it was important for marketers to keep upskilling and for institutions to provide the necessary learning opportunities.


“The CIM must try to meet all these upskilling requirements, which is usually funded by employers,” he noted.


Marketers want to grow their expertise in AI and sustainability 


“Artificial intelligence and sustainability are the two big areas where marketers want to grow their expertise, although digital marketing skills also remain in great demand.”


Despite so many upskilling opportunities being offered to UK marketers, there was still a talent crisis in the industry.


“Why? I’m not sure, but organisations cannot find the right people, “Sutton stated. “CEOs in the UK also report that talent is their biggest challenge, although this is not exclusive to marketing and applies to other professions too.”


Attempting to answer the common question of whether AI is a threat to the marketing profession, he said the greater threat would be marketers not adapting to what AI can offer them.


“But we must also stress that AI is not everything,” Sutton emphasised. “We must tell people, ‘If it’s not right for your business, don’t do it’.”


This year’s conference ran from 6-9 September at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda. It was hosted by the Uganda Marketers Society in conjunction with the African Marketing Confederation.


The 2024 conference will be hosted by the Marketing Society of Kenya.

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