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The IPM Foundation Certificate: A candidate’s view

Thursday October 25, 2018 at 1:33pm

 Alex Lawrence, Copy & Content Executive, IPM

We’re now enrolling for our second intake of the year for the IPM Foundation Certificate, the qualification specifically designed to give candidates an immersive introduction to the promotional marketing and brand activation industry.

As you may be considering taking the qualification, or enrolling a team member on it, I thought I’d share my own experience as a candidate. I’ve been at the IPM overseeing the social / content side of the business since January 2018. A few months ago I found that, although I was writing about promotional marketing on a day-to-day basis, there were still some important gaps in my knowledge. I’ve definitely learnt a lot on the job but still felt I needed to add to some key areas. The IPM Foundation Certificate presented me with the perfect opportunity to do this, ensuring that I had a more in-depth knowledge to benefit my writing.

To begin with I was slightly put off by the idea – reminded of university-deadline stress and hours poured over intimidating textbooks. However, Anna Kinast, our Learning Manager, reassured me that the whole aim of the qualification is to make sure candidates come away with valuable knowledge that they can apply to their job, rather than to create a pressurised, grade-driven environment. I was also concerned about the fact I would be approaching the qualification as an outsider, because unlike the majority of other candidates, I have never worked for an agency or a brand.

Thankfully, this didn’t hinder my learning experience at all and I found the whole experience surprisingly enjoyable. I felt like I was learning at my own rate and how I wanted to. If there was something I felt unclear on, I had plenty of opportunity to ask the tutor. This is where the small intake size was extremely beneficial as it meant asking questions wasn’t intimidating and we could discuss things as a group.

The online learning element really helped me fully understand the points discussed in the face-to-face sessions. If there were any concepts I found particularly tricky to grasp, I could simply log on and find the resources I needed. This allowed me to also be selective in what I studied and really utilise my time effectively.

The first module, ‘Promotional Marketing and its role in IMC,’ helped me fully grasp where brand activation fits alongside other forms of marketing, like TV advertising and DM. As well as learning what some of the essential terms mean, our tutor gave lots of real-world examples to help bring everything into context. These, alongside case studies, videos and infographics really helped keep the lecture engaging.

‘Understanding Audiences and Channels,’ the second module, delved a bit deeper into how brand activations target various people. The assignment that came with this module was particularly interesting, encouraging us to really think about how campaigns attempt to appeal to specific groups of people.

I expected the ‘Legal Code Certification’ module to be the least enjoyable of the three, but I actually found the lecture and reading both interesting and useful. I learnt a lot of things I wasn’t aware of, like the exact difference between a lottery and a promotion, and gained a clearer understanding of what is and isn’t allowed in promotional activation. The IPM’s Regulatory Affairs Manager, Helen Hart, made sure the lecture wasn’t overly complicated and gave us lots of examples to support the theory.

Overall, taking the IPM Foundation Certificate has really helped with my writing. I feel that I have a much clearer understanding of the different aspects of promotional marketing and brand activation. As well as the practical knowledge the qualification has given me, it has also given me a sense of achievement in my working life.

I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone in their first couple of years in the industry.

Find out more about how to enrol here.

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