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ANA program to certify marketers

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Aiming to set standards for marketing excellence in client-side organizations, the Association of National Advertisers this month will kick off a Marketer Certification Program.

The program, offered in conjunction with the Center for Marketing Excellence, will debut Feb. 23 with a three-day session at the Westin Times Square Hotel in New York. Once marketers complete six courses, including three required classes and three electives, they will receive the designation "Accredited Marketing Professional."

The training program, first announced at the ANA’s annual conference in October, is designed to set standards within marketing organizations for proficiency in brand development, advertising, media planning and other marketing disciplines.

It is the only accreditation program outside academia strictly for client-side marketing organizations. The Business Marketing Association offers a Certified Business Communicator training program, which is designed for marketers, agencies, media professionals and technology enablers.

"I think the ANA’s program is important because it provides a legitimacy to the client-side marketer," said Rip Ripley, chief operating officer of ad agency BSM&R in Denver and chairman of the BMA. "It puts importance on the craft of marketing, which has almost been lost as people look at it as marcom [marketing communications] instead of marketing."

Incentive to move forward

Michael Palmer, senior VP of the ANA, said that within marketing departments in many organizations there are no strict standards for the knowledge a marketer needs to move from one job to the next, such as associate product manager to product manager to group product manager. "CMOs are telling us it will give people an incentive to move forward and give a true understanding to organizations of what knowledge people need to get to the next level," he said.

Palmer said the ANA curriculum is designed to teach marketers how to push marketing efforts forward and be more accountable. "The key to being a good marketer is driving efficiency and effectiveness," he said.

To achieve the "Accredited Marketing Professional" designation, marketers must complete six courses within a 24-month period. The required courses focus on brand planning, customer insights and annual brand planning. Electives are offered in public relations, b-to-b marketing, online marketing and other disciplines.

The cost for ANA members is $895 for one day and $1,595 for two days. For non-members, the cost is $995 for one day and $1,795 for two days. The program is targeted at junior and mid-level executives. Participants must have a minimum of two years on-the-job experience in marketing to enroll in the training program. The ANA has additional courses for senior-level executives outside the marketer certification program.

So far, about 20 companies have signed up for the training program. Classes may be attended at ANA sites, such as this month’s session in New York, or on site at the client’s organization. The program is designed for b-to-b and b-to-c marketers.

Jim Speros, chief marketing officer of Ernst & Young and chairman of the ANA, said his company will use the training program, integrating the classes with its own internal education program.

E&Y’s marketing college

E&Y has created its own "marketing college," which is designed to train its employees in various marketing disciplines, including advertising, PR and brand strategy. The program features a monthly lunch with an outside speaker and seminars on a quarterly basis with professional instructors. E&Y’s marketing employees are required to take two classes a year, although many take between six and eight classes, Speros said.

"We recognize the need to continuously train our people," Speros said. "The level of marketing education has been very inconsistent, particularly as companies have pulled back on investments in training. It is important to create programs that allow marketers to advance their professional skills."

Speros said E&Y will bring the ANA classes on site and initially train between 25 and 40 marketing employees. "Overall, it will make our people better and stronger marketing professionals," he said. "And from our clients’ standpoint, I want them to know they are working with some of the best and [most] talented people."

SEI Investments, an Oaks, Pa., financial services company, plans to send two employees to the initial ANA training session. The company, which provides technology and asset management services to institutional customers, will bring one or two classes on site after it determines its training needs, said Diane Sterritt, director of research and learning for SEI.

"We are in the process of doing an internal assessment to understand the needs of our organization," Sterritt said. "Where is our pain when it comes to training? Are the primary needs of the organization in the area of building brands?" she said, pointing to some of the questions SEI is seeking to answer.

SEI has grown from an entrepreneurial organization into a mid-size company with more than 100 people in marketing. Sterritt said the ANA program is attractive because in addition to offering standard courses in marketing disciplines, it will also tailor programs to meet a company’s unique needs.

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