It seems no one would question that Andy Murray is pretty good at his job, and if you wanted to learn a thing or two about being a quality tennis player, then being trained by someone who has literally been there, worn the T-shirt and got the results to prove it would be the way to go.
There has been a lot of discussion on social media recently about whether those who claim to be experts in marketing need a recognised qualification or training in the subject. A minor uproar has been created in the marketing world ignited by Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson’s article ‘maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t an ‘expert’ in marketing be trained in marketing?
In the article Ritson suggests ‘The new breed of experts are big on tactics but light on market orientation, research, segmentation, positioning, brand equity, strategy and all the other rich substantive matter that makes up the remaining 90% of marketing once you take the promotional P out. Our new generation of experts are actually confined to a very small tactical box, despite their billing as general marketing thought leaders and that makes for an overt tactical focus in those who follow them.’
The debate was continued by a Twitter poll conducted by Marketing Week, which suggested that although 43% of the 380 voters agreed with him, the majority 57% argue that having a formal qualification is no longer essential.
What is an expert?
In the new world where almost everyone has the opportunity to be a publisher and express their views, there are many voices offering advice and counsel. There are those that would argue it is less about knowledge and academic qualification and more about practical experience. Others would suggest that performance is key, results speak for themselves.
In the world of tennis and sport, performance and results are more easily measured, but when it comes to architectural design, marketing and even wine, then the challenge has always been how do you measure performance and success? For those who dare to grapple with marketing, demonstrating value and return on investment has always been a bone of contention.
An important factor for those claiming to be a so-called expert is credibility. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the quality of being trusted and believed in.’ For some this is endorsed by the backing of a professional qualification, membership of recognised industry bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing or the Chartered Management Institute. For others credibility will be about experience, where you have been, linked to performance, what you have achieved.
Marketing has always been subjective, and perhaps given that another definition of credibility is ‘the quality of being convincing or believable,’ it’s ironic that marketing is being marketed in ways that seek to convince and make believable that which looks good on the outside, but when you look under the bonnet it’s not what it seems to be.
Another feature in the journey of the so-called experts is that they have learnt from others who are knowledgeable, qualified and credible. It’s hard to imagine that Andy Murray would have achieved the success he has without the help and support of successful coaches like Ivan Lendl. No one in their right mind would suggest that the fact that Murray chooses to use a coach suggests he is weak and not good at what he does. His ability, gift for the sport and hard graft is complemented by his coach to help him achieve peak performance and achieve courageous goals.
All of the professional bodies mentioned above stipulate that practicing members must undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to improve skills and knowledge and remain effective. Marketing continues to evolve at a faster pace than ever before, and therefore training and learning needs to be a vehicle to help get those who choose this as their specialism to where they aspire to be, or at least live up to their claims to be an expert.
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