Granted the authority by the Privy Council in the United Kingdom in 1998, the Chartered Institute of Marketing is the only professional marketing body in the world that can offer its members a special status.
Qualified members are able to become "chartered marketers", thus raising their standing, as well as enhancing the image and credibility of the marketing profession generally.
Anyone who achieves this status can also be considered to have a competitive career advantage. That is increasingly important in a fast-moving sector where employers are more concerned than ever about the need for staff to have the most up-to-date and relevant qualifications.
Cheong Shin-keong, who is Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Hong Kong and General Manager (Broadcasting) of Television Broadcasts Limited, says that chartered marketers can see what will benefit a business in both the short and long term, and then strike a balance between the various considerations.
"In sales and marketing, the basic requirement is to meet the short-term company quotas," Mr Cheong says. "But if the business is to expand in the long run, you also need strategies to build relationships with consumers, which will create loyalty towards your product or service."
He explains that since there is now such a wide selection of media options, it is important to weigh up the comparative advantages and choose the right one when planning a promotional campaign. Otherwise, a company can waste its advertising budget by not conveying the intended message to the target market in the most effective way.
"There is also the issue of corporate image and social responsibility," Mr Cheong notes. "Businesses should make sure that all advertising materials are consistent in what they say and reflect the brand in the right way."
In his opinion, nothing has had as big an impact on sales and marketing in the last few years as the trend towards globalisation. The phenomenon is linked to the growth of the Internet, which has created greater access to information about products and prices and, in many industries, has changed the way business is done. It has also opened up new opportunities for sales and marketing, but any campaign built around websites and Internet usage must be carefully thought out.
Mr Cheong adds that people in Hong Kong are generally very sensitive to market trends which, of course, is one of the key requirements for doing well in a sales and marketing role. The others include creativity, being able to respond quickly in a very competitive environment, and having real commercial acumen. All these factors have a part to play in market development and business planning.
"We have to understand consumer habits and know which types of advertising will work best," Mr Cheong says. "To do that, we have to be very sensitive to different signals from the market. It is almost necessary to have a sixth sense, but that can only be gained from experience, awareness and reflection." Besides that, marketing professionals need excellent communication and presentation skills, the ability to analyse data and interpret statistics, and common sense.
Any graduate or young professional who goes into the sector should have good prospects, says Mr Cheong. However, they must be ready to take the initiative in pushing their own careers forward and ensuring they continue to learn.
"The market in China is huge and some of the salary levels are keeping pace with Hong Kong," he points out. "For fresh graduates who have a sense of adventure and a creative outlook, there are opportunities to stand out in this field. Someone who is able to rise to a challenge and is flexible enough to incorporate new ideas has every chance of being successful."