The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines: "Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".
Although there is no standardised definition for marketing, the end purpose is always the same — to serve and satisfy the customers.
According to Dr Pamela Kwok, Chairman of Major Events Committee; and Wilson Shao, Chairman of the Continuing Professional Development Committee of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Hong Kong (CIM HK), marketing is a management philosophy rather than a function, with the customer and their satisfaction its core value.
"In today's highly competitive business environment, organisations should strive to meet customer needs as well as meeting business objectives," says Mr Shao. "It concerns not just the marketing department but also the entire organisation. From the top management to the lowest level, it is a philosophy of how business should be done."
The needs and satisfaction of customers ought to be the first priority of managers and employees alike, Dr Kwok adds. Consumers in this IT era are knowledgeable and more sophisticated, and so capable of making better choices. The degree of transparency in terms of supplies and prices is so high that maintaining customer loyalty is posing an ever more difficult challenge and dynamics for businesses. "Consumers now determine product trends. Therefore, today's marketing is about, to a substantial extent, a way of thinking that aims for customer satisfaction and customer loyalty," she says.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
CIM was founded in the UK in 1911 and the Hong Kong branch of CIM was inaugurated in 1996. The professional marketing body holds a Royal Charter and is unique in awarding the status of Chartered Marketer to individual members in recognition of their professional achievements.
CIM has over 50,000 members worldwide spanning Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and North America. It offers a range of membership levels that cater for individuals at all stages of their career: Affiliate Member (Studying); Affiliate Professional; Associate (ACIM); Member (MCIM); Fellow (FCIM); and ultimately, Chartered Marketer which is only awarded to an MCIM or FCIM who has satisfied the requirements of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme.
Regarding the system of CPD, Dr Kwok explains, "Everyone should keep acquiring new knowledge and skills throughout their careers and pursuing life-long learning. In CIM, a Chartered Marketer has to attain a minimum of 35 CPD hours each year in order to continue to be eligible for individual Chartered status."
CIM has identified a number of activities whereby participation may count towards CPD hours; for instance, postgraduate studies, short courses, language training, in-company development, mentoring, conferences and exhibitions, and private study. CIM membership provides third-party recognition of an individual's achievement in a marketing career.
In addition to the awarding of the different levels of membership, it collaborates with the education sector to provide expertise training in marketing up to the level of postgraduate diploma.
"By attaining a higher level of professionalism, one is showing commitment to employers and clients," adds Dr Kwok.
Mr Shao believes that customer relationship management (CRM) is a determining factor for long-term success nowadays. From the management level to the operational level, building customer loyalty is the top priority for both tangible and intangible goods.
"It is estimated that the ratio of the required effort for retaining an existing customer to attracting a new customer is one to five, so the former approach is much more cost-effective. And businesses are focusing more and more on customer segmentation for the need to tailor to customers' wants," Mr Shao remarks.
Meanwhile, Dr Kwok points out that besides customer segmentation, another issue that can increase the chance of long-term success is attaching superior value to a product or service and it is necessary to exceed customer expectations. "In the past, customers only expected 'good value' for money. Now, 'extra and superior value' is expected," she says.
In today's competitive marketplace, all products are endowed with a customer's perceived value, which determines marketing budgets and prices. "Marketing is a mind-game, after all. The more we understand the mind of our target customers, the higher the chances we win," says Mr Shao.
Value to members
- Unique Individual Chartered status for marketing professionals
- Well structured training programmes
- Opportunity to network with other marketers and business professionals
- Upcoming symposium offers marketing insights