my experience with the CIM diploma in Digital Marketing


So, there it was: The results for my final paper. Frankly, I was really sure I'd flunk this one. And, honestly, if not for the input from my lecturers at the Australian College of Marketing, I probably would've. I ripped it open.

I passed. It's official, I have a Diploma in Digital Marketing! 

At the end of 2014, I decided to pursue a digital marketing qualification because I wanted to give my Mass Communication degree an edge. Initially, I thought of pursuing a Master's degree, but the options out there made me pale. Not just because it was super expensive, but because of the time involved. (Two years in Australia for a Masters.) Also, many didn't seem to have practical syllabuses. I dislike studying just theory.

In my research, I stumbled on the Digital Marketing diplomas offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). In the end I settled on CIM because: 

  • Most Malaysians recognised the body
  • I wasn't a fan of IDM's exam-based approach
  • CIM was friendlier on the wallet
  • CIM had a practical approach. CIM tests students by giving them real-world tasks to complete. These are tasks that one woulddo on the job as a marketing executive such as writing reports and giving presentations. 

Finding the college

I cannot stress this enough. If you do want to the diploma, find a good college. Worst case scenario: you could end up one that just farms out the study materials and then wash their hands off you.  

I chose the Australian College of Marketing. Frankly, it was because it was the only one I could find that operated in Australia (I lived there then). I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Fortunately, they exceeded my expectations. FYI, they're not paying me in any way for this post. I just like recommending good services.

What I love about the college:

  • Great tutorial notes and videos. They even had sessions where they would explain the assignments to help us figure out how to answer it. Because, and this is a rant of mine, CIM's exam writers can't write in simple English. Half the time I had no idea what they want me to do!
  • Lecturers were firm and knowledgeable. I say firm because, here's an admission: I nearly chickened out of the entire course at the last minute. I had one last subject to take to complete my diploma, but my month of hell had been so awful I just didn't want to go through that again. But Emma, the dean, sternly told me I could do it. I pouted a little, but in truth I needed that tough love. 
  • Great support. Lecturers were very prompt in answering your questions. When I had difficulty with one task, Emma herself offered to answer any questions I have. I was frankly gobsmacked.

 I'm grateful for that tough talking to. Thanks, Emma.

Thoughts about the CIM course

The course kicked my butt. I gravely underestimated how much work I needed to do or the complexity of the subjects. Time management is of the essence. So is a proper desk, which I didn't have! On top of that, I had a major events happening at my life during that time so the stress I had was extraordinary. So difficult, in fact, that I came down with a bad case of eczema during the final, and most crucial month of the first module, that saw me taking enough meds to stock a pharmacist. 

When I told folks (especially those working in digital marketing) that I'm doing this diploma, many would say that whatever I learned would be outdated because the scene changes so fast. I disagree about the outdated part. If there's one thing they drummed into us over and over again is that we have to keep reading and updating ourselves on new developments. In fact, I was so up to my gills with reading material I read nothing else while I was studying. As a digital marketing expert, you can't be a slacker in this department.

I disliked the turgid academic language of the textbooks and the CIM materials. Seriously, academics, you're not impressing anyone by saying something in three sentences instead of one.

I loved how the assignments prepared you for the job. You basically choose a company to work with then write a digital marketing plan or produce reports for them. That way, by the time you graduate you'd know exactly what to do as a digital marketing executive.

I was very pleased that I was being taught to apply what I learned that way, but I railed against CIM's complicated, unclear assignment instructions which confused me so much I wanted to tear my hair out. How complicated were they? Well, fortunately Australian College of Marketing had tutorials explaining what the assignments were telling us to do! (I found that hilarious, but thank heavens they were there, acting as interpreters to the jargon-heavy language). 

I know this is part and puzzle of academia, but there's a lot of emphasis on CIM's part on answering the question in a way they preferred. I found myself spending far too much time trying to figure that out. That seems a little crazy to me!

So would I recommend this course?

Yes! A friend once told me that all I had to do was take a day class on digital marketing subjects to qualify for a digital marketing position. I have to say that there was no way one could learn what I learned in the CIM Digital Marketing course in a day. No freaking way. Till this day I'm still wrapping my head around Digital Analytics!

The course is great to give you a foundation in digital marketing, especially for those new to scene. It covers SEO, social media tactics, digital analytics, content marketing (I love this as I want to venture into this field), website design and how it influences customers, and digital marketing tools like e-mail marketing. Because it covers so many areas of digital marketing, it doesn't go in depth on a subject (say SEO) to the point where you become a specialist. That, I think you'd have to study further.

I consider myself relatively knowledgeable in this area, but there was still a lot for me to learn as there are gaps in my knowledge. (Digital analytics. Definitely not my strongest point.)