by Pippa Chambers
Not all marketers are created equal and that's something the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) is on a mission to address.
After a rocky year or so when the business fell into red, its new chairman Andrew Thornton now tells AdNews that the AMI is back, stronger than ever, and is on a three step quest to ultimate success and sustainability.
Thornton, who has worked in marketing roles for more than two decades at the likes of Optus, AMP and St George before launching his own consultancy, is brimming with passion and enthusiasm for not only the AMI and its goals, but the expanding and rapidly shifting path the modern day marketer is moving along.
Thornton has an initial trio of core priorities; raising the profile of the AMI; building its member base and strengthening its financial health. He added the AMI is also keen to increase the recognition and the importance of the professional marketing benchmark, the ‘Certified Practising Marketer’ (CPM) qualification.
“The CPM qualification in the workplace is a differentiator for marketing professionals - it’s a bit like a CPA for the accountants as they have this view that not all accountants are created equal. Well, that should also apply in the marketing space,” Thornton said.
"Not all marketers are created equal."
He says the CPM shows you are a professional marketer, recognised by peers for extensive experience and formal qualifications. It also means you have made a commitment to ongoing professional development to maintain a competitive advantage.
Lifting the veil
"Our real priority is to continue to raise the profile and the status of the AMI as a big body for marketers in Australia,” Thornton says.
"There are some patchy misconceptions around the AMI so we need to make sure that we lift the awareness of what we stand for."
Thornton says there can be a low awareness among even some members, so it needs to strengthen and promote that.
"We do have a strategy and certainly raising the awareness is important so that is not just running ads, it’s also about increasing the engagement with the members.
"An interesting comment that was made through the research is that members wanted more exposure to the board and the leadership in the AMI. They wanted us to be more visible,” he says.
The profile raising leads into its second priority which is to build its members.
"Members are the lifeblood of any professional body," he adds, saying to engage and have members there, it’s about the relevance, value proposition and understanding what the members value and how the AMI makes sure it's relevant.
Thornton also says the AMI is not in competition with any other organisations and that it's keen to co-work with others.
“At the end of the day the AMI is the only body that takes a holistic view of marketing,” Thornton says – adding that it actually makes sense for the AMI to have greater engagement with other industry bodies.
“We’re not about competing with those other more specialist streams within the market – we’re really about engaging and working with these bodies. In that sort of cooperative space not only should it strengthen those bodies but also strengthen the AMI. I think that is a really good point of differentiation for us.”
Due diligence and a catalyst for change
The AMI’s final goal is to strengthen and maintain the financial side of the business.
Thornton, who says he did all his due diligence before taking on the top spot, says the financial and governance issues have been ironed out by the recent and current board and it's taken great steps to strengthen its financial management processes.
"The really important thing is that as the current board and management, we’re absolutely focused on ensuring that this situation won’t happen again - we can’t afford to have it happen again,” Thornton says.
"Going through a period like that can do one or two things. It can destroy you or it could make you stronger and more focused. So for us, we’ve had the positive experiences - saying 'ok we’ve dealt with that we know we’re not going to go down that pathway again. In fact, crisis are often quite good as a catalyst for change.”
In February the AMI, which has more 6000 members, welcomed five new members to its board. Thornton’s chairman spot had been held by founder and CEO of TrinityP3 marketing management consultants, Darren Woolley, who was elected as chairman in January 2015.
At the time of the changes CEO Lee Tonitto, who joined as the AMI head in September 2014, admitted the AMI was “a massive turnaround story” following “everyone pulling together and a great team culture” plus a spate of new initiatives and tools. It had previously fallen into more than $300k of debt.
Tonitto also revealed it was also set undertake four quarterly pieces of research as well as launch new award categories for the Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Marketing Excellence