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Diary of a CPSM Candidate: 2 Confessions and Some Practical Information

April 3, 2013

Diary of a CPSM Candidate is written by Valerie Conyngham, Marketing Manager at The Cecil Group, an urban design and planning firm in Boston. The opinions expressed below are hers and hers alone. She can be reached through LinkedIn or Twitter @valconyngham.

SMPS CPSMThis is my first of six posts where I’m taking you, the reader, through my journey of studying to obtain my CPSM. My goals are two-fold. Provide those of you on the fence about getting your CPSM with an inside look of the process and to provide everyone else with some useful information from the gazillion pages of written material that I’m reading.

First, my confessions. I’ve owned The Marketing Handbook for 3+ years. I’ve cracked it open, but the grotesque inadequacy of the design of this book has never encouraged me to do anything but immediately close it. SMPS National, please hire a graphic designer for the fourth edition. My first intention of joining the study group was to force me to read this book that years ago I invested $70 in. Second confession, the reading material is so dense that I’ve resorted to manicures as a method of immobilizing myself so that I have no other option but to read it. OK, I feel better already for getting that off my chest.

Now, on to the good. My commitment to the study group is paying off. I’ve made it through Part 1: Market Research of Marketing Handbook (plus a handful of market research related chapters from four other books) and to my surprise the information contained in this book is pure gold. I’ve been in a marketing function within the AEC industry for much of my 16 year career and have taken a graduate level market research class. I only share this to prove to those of you with similar experience that this could be a valuable experience for you too. This chapter reminded me of best practices, but it also made me rethink the way I’m reporting BD and marketing efforts. Here are the three things I’m doing differently because of the material I read:

  1. I’m starting to add more categories to my firm’s time tracking job numbers for marketing and BD so that I can get to a more granular level of what marketing activities are providing more value. Right now we have four categories.
  2. I’m changing my pipeline report to better capture ALL sales discussions that are happening, not just those discussions that result in proposals. This will also help me to hold my PMs (who in my firm are also responsible for securing work) more accountable for follow-up.
  3. I’m going to begin including my firm’s growth goal and percentage of growth goal met in my monthly marketing reports to better communicate how the firm is meeting its yearly sales goals.

However, my biggest takeaway is for those of you without a seat at the management table. Becoming an expert at market research, learning how to create metrics to measure your firm’s marketing and BD efforts and developing a series of helpful tracking and reporting tools will help you earn “your seat at the table.” Had someone given me that same piece of advice 16 years ago I might have approached my career a little differently.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2013 12:28 pm

    SMPS promises a new design with the next edition of the Marketing Handbook, Valerie! Look for it in 2014. Glad you are enjoying the content!

  2. Valerie Conyngham permalink
    April 4, 2013 9:16 am

    Thank you SMPS National, that’s fantastic news!

  3. April 5, 2013 7:13 am

    A new design indeed! Chapter 2 was LENGTHY, but this weeks facilitators were excellent. Thanks to Pia Cardinali and Crystale Wozniak. Helpful in offering tips: KNOW the lists!

  4. Sarah McGillicuddy permalink
    April 5, 2013 10:00 am

    Great post Valerie! I love the manicure-study-method I’m going to try that for Domain 3 this week.

    I second @Matt_Hawk Crystale and Pia were excellent teachers – thanks again guys!

  5. April 5, 2013 10:23 am

    Agreed the book is bulky. Unfortunately, it really limits my study time as I can’t really read it on the subway or lug around to meetings. I think it would be awesome if published as a set of books, one for each domain. (For example I love the A Book Apart Series

    It would be easier to carry, seem less daunting, and for those that either aren’t studying for their CPSM or want a refresher in a certain domain would be able to purchase just one section rather than all of them.

    Thanks Valerie for the candid review of your process. Really appreciated and I look forward to reading more.

  6. April 8, 2013 5:32 pm

    Procrastination has always been my biggest weakness, so THANK YOU SMPS for getting all my laundry done and all my floors spotless. Alas, after the procrastination is over, I find myself overwhelmed (in a good way) with the ideas in the reading material for my own firm. I’m really happy I did this and am cautiously optimistic for taking the test 🙂

  7. Valerie Conyngham permalink
    April 9, 2013 9:24 am

    Sarah H., Love the idea of set of books! Sarah M., looking forward to seeing your nails next Tuesday at study group, Matt, thanks for your comments, Barbara, my house has been a little cleaner since study sessions began too.


  1. Diary of a CPSM Candidate: Strategic Planning and Marketing Plans | Outlook Blog
  2. Diary of a CPSM Candidate: Please, Just Tell Me Something I Care About | Outlook Blog
  3. Diary of a CPSM Candidate: Executing your Marketing Plan through Promotional Activities | Outlook Blog
  4. Diary of a CPSM Candidate – The End is in Sight! | Outlook Blog

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