I’m just about to wrap up my studies for the IDM Professional Diploma and wanted to share my experience so far, for those who may be interested in studying the course. I opted for the face-to-face evening option held every 2-3 week’s in central London. For me it was a no brainer, I knew I’d get more out of classroom interaction than online lectures.
An overview on the diploma
The qualification is aimed at senior marketers who already have a good understanding of digital and direct marketing and are looking to deepen that knowledge by learning more about strategy, budgeting, tracking and evaluating campaign performance.
IDM or CIM?
For a while I was debating between the IDM and CIM qualifications. I looked for blogs and independent reviews online comparing the two but there wasn’t much out there. Having not studied the CIM it is a little challenging to accurately compare the two—so I won’t — but what my research and experience did tell me was that while the CIM has greater name recognition, it’s slightly more ‘academic’ and theory-based whereas the IDM covers a wider range of topics with a focus on their practical application.
The best bits
Because the course is taught by real-world experienced marketing practitioners it enables you to hear first-hand from people out there applying what they’re teaching to a range of businesses. Although some of the lecturers did spend a little too much time reciting stories of their experience (in my opinion), for the most part their campaigns taught valuable lessons.
The lecture that stood out most to me was on digital taught by guest lecturer Mike Berry who not only seemed to have tons of agency experience working with some reputable names, but was passionate, knowledgeable and managed to covered a variety of subjects while remaining engaging throughout.
I’ll be honest, the assignments were intense! Seriously. The first one near enough caused me a mini breakdown. Don’t think about doing this course if you you have an overly demanding job, hobby or social life you’re not willing to put on hold. Expect to be doing 2 hours a night 5 days a week (plus weekends) during your assignment periods.
Almost everyone in my group was beyond stressed the first time around, which did make me feel slightly better (sorry guys)! Luckily though, I had some lovely people in my group and one of the guy’s decided to set up a private Facebook group for support and questions which was invaluable I promise you! If nobody in your class does that, be the one to do it. A final word of advice on the assignments… start it as soon as it’s assigned. Although you have around 5 weeks to complete 4000 words, the research you’ll be doing, and revision of your past lecture notes will warrant the immediacy.
I’m about to sit the two exams in a few weeks, so I can’t really comment on the stress of those yet, but I can’t honestly say I’m excited about writing for 3 hours straight or doing a detailed budget on pen and paper!
Recommendations for improving the course
The biggest improvement needed in my opinion is the way in which students are prepared for the assignments. The first assignment is such a challenge because no one really knows how much detail to include in the various sections or the expected layout and approach to each section. You’re given a ‘how to tackle your assignment’ worksheet which is useful at giving you a rough guide on what the markers want to see but it’s simply not enough for the majority of people to achieve higher marks. I think a mock assignment or walk-through of a model assignment answers or even simpler, a marking guide with bullet points on what’s expected / not expected would have helped many perform better. I say this because on my first assignment I achieved a pass mark of 57% (you need 45% to pass) and then on my second achieved one of the highest in my class – 84% – a distinction (you need 70% for a distinction). I believe the reason for that drastic improvement came from a better understanding of what was expected, which I gained through the marker feedback. If we’d had the opportunity to do a mock assignment and get feedback, I really think I would have achieved higher marks on my first ‘real’ assignment.
Despite my feelings on the shortage of assignment prep, I think the assignments were extremely valuable in applying learnings from lectures. It forces you to think strategically, analysing the current business situation and how you can improve it, tracking ROI the whole way.
Where does the qualification take me next?
Some people are looking for a qualification like the IDM Diploma to walk them into their next job. While you’ll learn some valuable skills on the course, I think your future career successes will be primarily down to taking what you learn throughout the course back to work with you and being great at it – focus on that. It’s what builds reputation and what will really help you land your next job. Study to support that goal, rather than simply to obtain the certification.
Overall I’ve found the course to be a great experience and met some lovely people on the way. I’d recommend it to anyone that’s serious about learning more about digital or direct media channels.