The Importance (and benefits) of Continuing Professional Development



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14 min


23 May, 2023

Although you may already be working in the marketing industry, you may need help understanding the importance of continuing professional development for you as a marketer.

That’s where this blog can help!

Marketing Career Handbook

Marketing is an industry that is growing in opportunity and managers are always on the hunt for fresh ideas for campaigns...

Whether you’re looking to enhance your career and move up the marketing ladder, or get your foot in the door, CPD can provide you with the right knowledge and skills to get there.

The process involves engaging with learning in your industry both formally and informally and reflecting on which methods of learning work best for you.

So, if you’re struggling to build on what you already know, and you’re unsure on how to get started, creating a CPD plan is a great way to get stuck in to the process.

In this blog we are diving into exactly what CPD is, including the benefits and how to engage with the process by goal setting and reviewing your learning.

Let’s get started!

What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

Continuing professional development or CPD, is a commitment to ongoing, lifelong learning.

Whether that’s completing professional qualifications and certifications, tutoring and teaching, or networking with experienced professionals, CPD includes any experience that will enhance your current knowledge and skillset.

However, not only does this encourage looking forward and identifying opportunities to learn something new or refresh existing knowledge, but it supports the process of tracking and documenting what you do.

Therefore, engaging with the CPD process helps you to manage your own development on an ongoing basis, allowing you to learn and evolve, and consistently review the work and experiences you are involved in.


The Importance of Continuing Professional Development

As the business world evolves the importance of continuing professional development shouldn’t be disregarded, as the process creates exciting opportunities as well as challenges.

CPD gives each individual the opportunity to allocate time and energy into their own development, time in which they otherwise might work extra hours, or use as free time.

This process provides a framework that allows professionals in any industry to identify their strengths, as well as shortfalls in their knowledge that they may want to work on to improve their overall performance and increase the opportunities available to them.

Equally, engaging with a CPD plan, is a means of separating from the pack, as more professionals are acquiring similar or the same qualifications and skills.

Ultimately, CPD puts you in the drivers seat allowing you to navigate how you want your learning to progress. This not only provides personal empowerment when it comes to advancing learning, but instils further self-confidence as you can take control of how you improve upon your current skills and knowledge.

How Can CPD Benefit Marketing Professionals

In addition to the benefit of enhancing your learning, knowledge, and skills in your field, there are several other benefits to CPD.

As training and learning often centres around your own personal growth, it’s easy to forget the importance of continuing professional development when it comes to your profession.

Not only can new opportunities arise, but CPD gives you to opportunity to regain interest in your profession and remain engaged with what you do day-to-day!

New Opportunities and Greater Earning Potential

Continuing professional development creates opportunities not only in your worklife, but in your personal life too.

With more experience and knowledge comes an increased amount of senior job offers and training opportunities, as the more you are prepared to up-skill, the more well-rounded you will be as a candidate.

Greater earning potential comes hand in hand with this, as the more you can offer a company improves the amount they will compensate you for your dedication to learning and development.

However, CPD can positively impact your social engagement too, as a wider knowledge base provides you with more topics for conversation, debate, and a range of social situations.

This is important as professional development isn’t just about technical skills such as improving your copywriting or creating email campaigns, but injecting personality into your work and communicating well with your team.

pile of books

Remain Up to Date With Trends

As many marketers will know, the industry continues to grow and change day by day, and it’s important to keep up!

With CPD you can ensure your knowledge is relevant and always updated, which is vital in an industry where trends become outdated so quickly.

Not only this, but others in your profession may not be able to keep up and this helps to differentiate you from other candidates if you’re ever going for the same position, or competing for a client.

Interest in Your Profession

Learning as you go can help you to remain interested and engaged with your industry and remind yourself why you started this profession to begin with.

As you improve your knowledge in areas such as social media, content, and email, this can encourage you to try new ideas, create new and exciting campaigns and have fun as industry trends evolve.

This has a direct positive impact on your efficiency in the workplace, as they more engaged you are with your job, the more likely it is you will continue to improve and be better at it!

Advance Knowledge and Technology Within Your Profession

By investing in CPD you can stay up to speed with the technology used in your profession as well as new knowledge.

This isn’t limited to trends, but includes software and platforms that help you to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

It’s also possible to enhance your knowledge further by taking courses on popular marketing technologies, and become more involved in the decision-making when it comes to what your organisation use day-to-day.

Alongside this, engaging with the CPD process allows you to gain access to experts in the field and build knowledge through presentations, key notes speeches, and networking with the best in the industry.

You can take this knowledge away and apply it to your role and within your organisation, to improve not only your development, but the development of your company!

The Key Features of the CPD Process

CPD isn’t just the process of attending a training session and adding it to your resume, but instead it requires you to look at the work and learning you are plugging your time into, and reflect upon what works for you.

For example, it may be that you respond well to practical learning on the job and lecture or seminar content doesn’t resonate with you quite as well.

A large part of CPD is trying to identify what works for you and in order to be effective in this process you need to ensure that you are:

  • Documenting your progress
  • Ensuring your CPD is self-directed and not proposed by your employer or tutor
  • Including a blend of formal and informal learning
  • Setting development goals and objectives
  • Focusing on learning through reflection and review

This list along with the motivation to improve your learning, puts you in a good position to start the CPD cycle and enhance your development.

So, with that let’s get onto how to begin your own CPD process!

person writing list

How to Start the CPD Process

The most effective way to start your CPD journey is by documenting everything from the minute you start.

It’s important to start as you mean to go on by writing everything down as this will get you into the habit of recording your learning experiences and give you material to reflect upon and review.

This ultimately ensures that you are making progress and avoiding going in circles (or worse yet standing still) when it comes to reaching your CPD goals.

There are a set of key questions to ask yourself to understand what you need and want to learn, how you are going to get started, and more importantly how to get to the finish line!

Therefore, we have listed 4 key questions below which will help you to assess your current experience and your goals as well as highlighting the importance of continuing professional development.

Where Are You Now?

First and foremost, you need to review and reflect upon your current situation.

This will look different for all marketers so listen up!

Some of you reading this blog may be thinking “I’ve never considered CPD until now” and your list of extra qualifications and training may be on the smaller side. This isn’t a problem it just means you will have less to reflect on to begin with, and possibly a larger list of goals and objectives!

In comparison, other marketers among you may have been attending classes and courses and working on your CPD for years, and this is the time to reflect on whether the work you’ve been doing has been beneficial.

Whether you’re seasoned in CPD or it’s a new concept for you, we’d recommend writing down your thoughts including what you’ve learnt so far, what insights each course or session provided, and what you might have done differently if you were given the opportunity to rewind.

This exercise will help you to identify what you want to get out of CPD, reflect on the different types of learning and training, and work out which methods work best for you.

Previous learning examples may include:

  • Learning from colleagues or networking
  • Temporarily deputising or covering a colleagues role
  • Shadowing or assisting an experienced professional
  • Learning or insights from specific mentoring or coaching sessions
  • Reflection on taking a new job role or increased responsibility
  • Lecturing, tutoring, or teaching
  • Formal education (such as degrees or professional certifications)
  • Conferences, meetings, or seminars
  • Reflecting on feedback

Whilst in the process of creating this list, ensure that you make a note of anything related to this learning experience whether that be positive or negative, or the impact on you, your colleagues, employer, or mentor.

Before moving forward you need to be clear about what you learnt from each experience and the difference it had upon your own personal development.

(If it had no impact at all, your CPD journey is far from over!)

steps circled with highlighter

Where Do You Want to Be?

The next step in the CPD process, is goal and objective setting, which should hopefully be easier now you have a better understanding of where you are now!

Once you have outlined what your previous CPD experiences have taught you and what they were lacking, this will help you define what you are searching for when enrolling on a course or engaging in shadowing or tutoring.

If you don’t have a lot of CPD experience to reflect upon, take this opportunity to jump straight in and define exactly what you want to learn or improve upon.

That means at this stage in the process, it’s time to write down your overall career goals.

Do you want to become Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in the next ten years?

Or are you keen to move to a digital marketing career path but need the training and experience to get you there?

Whatever proposed path you wish to lay out for yourself, make sure you set out where you want to be in the next 2, 5, and 10 years, so you have a realistic timeline to work towards.

As well as deciding on your long-term goals, write down around 3-4 specific and achievable short-term objectives including the dates you need to achieve them.

This will help you to hold yourself accountable and motivate yourself to work towards your goals. The act of ticking off smaller tasks as you go, instils the feeling of taking one step closer to achieving your larger overarching goals.

How Are You Going to Get There?

Now you’ve outlined where you are and where you plan to be, you need to work out how you’re going to get there.

Let’s take a look at an example of some possible marketing career goals for 2, 5, and 10 years time:

  • As a marketer new to the industry you are planning to complete courses within the next 2 years to help ensure you feel confident in all areas of marketing, before applying for a full-time position after finishing your degree and internship.
  • In 5 years’ time, it may be that you plan to move up and go for a promotion or new position that has opened up to become a more senior member of the marketing team.
  • Then 10 years from now, your long term goal may be to become CMO or VP of marketing within your company.

This is a big jump and a lot of work over 10 years to get from a newly graduated marketer, to being responsible for an entire organisation’s marketing efforts.

Therefore, in order to meet these goals, its important to lay out all of the objectives you need to meet first.

For example, in this case, it would be wise to enrol on short courses or training for social media, content, digital, email and SEO marketing to get a range of experience across the sector.

This will help land you into the right role that leaves room for you to progress.

Once settled in your new role, the CPD doesn’t stop there!

Like we mentioned earlier in this blog, we aren’t going to let you forget about the importance of continuing professional development, as it can play a crucial role throughout your entire career!

So, at this stage in your marketing career you should be improving on your leadership skills if you’re aiming to be promoted to a directorial or managerial position. Therefore, your objectives may consist of receiving internal training from your manager, shadowing your company director, or taking a leadership course.

Then when you’re close to the finish line and working to become a CMO or VP of marketing, you may be looking for an extra professional qualification, such as completing an online MBA, or receiving tailored coaching session.

Both of these options can be completed around your regular working hours as a director or manager and allow you to work on your CPD around your current schedule.

Having a loose plan in place can help you to visualise your pathway to success, and the same goes for your smaller objectives too!

As these are more immediate you need to act on your objectives as soon as possible, and think about what you can do today or tomorrow such as asking for more responsibility, or learning how to use a new piece of software.

This list of goals and objectives is likely to be extensive and that’s okay!

In fact it’s a positive as it means you have a wealth of information and ideas on how to get to where you want to be.

person flipping over clipboard paper

How and When Are You Going to Review Your Progress?

Reflection and review are both crucial if your CPD journey is going to be successful.

Without looking backwards at the work you have already completed, it will be difficult to keep track of what learning works for you and what kind of impact it has.

For example, have your met your objectives and goals or are you falling behind because your struggling with your MBA course content, or finding it hard to pin your manager down for 1-to-1 training.

It’s important to set specific dates to review your CPD experiences ahead of time so you understand exactly when you’re reviewing and what you should have completed by then.

This is a flexible exercise as you can choose each review date as you go, or set 2, 3, or 6 monthly review dates depending on what works best for you.

We recommend reviewing quarterly or 6-monthly, as your learning will be fresh in your mind and it will be easier for you to be detailed when explaining how each course or session impacted your CPD.

For example, reviewing a course or conversation that took place in January at the end of the year in November or December may become difficult, particularly if you are regularly engaging in this type of learning and development.

A top tip is to keep these reviews short but regular as this will help you to stay consistent and start an effective cycle of CPD.

The Importance (and benefits) of Continuing Professional Development

Whether you’re just starting out writing your career goals, or you’re close to hitting your 5 year CPD milestone, it’s essential not to forget the importance of continuing professional development in your marketing career.

Engaging with continuing professional development requires months and years of reflection and review in order to work out which learning methods work best for you and how to overcome hurdles when enhancing your professional knowledge and skills.

So when better than now to start the process?

Hopefully this blog post has provided an outline for you to begin your CPD process, starting with reviewing your past learning experiences, setting goals and objectives, and regularly reflecting on your training.

Starting this cycle will help you to understand exactly where you need and want to improve and which methods are best suited to you to help you get there.

From tutoring, to shadowing colleagues, to completing a masters degree there are a range of CPD pathways that will support you in achieving your overall career goals.

Here at Canny, we work with a range of marketers to create branding, websites, and content that fit their brand and generate real results. Therefore, CPD is important for partnerships like these to grow as it creates a platform for us to bounce ideas around with clients and come up with campaigns that stand out in the industry!

If you need a helping hand with your latest project, or need someone to take the pressure off completely while you focus on other responsibilities in your career, get in touch with our team today!

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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