Education & Training Equals Professionalism: Is It Time to Explore Professional Certification in the Mobile Marketing Industry?

CPA, CFP, PCM, CPT, CeM. . . the list goes on and on, and on. They all have one thing in common and yes, it is the letter “C.” The “C” stands for Certified. Notice that the CMM is not yet on that distinguished list. So, the question of the day is: “Is the industry ready for the Certified Mobile Marketer?” We believe it is.

Professional certification plays a critical role in the ongoing health of any industry. Identifying levels of knowledge and the ability to apply industry accepted practices to live situations in a manner approved by industry participants demonstrates collective industry maturity. While the benefits of a certification process are abundant, three primary benefits are immediately apparent: 1) assurance of knowledge, 2) adherence to industry “best practices” and standards, and 3) prequalification for employment purposes. These benefits affect individuals and industry alike. Industry can be assured that a competent workforce can be accessed and maintained, while individual practitioners earning a certification demonstrate industry commitment and professional competency and will benefit from a strengthened resume and, in the long run, strengthened salary levels.

Industry Participants Must Work Together

The design creation of a professional certification program within the mobile marketing industry will be complicated, dirty work. The mobile marketing ecosystem is complex, each and every player within the many spheres of the mobile marketing ecosystem maintains alternate views of what is important in keeping the industry operating at peak efficiency. We should embrace these different views and merge them into a common understanding that respects the need for industry efficiency and the needs of each individual player. It is precisely the interplay of the differing views between members within the mobile ecosystem that can create the strongest outcome possible.

Creating a unified body of mobile marketing knowledge that puts a stamp of approval on a mobile marketing professional certification process will certainly be a challenge, yet it is a challenge worth taking on. Participation and “buy-in” by the industry as a whole is critical to the successful recognition of the benefits of professional certification. Recognition by industry employers will quickly cause industry employees to seek the certification, thus, creating a better informed and trained employee base.

Thoughtful Design is Key to Success

A quick review of existing certifications reveals a multitude of certification models, delivery methods, learning models, and maintenance requirements. However, the implementation of a meaningful (both internal and external to the industry) certification program centers on three critical themes.

Accessibility and Incremental Participation – “Come one, come all.” A properly designed professional certification program needs to be accessible to all professional levels within the industry. As such, it should be designed so that a new member to the industry has a first step certification solution. The process should be further designed so that an experienced industry participant has a clear track for furthering their expertise and building upon the initial certification process. As an example, the first step for persons in the field of engineering is the FE/EIT (Fundamentals of Engineering/Engineer in Training) certification. After passing this initial exam, engineers may opt to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in order to earn the designation of Professional Engineer. The process is accessible to all with the basic knowledge base and also provides for additional designations as that knowledgebase expands.

While the engineering example is prime example of a professional level certification unrelated to the mobile industry, examples of trade level certification related to the mobile industry also exist. dotMobi, in partnership with Prometric offers the mobile web developer certification.

Rigor – To actually have meaning, the certification program has to address all relevant knowledge in a rigorous manner. The mobile marketing industry is complicated due to the interaction between all levels of the mobile ecosystem, as well as the many unique ways the mobile channel can be employed at every stage of the customer lifecycle for meaningful engagement. Topics such as customer experience, metrics and revenue models, best practices for the use of and interchange between traditional and new media and the various mobile paths (SMS, MMS, email, voice, Bluetooth, Internet, applications), privacy, regulatory requirements, carrier requirements, and technology should be fully and thoughtfully addressed in a professional certification in a manner that lends credibility to the certification process. Relaxed standards are the quickest way to devalue a professional certification in mobile marketing.

Continuous Updating & Maintenance – Successful, respected professional certification programs require continual maintenance on the part of the certification holder. Continuing education seminars that both refresh and reflect changes to industry practices are an integral part of what the Mobile Marketing Association can provide to those seeking professional certification in the industry.

At this juncture, the mobile marketing industry has a huge opportunity and some very important decisions to make. The industry is quickly evolving into a powerhouse of knowledge and ability that needs to be codified, classified, disseminated, and, most importantly documented. As the industry discusses and mulls the idea of professional certification, members of the industry would do well to begin a discussion on the need for professional certification paying careful attention to the successes and failures of existing certification models.