Marketing pros band together

Cayman’s marketing professionals are taking the first steps toward building an industry organisation.

The nascent group – called the Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association – convened for an initial meeting 20 September at the Chamber of Commerce headquarters. Since then, organisers say volunteers have stepped up to help, and a second event is planned for 21 November at Camana Bay in the Gardenia Courtyard.

At the upcoming event, Fevi Yu of EasyWebsites will lead a discussion on the topic of ‘Digital Marketing Critical Success Factors’. Participation in the event is free, but registration beforehand is requested.

“Everyone’s response to the group has just been fantastic in terms of offering support to get this off the ground,” said steering committee chairwoman Marie Parker of KPMG. “The next step is the formation of a formal not-for-profit company. We are currently looking for an attorney or lawyer who could help pro bono.”

The theme of digital marketing for the upcoming event was chosen after a survey of local marketing professionals showed social media and technology were near the top of respondents’ interests.

The survey results were unveiled during a presentation at the initial meeting by Ms Parker and Katie O’Neill of Bodden Holdings. About 50 individuals, representing a variety of companies, attended the first meeting to learn about efforts to create the new nonprofit professional association.

“A lot of us had discussed building relationships and building a network over the years, and we wanted to formalise it,” Ms Parker said.

The association would function for the marketing sector such as, for example, the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants or Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals do for their sectors, in promoting best practices, providing networking opportunities, bringing in expert guest speakers and assisting with continuing education.

Ms Parker said the concept of a local marketing association has been batted about for some time. Ms Parker, Ms O’Neill and Lesley Ann Thompson of the Department of Commerce and Investment are spearheading the effort to realise the professional group.

“We were just chatting about the issues we face. ‘People who do marketing, they just do events; they just go to the best parties,’” Ms Parker said. “They don’t understand you’re highly skilled individuals. You have to justify your marketing spend these days, so you’re constantly under pressure. And do you get recognised for what you do?”

Quantifying and explaining how marketing professionals add worth to their organisations was one of the challenges cited by survey respondents, many of whom identified themselves as being in roles including public relations and communications, product/brand management, event management and business development. Respondents indicated they worked in industries including law, financial services, infrastructure/government and consumer markets/retail.

Chamber CEO Wil Pineau said, “As you know, networking is an important part of any business and a marketing strategy for most, so this evening’s event is meant to kick off this new relationship, which will hopefully evolve into a more organised group.”

Once formalised as a nonprofit organisation, the association would aim to host an annual one-day marketing conference featuring an expert speaker from overseas.

Most survey respondents indicated they would be willing to pay $100 to $200 to attend such a conference, and most said $100 or more would be a reasonable amount to become a member of the association. Membership would carry benefits such as reduced rates to attend association events, which would potentially include regular smaller training events and local guest speakers.

Reduced membership dues for students are also being discussed.

Ms O’Neill said the purpose of the association meetings would be to collaborate on standards and support one another as a group of professionals.

“This is not to say you’re to give away anything that compromises the integrity of your own marketing plan for your own company.

Obviously you’re not going to share that kind of information, but in terms of looking at best practices across the board and the knowledge-sharing that we can offer each other, that’s really what this is about,” she said.

At the initial meeting, Martha Rowe, a web designer for FSH Design, said she had a favourable first impression of the budding organisation. She and the other marketing professional in her company were interested as soon as they heard about it being created.

“We saw they were putting together this association, and it seemed like something very exciting that we wanted to be a part of,” Ms Rowe said.

For more information contact Marie Parker at [email protected] or 526-4393

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