On 1 July 2017, Hunterlodge Advertising will celebrate its 30th birthday. This is something I am immensely proud off – having set up the company from my living room at the age of 21 relying on 49 per cent experience, 50 per cent self-belief and one per cent knowledge from my education.
In truth, the five O-levels I achieved before leaving school at the age of 16 did very little to help my business other than enabling me to spell and add up. However, my experiences over the last 30 years have taught me the importance of professional development and has led to my being heavily involved with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and a focus on driving advertising as a profession.
My journey truly started about 15 years-ago when I decided to put myself back into education and embark on a chartered director qualification with the Institute of Directors (IoD).
The biggest lightbulb moment for me came whilst studying for the HR module “People mean Business”. For so many years, I thought the success of the business relied solely on me. However, the course made me look at my business in a completely different way. The more I invested in my people and trained them to be at the top of their profession, the more effective work we could deliver for our clients which would lead to higher client retention, additional revenue through added value culminating in a more sustainable business.
Being highly qualified in your industry is the ultimate reassurance for your clients and customers that they are dealing with professionals. Good quality business learning is delivered by experts who are not just relying on their own years of experiences and best practice but the accumulated knowledge of all their points of reference and learning too.
Rather than relying on learning through my own failures and successes, I could have short-cut the whole process by several years through arming myself with much better knowledge at a much earlier stage of my career.
I now feel much more able, skilled and confident to run my business and offer effective solutions – not just armed with my own 30 years of experience but also with the collective experience and knowledge of others from the top of our profession. Within three years of embarking on my learning journey, I had doubled the size of the company and its profits – a pretty impressive payback against the initial learning investment.
This journey has also led to my strong association with the IPA and my belief that advertising should be viewed as a profession. As co-chair of the Professional Development Group, we have helped set the vision of turning advertising from being an industry full of highly talented people to one that is respected as a profession in its own right – much like lawyers, doctors and architects.
The IPA already had in place a renowned accreditation programme for its agency members. However, a new focus was needed in order to move closer to our vision of becoming a profession.
The first step on our journey was to attain chartered status for the IPA – globally considered as a mark of professional competency. The IPA achieved this accolade in early 2016 and are now incorporated under Royal Charter with the permission of the Privy Council, which was a huge accomplishment and a great step forward.
The next goal was to start recognising individual agency staff who had excelled with their learning and proven their dedication and commitment to becoming the best in industry. A new initiative was developed – Accredited MIPA – a badge of professionalism based on a rigorous accreditation programme that highlights your knowledge, training and achievement within the advertising industry.
Already soft launched last year, recently we focussed on the official hard launch in May this year. We are working hard to publicise the benefits of dealing with highly qualified agencies and staff culminating in national press advertising dedicated to those individuals and companies that are at the top of their game and have achieved Gold, Platinum or individual MIPA status. And these accreditations have a solid business benefit – the IPA’s extensive research into its agency membership has discovered that the most highly accredited companies and those that spend more money on staff CPD programmes are more profitable than those that don’t.
This is a really exciting time for advertising and we’re looking forward to the last step in our journey to become a profession by awarding chartered status to the most highly accredited practitioners in our industry in four years’ time. In the meantime, I relished the opportunity to host and chair the launch of the MIPA program to industry on 4 May.
Industry leaders, HR directors, recruitment specialists and intermediaries were all present to hear how and why facilitating your employees to attain MIPA status will lead to more effective advertising for our clients and a more successful business model for the agency.
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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