Obtaining CPSM Expands Network and Opens New Opportunity

By: Lindsay Diven

In early 2013 I was working as a marketing manager in a mid-size engineering firm. It was then I decided to take the leap to study and obtain my CPSM license. From the beginning of this journey, I began to realize the CPSM’s value. I was part of the SMPS Central Florida’s CPSM Study group with a half-dozen other marketing leaders. Not only did we study together, but each session was taught another CPSM, veterans in our industry. Each of them brought with them a unique perspective of how they studied and applied the material in their roles. I formed a bond with the members of that group while studying and passing the certification. This will bond will keep us close for years to come.

Beyond just developing relationships with other marketers, studying for the exam provided me with insight into the organization and function of the business side of our firms. While I had nearly eight years of proposal experience under my belt, I wasn’t exposed to the business and strategic planning at that point. Through my reading and studying, I learned this side of the business which has helped immensely in my current role.

Upon obtaining my certification, I felt that doors opened and opportunities for career advancement presented themselves. I was contacted by several recruiters who mentioned that they were searching specifically for CPSM marketers in the Central Florida area. Later that year, I joined BRPH as their Director of Marketing and Business Development. It has been a wonderful experience as I have been able to build a marketing and business development team that includes 12 talented professionals. As I built this team, I incorporated the fundamentals of the Domains and requirements of the CPSM for Marketing Coordinator advancement.

I highly recommend anyone looking to advance their career in AEC marketing to obtain their CPSM.

Here are some of my tips to successfully pass the CPSM:

  • Join a local study group – This helped me stay accountable for my own reading even with fluctuating deadlines at work. Through this group, I also was able to build close relationships with other SMPS members outside my normal circle.
  • Purchase or Borrow all of the recommended materials – When I was going through the certification, there were about a half-dozen books. I purchased all of them and read all of the recommended reading. It seems like a lot of reading, but it really does show up on the test. (note: some of this has changed recently)
  • Dedicate time every day – It has been a while since I was in college and had to study for tests, so I was a bit rusty! It was better for me to read for 30-60 minutes each day to keep the information fresh in my head. If I missed a day or two, I felt like I was going backwards to remember what the topic was covering.
  • Schedule the test before you are ready – We all work toward deadlines. If you never actually schedule the test, you won’t ever take it. Schedule the test with enough time to study (8-10 weeks out) and then start studying. Work backwards from the deadline (similar to a proposal submission) and divide your studying. If you join a local study group, then this should be done for you!

I am available to anyone who has any questions or concerns.

I hope to see you at next year’s CPSM Celebration!

Lindsay Diven, SMPS Program Speaker

Lindsay Diven, CPSM serves as the Director of Marketing and Business Development, a Principal and Member of the Board of Directors for BRPH Architects-Engineers. She also manages the Marketers Take Flight blog, focusing on helping marketers new to the AEC industry acclimate to the proposal environment. Over the past 10 years, she has specialized in developing marketing and business development teams with emphasis on creating workable processes and accountability measures. Lindsay has been a member of SMPS since 2005 and is currently serving on the Student Chapter Committee for SMPS Central Florida and as a Chapter Liaison for SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference committee.


CPSM and Back Again – A Marketer’s Tale

By: Tim Asimos

To help promote the CPSM program, I am honored to share my journey and experience with SMPS Central Florida members. When I first started working in the A/E/C industry in 2006, I was immediately introduced to SMPS. While I was already a member of the American Marketing Association and had a business-to-business, services-oriented background, I was attracted to SMPS because of the extremely niche focus of the organization. And needless to say, right away I found a ton of value in all the resources SMPS offered: the magazine, programs, conferences and content. All of which provided me with a bit of a crash course in the nuances of the industry.

Certifications and accreditations (and the accompanying acronyms that follow your name) abound in the A/E/C industry and they absolutely elevate a professional’s status. As all A/E/C marketers can attest, gaining credibility with principals and technical staff for both your expertise and ideas can be challenging. So naturally, the CPSM program and the recognition that comes with certification greatly intrigued me. After a few years in the industry, many conversations with CPSMs from my local chapter and a discussion with Kevin Doyle of SMPS National, I decided that I wanted to pursue certification. The starting point in my CPSM journey was my annual review goal setting in 2009. I shared the details of the program with my boss (who happened to be a Professional Engineer) and made the case for why this was beneficial to both my firm and my career. He agreed to support my cause and I was challenged to sit for the certification by the end of the year.

Fortunately, my local chapter offered a CPSM study group and I immediately signed up to join several of my peers who were also looking to get certified. Looking back, joining that study group was single-handedly the best decision I made once I decided to pursue certification. The group was facilitated by a CPSM who shared her experience and advice, and each member (there were about 6 of us) was tasked with presenting on one domain for the group. This interaction with peers and the accountability that the process brought was so helpful for me. When it came time to sit for the exam, I felt VERY prepared and had the knowledge and foundation to pass the exam. After a weekend of nervousness over the results, I was informed on the following Monday that I had passed. It was both a tremendous relief, as well as a terrific sense of accomplishment. I was proud to share the news with my boss and update my email signature to include my newly minted designation. An announcement was made to my firm about my accomplishment and, while I won’t suggest that an engineering firm will ever treat CPSM to the same level as PE, it certainly raised my profile and boosted my credibility with technical staff.

Fast-forward to 2013 and I found myself working in the agency world and had let my CPSM lapse, as I initially thought that my credentials wouldn’t have too much value outside of the industry. However, the marketing agency I work for had a growing list of A/E/C clients and an expertise niche in the industry. So in an effort to capitalize on my previous industry experience and elevate my credibility as a speaker for various SMPS chapter programs, conferences and webinars, I decided to recertify. When I revisited with SMPS, I was excited to find out I had nearly all the CEUs required and was able to gather the remaining credits and recertify in a matter of days.

So why, you may ask, would I bother to pursue becoming a CPSM not just once, but twice? Simply put, the CPSM designation sends a message that the person holding it is a seasoned, knowledgeable and savvy industry marketer. When I was with my former firm, being a CPSM spoke volumes that I was no longer a newbie learning the ropes, but a veteran that was able to apply my marketing expertise to the A/E/C industry. And now that I’m a marketing consultant that travels all around the country sharing my marketing knowledge and advice with A/E/C marketers, being a CPSM gives me instant credibility with my niche audience. It very quickly says that I’ve been in the trenches, I understand what makes your job so challenging and I know what being a marketer in the industry involves.

All of this leads me to this point: if you’re a marketer working in or for the A/E/C industry, you should seriously consider becoming a CPSM. The certification process alone was so helpful to me. Add to that the raised profile and the invaluable network of fellow CPSMs I now have at my disposal, pursuing certification was really a no-brainer. So if you’re still on the fence, I HIGHLY recommend jumping in, joining a study group and putting in the study time to make it happen. You’ll never regret becoming a CPSM, but you might regret not doing it. Becoming a CPSM was an important step in my career and it can be for you as well.

Tim speaking at SMPS Central Florida 2015 2014 Spring Ahead Education Event
Tim speaking at SMPS Central Florida 2014 Spring Ahead Education Event

Tim Asimos, CPSM is Vice President and Director of Digital Innovation at circle S studio, a strategic marketing and design agency focused on helping A/E/C firms grow in today’s increasingly chaotic digital landscape. He leads the online marketing team to develop innovative strategies in web development, content marketing and online lead generation. His unique approach is based on more than a decade of experience in B2B and A/E/C marketing. An SMPS Member and Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM), his A/E/C industry expertise has been featured in numerous publications, webinars and conferences.