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, 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.