Here are the only 14 steps you'll ever need to know when planning to tackle a Professional Marketing Qualification Assignment. Some of these steps you may want to change in terms of sequence, but make sure you cover each one in whatever sequence you feel fits you best.
1. Read the Assignment in Full
Reading the assignment in full a few times will help you to understand what is required holistically. Although each task and question has its own set of requirements, the idea is that the assignment is fully integrated with each question holding relevance with the others, which means they will all need to knit together.
Before even considering starting to answer the assignment, read it a few times and let it sink in. Go back and start to make some brief notes on how you think you’d tackle each question and any elements you don’t fully understand.
You are not expected to understand everything straight away, but this task can be a great way to break the ice and for you to fully understand what is required, what is known and elements that you will need to understand better than you do at the moment.
2. Consider the Marking
One thing a lot of people forget is the mark allocation for each question. This is important to factor in as it highlights the weighting of marks for each question, providing an indication of how much content is required per question to gain the most marks.
For example, if an assignment is allocated 4,750 words maximum and there are a total of 100 marks available, it would make sense that you should be looking to achieve 1 mark per 47.5 words. This can also be done per question to work out how much should be written.
Make a note of these numbers and let this be a guide to you throughout your studies.
3. Choose an Organisation
Each Marketing assignment is usually based on an organisation of your choosing. The sooner you do this, the sooner you will be able to start to form practical answers, specific to this organisation.
This is hugely important and it will form the basis for ALL your answers. Without understanding an organisation and how the questions fit around it you are left with only theoretical answers that will not gain marks
Don’t be fooled into thinking that choosing a large organisation will be easier either as the more specific and focused you can make your chosen organisation the better your answers will be (trust me). If you are struggling with this, try picking a specific division, product or service within a company. That way you can be really focused on what you are writing.
4. Make a timeline
Being accountable can be the difference between passing and failing and having something other than a final deadline to work towards can be a real asset.
Work backwards from the final deadline date of handing in your assignment and use markers at certain points leading up to this date that you will need to hit.
For example, you may want to section off weeks or a month to complete each task by, even each question. That way you know if you are falling behind and need to set aside some additional time to catch up.
You could go one further here and plot specific dates where you will have answered each question and the time you will be using to achieve this – a bit like a Gantt chart or a Project Management tool to keep you on track.
5. Understand the syllabus
The syllabus is what all the assignment questions will be based on and each of these will cover various elements of it. Understanding what the core concepts are will help you in producing answers that gain markings.
Don’t skip this step unless you will end up writing an answer that isn’t following the syllabus.
Another reason to do this is to highlight any gaps within your knowledge that you may need to address. For example, if a learning outcome of the syllabus is to ‘demonstrate methods of generating customer awareness within a digital environment’, then the questions you need to be asking yourself are;
Do I know the digital marketing mix?
Can I evaluate methods of communication?
Do I understand keywords, content and creative?
If you don’t or can’t, better get the books out!
6. Do your research
Following on from the above, this is where a lot of people fail as they are faced with the unknown a lot of the time, but doing your research into the gaps in your knowledge will help you not only answer the assignment but make you a better marketer.
This doesn’t have to be in book form as research comes from many different areas. This could be an ebook, video, podcast, blog, etc. As long as it’s a valid source and, if used in your assignment you reference it correctly, it can be used.
7. Gather real-life examples
Gathering real-life examples to use throughout your assignment is essential for a number of reasons:
1 – Expands your knowledge
2 – Provides insights into what other organisations are doing that is working
3 – Applied correctly they can help in backing up any statements you may be making when answering questions
4 – A great way to gain marks
This can also be easily done by setting up some email alerts from reputable online sources such as Marketing Week. That way the examples are coming to you. Just make sure they a relevant and can be referenced!
8. Bulletpoint each answer
Before diving right into your answers wholeheartedly it is much better to provide a basic structure and highlight the main points you want to get across.
I find that using bullet points is the best way to do this, which you can use as markers in order to make sure you maintain focus in your answers as well as covering all the most important elements –these may include;
Models and theory.
The main titles and headings required.
Most importantly the main points for context to cover within your answer.
9. Add the content
Once you have bullet-pointed each answer, you should then be able to start to add more and more content, making each answer relevant to the question posed and the requirements of the syllabus.
If you have not done your research you may struggle with this point and one thing to avoid would be a question that rambles on and doesn’t get to the main elements quickly enough, wasting valuable word space.
A lot of people forget about the presentation, to which 10% of the overall marks can be attributed to. The best rule here is to think; if it’s easy to read, it’s easy to mark!
For each task, there will be a requirement to structure your answers to a specific style (usually in a report format or as a briefing paper or marketing plan). You’d be mad not to stick to these styles.
You want your assignment to stand out for all the right reasons, so using tables, images and screenshots does not only enhance your answer but makes an entire assignment much easier to read, understand and again… mark!
11. Reference correctly
A simple point but a big one. Always, always, always, reference your work and give credit to those that deserve it.
If you are unsure how to do this, you need to review the Harvard Referencing system… ask Google. This must be done throughout your assignment as well as at the back.
12. Get a second opinion
Sometimes you can go copy blind, covering the same questions over and over again, so it will do you no harm to get some feedback from a tutor, your accredited study centre or even a work colleague, just to give you peace of mind that;
a) You’ve answered each question
b) It makes sense holistically
c) It is easy to read and well-presented
d) Nothing is obviously missing
13. Read, read and read it backwards
Now it’s your turn. Take a few hours and read the assignment, then reread it and read it backwards. This is a great trick in spotting any spelling mistakes a spell checker may not catch – if you’re like me and a terrible speller!
One tip here- Make sure your name is NEVER on any part of the assignment, use a fake name or a job title instead.
14. Don’t leave it until the last minute
Make sure you leave enough time (a few days) between the deadline and when you actually complete your assignment as you never know what may happen – email bounces back, sent directly to a junk folder, pigeon didn’t arrive in time. This way you have at least a day to rectify the situation and not just a few hours or even minutes
The final hidden step (number 15)
Relax and celebrate the fact you have completed your assignment, which is an achievement in itself. Well done you!
I hope you’ve found these steps useful and if any of them are unclear, let’s chat about it and clear it up so you can get on with passing your Marketing Qualification.