What kind of credentials should you demand from your marketing advisor?

What kind of credentials does you farm marketing advisor have that allows him or her to use a title like: “Farm Marketing Advisor”, or “Marketing Advisor”, or “Super-Pro Marketing Expert”?

The answer to that question is: Zippo.

Nothing.

There are actually no credentials required for a dude to take your money to market your crops, or tell you how to do it.

Is that a problem?

I wrote a column about that topic for this week’s paper, which many of you will have in your mailbox now and others will be able to see online tomorrow. So I won’t go on and on about that.

But it’s always interesting to see what lines of work we require to have education or training, bonding or testing, and which types of work we allow to be totally unregulated.

I’m working in a completely unregulated profession. There’s no requirement on media owners to ensure that the journalists they hire have journalism training or credentials. At quality publications like The Western Producer, most of the reporters have journalism degrees, and virtually everyone has been to university. But there are no regulations or professional association requirements that enforce a base level of expertise.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lots of great journalists have no J-school training. But I feel personally, as a journalist that actually has a J-school degree, that everyone else should too. After all, I had to suffer through hundreds of hours of studying, and spent tens of thousands of dollars on rent, books, beer and chicken wings in order to get a journalism M.A., and no one should be able to escape that rigour, methinks.

One of the annoying things about getting a pseudo-professional degree like a journalism degree is that it doesn’t give you any fancy initials to put after your name on business cards, or at the beginning of power point presentations. Initials, of course, immediately give one an impressive appearance in front of others. I was impressed by this set of initials that appeared at a sewage presentation I attended at the University of Manitoba on Tuesday:

Those are some pretty solid credentials. I certainly took him seriously. I mean, how could you not?

Lawyers, like my wife, get to throw around LLBs, and doctors get that M.D. to chuck behind their surnames. Trained journos get nothing.

I remedied that for myself a couple of years ago, when I finally completed the training to be able to call myself a Derivatives Market Specialist, which at the time handed those like me the initials DMS to glue onto the backsides our our names. In fact, just last week I got a new box of business cards and they have the DMS on them, something I vainly insisted upon.

When I was younger, I would have thought it was vain, arrogant and silly to employ initials like this, even if you had them. I still think that, but just don’t care anymore.

So what sorts of credentials should farmers demand, and what initials admire, in the farm marketing advisors they hire? Since there is no specific training for the role, that’s not an easy question to answer.

But it’s something you should think about. How can you be assured the slick-talking devil that wants to take your money to market your crop knows what he’s doing?

Personally, I think every one should be required to have a DMS, and since that would mean only a handful of us could do it, we could charge whatever we want and I’d finally be rich. But perhaps that wouldn’t be in your best interest.

 

About the author

Ed White — Ed White has specialized in markets coverage since 2001 and has achieved the Derivatives Market Specialist (DMS) designation with the Canadian Securities Institute.

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