I saw an amusing headline on LinkedIn today courtesy of a client we have just started working with. Clearly they had been bitten once before.

It said, ‘If you think the cost of hiring experts is expensive, wait until you have hired amateurs.’

Never has this been so true than in the marketing technology space. There is so much snake oil out there, you could be making career damaging decisions if you pick the wrong partner.

So here are three questions you should ask of your martech consultants before you use them:

  1. Are they certified with the vendor at the company level?

We know of several consultants and agencies purporting to be experts in marketing automation delivery and yet they carry no vendor certification at the company level. They might have certified consultants, but this is not enough; if anything does go wrong, the vendor is not liable to pick up the pieces. It would be a bit like going on holiday to America without travel insurance - possible, but very expensive if you have an accident.

  1. Do they employ their consultants or are they all on contracts?

Many of the consultants working in the sector, even some with vendor certification at the company level, rely wholly on other external consultants.

Why is this a risk?

Well it means there is no common culture, process or understanding, so incremental improvements might be made but will be small, if at all.

Furthermore, you are hiring a person to deliver at the tactical level and typically as a sole operator they will be individualist, not seeing the bigger picture that marketing technology is a great vehicle for digital and marketing transformation. Your investment in the platform is big, so you need bigger picture thinking and change management too.

It also means that you as the client are carrying all the risk.

In good times you have a contracted consultant on hand, in bad times they can be quickly fired and disposed of. Is this ‘hire and fire’ mentality a culture and environment you want to condone? You shouldn’t have to when you are paying a premium for their services; your consulting partner should carry the risk premium, just like the insurance example before; again, one of the largest players in the industry doesn’t even have a UK entity, so where is that accountability?

  1. Do they actually use the technology themselves?

It amazes me the number of marketing technology consultancies and agencies that are selling their capabilities and knowledge (quite convincingly too), yet they fail to use the technology themselves. Indeed, we have a competitor in this space who seem on the face of it knowledgeable with all the content they produce, yet they don’t even use a CRM or Marketing Automation platform themselves. Imagine if this came out in an executive session or when things do go wrong? Imagine how foolish and exposed you would feel? Would you have your car serviced car by someone who can’t actually drive? It appears many marketers are doing just that.

Martech is a fabulous space; there are many good consulting companies, there are many more enthusiastic amateurs and sadly there are a few charlatans too. Don’t be caught out. Just by asking these three simple questions of your martech consulting partner, you will de-risk the project for yourself.