The 12 Lies Marketing Automation Agencies Tell

December 3, 2013 | Justin Gray | 1 Comment |

  • They making everything look way harder than it is
  • They claim to have millions of experts when they’re system agnostic
  • They’re smug, because they know more than you do
  • They’re a “partner” – yet don’t know anything about you personally
  • They tell you that “experience” is the most important thing
  • They lead you to believe that certifications = expertise
  • They are glorified note takers
  • They don’t use the system they consult on – in other words, they fail to eat their own dog food
  • They tell you “yes” when they should have told you “no”
  • Their website is awful
  • They use a lot of acronyms to confuse you
  • They tell you  that you don’t need the leads object in SFDC


LeadMD is in a very small community of Marketing Automation (MA) Experts. The MA space is relatively tiny – surprisingly so, in fact, when you’re surrounded by brilliant automated marketing users. We all had to learn about MA at some point, and those of us who have been in the space for awhile owe it to the newbie MA lovers to warn of the perils involved in coordinating an MA rollout with an agency.


Here are the top 12 lies to look for:

  • 1. “Ooh, that’s going to be tricky.” I hire a lot of new people who need to learn how to implement Marketo, and most times, connect it to SFDC. It is not hard to do. The setup is actually surprisingly simple. The most time-consuming elements of any MA engagement are conversations around the business process (lead lifecycle) or overall marketing strategy. The technical piece is almost always the easiest – if they make it sound hard, that’s just because they know it’ll intimidate you. But, if they claim to implement all the time, then they shouldn’t think it’s that hard, right?


  • 2. “It doesn’t matter what platform you pick. We have experts on them all.” This is the classic ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ issue. I’ve worked in multiple ESPs and MA solutions (Marketo, Eloqua, UNICA, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor) and I am not an expert on all. I can run any of them, but I am only truly a Marketo expert. It is my platform of choice and I know how to work it precisely. Many agencies will actually sell an engagement with a platform they do not have someone to support and then go hire someone with that skillset. Ask the MA software rep to provide you a few qualifying questions to ask a partnering agency. Then, ask to speak with the person who will be hands-on in your instance before signing.


  • 3. “Blah, blah, blah” – anything said in a condescending tone. Ultimately, MA agencies are smarter than you … about MA. And, some agencies won’t hesitate to make you feel like they’re smarter than you – period. If you get an uppity tone from the sales person, run.  Chances are that tone is on hyper-drive with their consultants.


  • 4. “We have X-number of certifications on X-number of platforms.” Re: point #2, more is not better. Certifications do not equal expertise. Again, the key is to ask some advanced questions of these “experts” to ensure their certifications are not just for show.


  • 5. “The consultant on your engagement has X-number (likely in double digits) years of marketing experience.” I would be really tempted to reply back, “So?” and “Does that include his 2-week internship in college?” The most engaging marketing I see tends to be by people who haven’t had their 40th birthday yet. The reason: they understand what’s cool and they pick up on new technologies like social media and MA at record speeds. Don’t let the age of someone sway you on his or her competency. Plus, I bet you’ll have more fun working with a younger person – see point number three above.


  • 6. “We have won X-number of industry awards.” Take a look at the awards and understand which ones are legitimate and which are “pay to play.” These are the ones that are an even exchange – i.e. you give me money, and voila, you’re on the list of “100 Best Marketers in the Galaxy.”


  • 7. “Deliverable? You’ll get a really long report.”  Many anti-consultant clients we get are anti-consultant due to a bad experience. That experience consisted of a lot of long meetings, where the consultant asked questions, listened and took diligent notes. At the end, they delivered those notes in a pretty format. If you need something to actually get done, make sure you’re hiring doers with blatant deliverables attached to their SOW.


  • 8. “What marketing automation platform do we use? Well, we use all of them!  Oh, on OUR marketing, well, we’ve historically used this older platform, so that’s what we still use.” This is the eat your own dog food scenario. If they claim expertise on the platform you’re buying, make sure they’re using it for their internal marketing efforts.


  • 9. “Yes. Yes! Yes!!!”  If the agency doesn’t challenge you during your purchase process, they are not likely to start during your engagement. Asking questions and sometimes saying “no” is what you’re paying them for, so make sure they do it in a way that gets you thinking.


  • 10. “We’re (fill in the blank) experts.” But their own version stinks. This is somewhat related to number eight. If you’re thinking of outsourcing content, make sure you like the company’s content. If you’re thinking of having a UI/UX evaluation of your website, make sure you like the UI/UX of the company’s website. If they can’t do it for themselves, don’t trust them to do an awesome job for you.


  • 11. “FYI, that’s going to be an EXT for an MLM by EOD.” Look at all those acronyms! Few people want to be the one to admit they don’t know what one of those acronyms is. It’s another “I’m smarter than you” ploy. Ask what those acronyms mean and watch them squirm!


  • 12. “You don’t need the leads object in Salesforce.” I saved this gem for last, because it’s system specific. If your consultant advises against the use of the lead object in SFDC like it’s what they suggest for everyone, run for the hills. That is RARELY the answer.


This is just a short list of lies, but unfortunately is sure not to be all-inclusive. So, proceed with caution MA newbies. And if all else fails, always ask “why?”

+Andrea Lechner – Becker VP of Client Services, @AndreaElbee

1 Comment

  1. Whitney Kobey on December 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm


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