When it comes to selecting agency and consulting partners, the heat is still on. The competition for the favor of decision-makers with relevant budgets is causing the pressure on the acquisition kettle to burst. But there is no need for pitches or pitch consultants, just a very small – admittedly unpleasant – question for the ladies and gentlemen of the agency and consulting guild.
Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
“What does your own proof of concept look like?”
Or more concretely: “How big is the agency’s or consultancy’s own marketing and sales department? Who is in charge of marketing? And which marketing budgets and measures lead to which results in the agency’s own marketing?
Normally, the answers to such a question are scarce to the persona vanities of the target group. Occasionally, the categorical Hubspot account is still put on the scale, but on second glance, the operation then remains limited to the functionality of a better address data repository for most here as well. A poor picture, then, of what the industry has to show in terms of “eat your own dog food”.
The same applies to the sources of preached alchemy at consultants as well as agencies. Smart marketing decision-makers should take a look behind the curtain of the credentials of their service providers before trusting their advice. Or where does the consultant get all his know-how and the promised intimate market overview before he recommends a tool with which he is listed as a sales partner, as if guided by a distant hand? And that is still the easy option. Much more popular is the transfer of knowledge from reputable market companions. After all, you don’t have to invent the wheel twice, and ambitious whitepapers and playbooks on the subject of marketing technology often have plenty of by-catch in the inbound net. In other words, a lot of agency and consultant colleagues who distinguish themselves by trying to disguise their identity come hell or high water. If you are exposed anyway: Bury your head in the sand and don’t answer! No one should know that you have actually cribbed the slides for the next recommendation of strategic options. What we used to call “steal with pride” is now part of the opportunistic basic attitude of the generation of consultants who, unfortunately, no longer really keep up on the hyper-innovation highway. But hey – bought! Be happy to play along as long as you can. The next business triage of the smart marketing decision makers is only a matter of time …
Do smart customers really continue to rely on creative awards instead of hard currency and proven contributions to results? At least most of the representatives of the notable GWA guild “Award Teams” have worked with sometimes not inconsiderable budgets for the submissions and participations of the numerous industry awards. Whereby in the meantime you can even win at some award shows with direct Pay-Pal payment. A shrewd shyster would legally derive a “pretense of false facts” from such a promise of effect on the basis of creative awards. But we don’t want to go that far. It is enough that there are still customers, committees, decision-makers and even pitch consultants who write such references on the credit side of service providers who are then later responsible for spending money on measures that increase growth, profit and profitability. But one (heretical) question about this is allowed: What does this have to do with analytical, systematic, methodical and sustainable selection?
Ask your consultant what he does himself in terms of marketing & sales?
The answer in 95% of cases will be “referral marketing”, admittedly the most efficient and profitable marketing strategy. Only unfortunately, this strategy is not scalable, which is why most agencies and consultants with classic full services are rather small and medium-sized enterprises, which often struggle through more badly than good to advanced (over) life. Because here counts more than ever: “If the recommendation chain breaks off, perplexity spreads”.
However, those service providers who can provide answers to their own recipe for success will survive the ongoing business triage of smart marketing decision-makers. Whereby not the colleagues are meant, who pursue automated decontamination strategies with LinkedIn Bazookas and exploit the innate vanity of the marketing profession to get into the supposedly individual conversation. Most of the marketing managers who complain loudly about the glut of undifferentiated acquisition approaches (and collect nods of approval from many more ignorant marketing “professionals”) are just not aware that your acceptance of the contact request is not based on personal, individual or even interest-based prospecting. Instead, it is based on a range-optimized request automation, which is followed by an equally automated and therefore less individualized dialog. With such an approach, it’s the mass that counts. And even if the reality is sometimes difficult to understand: It works to filter out those who react unsuspectingly to a promise of effect with a commission before it becomes clear that it wasn’t quite the same thing after all. In these cases, too, it is a matter of time before the majority of marketing decision-makers are aware of such tools themselves, are reflective enough or even take note of such targeting algorithms with delight, smiling, before you mark the sender with the red triage ribbon for your business.
The most important signs for successful agencies and consultants:
But how does the smart marketing decision maker recognize agencies and consultants that are worth talking to? Here is a brief overview:
1. one’s own profile presence on Landingpage and Linkedin.
Is the consultant or agency manager in charge visible in person, with a clear name and unique company email address or phone extension? Or does his Linkedin profile only show the URL of the Linkedin profile under contact details (what this is for is hard to understand) and on the website there is only an anonymized contact form? And according to Linkedin, does the agency/consultancy have a marketing manager, marketing professionals, sales reps, sales development reps, or even MarTech Engineers?
2. self-deployed MarTech at technology and transformation consultants.
A look at privacy regulations should reveal whether the consultant itself is leaving it at Google Analytics and Hubspot, or whether it actually has more to offer in the “eat your own dog food” theme
3. the sources of knowledge
Experience? All the mistakes already made? Or is there a knowledge base of data points and benchmarks? When it comes to MarTech, some amateurs rely on Google, the semi-pros on Capterra, and from Bundesliga on Scott Brinker’s ChiefMarTec source or our toolbox at www.markenmutde/toolbox. But few have their own Vendor Qualified Database or playbooks with proven benchmarks. To our knowledge, we are the only consultancy with our own MarTech & SalesTech scouts who identify and evaluate the latest technologies on four continents on a daily basis and assess them for our database in a vendor-neutral manner.
4. own economic success
In fact, this point is to be considered socially culturally decided. While Swiss corporate decision-makers, for example, appreciate the fact that their consultant shows off the wealth he has achieved in the form of expensive cars (according to the motto: If he has made himself rich, he can make me rich, too), we in Germany cultivate a DNA-anchored envious assessment of our counterpart. In this respect, a look beyond one’s own self-reflection with regard to vanity, envy, greed and jealousy leads to much more rational decisions.
Awards, references, cases and the like are appearing less and less frequently in the business triage decisions of smart marketing decision-makers. This has to do with the difficult verifiability (see also our blog post in german: Why there is no blockchain for references) – but also with the ever louder call for hard currency in the form of verifiable contributions to results.