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A couple of weeks ago, I finally became a Marketo Marketing Automation Certified Consultant. This comes after taking a 90-minute examination (to achieve Marketo Certified Expert status), completing a two-day training workshop, writing a Business Process document which, on completion, was ¾ the length of my Undergraduate Dissertation, building the foundations of a new Marketo instance (to simulate the implementation of a new client) and finally a 90-minute webex discussion with a Senior Consultant.

But, aside from a certificate and an updated LinkedIn profile, what does being a Marketo Certified Consultant actually mean? And why have I put in so much of my own time into becoming one?

10 years ago, when I was a Trainee Manager with the Thresher group, customers used to joke about how much I knew about wine for someone only a few years passed the age where it’s actually legal to drink alcohol. I always made the same joke – that you wouldn’t buy a new car if the dealer had never passed his/her driving test. I still follow that mantra to date – whether its working toward professional qualifications for work, playing sport or learning a new musical instrument, I will always strive to be as good at whatever it is I’m currently doing as possible.

As it happens, the Certified Consultant status is as high as Marketo qualifications go, so (aside from actually working for Marketo) for a Marketing Automation specialist, the certification is a good thing to have, especially as (at the time of writing), there are less than 30 in Europe.

Where Marketing Automation is growing within the Digital space, anyone can (and do) refer to themselves a “Consultant”, list Marketing Automation as a skill on their CV/LinkedIn and regurgitate the usual bingo card phrases as in this blog post. Being certified, however, demonstrates that Marketo themselves are happy with the standard to which I provide Marketing Automation services and support which has come from hard work, an in-depth knowledge of the principals of marketing automation, and significant hands-on experience with the tool. I should note that I refer to myself as a “Specialist” and not a “consultant” so to avoid confusion between the service I provide and those of a typical – and usually superfluous – marketing consultant.

For my current clients, there is no “change of service” as such – I still provide the same advice and support as I always have done, although recently I am getting a lot more request for guidance, training & best-practice documentation, and less for program production. As a group, we remain platform-agnostic, and deliver a service to the same high standard through Eloqua and Pardot for some of our other clients. The main benefit of the Marketo Certified Consultant status is really for when speaking to new & prospective clients who are using or considering Marketo – they get the reassurance that they are talking to a true expert and a Certified Consultant; not a self-prescribed one.

What it comes down to is simply this: Marketo is an awesome tool that helps companies improve the way they engage with their customers and leads with less time, effort and money. You can do a lot of amazing stuff with Marketo, but a lot of companies aren’t getting the most out of. I’m hoping to help change that.