It can be a constant challenge for vendors to use their marketing development fund (MDF) effectively. Ideally, partners who are eligible for MDF allocations apply for funds of their own volition in a timely manner and use them efficiently and effectively to build pipeline and increase sales for the quarter. The reality is that partners often leave MDF on the table.
As mentioned in a previous blog, there are a number of reasons why partners don’t apply for the funds available to them. This can range from awareness of eligibility for MDF, through to complex application or compliance processes as well as a lack of marketing resources to plan and execute a marketing campaign if the funds are received.
Here are six ways you can help your partners use these funds effectively:
- Communicate MDF eligibility consistently. Remind partners they have funds available and are eligible to apply for them. Use channel newsletters and business review meetings to reinforce the message. Where possible, let partners know exactly how much money they have available and exactly when the funds will expire. Give them hard deadlines and real numbers. It’s a good idea to have a pre-packaged menu of campaigns to offer, which shows what types of pre-approved campaigns they could potentially activate. By making it easy for them to see how their money could be put to work, they will more likely take advantage of the opportunity.
- Make the application process easy. Partners often say the paperwork and process involved in applying for MDF budget is too complicated and overly detailed. Forms often contain marketing terms and jargon that they aren’t familiar with, or ask for information that is no longer relevant. Keep the forms up to date and collect only the information you really need.
- Include a discussion about MDF in quarterly business reviews. Make MDF a line item in the agenda so that you can discuss the funds available and how they are to be used to generate sales and opportunities for the business. Ask questions; if the funds aren’t going to be used, then why not? This can also form an important part of your partner recruitment strategy. Understanding the partner’s capacity and experience in using MDF funds can help you choose a partner that is prepared to invest in growth and understands the value of marketing and lead generation.
- Streamline the post-campaign reporting compliance process. While proof of execution is an important element of MDF compliance, make sure the process doesn’t create a heavier-than-needed burden on the partner. Consider the forms and documentation required for post-campaign reporting. Make sure all of it is actually required to meet corporate obligations.
- Make your co-payments on time. Many vendors forget they are dealing with small businesses where cash flow is king. Failure to pay your side of the co-marketing dollars can cause considerable hardship for some resellers and discourage them from participating in future. Establish a priority process or at least a highly-visible process and put infrastructure in place that lets you track and manage MDF payments and remittances easily.
- Provide access to expertise to make campaign execution simpler. Within your channel marketing program don’t just provide a portal. Think about providing a managed service (like Outsource’s Partner Advance solution), which gives you the scale and velocity you need, without adding headcount, to directly assist partners to apply for, execute and report on campaigns using MDF.
The simpler it is for partners to apply for and then execute a campaign without tying up valuable resources or management time, the more likely it is that they will use MDF allocations, helping you build pipeline and increase sales.