How to: make the most of MDF

Successful marketing campaigns are essential to a business, but constantly issuing a stream of programmes not only puts a strain on budgets but also can’t guarantee proven, measurable results.

Market Development Funds (MDF) provided by vendors to their Channel Partners are a fantastic source of support, but acquiring them and retaining them requires thought and justification.

Essentially, the partner is the representative of the vendor out in the market. It is through the partner that sales are driven so of course the vendor wants to help the Channel make money. It also wants to protect its brand and measure success against expenditure.

Vendor alignment

You may be allocated a certain amount of MDF, but it’s not “your” money. You’re more likely to achieve MDF if the campaign you’re planning aligns with the vendor’s marketing strategy. Provide a specific plan for the MDF you’re requesting and be prepared to show the plan’s ROI and how it will help the vendor. If you can demonstrate a good return from previous campaigns, that’s even better.

Define success criteria

Justification for claiming MDF begins long before you launch your campaign. Get together with your Channel Manager and work to an agreed business plan, monitoring progress against set goals.

After the programme has closed, assess what’s working and what isn’t so you can identify gaps and replicate successful models.

Joint Business planning & review

  • Set expectations
  • Measurable objectives
  • Joint accountability
  • Business plan approval
  • Review management

Performance monitoring

  • Activity and analytics
  • Business & Sales alignment
  • Coverage mapping

Importantly, revert back to the approved plan when you’re reporting on your campaign – link the criteria used to specific results. That way, you’ll make it clear to the vendor how you’ve met the agreed requirements and deserve the funding!

Vendor support

Aside from providing leads and mailing lists, vendors can help you by either giving you money or giving you access to their marketing resources. For instance, a vendor may provide pre-packaged HTML and bulk mailers for a campaign, or the resources to put together a webinar. Use the tools provided: not only does it save on your time and resources, but it also means you can be sure that the messaging and branding’s correct.

Typically, vendors are more likely to support you for face to face events. With these, arguably more than with other activity, it’s important to keep your Channel Manager in the loop with your preparation, including sharing any presentations you may be making, stand design or assets you’re developing. In this way, you’re taking them on the journey with you, ensuring at every step of the way you’re aligned with each other so when it comes to claiming MDF, there are no surprise rejections.

And don’t forget to be very clear about who you’re targeting – a particular function, a vertical sector, a geography – and make sure your marketing material reflects that.

What about the leads?

One key aspect of a campaign is to agree up front how the leads are going to be handled. If you can demonstrate that you’ve considered how you’re going to move prospects from lead to customer status, you’ll show that you’re thinking beyond just gathering numbers.

But, you must be clear that the leads gathered from a vendor-sponsored campaign must be progressed with that vendor’s products /solution and not with one of their competitor’s!

So, the practices for MDF aren’t really much different from Best Practices we “should” all be using for all our Marketing campaigns. Justification and Measurement may just have a few more forms to complete and a bit more emphasis placed on them when dealing with vendors’ money.