We call it MDF spray and pray. Money is passed from vendor to partner in a quarterly game of hot potato. Isolated campaigns are planned and executed. Results are measured (sort of). There may be anecdotal talk of “good meetings secured,” but it basically ends there. The next quarter comes along and the whole process is repeated. There’s all kinds of institutional reasons why this mode of channel marketing still prevails, but the fact is B2B marketing as a whole is rapidly evolving forward, and the IT channel is getting left behind.
For IT solution providers that adopt a long-term, strategic marketing strategy built on content, automation and meaningful metrics, good things will come. Here’s 5 of the big ones:
- If your marketing is aligned to their needs and buying cycle, IT pros will listen. The typical enterprise IT purchase takes anywhere from 5 months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the technology. A well thought out marketing automation plan will help you keep mindshare with prospects through the entire buying cycle of a solution. Blitzing them with pre-baked emails and a call script from whatever vendor happens to give you MDF this quarter will not.
- You will have a great arsenal of content assets–for marketing and sales. Defining buyer personas, mapping their journeys and creating content accordingly takes a lot of time and resources. But once you make that investment in core content assets up front, you may be surprised how easy it is to repurpose it—in the form of PowerPoints, sales enablement tools, events and webinars, blog posts and more.
- You will become a more efficient marketer. Planning quarterly, one-off MDF campaigns with all of your vendors is time-consuming and leaves you in a constant state of reactionary marketing. A long-term automation strategy requires a lot of initial planning, but having this framework in place allows you to then plug in MDF spending in a more cohesive annual plan where all marketing efforts are part of a whole. (We call this flipping the MDF model. Ask us about it.)
- You will be able to measure performance and optimize strategy. IT channel marketing too often indulges in metrics for metrics sake. Opens, clicks and downloads are counted, but it rarely informs a larger, holistic strategy. Adopting a long-term automation strategy with the right toolset—automation platform, CRM, analytics, etc.—lets you systematically track marketing performance, A/B test and optimize tactics in a continuous cycle. This also makes your marketing ROI more quantifiable and provable to both your vendor partners and your internal stakeholders.
- Your vendor partners will take notice (and often give you more MDF). We see this happen more and more with our clients. Vendor channel marketers are looking for alternatives to the MDF spray and pray, but they often feel like their VAR partners are too passive when it comes to strategic planning. A partner that can bring a proactive, strategic plan to the table will get more traction, and likely more funding to execute on that vision.
Solve for MDF Spray and Pray
We help IT solution providers adopt holistic marketing strategies that integrate content, automation, data and continuous optimization. Get in touch with us to start a conversation.
Pete Fuduric is Content Director at Lauchlan. You can email Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org.