If you manage marketing for a technology reseller or IT solution provider, chances are you’ve struggled at some point with using marketing development funding (MDF) in a less reactionary, more strategic way. While for the most part your vendor partners control the amount and timing of fund allocations, there are three basic steps you can take to maximize and be more strategic with your MDF.
Define a long-term marketing strategy independently from your OEM partners. For many resellers or IT solution providers their ultimate business goals are not in lockstep with the vendors’. This is especially the case if you work with several (and often competitive) vendors, you’re cultivating a consulting practice or attempting to launch managed services and cloud offerings. Architecting a holistic marketing plan each year that is built around the goals of your business instead of your vendors’ will put you in a healthier strategic position overall. Bringing your own comprehensive marketing plan to the table when planning co-marketing with your vendor partners will allow you to do more long-term MDF allocations, plugged in to support your marketing and sales objectives.
Having a well-defined marketing strategy in place establishes your company in a position of leadership in the eyes of your OEM partners, which is of critical importance in shaping your long-term relationship and in your exposure level to new opportunities.
Establish well-defined sales goals for your MDF campaigns. As anyone involved with VAR marketing knows, MDF dollars from the OEMs can emerge quickly, without ample notification and with a tight deadline on fund utilization. For the technology marketer, this often forces you into a reactionary, non-strategic position—throwing together a quick “campaign” consisting of a PDF invitation and a small lunch-and-learn. In order to transform your marketing approach from reactionary to strategic, first take a step back when looking for a way to spend MDF and define a very specific goal for the campaign. Then work backwards from there to plan how you spend the funds. For example, let’s say you have a goal of one genuine opportunity from a campaign. If you know it generally takes five appointments to generate one opportunity and a 50-person event to generate five appointments, then you know you likely need an event with that attendance level in order to be successful. Will the available funds realistically support that? If not, is the campaign of the best use of your time and effort? By effectively linking sales end goals with a strategic approach that will deliver on these goals, MDF planning will be firmly grounded and will also better match expectations to marketing ROI.
Plan integrated, multi-phased campaigns built around your prospects’ buying process. Most large IT buys involve a complex research and decision-making process, several stakeholders and a long project timeline. The people behind this process are your prospects, and they have content and educational needs every step of the way that are too often not met by prospective solution providers. Instead of using MDF for isolated, one-off events or email blasts, formulate an integrated, multi-phased campaign that’s mapped to the complex buying process of your target audience. For example, if you have MDF allocated for a VDI solution targeting healthcare, try using the funds to:
- Execute a target list cleanse and profile effort to ensure you’re marketing to suitable prospects.
- Develop and send a personalized letter and case study brief that highlights the unique value and capabilities your firm delivers.
- Create and host an E-Learning Series of brief (5-7 minute) video vignettes profiling thought leaders on your team and the specialized expertise they bring to your clients. Provide specific examples of how your VDI solutions address common challenges. Track, view and roll out a follow-up campaign.
- Promote on-site, focused, intimate whiteboarding sessions for highly qualified prospects identified through your E-Learning Series portal.
- Deliver a professionally written digital white paper mini through SlideShare that highlights a healthcare VDI solution you successfully implemented, and provide a clear call to action to get in touch with your reps for more information.
- Establish a comprehensive lead-nurturing campaign that ties all of these elements together over several months and quarters. Relationships are not built within the confines of the quarterly cycle. A long-term lead-nurture program will help you capture and maximize your marketing spend for the long term.
As long as OEMs and their reseller partners are going to market together, there will likely be challenges to strategically planning one’s MDF spend. Putting in place a long-term, multi-quarter plan that matches marketing strategy to sales goals will go far to deliver maximum value on time and effort while ensuring optimal campaign ROI. With a few basic steps towards a more strategic approach, resellers can realize significantly more bang for their vendor-provided buck.
Get the most out of your MDF investment. Lauchlan, as a full-service technology-focused marketing agency, works with resellers and OEM partners to develop, maintain and execute long-range go-to-market plans that effectively maximize MDF spend while providing end-to-end marketing support and ROI reporting. Contact Lauchlan today to schedule your “MDF Maximizer 30-Minute Discovery Session.”