Does Your Vendor’s MDF Program Perform Like a Vitamix or a Single-Speed Blender?
Recently I received a Vitamix blender for my birthday. The Vitamix is the Rolls-Royce of kitchen appliances–a multispeed blender on steroids. It has massive horsepower that can crush grains and blades that spin so fast it can make soup from the heat it generates. Your basic, single-speed blender can’t even come close–ice doesn’t always crush, and your kale/chia/mango smoothie is, well, not always so smooth.
There is a parallel when it comes to Market Development Fund (MDF) programs that allow partners to accrue funds from vendors to execute marketing and drive business. Crazy, right? No. There are basic MDF programs that offer up a single focus, and those that serve up a variety of functions, flexibility and resources. Guess which model offers partners the best opportunity to increase customers, revenue, value and satisfaction?
Generally, high tech vendors have done a decent job serving up a strong menu of marketing training, tools and resources that cater to a partner ecosystem whose marketing abilities vary from zero to awesome. But even with great ingredients, most vendors only have a single-speed MDF offering, when they really need more horsepower and flexibility to get the job done.
An MDF Management Study, from TechTarget, found that one major reason channel partners leave their earned MDF on table is because marketing is not their strength. They simply don’t have the resources or know what to do with their funds.
And, when it comes to digital marketing, an IDC study last July found that most channel partners have a “limited digital presence and limited marketing expertise.” The study put the onus on vendors to bridge the digital marketing gap by creating effective digital marketing programs that are easy for channel partners to implement.
So, how does a vendor serve up more horsepower in its MDF offering? And what should partners be looking for? For starters, MDF programs should be simple, allowing partners to easily accrue and use funds. They should allow partners to use MDF to offset 100% of the costs associated with vendor-sponsored activities such as customer events, training and demand generation campaigns. Also:
- Partners that execute their own marketing should be able to tap into available MDF for a minimum of 50 percent of the costs when that marketing is tied to a specific vendor.
- There should be generous timeframes for using MDF. You shouldn’t be forced to use it by quarter-end.
- Virtual marketing tools and resources should be available for partners for customizing and executing marketing campaigns.
- Vendors should provide a stable of approved marketing agencies to execute marketing plans with MDF.
At SAP, our MDF program provides partner-friendly guidelines, enablement and automated tools to help partners make the most of their MDF. Whether a partner has a marketing department or not, there are ways to leverage MDF. We offer a self-service “virtual agency” that allows partners to easily customize and execute proven campaigns, plus assistance from full service marketing service bureaus to help partners create and execute. Further, we provide no-cost on-demand marketing training for partners at all levels of the marketing spectrum. Learn more about partnering at sap.com.
If you’re leaving your hard-earned MDF on the table, it’s not helping to grow your business. So tell your vendor to upgrade its single-speed blender MDF program. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider trading up to a vendor whose MDF program has more horsepower.
Tell me about your MDF experiences and how you would improve programs for maximum partner benefit.