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Maximizing Your Market Development Funds: 3 Strategies (partnerDRIVEN Series: Part 5)

Supplier Database - Oracle ERP

Thanks for coming back to our partnerDRIVEN blog series. So far we’ve covered how to increase partner engagementimprove your partner program managementbeef up your partner scorecard and make your partner marketing more effective.

Today we’re going to talk about how to maximize your market development funds. Ready? Let’s go.

Fact: Your Partners Need Help with Marketing

When you sell through indirect sales channels, it’s important to help your partners with their marketing efforts. After all, they need to be able to market your products, and you need to raise local awareness of your brand. One way to do both? Market development funds (MDF). Whether you use traditional market development funds or co-op marketing to reach your target market, the goal is the same: giving your partners the marketing support they need.

What’s So Hard About MDF?

If you’re like most manufacturers, your partners don’t have an easy way to request market development funds. Your process probably involves filling out paperwork (sometimes on real paper), and it may not be clear whom your partners should reach out to at your corporate office. And even if they can get the funds, they often don’t know where to spend them. Because there are so many moving parts, partners often feel overwhelmed. As a result, they end up doing nothing – leaving MDF funds on the table.

And it’s not like it’s easier on your end.

  • Can you review, audit and approve or deny MDF claims in a simple, streamlined way?
  • Do you know which programs and campaigns funds are being used by partners and which are driving the most leads?
  • Do you know how you’ll be allocating your MDF next month or next year?

If you’re like many manufacturers, the answer to all of those questions is “no.”

3 Strategies for Maximizing MDF

You can get much more from your MDF when you simplify delivery of the funds, evaluate their performance, and then use that evaluation to plan for the future.

1. Simplify delivery.

Why do people turn down free money? Because the giver makes it too hard to get.

Your partners want a simple way to associate their marketing campaigns with MDF reimbursement claims. They also want real-time access to their MDF budget and claims, so they know what they’ve spent – and what they can do with what’s left in their budget. You can (and should) streamline the claim process by allowing partners to input claim details and attach receipts online, ideally within their existing CRM solution.

2. Evaluate performance.

Once your partners are better able to use their MDF, you need to know how they’re using them.

Look at all of your marketing programs and MDF funds and their allocations across your partner network. Knowing what your partners are promoting allows you to:

  • Align your co-marketing campaigns and MDF funds
  • Maximize your overall marketing budget
  • And ensure consistent branding and messaging to your customers

This step can pose a challenge if you’re still working from spreadsheets. It can take months to get results, and you may not be hearing from everyone in your
partner network. When you manage your MDF online, you can get real-time insights on your marketing spend. That means you’ll be in a better position to optimize your MDF spending and campaign execution, as well as drive more leads to your partners.

3. Plan for the future.

Now that you know how your partners are using their MDF, use that information to make a plan.

  • First, set your overall MDF budget for the calendar year.
  • Then determine what criteria you’ll use to distribute those funds to your partners. We often see clients base distribution on partner tier, product line contracts or geography coverage.

When done right, this plan will help you extend your brand, maximize your marketing budgets and ensure a consistent experience for your customers.

How Can partnerDRIVEN Help?

Using a holistic solution like partnerDRIVEN makes MDF management and partner claim management a collaborative effort between your marketing managers, channel managers and partners.

More Benefits for Your Corporate Marketing Managers

They can:

  • Establish overall MDF budgets using corporate allocations on a calendar year.
  • Set an annual budget for product lines by industry and geography.
  • Assign that total budget to partners based on their tier, status or any criteria needed.
  • Distribute MDF, co-op funds and incentives to partners.
  • And optimize their total marketing spend.

More Benefits for Everyone

Plus, channel managers can oversee partners’ budgets – what they’ve spent and what they have remaining. Meanwhile, your partners can view current and past activities via their partner community. They can also make MDF claims against their budget. The claim process is automated, so they can see their approval status in real time.

Here’s the bottom line: Marketing only works when you use it.

So how is your MDF working for you? Still working from spreadsheets? Are your partners confused about how to submit MDF reimbursement claims? Connect with me on LinkedIn to talk more about the challenges you’re having with getting the most from your MDF. And come back next time, when we’ll talk about how to improve partner lead management.

About the Author

Candid. Honest. Driven. Eric is an expert strategist for everything from startups to Fortune 500 companies, and it’s no surprise that he’s a hands-on guy who’s passionate about insights, problem-solving and all aspects of our client relationships.

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