Running your MSP or IT company isn’t a low-cost affair. You need cash. Lots of it.
While you can set aside money, there’s a savvier strategy to keep things up and running without bending your marketing budget; leveraging MDF funds.
This article dives deep into the world of MDF, detailing everything you’d want to know, including where to get MDF for your business and how to use the money.
Let’s get cracking.
So What’s MDF?
For starters, MDF is an acronym for market development funds.
More specifically, these are funds offered by a brand to its sales intermediaries like dealers, distributors, and agents to help them boost their marketing program.
What’s in it for Your Business?
Leveraging marketing development funds allows you to run well-funded, multi-channel marketing campaigns.
It is important to note that one of the key reasons many marketing activities never get off the ground is the lack of a sustainable marketing spend. The other reason is the lack of a proper budgeting process, oversight, and accurate forecast of ROI on sales campaigns.
What’s In It for the Brand?
First off, a brand can keep the sales campaign funds in-house and do the marketing themselves. However, these brands understand that fostering healthy relationships is crucial for successful sales campaigns.
Therefore, they want to tap into the relationships, connections, and loyalty you’ve established in your target markets or niche to boost their sales activities and marketing efforts.
The same concept that drives channel marketing pushes brands to continue running market development funds.
Now you understand the idea behind MDF. We've barely scratched the surface, though.
Which MDF Program is Your Business Eligible to Join?
To attract MDF channel partners to your business, you'll need to know a few things.
First, different market development funds programs have different entry criteria. Further, your chances of being accepted into an MDF program primarily depend on how much of the brand's offering you're selling.
Other factors include:
Your Ability to Increase the Brand's Revenue
Before seeking MDF funds, make sure you have a channel manager. This way, it is easier to determine if your business meets the revenue requirements needed for a brand to consider you for their MDF program.
Remember, before a brand issues MDF to your business it must look at how healthy your sales activities are. So, make sure you can demonstrate your strength with consistent conversion rates and revenue growth before approaching a brand for MDF consideration.
On top of that, make sure you have a highly motivated sales team with a proven track record of direct sales in IT channels.
Your Ability to Choose the Right Brand
Not every brand will issue MDF funds to your business even if you're in compliance with program guidelines.
Therefore, it would be best to pull a list of brands and categorize them depending on the revenue you've generated for them. Choose the top five and channel your MDF efforts to that selection.
Now you know how to determine which program funds to go for, the next question becomes;
How Do You Get MDF Funds from Brands?
Below we’ve rounded up the steps you need to follow to secure marketing funds from a brand if your business meets the qualifying criteria.
Know the Program’s Requirements
The first step to getting marketing funds from a brand is to work with the channel manager on the vendor’s side to establish the best person to contact for the brand’s MDF allocation.
Talk with the person and get as much insider information as you on what it takes to qualify for MDF from that brand.
Sure, that sounds like a lot of work. However, once you’ve laid out your marketing plans and considered the marketing dollars needed to actualize your strategies, your MDF efforts start to make sense.
We recommend working with channel marketing experts to help you determine your best course of action. Also, you’ll want to partner with a brand that has collaborated with MSPs or IT companies before to boost its growth goals.
Show Your Commitment to the Brand’s Success
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to go all in. At this point, you’ll want to show a prospective brand that you have what it takes to improve its future sales. The idea is to portray your business as a trustworthy, committed partner when you’re awarded sales campaign funds.
Here’s what you should focus on:
Make sure that you get and remain updated with all of the brand’s essential certifications. On top of that, ensure that you assemble a team of channel marketing experts that know all theirs is to know about the brand’s offering and marketing goals.
Once you’re enrolled, make sure that you regularly send your MDF contact showing your partner performance success. You can agree with your contact person about the frequency of the reports.
Ideally, you’ll want to keep an ongoing engagement with your brand, if for nothing else, to show your marketing funding sources that you can do more funding.
Nurture a partner ecosystem with influential executives at your strategic brand and drop their names into conversations with the MDF gatekeeper at their organization. Think of it as a way of showing a prospective vendor that you’ve taken your time to learn more about their organization.
Make sure that you attend conferences or offers to get an opportunity to engage one-one-one with the brand’s reps and other MSPs or IT companies selling the firms solutions,
The more you engage with a brand, the greater the opportunity of cementing the relationships you’ve started over the phone.
If you get these basics right, the next step is to apply for the sales campaign funds. At this point, you've assembled your sales team and understand the marketing activities you need to pursue.
In addition, you've showcased your ability to help the brand with its long-term marketing activities and have figured out how to generate leads through your marketing initiatives.
You’ve Secure MDF Funding, What Next?
After getting MDF funds, how do you use the money to ensure that you boost your vendor’s market presence and, by extension, increase their percentage of sales?
Here are a few pointers to get you started:
Invest in Software to Track Results
If you have to channel partners, it makes perfect sense to put systems in place to support these partner initiatives.
Investing in partner relationship management software allows you to support your partners in various ways, including training support, sales, and marketing. In addition, the software can also double up as a marketing solution while making it easy to streamline partner channel management.
Develop an Incentive Program
You can gain more from your MDF funds by creating a financial incentive program. For instance, you can award your partners to entice them to generate leads from their marketing initiatives. This way, you can encourage them to promote your brand in the future.
Why an incentive program? …well, because a few things have shown to bring a positive ROI and boost channel sales like commissions.
Sponsor a Customer Event
One of the best ways to engage your partners while learning about your target markets is to sponsor customer events and embark on brand-to-local marketing strategies.
As a rule of thumb, make sure that you show up for every customer event you sponsor. Help your audience solve problems and focus on nurturing the relationships you create during these events.
Marketing is always a challenge for most businesses. It is an art that you can’t perfect unless you have the funds to help a solid foundation for your marketing efforts.
MDF funds are an excellent way to subsidize your partner's marketing expenses with branded messaging and programs aligned to your standards.
You only need to find an MDF program that you can join. Of course, you have to meet your vendor’s qualifying criteria.
April 24, 2022
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