Why isn’t my @#$%!&* MDF Program Working?


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7/25/2013, hawkeye Channel, Whitepaper

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Why isn’t my @#$%!&* MDF Program Working?

  1. 1. Whitepaper Marketing Enablement Contents: The one key ingredient missing from most MDF programs.................2 What exactly is marketing enablement?.....................................3 Partner marketing automation, AKA “self-service” partner marketing enablement.......................3 Campaign marketplace, AKA “vendor-assisted” partner marketing enablement.......................4 One size does not fit all.....................4 Tips for configuring an effective partner marketing automation solution.............................................5 Tips for configuring a successful campaign marketplace......................6 Strongly consider a “marketing concierge”.........................................6 We’re here to help.............................8 why isn’t my @#$%!&* MDF program working? If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re not alone. Research tells us that vendors frequently express disappointment with the performance of their MDF programs. While they have a litany of complaints, there are three primary reasons for their dissatisfaction: 1) Their partners are not fully utilizing the MDF funds being offered to them. 2) The campaigns produced by partners reflect poorly on the vendor’s brand and fail to generate meaningful results, including leads, sales, and ROI. 3) The vendors receive very little data regarding the campaign’s performance, limiting their ability to improve their spend and gauge the performance of their MDF program as a whole. We often hear Channel Operations Managers complain that: “Getting partners to give me any solid feedback on their campaigns is like pulling teeth, so how do I tell my management whether the MDF program is working?” If you thought vendors had a monopoly on MDF program grievances you’re wrong, because partners are often unhappy too. Typically partners will tell you that MDF programs are difficult to use, lack the tools and support they need to create effective campaigns and leave them waiting months to be reimbursed for their claims, causing cash flow issues. We hear partners say things like: “My vendor is a multi-billion dollar company generating substantial profits each quarter, while I’m lucky if I eke out a profit, so why am I performing the marketing, fronting the marketing dollars, and waiting months for them to pay me back? I’m not a marketer and I’m definitely not a bank!” hawkeyechannel.com
  2. 2. The one key ingredient missing from most MDF programs Let’s try to determine why you and your partners are frequently unhappy with the MDF programs by taking a closer look at the MDF process. The figure in the sidebar showcases the key processes associated with a typical MDF program. The MDF process begins with the assignment of MDF dollars to the partner based on a joint marketing plan which is generated in a spreadsheet or an online planning tool. The partner is notified of its accrual via e-mail or through its CAM, and then plans a campaign and logs onto the MDF program website to make a funding request by submitting a project for approval. After completing the marketing campaign, the partner submits a claim with proof of performance documentation, and is reimbursed by the vendor. As you can see, the typical MDF program provides for an automated, web-driven means of facilitating projects, claims and payments associated with their co-marketing development activities. It’s classic business process management, nothing more. While on the surface this sounds harmless enough, it’s a serious problem. Why? Because by providing only business process management, but its MDF programs are missing what partners need most – the guidance, support and tools to create marketing campaigns that generate leads and incremental sales. You see, most partners have engineering or sales backgrounds, so developing effective marketing campaigns is as foreign to them as deploying a network or configuring a server is to most marketers. The average partner simply doesn’t possess the marketing training, expertise or resources required to plan and produce effective, integrated marketing campaigns. And since they’re generally busy selling and supporting solutions, they frequently fail to track their campaign results. In the absence of any support and guidance from the vendor, the typical process of developing a marketing campaign using MDF funds goes like this … the partner owner, or one of the owner’s staff is identified to develop a marketing campaign. This employee, who generally lacks any marketing training, copies the vendor’s logo, images and marketing copy from their website, cobbles it together into a campaign and sends it to an internally generated prospect and customer marketing list. Oftentimes the campaign will lack essential ingredients, like an enticing offer or a landing page. So what is the result? Here’s a hint…it’s not good. Campaigns run by people who lack marketing knowledge often generate a negative impression of the vendor’s brand to customers. Many partners know little about constructing a successful campaign using new marketing methods, such as social media, SEO and content marketing, and as a result receive low response rates. Also, they don’t have the right systems in place to track a campaign’s performance, leaving themselves and vendors wondering if the MDF dollars were well spent, and how to use them more effectively in the future. It’s no surprise that a recent survey by Forrester Research revealed that 65% of partners listed marketing enablement as the capability they need most from their vendors, and vendors communicated that marketing enablement tools are a top priority for the coming year. 2 hawkeyechannel.com The Vendor 1. Assigns $, defines rules 3. Approves request 5. Approves claim 6. Issues payment The Partner 2. Submits project request 4. Submits claim and starts again
  3. 3. hawkeyechannel.com What exactly is marketing enablement? Let’s start with what marketing enablement is not. It’s not a web page on a partner portal containing marketing and brand assets like logos, images and text that can be downloaded by partners. While this is certainly beneficial, it doesn’t provide partners with the tools they need to run successful marketing campaigns. As stated earlier, partners lack marketing expertise, need guidance and require a robust toolset to develop successful campaigns. Making assets available for download but relying on partners to combine them into campaigns is like ordering something from your favorite restaurant, and then watching the waiter set the ingredients down in front of you and suggest you cook the meal yourself! In other words, it’s not real helpful… Marketing enablement equips partners with the tools, education and resources they need to consistently develop and deploy successful, measurable marketing campaigns that reflect positively on a vendor’s brand and maximize sales and ROI. There are two main types of marketing enablement tools available today: 1) marketing automation resources and 2) campaign marketplaces. Partner marketing automation, AKA “self-service” partner marketing enablement Marketing automation has been a hot topic the last few years so let’s discuss self-service partner marketing automation tools first. These tools enable vendors to translate their national campaigns into local campaigns by making them available to partners and automating the co-branding and ordering process. They generally provide a selection of campaign templates from which the partner can choose and co-brand with their logo, contact information and a specialized offer. After completing the online co-branding process, the partner then uploads a mailing list or chooses one available via the marketing automation tool, and places the order. Behind the scenes, the marketing automation software vendor produces and deploys the campaign and the partner may be required to pre-fund the campaign then submit a claim for reimbursement. Partner marketing automation tools are best suited for larger partners who have the staff, marketing experience and knowledge to utilize the tools to develop and deploy marketing campaigns themselves. They’re not as useful for small and medium sized partners lacking the marketing knowledge to identify the campaigns best suited for their marketing objectives, and who lack the staff to utilize the tools to develop campaigns. A significant limitation of today’s partner marketing automation tools is they can only be used for campaigns that can be easily automated, such as e-mail and direct mail. They’re not as well suited for social media, SEO and other types of complex campaigns that are ongoing or run for a series of months. 3
  4. 4. Campaign marketplace, AKA “vendor-assisted” partner marketing enablement A vendor-assisted campaign marketplace consists of vetted suppliers who offer a range of marketing activities and packages that have been pre-approved by the vendor— from traditional co-branded collateral and emails to more innovative social marketing campaigns. A campaign marketplace, which provides a one-stop shopping experience to maximize partners’ co-marketing dollars, offers a number of unique benefits: ­¡ Simple – instead of submitting a project and implementing marketing campaigns on their own, partners can rely on proven marketing expertise and pre-packaged campaigns that they select using an experience similar to e-commerce sites they have come to know. Vendors can require the marketplace marketing suppliers to provide the essential POP paperwork and documentation, cutting partners’ work in half. ­¡ Fast – partners don’t need to pay suppliers, submit claims and wait weeks or months for reimbursement; the vendor pays the supplier directly. A credit card feature can enable partners to extend their purchasing options beyond existing co-marketing funds. ­¡ Measure, analyze and adjust – partners no longer need to track, measure and report on the ROI of marketing campaigns. Vendors can stock the marketplace with suppliers who offer integrated, closed-loop campaigns and provide feedback to vendors and their partners with regard to leads, opportunities and ROI. A vendor-assisted marketplace is best suited for small to medium partners who lack the marketing experience and expertise to choose the right campaign for their situation, and the resources to develop and execute a campaign on their own. But, since it’s designed to support all types of campaigns from e-mail to SEO and social media, large and medium partners can benefit from it as well. One size does not fit all Unfortunately, companies often use a one size fits all approach to marketing enablement by only offering a self-service marketing automation solution to their partners. As a result, they experience much lower usage of their tool than anticipated. Self-service marketing automation solutions can be very effective for large, marketing savvy partners, but only address the needs of most partners when combined with a vendor-assisted marketplace. With a blend of both of these resources, all partners will have the tools to help them meet their objectives and produce successful marketing campaigns. In fact, in a recent study, 41% of vendors revealed their partners had insufficient sales and marketing ability to utilize MDF dollars to roll out campaigns, even with the use of an automation solution. Our own experience at hawkeye Channel, managing both solutions simultaneously for Fortune 100 clients bears this out, with two-thirds of the vendor’s 4 hawkeyechannel.com
  5. 5. hawkeyechannel.com partners preferring to use a vendor-assisted marketplace instead of a traditional self- service marketing automation solution. Tips for configuring an effective partner marketing automation solution Marking automation solutions are designed to take the complexity and guess work out of marketing, making it simple for partners to design and deploy successful marketing campaigns, and enabling vendors to extend the reach of their marketing efforts. While most solutions achieve this objective, configuring them isn’t a slam dunk. Here are some best practices you should implement: Make it simple. Easy-to-use consumer websites like Amazon.com and eBay have spoiled us. Today we have very high expectations for all of our online experiences, and channel partners are no exception. Your marketing automation solution must mimic the intuitive shopping experiences to which your channel partners have grown accustomed, and it must incorporate features like wish lists, reviews, ratings and chat support. Remember your partners are participating in 5-10 different partner programs and they’re going to sell the products of vendors who make it easy for them to generate demand and close sales so it’s vital to make their lives easier. Offer list rental services. The purpose of MDF dollars is to enable the partner to generate demand in new or lucrative markets. If the partner’s only option is to send an e-mail campaign to their own customer list, the MDF funds will not be spent as intended, nor will they enable you and your partners to develop new markets and increased sales. Be sure to provide your partners with the ability to select and purchase outside lists using their MDF dollars so they can truly penetrate new markets for you. Facilitate execution. Marketing automation doesn’t end when the partner finishes customizing the campaign with his/her logo, contact information and offer. While this is certainly the stopping point for the partner, the hard work is only beginning for you. Your marketing automation supplier should not only provide the software solution, but should also offer production and fulfillment services making it completely turnkey for partners, so they can focus on selling to the leads the campaign generates. Provide closed-loop reporting. The old saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and this certainly rings true in the channel. Any campaign deployed via your marketing automation solution must track established metrics and a means of capturing results. This will not only enable you to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of your campaigns and marketing automation tool, but if you share these results with your partners, they’ll have a much greater appreciation for the tool and the significant value and benefit it provides them. 5 Tips for configuring an effective partner marketing automation solution: ­¡ Make it simple ­¡ Offer list rental services ­¡ Facilitate execution ­¡ Provide closed-loop reporting Tips for configuring a successful campaign marketplace: ­¡ Offer the right suppliers and campaigns ­¡ Make it easy to order and easy to succeed ­¡ Offer downloadable assets ­¡ Provide a consumer-like experience
  6. 6. Tips for configuring a successful campaign marketplace While the concept of a campaign marketplace brimming with marketing campaigns sounds simple enough, there are a lot of moving parts, and execution can become complex and time consuming. Many of the recommendations shared above apply here as well, so we’ll focus on four additional best practices important when developing an online supplier marketplace. Offer the right suppliers and campaigns. Talk to your partners to discover which marketing materials and campaigns will help them the most. Would they benefit from e-mail, social media support or SEO? An online supplier marketplace doesn’t do much good if the resources offered aren’t what partners need. You will experience greater utilization by packing your storefront with high quality suppliers and campaigns that will help your partners exceed their marketing objectives. Make it easy to order and easy to succeed. Partner experience is critical in determining future use of the marketplace. Partners often still have to deal with multiple sign-ons and cumbersome interfaces when utilizing vendor programs, so there is ample opportunity to set your program apart with fluid, intuitive functionality. A clean, consistent and visually appealing UI with logical menu structure go a long way to ensure partners utilize the materials available to them. Making your marketplace easy to use will encourage partners to take advantage of the amazing resources you provide. Offer downloadable assets as well. A supplier marketplace allows you to be a supplier and provide downloadable assets like data sheets, whitepapers and success stories. By offering these materials via the marketplace, you can provide your partners with a single source for all your marketing materials and campaigns, eliminating confusion and simplifying the means of accessing your wealth of marketing enablement assets. Provide a consumer-like experience. In this day and age everyone expects a consumer- like experience for every online application. This desire is no longer exclusive to the online shopping and other activities we engage in during our free time – we now want the same experience at work. Easy navigation, point and click controls and visually appealing interfaces are commonplace on sites like Amazon.com, so why shouldn’t partners be able to shop the storefront of marketing resources the same way? Strongly consider a “marketing concierge” As we’ve discussed, the typical reseller is owned and operated by a busy entrepreneur with an IT and/or sales background and little or no knowledge of marketing. To address this knowledge deficit, you should consider providing a “click-to-chat” service staffed by marketing experts. Support can include advice on how to use co-marketing funds effectively, as well as selecting appropriate activities for a campaign based on that partner’s specific business model and marketing goals. This kind of “concierge” service has three clear benefits for partners: 6 hawkeyechannel.com
  7. 7. ­¡ Best value – partners obtain the greatest value from their co-marketing funds by directing them toward the most valuable campaigns for their objectives. ­¡ Campaign integration – partners receive marketing assistance whenever they need it throughout the year to consistently drive leads and awareness. ­¡ Innovation – partners are able to combine traditional and non-traditional campaigns to create an integrated approach that will deliver the most value from each marketing vehicle. And since access to a marketing concierge will help partners generate more effective campaigns, your company will benefit greatly as well. We’re here to help The more a partner is invested in the early stages of the customer technology adoption life cycle, the more likely that partner is going to nurture their leads and convert them into paying customers. But the reality is marketing is rarely a strength for partners. Clearly, partners’ marketing efforts could benefit from an infusion of marketing skills and resources and channel marketers can fill that gap with marketing enablement. The results will be a more effective MDF program and successful marketing campaigns from partners, which will lower your cost of sales, and drive greater revenue and profitability for both you and your partners. If you found this information helpful, but have additional questions, or just want to bounce some ideas off us, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us at team@hawkeyechannel.com. Global companies with indirect sales and channel partners rely on hawkeye Channel to increase their channel ROI. North America Centerpoint, Cascade East 20819 72nd Ave S. Suite 725 Kent, WA 98032 +1 800 981 9154 EMEA 1st Floor Otterman House 12 Petersham Road Richmond-upon-Thames Surrey TW10 6UW +44 208 614 9593 APAC 3 Temasek Avenue 21-00 Centennial Tower Singapore 039190 +65 6549-7498 LATAM 2332 Galiano St. 2nd Floor Coral Gables, FL 33134 +1 305 728 7054 hawkeye gives no warranty or representation as to the accuracy, completeness or legality of the advice contained in this paper, and any warranties implied by law are hereby expressly excluded to the fullest extent permissible. © 2013 hawkeye, all rights reserved. about hawkeye Channel hawkeye Channel provides software and services that drive channel revenue growth for enterprise marketers who sell through indirect channels. With a unique blend of robust channel programs and expertise, hawkeye Channel helps clients easily integrate with their CRM platform, accurately measure channel performance and optimize channel incentives on a global scale. contact us Contact us today to discover how we can help you get the maximum return on your channel investment. team@hawkeyechannel.com