Are you experiencing poor performance with your MDF program? If so, it’s possible that you’re not providing a flexible and streamlined program that ensures revenue growth. Ultimately, the potential success of your MDF program relies on three key factors:
- Understanding the MDF Program Structure,
- Following clear metrics to measure and justify your MDF spend, and
- Enabling partners with the right tools, resources, and support for success.
It was great to see so many channel marketers and program leaders at this year’s The Channel Meet Up in Boston. An interactive day discussing industry trends, and networking, we’re keen to share some of the key topics we delved into, whilst sharing some best practices around MDF program potential returns. As always, MDF was a huge topic from everything ranging from accruals vs proposals based, to Measuring MDF Program Success. But ultimately, a successful program comes down to three things.
3 Easy Steps to Unlock Your MDF Program Potential
1. Understanding your MDF Program Structure
To fully unleash the potential of your MDF program, it is essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of its underlying structure.
The Program: Establishing a formal and well-documented MDF program that grants channel partners access to request funds and/or rebates for financing marketing activities aimed at generating demand.
Fund Allocation: Implementing a clearly defined process to enable partners, based on their specific requirements, to participate and access MDF funds. This can be done through either accruals or proposal-based mechanisms, with a robust ROI measurement framework in place.
Program Rules: Establish explicit program guidelines that outline the criteria for earning funds, including specific requirements, activities, and ROI metrics. Ambiguous guidelines are prone to low adoption rates, as partners may misinterpret the program. The more clarity provided, the better partners can understand and engage with the MDF program.
Approval Process: Create a visual representation of the submission, approval, allocation, claim, and payment process, with a step-by-step workflow. Implementing a standardized set of criteria and a comprehensive strategy for managing and tracking channel spending enables effective measurement of partner performance. This, in turn, leads to improved ROI and increased partner adoption.
Additional Funding: Specify eligibility criteria for partners to qualify for rebates beyond the standard allocation incentives. This might be based on exceptional performance, Business Development Funds (BDF) for new partners, or big bet projects.
2. Clear Metrics to Measure and Justify MDF Spend
The distribution of MDF funds and evaluation of marketing performance can be challenging. But implementing a consistent and well-structured process along with clearly defined guidelines can simplify the process. Bringing all these components together, along with the use of measurable metrics, facilitates partner participation, enhances performance, and allows for a quantifiable measurement of return on investment (ROI).
3. The Tools, Resources, and Support for Success
Every MDF activity has its unique characteristics and necessitates specific performance goals and objectives. However, most partners lack the dedicated resources to execute marketing activity efficiently and effectively. Therefore, to assist partners in attaining the desired benchmarks, it is crucial to empower them with the appropriate resources, support, and tools for achieving success. Key focus areas are as follows:
Branding – Comprehensive guidelines for using your brand, including logos, usage formats, messaging, and website specifications.
Playbooks – readily available marketing campaigns that include email templates for setting up drip email campaigns, sending product announcements, and incorporating Calls to Action (CTAs). Additionally, provide sales scripts for initiating contact and prospect qualification, addressing objections, handling disputes, overcoming roadblocks, and delivering customer service.
Partner Portal – Guarantee convenient access to content such as eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, etc., and tools for all channel partners through the partner portal. This enables partners to operate independently and self-sufficiently, reducing their dependence on your direct assistance.
Your organization’s growth is propelled by the success of your partner program, with MDF serving as the driving force. To ensure active participation in your MDF program, it is essential to establish and promote a flexible and streamlined program through best practice steps. Maintaining a successful MDF program involves diligent monitoring of investments and ROI to incentivize partners to consistently contribute value. If you require assistance in MDF process optimization or automation tools, we’d love to hear from you.