Happy spooky season! By that, I mean MDF allocation season. Suddenly, “use it or lose it” is becoming real around this time in our industry. Hurry! Time to allocate all of your marketing development funds before the deadline, while following all of those tricky rules and requirements in order to get reimbursed. Oh, and on top of that… the wonderful holiday season is swiftly approaching. Try getting anything done when folks everywhere are physically and mentally clocking out for the holidays. Talk about pressure!
We are well versed in helping IT solution providers optimize their approach and strategy when it comes to funding. What we found is that partners run into four common issues when it comes to MDF season. Around this time, solution providers:
- Have funding, but aren’t sure what to do with it
- Are not sure of the process for allocating their funds or are unfamiliar with guidelines
- Spent MDF, and didn’t see any positive results
- Don’t have access to funds, but need them!
In this blog, we will touch on some ways to optimize your approach to MDF management. I will dive deep into the four common issues and the actions you can take to set yourself up for success. You’ll learn how to navigate spending your MDF, and also learn ways you can go up to bat for your organization to receive additional funding in the future. My ultimate goal is to help IT solution providers by providing some best practices for effective MDF management that aid in business growth and development!
Now, what are the most effective tips and ways to spend MDF?
You want leads and you want them now, or so I’ve heard. Unfortunately, there is no “one and done” marketing tactic that can bring you all the leads you’re looking for. Remember: lead generation is never one tactic, it’s an integrated strategy with multiple activities and content that gets prospects engaged. There may be tactics that are core and fundamental to a lead generation campaign like creating content., but don’t mistake them as being the only tactic used.
Make sure your MDF activities align with your current strategy. Think about where you are already spending your own marketing budget and try to supplement some of the costs with the funding you are given. It’s likely the strategy was already put in place and thought through to guarantee ROI and achieve goals, whatever that may be (whether that’s registrations, form fills, clicks, etc). Many solution providers think of MDF as “free money”. Lose this mindset! You wouldn’t invest your own dollars into something you didn’t think was worth it. So why do that with your MDF? Especially when it’s money that you’ve worked hard for and earned!
So, why do some tactics appear to work better than others? An event is a core tactic in a lead generation campaign. Think about investing your dollars into an event, but not the event alone. Remember, prospects must be engaged before, during, and after an event.
Maybe you decide you need a nice “leave behind” asset that encompasses who you are and what you do as a solution provider. Or, maybe content is the core tactic of the lead generation campaign that you’re running. Content can help you tell the story of why your buyers should choose you for their IT needs, and can also provide them with the information they need in order to make a business decision. Try running a campaign that features content which brings awareness to the common pain points your buyers might be experiencing. They will feel compelled to reach out to you because you are the subject matter expert and can help them resolve those pain points.
But remember, content is only one tactic of this campaign! Be sure you broadcast this message in as many ways as possible. Also, sync up with your sales team to coordinate the message, so that they can speak to it if someone reaches out to you for more information.
Not sure of the process to allocate and then spend your funds?
No problem! MDF is already SO confusing, and having too many hands-on-deck can make it that much more difficult. First, there should be one person assigned to all funds, so that you don’t run the risk of allocating your dollars twice to the same thing. Another common issue is losing track of the funds altogether.
To avoid losing sight of your MDF, make sure you know how much funding you have and where it’s coming from. Make sure whoever is assigned to the task of managing funds is documenting all funding sources. Actively manage these funds by meeting regularly with channel managers, logging into funding portals, and continually asking if there are any new programs or sponsorships you can take advantage of. You may find additional opportunities to secure funding!
Along with keeping track of funding sources, make sure you keep track of funding requirements. Most MDF involves a reimbursement process which requires you to spend your own funds and then get reimbursed with the correct proof of performance. If you spend the funds and realize you can’t provide the correct proof of performance, you run the risk of losing out on those funds.
Lastly, keep an eye on those deadlines so they don’t sneak up on you. That’s what can be so spooky about MDF allocation this time of year!
Spent the funds and not sure it was even worth it?
That can really be discouraging. You’ve wasted all this time making sure to get the correct proof of performance, coordinated with different vendors, followed all guidelines, submitted everything before the deadline, yet, you sit back and find that your campaign didn’t perform the way you had hoped.
Take a look at where you put your marketing dollars. Did you spend money on a siloed activity? If your answer is yes, then revisit your strategy. Next time, put together a campaign with a more integrated approach that provides consistent messaging to your prospects across multiple channels.
At the end of the campaign, review metrics to continue to nurture those who engaged with you the most. And remember, a lead might not come to you overnight, ready to do business with you on the spot. By failing to nurture your leads after the campaign has concluded, you are leaving the opportunity open for one of your competitors to swoop in at the last minute.
Need MDF for your organization?
If you need MDF for an upcoming initiative, put pen to paper and write out your plan. Manufacturers and distributors are more likely to invest in you if they see that there is a plan in place to drive sales. If you need help drawing out your plan of action, feel free to use our marketing campaign template.
Be sure to keep manufacturer and distributor contacts in the loop about your plans. This way, they will keep you top of mind if they ever get their hands on funds. Good reps will go out of their way to find funds. If they still don’t have any funding, ask if there are programs you can participate in the future. Lastly, ask if there is a “hot solution” at the time for them. There could be discretionary funding for solutions or initiatives they are looking to drive.