Channel Marketing for Resellers and IT Service Providers – Is it Worth the Pain?

As somebody who has spent over a decade working in the technology channel you might think this is a strange question to ask, but if you’re a reseller or IT service provider that has spent time lost in the labyrinth of Marketing Development Funds (MDF) and claiming portals then it’s probably a question you’ve asked yourself more than once.

“Is engagement worth risking the investment in time, funding and resources when there is seemingly no guarantee of success?”

The simple answer is “yes it is” and the even better news is that there are steps you can take to streamline the entire process, mitigate the risk and ensure that your efforts will deliver the thing that everyone wants… Return on Investment (ROI).

Just to be clear from the outset, this is not going to be a vendor bashing session. Without them we would have no innovation and no products. They have invested incredible levels of time and money into both their solutions and their brands, so it is only natural that they protect these assets, and they are right to do so.

It may feel as if they don’t understand or appreciate your needs on occasion, and simply direct you to a portal filled with cookie cutter campaign assets that do nothing to help you differentiate yourself. This is frustrating of course but those assets can be very effective when used correctly.

They may also seem obstructive when you are trying to promote an end-to-end solution that might include elements from vendors in direct competition. The truth is that some vendors play well with each other, and some don’t. The trick is to understand the sometimes convoluted relationships they have with each other and make allowances for it.

Top Tip 1: Work With Your Vendor

Yes, they will;

  • Have rules you need to follow.
  • Be careful with the funds they invest.
  • Insist you adhere to their brand guidelines – they will also be the best ally you could ever have if you manage your relationship well.

Another aspect of your vendor relationship is the partner program. Now, being part of a partner program is about much more than simply displaying a logo on your website, it is a powerful and often under-utilised tool to grow your business that you do your very best to make the most of.

Once again there will be rules and requirements, but the benefits far outweigh any perceived issues and full engagement will very quickly open up doors that would otherwise have remain closed. Most vendors invest a lot of time and money into their partner program, and they will usually:

  • Give you access to free training on products and solutions.
  • Provide you with pre-sales and post-sales support.
  • Allow you to be listed on partner directories for potential clients.
  • Offer incentive or rebate schemes.
  • Enable you to claim Marketing Development Funds for business development initiatives.

Top Tip 2: Know Your Partner Program

Make sure you understand your partner accreditations and are leveraging everything you can from your entitlements… If you are not sure ASK as you could be missing out on benefits that could transform your business!

OK, here we go… Marketing Development Funds (MDF). The key to being able to get your vendor or distribution partner to fund either part or all of your business development activity. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it, so how do you know what you are entitled to and how do you get it?

Vendor Partner MDF

Depending on your partner status Marketing Development Funds will either be available to you as part of your agreement, (Usually as a percentage of certified sales), or as incremental funding available upon submission of a campaign plan.

These funds will require you to agree to certain terms and conditions and will often require you to invest upfront and claim back once the activity is complete.

Distribution Partner MDF

If your partner status means you do not have access to vendor MDF then don’t give up. Very often your distribution partner will be willing to either fully or partially fund your activity if you are able to show a comprehensive and well thought through plan.

Whichever route you take, the key to successful utilisation of MDF is Return on Investment (ROI). What is the pay-off for the investment? This is the single most question you need to answer in order to secure funding, but far from the only one.

[Also see our article Solving the Marketing Development fund Problem.]

Top Tip 3: The Golden Rules of MDF

  • Never over promise on the possible ROI just to secure funding – You may get away with it once, but you risk adversely affecting your vendor relationship, and to be honest if you have to over promise then you probably need to re-think your campaign.
  • Plan, plan and plan again. Being prepared is vital to ensure vendor engagement. They are not unreasonable; they do not expect miracles. They understand that marketing is not an exact science, and they simply want to know you’ve thought things through before they invest.
  • Be aware of what is needed to claim your funds post campaign. Many an IT organisation has fallen foul of claiming guidelines and ended up not getting the funding they wanted.
  • MDF is not free money. Use it responsibly and only for the purpose for which it was intended. MDF is audited regularly, and the door will close forever if you are found to have broken the rules.

These points may seem self-evident, but the day-to-day roller coaster of life in the Channel can mean they are sometimes overlooked at the cost of lost investment and damaged relationships so setting aside precious time will pay dividends in the long run.

The benefits of securing Marketing Development Funds and delivering effective campaigns will reach far beyond the campaign itself and it’s probably a good idea to partner with an agency that has experience dealing with the sometime convoluted route that both funding and campaign creative approval need to take through multiple stakeholders.

Thankfully Clever Marketing have this experience in abundance having worked with companies at every level of the IT channel. From globally recognised technology brands, international distributors and right on through to local IT service providers and resellers. We make our expertise your expertise by ensuring we remained focussed on delivering ROI for all parties.

  • Campaign Planning.
  • MDF plan submission.
  • Asset creation.
  • Campaign execution.
  • Post campaign review & claim submission.

So if you are an ambitious IT service provider or reseller and you’ve been wanting to promote yourself and drive new business through marketing then Clever Marketing are uniquely placed to help guide you through the maze of engaging with vendors and securing your Marketing Development Funds.

Don’t let your funds gather dust because the whole process seems problematic, give us a call and we’ll help you get things rolling.

Channel Marketing for resellers and IT service providers from Clever Marketing, full service digital agency. Clever Marketing is a full service digital marketing agency, with a dedicated channel marketing team, highly experienced in IT channel marketing.

You can secure our expertise in channel marketing for resellers and IT service providers by calling 01276 402 381 or completing the contact form.

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