Channel Champion Blog

A lack of ROI accountability is the #1 frustration for channel marketers who utilize MDF. This frustration keeps popping up in client engagements. When asked to elaborate, responses boil down to some combination of:

1. I don’t know if the funds are aligned with my objectives, or
2. It is difficult to tie MDF expenditures back to sales

I’m here to tell you that Joint Marketing Planning (JMP) is the key to overcoming both of these issues.

An effective planning process will help identify how and where partner sales and marketing efforts align with your own GTM initiatives. That simple statement represents the core benefit for practicing a Joint Marketing Planning process in the first place—to capitalize on the “overlap” between your GTM strategies and those of your partners. Therefore, I’ll assume that your planning process is already built around this foundation. It stands to reason that the tactics identified in the plan should correlate with the common initiatives identified between you and your partners.

Once the plan is reviewed and approved the second step in the process is to assign MDF funding based on the tactics approved in the plan. You now have addressed frustration number 1 by having a thorough understand of MDF allocation relative to your own initiatives—including: where the funds are going, the amount, and how the funds will be spent. In a perfect world, there will be a 1:1 correlation between the MDF amount authorized and the tactics approved in the plan. Said another way, this substantiates the alignment of fund expenditures with your own GTM initiatives.

Extend this concept past the plan approval and fund allocation stage, and you’ll find that each MDF claim received also serves as a check mark indicating a completed tasks on the great “to do” list known (in this case) as the Joint Marketing Plan. Therefore, MDF not only is more accountable in its utilization, but serves as progress report for all approved activity.

Finally, at the end of the planning period, the JMP is also a basis to record business outcomes—which may be defined by sales values or other strategic metrics such as the number of opportunities opened. It is at this point, that the second frustration mentioned above is overcome: How to tie MDF expenditure back to sales.

So, properly executed, the JMP process provides:

–Forward visibility of business outcome against your own initiatives—as forecasts applied to individual partners as well as aggregate view
–A foundation to assign MDF allowances
–A progress report for tactical execution against approved activities
–A foundation for analyzing plan’s results—including business outcome and MDF utilization—as a basis for best-practices

Hopefully that summary addresses the promise of how Joint Marketing Planning is the key to improved ROI. If not, I promise that these concepts are further explained within the two ebooks we offer on the subject—one of which was recently published this week. To find them, visit and click on the “resources” link.