Recently I have done several presentations on “today’s” MDF and how, despite the cloud and the new buyer’s journey, the foundational elements to a successful MDF program are still very much intact. I keep waiting for someone to tell me I am crazy. With cloud and digital marketing dominating the landscape how in the world can MDF core principles still apply? Remarkably, from what I am hearing and seeing, the eight key elements are still there, however it is the lens through which we view them that has dramatically changed and therefore so have the best practices and trends on how we manage and apply them.
Three of the key industry trends that are driving this new perspective are:
- The new buyer’s journey
Potentially creating a massive digital divide landscape where many partners will not cross the chasm. What good are skills if no one is knocking on your door?
- Marketing ROI
The need for better reporting and analytics. Marketers have an ROI target on their backs like never before. Even senior execs are looking at career jeopardy if they cannot get a handle on ROI
- Proposal-based MDF
The move to true MDF (Market Development Fund), not to be confused with entitlement Co-op, is shifting how dollars are allocated and dramatically altering what vendors need to know and validate about partners. Even the term BDF (Business Development Fund) is being used more frequently. And new, relevant and timely KPIs are a must for how partners are measured if MDF investments are truly going to pay off with real growth
Interestingly enough, while these three trends have changed how we view the eight key elements, the framework has remained consistent.
It is the best practices for each of the elements that are changing almost as quickly as the buyer’s journey. While each of the key elements are going through their own measurable evolution (see CCI’s ebook The 8 Key Elements Behind Successful MDF Programs for complete details), eligible activities may be the element where change is moving the fastest and causing the most angst. The types of activities that are being encouraged, and how they are being executed and even measured, are far different than the programs of even a few years ago. And unfortunately, many of the necessary skills for partners to execute these activities successfully, like digital marketing competency, are where partners are the least capable.
While eligible activities may be getting much of the attention, there is a reason “digital transformation” discussion are popping up all over Linkedin and industry webinars – the changes to each of the key elements will have their unique challenges. Vendors, partners and suppliers need to be paying attention to all of them. The good news is that the eight key elements still provide a solid foundation for program success. That is, as long as they are viewed with a new perspective.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Kellam, President at CCI
As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for driving CCI’s evolution to expand its offerings and grow across its product suite, utilizing marketing to position the organization for continued, long-term success. He is also responsible for developing the strategic alliances necessary for CCI to achieve its revenue and profit goals, including technical alliances, service partnerships and sales relationships. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful managed services IT business, and a background in manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.