This spring CCI attended Channel Focus 2009, an annual gathering of executives and managers from leading channel-centric companies. Within the conference, we were introduced to a survey in which a working group of attendees was asked to benchmark a number of MDF and co-op trends across the channel industry. The responses were collected in the survey period between December 2008 and February 2009 and offered insight for the benefit of all conference attendees.
What struck me in this survey were the repetitive comments on the impact of channel program ROI. From measurement to trends to best practices, the ROI dynamic appeared multiple times as a response. Here are some of the pertinent survey questions:
Q. How do you measure the success of your MDF/co-op program?
A. ROI on activity.
Q. What measurements are important to your organization?
A. ROI, based on revenue.
Q. What are your biggest challenges with your MDF/co-op program?
A. Measuring ROI of activities.
Q. What have you done to overcome these challenges?
A. Implemented requirements for partners to communicate ROI.
Q. What innovations would you like to integrate into your MDF/co-op program in the future?
A. Better metrics/tracking of ROI.Q. What changes have you made in your MDF/co-op program in the past 3 years?
A. Heavy ROI scrutiny-a good thing.
Q. What impact have these changes made, if any?
A. Better ROI measurement.
Q. Name one change to your MDF/co-op program that has made the most positive impact?
A. Focusing on ROI.
Q. Name one change to your MDF/co-op program that has made the most negative impact?
A. Funded programs that did not yield an ROI.
Q. 33% of respondents feel pressure from management to discontinue their MDF/co-op programs in the future. Why?
A. Lack of clear ROI.
In these challenging economic times when companies are scrutinizing every internal investment dollar, the last question and response is particularly relevant. Are you currently being asked to justify the value of your channel program? Do you have the ability to report in a timely manner on the metrics which tie your program objectives and activities to positive results? When push finally comes to shove, will your executive management team support your program because you were able to demonstrate a greater ROI versus another company program? It is not an understatement to say that the survival of your channel program may ultimately depend on how you answer these questions.