The top IT vendors rely on their channel partners to promote and sell their products and, at this point, you’re a channel partner to not just one, but many vendors.
It’s obvious, right?
You’re getting marketing funds to pursue leads using the vendor’s money. In tandem to pushing the vendor’s product, you can market your services (e.g., after-sale maintenance, management, configuration, etc). It’s a win-win.
But the moment you receive any market development funds (MDF), value-added reseller (VAR) funds or co-op marketing funds, you’re accountable to the vendor.
To continue receiving MDF/Co-op marketing funds, you must show proof-of-execution (PoE).
But with tens of thousands of other channel partners competing for the same vendor resources as you are, your PoE must stand-out and, for the vendor, demonstrate success.
In fact, IT vendors are increasingly relying on a select few of their partners to drive sales’. In some sub-sectors of IT, the ratio has reached 95:5 — i.e., 5% of channel partners are driving 95% of sales for the original vendor.
Standing-out is critical, but how do we start?
Well, having implementing MDF, VAR and co-op marketing strategies for a number of major IT managed service providers (MSP), we have 3 essential tips and market development fund examples and market development funds best practices below.
3 Steps on How Your PoE Can Show Efficient VAR Marketing Fund Usage
1. Provide Analytics Proof
Ultimately, vendors — or original equipment manufacturers (OEM) — want to see a track record of success. You must show how every dollar spent by the OEM is not only being used, but that it’s generating the high-quality leads the OEM needs for its return-on-investment (ROI).
You need analytics to measure every activity involving those funds:
You must show where traffic to marketed content (such as eBooks) is at its highest and when.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
You must provide clear insight into how many people are clicking onto PPC campaigns for your marketed content. This is particularly important because you must also demonstrate that those clicking on those advertisements are the right leads, i.e., prospective sales.
There’s no point in having the OEM fund the creation of whitepapers, eBooks and/or multimedia (e.g., podcasts, videos and infographics) if that collateral fails to convert. You must demonstrate that the paid collateral is attracting the right readers and, in turn, converts them into good leads.
If you’re running a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, then you should be pairing your inbound and paid advertising campaigns with targeted outbound efforts such as account-based marketing (ABM). You must show proof of segmenting leads, sending targeted content as well as reaching out where necessary.
Show Your Vendors Proof of Promising Lead Generation and Efficient Marketing Spend
2. Demonstrate Marketing Efficiency
In showing traffic, there’s an underlying assumption that you know what you’re doing in terms of actually getting the right traffic and converting readers into leads. In other words, you must show a high level of competency in digital marketing, especially in the following areas:
Efficient Paid Marketing
You don’t want to burn the majority of the vendor’s funding on inefficient paid marketing efforts (or to show an over-reliance on it by lacking complementary measures).
One mistake we find a lot of IT MSPs make is that they target ‘short-tail’ keywords only. As we had discussed in another blog piece, these keywords are short, 1-2 word search terms that see significant search volume. However, they are expensive and do not constitute the majority of all web traffic relating to that subject area.
For example, a healthcare IT MSP might try ranking for electronic health record (EHR) traffic by targeting the term, “EHR implementation.” At 480 searches a month, it seems promising.
However, while it generates 480 searches a month, it’s costly — i.e., each click costs $12.24. So if you need a 100 clicks to get a lead, that’s $1,224 per lead. That isn’t always sustainable, and relying solely on that could mean missing out on lower-cost ways of getting leads.
For example, “EHR implementation plan timeline” has a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) of $3.18, which (at 100 clicks per lead) would cost $318 for each lead.
Yes, those searching this term might not be as ready for a sale as “EHR implementation”, but 90% of online searchers haven’t yet made a purchasing decision.
Moreover, because there is less competition on the term, you could potentially rank for this term organically (i.e., without directly paying for paid advertising).
Using short-tail and long-tail keywords would demonstrate both competency in digital marketing and efficient funding use. In fact, by using VAR funding to organically rank for long-tail keywords you will have a long-term lead generating source that will work after the vendor’s campaign, i.e., at no cost to you. This is a win-win situation.
Produce Compelling Content
Technology OEMs expect their MDF resources to go towards compelling marketing content. For MSPs such as yourself, that means creating a diverse range of material for leads to pick-up all the while abiding by the OEM’s strict branding guidelines.
Content creation is a full-time endeavour. From copywriters to graphic designers and editors, it’s a team effort that must work in concert with your wider digital marketing efforts. There’s no point in content that, while inherently good, fails to get readers but the traffic on your website chooses not to download it (or is unable to due to technical problems on your website).
3. Actively Push for Sales with ABM
The OEM’s objective for providing marketing funds to its partners is to expand its market share.
This is an obvious point, but for the OEM, ROI is critical. You must do more than be passive and wait for leads to mature; rather, you need an active outbound marketing effort as well.
This is where ABM is critical. You don’t want to just cast a wide net through mass-emailing, but rather, you need to target and engage key accounts. Your sales team can do this with relevant content (e.g., whitepapers that help the reader with a problem they are likely facing).
They can also build a network of contacts within the same company, such as the individuals who will be involved in the selection process, and engage each person with relevant content.
Granted, there is much more to ABM, but the point you should take away is that with ABM, you will prove that you are an effective marketing asset to the OEM. You will get more funding.
It’s obvious that effectively implementing the steps above requires the work of a full-time digital marketing team. To get an insight into who you should be hiring, see our piece on what it takes to build a B2B-centric inbound marketing team.
However, if you are short on time and need to devote your resources to generating leads and securing additional VAR funding (instead of adding to your overhead), then reach-out to a full service digital marketing agency instead.
Jumpfactor is a full-service digital marketing agency with proven experience supporting the VAR, MDF and co-op marketing needs of MSPs. Our roster of proven inbound and paid, outgoing campaign digital marketing experts will design and implement your marketing and thoroughly document it for proof-of-execution. Get a FREE 30 minute strategy session now.