Monday, August 9, 2010

Calling all Vendors - Social Media tactics – are you helping your partners keep up?

Social media tactics are becoming an established (not just alternative) marketing channel and partner's need help. MDF / Co-op programs are intended to fund a partner’s marketing activities where the vendor’s product/service is jointly marketed with a partner’s product/service. There is:

1. A shift in the types of marketing activities partners need to be successful
2. An increasing number of pre-packaged, time-tested and proven Social Media solutions / service’s available from suppliers

Be a hero to your partner community and offer compensation thru your MDF/Coop programs for Social Media efforts or better yet, connect your partners via your MDF/Coop program to pre-approved suppliers of Social Media services.

Suppliers can pre-package services that provide:

1. Social Media Consulting. A pre-packaged consulting service that analyzes the partner’s social media presence and builds a social media plan.
2. LinkedIn. A pre-packaged consulting service that recommends how best a partner can utilize LinkedIn for sales leads, job recruiting, brand awareness thru groups, etc. In addition, the supplier actually deliver’s on the recommendations by creating groups, delivering promotions and email campaigns through LinkedIn.
3. Twitter. A pre-packaged consulting service that trains partners on how to use Twitter to get the word out about an event or campaign. A service that implements the campaign on the partner’s behalf.
4. SEO. A pre-packaged consulting service on how to improve SEO. A service to implement those recommendations.
5. Facebook. A pre-packaged consulting service / training on how to use Facebook as another means of providing customer service.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

MDF Funds Underutilized? Pick up the phone!

These two, seemingly unrelated statistics gave me pause as I prepared for a webinar last week:

1. By some industry estimates, 50% or more of all potential MDF/Co-op funds go un-used.
2. Everything Channel research reported that after reaching a high of 250,000 in 2007, the number of solution provider businesses in the North American market dropped to 200,000 in 2009. Most of the solution providers that closed up shop generated less than $1 million in annual revenue.

In this difficult time of shrinking budgets and companies going out of business, one would think that struggling SMB’s would jump at the opportunity to get free money to do marketing.

So what are the top reasons partners give as to why MDF funds go unused?

• Unfamiliarity/unaware
• Complexities, administrative burden
• Long delays in approvals and payment

In addition, most partners are involved in more than one program and some in as many as a dozen; with each program, the administrative burden grows.

Because unused MDF Funds equal lost opportunities for additional business, try the following to increase utilization. Call partners that are not using funds and offer them a choice of several pre-packaged, pre-approved campaign that will utilize funds that you have already decided that the partner qualifies for.

Who couldn’t say yes?

Pitch here :) - hawkeye has recently added a service to its portfolio to enable vendors to increase utilization of funds thru a combination of direct awareness outreach and pre-packaged campaigns.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Measuring ROI in MDF Programs

The topic of measuring ROI on channel MDF/Coop programs is one that surfaces in almost every conversation with channel clients. Inevitably, when I discuss this subject with other solution provider's like hawkeye, we start discussing how to measure and then end up spending more time discussing how to improve MDF/Coop programs.

So, because on a blog I can focus, here are 3 practical ways to measure ROI:

1. Ask – establish the metrics based on the type of activities that will be funded and ask the partner to provide results after the project has been executed. Consideration: metrics are only as good as the partner provides, so reserve the right to audit periodically and reward good behavior.

2. Data Analytics – measure sales for partners over a period of time. Compare participating and non-participating partners to eliminate environmental factors and determine the net uplift in sales for participating partners (hopefully!). This process is both an art and a science ...

3. Offer Execution – Execute the project/campaign on behalf of the partner, and utilize one of many great tools to use to close the loop, track the lead, etc.

When MDF/Coop activities are measured against clear and established metrics, then improvements can be very specific based on real success/failure.

If you would like some MDF/Coop improvement suggestions based on best practices with Fortune 100 technology clients, we have published a white paper that outlines practical guidelines to improve the impact of MDF/co-op programs.

Get it here:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Resellers and Social Media: Let the Vendors Pay

Last week I gave a talk in front of a couple university business classes about channel marketing and the use of social media in the channel. There were over 60 university students and not one was on Twitter, yet all were on Facebook. My company has jumped into the Social Media head first and this really got me thinking about what we are jumping into.

There is no question that Social Media as an important, alternative method to develop an ongoing dialogue with your customers. Social Media allows direct support of all kinds (tech, sales, etc.), builds brand awareness, allows brand monitoring, engages product champions and generally enables a level of conversation with customers that just isn’t possible thru “traditional” marketing means.

However, the level of marketing hyperbole and the sheer number of consultants comparing Social Media to the impact of first personal computer should naturally give us all pause. And the fear mongering about being left behind doesn’t scare me into abandoning common sense. Gartner Group predicts that thru 2012, 70% of all social media efforts will fail. I couldn’t in good conscience recommend solutions to my clients that will fail.

The second pause has to do with the industry I work in, channel marketing. The really big elephant in the room is that social media is an excellent method to develop an ongoing dialogue between vendors and customers, which has left the reseller out in the cold. Resellers have typically thrived thru personal touch and that is usually manifested in-person visits and phone calls.

Resellers are busy and the cost of maintaining the presence needed to truly utilize social media in a way that reaps the greatest benefit is significant. There are not any tried and true methods of ROI calculation in Social Media, so being smart about how and when to jump in is common sense.

Resellers should be aware of Social Media and incorporate Social Media in their 2010 business plan after engaging their vendors for support.

· Why not wait for vendor leadership – given that the vendors know they need to address how to incorporate resellers into their Social Media initiatives.

· How about asking for sponsorship thru vendor MDF funds and let someone else foot the bill?

If anyone has a great reseller story of the use of Social Media (and the resulting ROI), I’d love to hear about it.