Friday, October 19, 2012

Why aren’t MDF funds being used to fund social media activities?

Through Partner Marketing can be tricky for vendors and they often have trouble running successful MDF and co-op programs that drive additional channel revenue. According to Hubspot’s “2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report” the cost per inbound lead (social media, blogging, SEO) was 61% lower than that of an outbound lead. In a world where Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have more than 1.5 billion users, why aren’t partners using more MDF funds for social media activities?

I see three major challenges as contributors to this:
  1. Partners must first know how to access and use their MDF funds
  2. Partners need to understand social media and how they can benefit
  3. Vendors need to provide more pre-packaged options that include social media activities
Most vendor’s offer activities and collateral that can be funded by MDF but most of the options are still tied to more traditional offerings – email, direct mail and in-person events. Embracing the power of social media can provide partners with a new way to reach their customers that can be integrated with traditional offerings.

At this point, most people recognize that social media can be a positive force that delivers leads for far less cost than outbound marketing, like trade shows, telemarketing and direct mail. And despite research showing that 95% of companies wanted to increase social media spend in 2012, many companies are still not putting their full effort behind social endeavors. Several factors contribute to the lackluster efforts keeping companies from delving into social media. For some it may be that they don’t feel competent dealing with social media, while others may think that the development and the maintenance of a social media program will require too much time and effort. These are legitimate concerns but should not prevent companies from gaining customers and driving increased revenue through social efforts.

If your partners are still apprehensive about using social media, try these five tactics to get them engaged in promoting your solutions through social media:
  1. Include social media activities in your standard MDF/Co-op programs – better yet, offer a higher reimbursement value than you do for traditional media activities
  2. Source a social media service provider that has a proven track record of providing services directly to partners on the vendor’s behalf
  3. Provide training on social media benefits and solutions directly to your partners
  4. Provide training on social benefits and available solutions directly to your field and offer individual rewards for convincing partners to get involved in social media
  5. Include a concierge service in your MDF/Co-op programs, so unsure partners can contact someone for direct help
Using these strategies will help you quell partner concerns and establish new, cost effective ways to generate leads.