Marketing is an area where many MSPs want and need help, but they just aren’t sure where to start. If you’re struggling to get a handle on marketing, you can hire the talent you need or get the talent from other resources. Successfully marketed MSPs usually do both, and one of the resources they tap into is their preferred or opportunity vendors and distributors. How? By simply asking them, “What can you do from a marketing/sales perspective to help grow our mutual sales?”
Many vendors offer formal (or informal) marketing development funds (MDF) that you can “earn” with little or no real effort as long as you check the box of “good partner” and have a plan─even if it can fit on a cocktail napkin.
Additionally, some distributors have formal creative services agencies, such as AIM, that offer affordable marketing and communication services built for the IT Channel. The services are targeted and proven to work, and in many cases they’re turnkey and easy to pick up and start using. In some cases, they are also completely funded by a vendor or campaign so the cost for you is zero.
Tactical tips for getting “funded” by your partners
The first step to getting any and all of this is easy ─ talk to your vendor and distributor partners. They want you to sell more, and the good ones are more than willing to make marketing investments to help you do so.
Here are a few additional tips to help you secure (more) MDF from your vendors:
- Align your goals. You’ll have more success scoring MDF if your vendor partners see that your goals align with theirs. If your vendor has a big initiative to move into healthcare and you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve to win in that market, make sure you tell your vendor. On the flip side, if you’ve got a niche market you’re going after and need MDF to help, you better do a good job of convincing your vendors that dedicating funds to you will be in their best interest.
- Be prepared to show results. Vendors aren’t going to pony up money and invest in your marketing if you can’t do a good job of describing the potential return. Even if there hasn’t been a return on some of your marketing in the past, you should be able to provide clear data on how your marketing initiatives are performing and what results you expect from their MDF investment.
- Maintain a marketing list. If you aren’t currently collecting names for a database of prospects and existing customers, get on it. Your vendors are going to be less likely to invest in you if you’re missing a clean list and clear target audience that can be easily managed.
- Find common ground. If you can find common ground among vendors, you can multiply your MDF investments and efforts. Many vendors have established partnerships with other non-competing vendors. If you happen to partner with these same vendors, there’s a good chance you can get them to pool their MDF resources to help you create joint marketing campaigns that are larger and more impactful than what you might be able to do with the assistance of one vendor alone. This is also another place where your distribution partner comes into play.
- Write up a plan. It’s simple and straightforward. Don’t go overboard. All you need to show is what you need, why you need it, how you’ll use it, and what you expect to gain as a result. Additionally, get the vendor or distributor involved where it makes sense, for example as a presenter at your event or an underwriter of a promotion.
Marketing expertise and funds are waiting for you. It’s all about how you ask.
As president and founder of WhiteFox, Marie is recognized throughout the IT channel for her straightforward, business-minded approach to channel marketing, PR and communications. With more than 15 years of experience in the IT channel, Marie is a friendly face at industry events and a respected advisor and colleague to many of the channel’s most innovative companies and business partners. Marie launched WhiteFox Marketing and Communications in 2005 with the vision of bringing channel relationships, marketing, PR and communications to the forefront of companies’ business growth strategies and tactics.