Since the early days of IT consulting, IT service organizations have struggled to figure out marketing and find a way to pay for it. For many managed service organizations, marketing can feel like some kind of magic that only a few gifted individuals can understand and afford.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Marketing development funds (MDF) are available from most IT channel vendors, large or small, to help your managed services business pay for marketing.
The catch is that vendors will only fork over money to partners that have proven they deserve the gift. Even your best vendor will ask, “What have you done for me lately?” In order to succeed getting MDF from vendors, you need to prove you’re worth the investment.
When I was the VP of Business Development with IT Matters, marketing development funds actually turned out to be a profit center for our business. Yes, that’s right, we actually MADE profit getting money from our vendors for our MSP marketing efforts. It can be done, but what are you willing to invest to make working with your most strategic vendors enjoyable?
You’ll notice that I said “strategic.” Strategic vendors are the ones that help you make money and also have a well-known name with your clients. Want money from your strategic vendors? Start planning now. It will take a good 12 to 24 months before you can submit a request and get an immediate yes.
Here are the steps you need to take to position your MSP business to successfully secure MDF from vendors:
1. Invest in getting your staff certified with your strategic partners
Pick the vendors and partners you want to work with strategically and invest in training your staff. You need to have technical, support, and sales certifications. When your vendors and partners see you investing in certifications, they’ll be more open to helping you in the future. Consider this an investment in your business relationship.
2. Start showing your vendors the love
You need to demonstrate to your vendors and strategic partners that you can actually sell their solutions. Send your weekly pipeline reports to them each month to show your progress and successes.
3. Create a “go-to-market” strategy
Develop monthly, quarterly, and annual strategies with all your strategic partners. This will include marketing, sales, and training. When you regularly discuss strategy with your partners and have them working together, magic can occur that will improve your marketing efforts even more.
4. Attend their events whenever possible
The more you’re seen at your vendors’ events, the better it is for your relationships with them. While you’re at these events, request meetings with top executives and the channel teams and get to know everyone at a personal level. IT Matters attended the Microsoft Partner Conference annually and discussed strategy with all levels at Microsoft.
5. Always communicate your wins:
Every time you win a new deal, share this news with your vendors and partners.
There is one more very important tip that I am holding back. You need to register for our upcoming webinar to learn this highly effective secret to getting your vendors to pay for your marketing efforts. Plus, you’ll find out more about the five tips I discussed in this post and how to put them into action. Join us at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30 for “Marketing Development Funds: How to Obtain Funds to Market Your MSP.” You can’t afford to miss this!
Stuart Crawford serves as Chairman and CEO of Williamsville, NY- and Burlington, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
If you would like to speak with Stuart in regard to your online marketing, social media or how to blog effectively, give him a call at 716.799.1999 ext 101 or email email@example.com.