Tool Keeps Track of MDF for VARsBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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CMR, a software developer and channel management company, aims to simplify the MDF process with an automated solution.Keeping track of and cashing in on market development funds from vendors ranks high on the channel's list of frustrations.
CMR Ltd., a software developer and channel management consultant based in San Diego, aims to change that by automating the process of logging and tracking the data related to MDF (market development funds) and co-op dollars.
This month, CMR released a hosted-software tool that streamlines the process, giving distributors and solution providers access to a Web-based system to submit and track claims. The tool, called Coop/MDF Hosted Services, saves time, simplifies and reduces the cost of processing, and provides analytical information vendors can use to tweak their marketing-fund programs, according to the company.
"It really speeds up the whole process and makes sure it's done more consistently," said Heles.
MDF is marketing money that partners earn by meeting certain sales goals set by a vendor. The partner accrues the money and is allowed to spend it according to strict guidelines. Many channel executives have complained the process of collecting is too cumbersome, and often the money goes unspent.
Co-op dollars are also based on accrual, but the spending guidelines are less strict. Most of the money goes to advertising, according to vendor and channel executives.
CMR has contracted with more than 50 vendors to use its automated tool, said Heles.
The tool walks users in channel companies through a number of choices for using the marketing funds, which include print, e-mail and banner ads.
Once the information is entered, the system checks to see if the partner has met the vendor's requirements and has earned enough points to use the funds. The system then triggers an e-mail to someone at the vendor with the authority to approve the request.
"The system automatically sends an e-mail back to the requester saying, 'This has been approved. Go ahead and do it,'" said Heles.
Al Giazzon, vice president of marketing at Targus Group International Inc., Anaheim, Calif., one of CMR's vendor partners, said the case and accessories vendor sought feedback from its channel partners to figure out what the vendor needed to include in a customized module CMR developed for Targus, which the vendor calls PartnerVantage.
A main priority for channel partners, Giazzon said, was to make the MDF process fast.
Giazzon said Targus is in the process of implementing the module, so it's too early to talk about results. However, he said, the vendor already has identified ways to improve how it supports its channel partners in relation to marketing funds.