Are you a marketing professional working in the IT or telecoms industry?

Do you work on joint marketing activities with vendor or reseller partners?

Are you secretly baffled by the terminology that is used in this sector?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to all of the above, then fear not, here’s our no-nonsense guide to the top 10 partner marketing terms…

Partner Marketing is the marketing by two or more companies, of a bundled set of products or services, to an end customer. An example of this is the well-known collaboration between Nike and Apple who worked together to develop and offer the ‘Nike + iPod Sport Kit’ which measures and records the distance and pace of a walk or run.

Alliance Marketing is typically the same as partner marketing but tends to be more strategic and longer term in intent and can sometimes result in a Joint Venture. An example of this is the collaboration between technology leaders Accenture and Microsoft who came together to create the joint venture company Avanade.

Channel Marketing is the marketing of your products or services to a reseller, which could then lead on to collaborative partner marketing to the end customer. An example of channel marketing is Microsoft marketing to its partners, which leads to them working jointly on a plan to market to end-customers such as a retail company or a bank.

BDF, ADF, Co-Op and MDF: When two or more companies decide to collaborate on a joint marketing plan, the supplier / vendor typically supplies some marketing budget – this can be known as BDF, MDF or Co-op…

  • BDF stands for ‘Business Development Funds’: it’s more of an investment approach and tends to be business case lead i.e. what is the objective, target audience and ROI from spending the money.
  • MDF stands for ‘Marketing Development Funds’, ADF is ‘Account Development Funds’ and Co-op is ‘Co-operative Funds’ and they are fundamentally different names to mean the same thing.
  • MDF is generally accrued based on revenue spent with the company e.g. 2% of revenue spent. Co-op is the same as MDF and differs only in that the vendor / supplier will ask the partner to supply an equal amount of money e.g. 50% each.

Vendor, Reseller, Value Added Reseller and SI are all similar terms. The vendor or reseller supplies a product or service to the company that sells it on to the end-customer. Value Added Resellers are resellers who add value by wrapping a service around the product, whilst Systems Integrators (SIs) will incorporate the product or service into a bigger solution.

Playbook vs. Battle Card vs. Cheat Sheet: When a vendor / supplier is trying to get the resellers to resell their products and services effectively, a document called a playbook, battle card or cheat sheet describes how to sell the wares in a summarised format. All contain similar information such as market challenges, target customer profile, qualification questions, objectives, examples, facts and figures, as well as the product information.

Value Proposition and FAB: Value propositions are the set of benefits or values that a company delivers to its customers. This is particularly important in partner marketing, as the collective benefit or value that is delivered is vital to the proposition. This is similar to FAB which is where a marketer looks at Features, Advantages and Benefits of a product or service…

  • Features are one of the easier things to identify – these are facts or characteristics about your business, products, and services.
  • Advantages are what the features do – these tend to be factual and aren’t connected to a prospect’s needs.
  • Benefits answer why someone should value the advantage – it connects the facts about your product to a solution for your client. FAB helps feed into a value proposition.

Conflict Management and Deal Registration: Channel management is the process by which a producer or supplier directs marketing activity by involving and motivating parties within its channel of distribution. Channel conflict can occur in this scenario, where channel partners find they are competing against one another or the vendor’s internal sales department.

Deal registration is one of the tools to address this. As part of channel management, some vendors ask that VARs (Value-Added Resellers) or SIs (Systems Integrators) inform the vendor about a lead in order that they receive the appropriate commission or incentive.

Joint GTM stands for joint ‘Go-To-Market’ plans. The vendor and reseller agree their joint objectives and the strategies to achieve their joint objectives. These would generally include market conditioning activity such as PR, advertising and editorial. The plan would also include campaign and lead generation activity such as events, telemarketing and emails, as well as any mutual sales training.

Sales Enablement: Within Joint Go-To-Market plans, partners may include ‘Sales Enablement’ activity. This incorporates any activity that provides sales personnel with the information they need to effectively sell the joint offering. Activity may include face to face training, online training, sales support guides and co-branded presentations.