9 Ways Vendor MDF Programs Are Changing

The Partner Marketing Push

A solution provider may have the perfect blend of technology and services for a specific market, but the business can only be as successful as its reach. What good is the perfect solution if potential customers don't know about it?

While marketing is often the answer to this dilemma, it's not a simple, or cheap one.

Facing strapped budgets, spending to drive revenue is often a difficult move for solution providers to make. Throw in a lack of resources and that idea is often out the window.

But a successful digital marketing strategy can be mutually beneficial in a channel partnership - and vendors often have the capital and resources to make it happen for the solution providers that are touting their wares.

Arming partners with market development funds (MDF), as well as the appropriate marketing resources and training, can be the conduit for solution providers to seamlessly become a natural extension of a vendor's marketing efforts.

We asked the honorees of the Channel Chiefs 2018 list to tell us about their organization's channel MDF strategy and how they see it evolving in 2018. Here are our favorite responses.


Ron McNab

SVP, Channel Sales

AireSpring invests heavily in our channel partner relationships. In 2017 we significantly increased our investment in MDF, sponsoring over 60 targeted regional and larger partner events. Because we are 100 percent channel focused, nurturing channel relationships and developing partners is tantamount to success.

In 2018, we will deepen our strategy of engaging with channel partners at large industry-wide events, and smaller, more intimate, partner- or regional-specific events. We will invest heavily in training and developing our partners and delivering exceptional service and aggressive compensation. We have also expanded our President's Club program, FREE engineering design services, and white glove support services.

Arrow Electronics

Rita Walston

Sr. Director, Marketing Programs

In 2017 I had my team start a detailed analysis of where and how MDF monies were spent, and initiated more stringent internal ROI reporting. Our strategy for 2018 is to continue this analysis and leverage the information to ensure that MDF monies are being used in ways that provide measurable, reportable ROI. In tandem with our initiative to more closely integrate our B2B and B2G marketing organizations, we are sharing more information about what is working well and delivering true results for the channel. We will continue our 2017 initiative of holding sales teams and partners accountable for reporting.


Caroline Chapin

Director, Channel Marketing

We first launched MDF in 2017 and learned a lot from our partner advisory board along the way. As a result, we plan to increase MDF spend in 2018 and continue to help our partners generate leads and win new business. We plan to focus less on resource intensive activities like trade shows and focus more on leveraging the power of PipelinePRO to help partners generate leads through email and social campaigns, enhanced web presence and SEO, where the reach will be that much greater and the ROI higher.


Rick Snyder

SVP, Americas Partner Organization

First, we want to make the MDF process simpler in order to improve the overall partner experience.

We've made some significant adjustments and improvements to do just that this year and early feedback from partners is positive. Second, we want to bring partner-specific data and insights into the conversations as we plan MDF spend with our partners. We're seeing this approach drive better return on those funds for both partners as well as Cisco - and our partners love it.


John Teltsch

General Manager

We take pride in making sure IBM engages with partners in a moral, ethical and legal manner. We understand that our partner requirements around MDF are very comprehensive, and we're working closely with the IBM Trust and Compliance team to find ways to make it easier and more efficient for our partners to use MDF, while still meeting all our compliance requirements.

In 2018, we will significantly improve our MDF program by enabling partners to generate higher demand, develop better quality leads, lower cycle time, and increase win rates.


Jeff Abbott


In 2018, Infor is launching a SMB Demand Center that will be specifically focused on driving leads into the channel space and supporting Infor partners with their MDF demand generation activities. This new SMB Demand Center will help partners build a marketing plan focused on proven marketing activities.

Funding will be issued to partners based on their marketing plan and the proposed return on investment. This model is designed to help enable partners to be able to build their own marketing plans in the future that are built on a data driven marketing model.


Rodolpho Cardenuto

President, Global Channels & General Business

We announced in Q4 a new feature called MDF Direct Pay. MDF Direct Pay is a way that allows our partners to simply order an SAP-delivered service or benefit from the SAP Partner Benefits Catalog, which is an online platform powered by SAP Hybris that lists all the benefits and services that are available to partners. It also indicates which ones are eligible for MDF. When a SAP-delivered service or benefit is selected, the MDF funds are automatically deducted from their account, eliminating the process of waiting for a reply.


Jeff Zobrist

VP, Global Solution Partner Sales

During FY18, we plan to leverage MDF to further evolve and enhance our partner's digital and inbound marketing strategies, better aligning with the modern buyer's journey and solution sales approach. As a key component of our partner marketing strategy, MDF will be deployed to fuel adoption of new partner content syndication tools and development of easy-to-consume digital content. MDF will further support our multi-level partner marketing certification program, bolstering the skills of partner marketers entrusted to execute campaigns. Lastly, MDF will continue to be utilized to support joint investment in partner sales activities that have the highest ROI.


Colleen Kapase

VP, Partner Go to Market Program and Incentives

VMware is making significant improvements to our MDF process and model by developing a new structure that accelerates achievement of partner GTM goals across VMware prioritized solutions. We are working to give our partners a scalable, investible model with demonstrable ROI for VMware and our partners that gives them the ability to use the funds flexibly based on their business capabilities and priorities – with demand generation, enablement and training and more to drive greater business impact and ultimately more sales.


Peter Kerr

Director of Global Alliances

Zerto will continue our existing strategy of incentivizing our top producing partners. In addition we are partnering with Microsoft to align their Partner Investment Engine and other MDF programs with our channel partners so we achieve a multiplying effect for both the customer and channel partner.