Vendor MDF Are a Gold Mine: Why Aren’t You Using Them?

As the Channel Futures Leadership Summit looms, Applied Tech’s David DeCamillis talks about a hot session.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

October 16, 2023

5 Min Read
Vendor MDF
Yunus Malik/Shutterstock

Are you taking full advantage of vendors’ marketing development funds (MDF)? Surprisingly, it seems many partners are not — even though vendor MDF have represented a key go-to-market funding option within the channel for decades.

The upcoming Channel Futures Leadership Summit session, “Get the Most Out of MDF/Co-Op Funds to Advance Your Business,” will address this gap. Come to Miami, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, to hear from the following thought leaders about strategies for securing and using vendor MDF, even (or perhaps especially!) if you’re short-staffed and/or time-crunched:

As the Leadership Summit edges ever closer, Channel Futures caught up with DeCamillis, the longtime partner sales and marketing expert, to preview the session. He has worked in the managed service provider world for years; he heads revenue-generation efforts at MSP Applied Tech, formerly Platte River Networks.

Get in on The New Style of Leadership. Register now for the No. 1 channel event for current and future leaders. Hear industry experts and meet with more than 150 sponsors and exhibitors serving the channel at the Channel Futures Leadership Summit, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, in Miami Beach.

Below, get DeCamillis’ advice and insights in the lead-up to the vendor MDF session (for partners), and schedule a reminder now to attend “Get the Most Out of MDF/Co-Op Funds to Advance Your Business” on Oct. 31. (Please note that we have lightly edited this Q&A for length.)

Vendor MDF Channel Futures Leadership Summit Session Preview

Channel Futures: As we look ahead to this session, it’s intriguing that a significant enough number of channel partners, in a decades-old industry, still aren’t taking advantage of vendor MDF/co-op funds, which have been around forever. What’s your view on why this has happened? Is it a lack of vendor-to-partner education, too many onerous requirements attached and/or something else?


Applied Tech’s David DeCamillis

David DeCamillis: I think it’s a combination of things, but what it really boils down to is, it is up to the partner to get the funds. Yes, it does take some work, but the ROI is worth it. Every vendor’s requirements are different, so you must be able to navigate those requirements to consistently obtain the funds. Vendor contacts, requirements and amount of funds available will change so you must be aware, nimble and have multiple vendors ready to give funds in case one of your good MDF vendor says no suddenly.

[As a partner], my goal is to make it easier on the vendors. I strive to create unique lead-generation events that will provide an awesome experience for the attendees, my vendors, my team and the venue/staff. … I communicate with vendors on the hot leads and wins. I make it easy for them to see ROI and approve funds. I’m able to obtain monies from multiple vendors and it does work. I’m receiving over $100,000 total in MDF from five vendors this year.  The simple answer, partners are not willing to put in the effort to get the funds. The funds are there for the taking.

CF: Why is now an ideal time to hold this session? Is there something about the ongoing weak(ish) economy that’s contributing to the relevance/importance of vendor MDF/co-op funds for channel partners?

DD: My belief is that when the economy is weak you should increase marketing efforts. Your competitors are most likely cutting marketing spending, so by increasing your marketing spend, you should increase your lead conversion. MDF can help you increase your marketing spend without having to produce the extra funds. It’s a win-win.

CF: What are one or two of the more common challenges channel partners face when using or trying to use vendor MDF/co-op funds, and why?

DD: Consistently creating lead-generation activities that show ROI. Most partners do what everyone else is doing and don’t generate the leads they hope to. Get creative. Do your research. If you create successful lead-generation activities, the vendors will keep giving you money and you will earn more new business.

CF: Without giving away the meat of the session, what are two strategies that you’ve seen work for partners when it comes to successfully using vendor MDF/co-op funds?

DD: Plan well in advance, build a calendar of lead-gen activities in the fourth quarter and meet with vendors in December or January to get buy-in before funds are taken. I typically do not do events in the first quarter —they’re not usually well attended.

CF: And what are two lessons learned (didn’t go as planned/hoped) you’ve either witnessed or experienced?

DD: It’s about the details and the research. If it is an in-person event, do your research, test/consider everything: day of the week, time of the day, food, cocktails, location, theme, type of leads lists, titles, number of emails, subject line, content, reminders, surveys, gifts, giveaways, presentation, content, speakers, interaction during, length of event, follow-up. You need to consider everything possible to increase the chance that the right lead clicks on the email, signs up, shows up, is willing to take a sales meeting and becomes a customer. Learn from each event. Keep improving. Don’t just do one event and give up.

Learn more from the full panel on Oct. 30 at 10:30 a.m. ET, in person at the Channel Futures Leadership Summit.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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