Top Tips to Turn MDF into a Competitive Advantage

Craig DeWolf



How do you turn an MDF program into an effective channel development tool?

Many vendors think of their MDF program as a cost of doing business and offer it as a ‘meets competition’ feature.  A such many have a generic structure offering funding for set activities aligned to demand and lead generation. However, MDF programs can work more effectively by applying a cross partner, cross objective, and cross activity go-to-market approach.   And in nearly all cases this can be done within the funds most vendors already allocate to their MDF program.  

Top Tips for How to Move Your MDF Program from Cost of Business to Competitive Advantage.

  1. Understand the opportunity.  MDF is more than reimbursing for lead generation activities, today it is used to facilitate all aspects of partner enablement and onboarding, including offsetting any costs for training, certification programs, demo equipment, case studies, proof of concept and more.  Begin by taking a look at your partners’ sales processes and any processes you have with prescriptive sales and marketing activities. Then take a look at how your program can facilitate any one of those activities.
  2. Set clear goals and KPIs based on mutually beneficial objectives.  Base the MDF program support, metrics, and funding payments on joint vendor/partner goals to ensure the program drives the right behaviors that deliver results for you and your partners.
  3. Tailor your program as needed to assure mutually beneficial results.  Gone are the days when programs were designed as a one-size-fits-all program—particularly in a global marketplace. In order to optimize your program investment, programs should be tailored to meet the unique needs of partner segments and their various go-to-market models, geographies, or both.
  4. Streamline your program.  Many partners perceive the cumbersome program administration and extensive time to payment to be a sore spot in program design, discouraging it’s use.  The trend today is to improve ease of doing business for partners.  Plus, cash flow is the life blood of most partner organizations.  Waiting weeks or months to get reimbursed for activities for which they are already out of pocket for the expenses further discourages program use. Utilize technology to assist efficiency of claim approval, fund review, and allocation.  Your team and your partners will thank you for it!
  5. Work with the right supplier.  Managing programs in-house effectively may be possible with lower claim volumes (< 25 claims per month, for example).  But as volume increases, administrative processes are delayed and chance of payment errors drastically escalates.  This is especially true if program administration is a part-time duty for your staffer.  Work with an experienced MDF company that can provide best practice advice to administer programs, reduce errors, and expedite processes.  This will often pay for itself and allow you to free your staff for other duties.

About the Author

Craig DeWolf

Craig DeWolf, Perks WW VP, Marketing Enablement, has over 30 years of channel program and trade marketing experience spanning a variety of industries and distribution models including technology and consumer product companies. As Vice President, Marketing Enablement he provides a unique multi-industry perspective gleaned from a background working across agency, supplier, and vendor/manufacturer roles. Craig has engaged with key business partners and worked with a variety of clients on both channel and trade strategies and programs, including: AT&T, Apple, Avaya, Bridgestone Goodrich, Canon USA, Hewlett-Packard, Kraft, Oracle, Panasonic, Timex and Xerox. Immediately before joining Perks Worldwide, Craig held senior roles at Hawk Incentives, Hawkeye Channel, and CCI—a work history that shows his deep understanding of the channel space.

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