Value Prop

Do MDF Programs Still Produce Results?

Maximizing Channel Partner Success: Leveraging MDF and Co-Op Programs to Drive Demand

Effective utilization of Market Development Funds (MDF) and Cooperative Marketing Programs (Co-Op) can be a key unlock for driving demand and boosting sales. However, over the past decade, these programs have become underutilized by partners. Here are five key strategies to help your channel partners fully leverage these programs and overcome common barriers:


  1. Educate Partners on Program Benefits

Many partners are unaware of the full benefits and potential of MDF and Co-Op programs. Make sure they understand the advantages and processes by offering training sessions, webinars, and workshops. These should cover eligible activities, application processes, and successful case studies, demystifying the programs and encouraging utilization. And despite the likelihood that your CFO does not want partners to be better at this, you do!


  1. Simplify the Application Process

Complex and time-consuming application processes can deter partners from using MDF and Co-Op funds. Make it easy for partners by streamlining the application process and committing to a response SLA. Provide a user-friendly online portal or form, clear guidelines, and a well-versed, partner friendly support staff to assist with applications. Simplification reduces frustration and encourages more partners to apply.


  1. Provide Marketing and Sales Resources

Partners may lack the resources or expertise to execute effective marketing campaigns. Equip them with the tools they need for success by offering ready-to-use marketing templates, access to digital marketing platforms, and joint marketing planning sessions. You may want to offer referrals to approved vendors that they can outsource this to. Overall, this support helps partners feel confident in their ability to drive demand and see positive results.


  1. Align Incentives with Partner Goals

One size does not fit all. Ensure that the MDF and Co-Op programs align with the business goals of your channel partners by customizing incentive structures. Consider tiered funding levels based on performance metrics and offer additional incentives for high-impact activities like lead generation events. And do not forget to offer these programs to non-transacting partners. Simply catering these incentives to billed product revenue results short shrifts your most valuable partners. Alignment with their goals motivates partners to engage more fully.


  1. Measure and Communicate ROI

Partners may hesitate to utilize MDF and Co-Op funds due to uncertainty about the return on investment. Demonstrate the ROI from funded activities by providing tools for measuring and reporting results. Share detailed analytics, conduct quarterly performance reviews, and regularly communicate the overall impact. Unambiguous evidence of success reinforces the value of these programs and encourages continued participation. And be realistic about return and results – they may vary and benchmark to your expectations, not an industry titan.


Overcoming Barriers to Utilization

To summarize, understanding why MDF and Co-Op programs are traditionally underutilized is essential for addressing these barriers. Common reasons include:

  • Lack of Awareness: Partners may not know about the programs or understand their benefits.
  • Complex Processes: Tedious application and approval processes can be discouraging. Be easy to do business with.
  • Resource Constraints: Partners may lack the marketing expertise or resources to effectively use the funds.
  • Unclear ROI: Uncertainty about the potential return can lead to hesitation in investing time and effort.


By addressing these challenges through education, simplification, resource provision, alignment of incentives, and clear communication of ROI, vendors can significantly increase the utilization of MDF and Co-Op programs. Done right, this should lead to better market reach, greater brand visibility, and improved sales performance.


At Acknowledge Solutions, we specialize in optimizing channel strategies and maximizing the impact of MDF and Co-Op programs. Contact us to learn more about driving sustainable growth through effective go-to-market initiatives.

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