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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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January 4, 2010 |

Where Has All the MDF Gone?

To get your fair share of vendor marketing funds, follow this strategic approach. By Bertha Edington

Where Has All the MDF Gone?

To get your fair share of vendor marketing funds, follow this strategic approach.

By Bertha Edington

CoinsThe MDF (market development funds) landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. Gone are the days when vendors actively contacted VAR partners to insist, please, that they use available MDF. But that doesn’t mean that MDF has gone the way of the mainframe computer. Here’s how to get your fair, or unfair, share in today’s world.

Large or small, VARs and their vendor partners want the same thing: results. That’s why it’s crucial in every MDF proposal to outline some form of ROI. Whether that’s dollars of return, number of qualified leads expected, or actual sales anticipated, vendors want to see that VAR partners have established specific goals and targets for any given campaign.

A well-thought-out proposal also demonstrates how that ROI is going to be achieved, and includes:

  • A timeline for the marketing campaign, including start and end dates and how many times the campaign will touch a target
  • Resources necessary to implement the campaign, such as a telemarketing team, dedicated event planner, and HTML design capabilities
  • A description of the intended targets of the campaign, whether from an acquired list or an existing database
  • A follow-up program that includes reporting results back to the vendor

These are the same steps that are followed in any successful sales effort: a defined process that allows you to throw the net out to a large base, move leads into the sales funnel, and add truly qualified prospects to the pipeline. Using this process makes it obvious to vendors that you are not spending MDF dollars haphazardly–and that makes you a prime candidate to receive even more support.

In most cases, MDF is no longer an automatic percentage of sales, which is good news for smaller VARs or those that have just added a new product to their lineup. Vendors want you to succeed, and there are many inexpensive marketing vehicles available to help you do so, such as email campaigns and Web banners. If you pull together a solid program that shows your dedication to promoting a particular product, you will gain both vendor mindshare and support. And remember, whether you are large or smaller, second to sales–but still near and dear to a vendor’s heart–is the promotion of the vendor’s brand.

Another way to expand your marketing clout is to look for cooperative opportunities. Do you carry two different, yet complimentary products? Strategic business partnerships are the way of the world, and companies are always open to piggybacking to increase sales. Creating a joint marketing campaign is not only a great way to get two vendors in your corner and increase your promotion dollars, but also a tactic to increase your sales.

Once you have created and executed a successful MDF program, how do you keep the support coming? Communication. Let the vendor know what the results are and how you intend to move forward. Throw out new ideas and brainstorm with the vendor’s channel marketing specialist. A smart marketing specialist knows that when you look good, they look good, and everybody wins.

Developing and implementing an effective MDF campaign customized to meet sales goals takes time and resources. However, money for cooperative marketing is out there and available. Once you demonstrate to a vendor that you understand what it takes to create a winning campaign, you’ll find you have not only gained increased sales, but increased respect as well.

BERTHA EDINGTON is vice president of marketing operations for Channel Chargers (, an organization that serves IT vendors, resellers, and service providers with outsourced sales and marketing services. She can be reached at

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