How MSPs Can Create A Successful MDF Event

January 11, 2017

How MSPs Can Create A Successful MDF Event

By Eric Torres

Marketing Development Funds. Three words, that if used correctly, can generate an incredible return on your investment. Its very design is to help MSPs grow, and in return, help the vendors grow. There are right and wrong ways to use these funds. When MDF is used properly, the returns can be tremendous.

Before joining Datto, I spent nine years working at an MSP, helping grow the company from a 10-person team to the over 65 person-organization it is today. I have run my share of MDF events and now oversee the Datto MDF program. Last year, we helped 147 Datto Partners grow their business by supporting them with various campaigns and activities. Together, we were able to help our partners generate over $1,600,000 in recurring revenue as a result.  

I’ve done the math. A properly executed MDF campaign can yield a return well over 300 percent, yes 300 percent! There is not a single one of us here who doesn’t want to know more about a 300 percent ROI. So let’s go. Allow me to dig in and paint a picture of a perfectly executed MDF campaign, step by step.  

Establish a Relationship with the Vendor: This is something you should already be doing anyway. Asking for money from a vendor that you haven’t shown much commitment to probably won’t yield the results you’re hoping for. Take this opportunity to demonstrate a renewed interest in bringing them to your customer/prospect base. They will appreciate a commitment to their product and brand. 

Plan it Out: This the most time-consuming step you will face. Planning includes everything from determining vendor requirements, the MDF process, brainstorming event ideas, setting goals, and applying. The key is to talk with your vendor. Find out what kind of conditions they have, what their approval process looks like, and what events work for your needs. I’ve helped dozens of MSPs customize their events to yield a high ROI. Far and away, the events with the highest ROI are events where vendors and MSPs deliver educational content together. Tap into that, use resources that are available and heed your vendor’s advice. 

Market, Market and Market: This is basically steps three, four and five. Get your name and brand out there. Generating attendance for your event is the biggest challenge you will face…but there is help. There are proven ways to generate higher attendance numbers. The key is to dedicate the time and effort. Email blasts, mailers, phone calls and reminders. You must constantly ensure your event in front of the correct people. Most vendors have content created for you. Use it! The easiest way to generate interest is to have everybody in your organization talking about it. Every Sales Rep should mention it during their calls. It should be the last thing every engineer says, “did you happen to hear about our upcoming event? It’s going to be awesome, you should really check it out.” Sitting back after sending out an email blast or mailer, and hoping that the masses will register, is a recipe for disaster. You have to follow up and to talk to people. Get them excited! 

Event Preparation: Practice any presentations you have. Make sure you have confirmed attendance, compiled registration lists, name tags, handouts, even the room temperature. The devil is in the details. (For more tips, check out our eBook, Events Made MSPeasy) 

Post-Event Follow-up: Once the event has taken place, follow-up with your vendor. If you follow these basic steps, you will be successful. When you are successful, you and your vendors will want to participate again and again. Reporting back and working with them is the best way to ensure this happens. Discuss the event, review the preparation, plan and execution. Discuss the things that went great as well as areas that need improvement. Explain your plan to address those issues and make the next event even more successful. Discuss your plan of action for closing new leads. This will ensure that your vendor is much more than an order taker, but a strategic partner that is invested in your success. 

Want help in planning your next MDF event? I have a whole team here willing to share ideas. Feel free to contact me at

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