Interesting article, thanks Peter.
I often utilise MDF from vendors and have learnt that executing these in ways which DO lead to an ROI for your partner is a great way to develop relationships within the industry. Much more beneficial long term than using MDF to add to a resellers bottom line. I have built a good network of external agencies – lead generation companies, branding specialists and more – to ensure that we have a variety of different paths we can look at with each different activity. Not all activities include the agency involvement but then I have done a number of cobranded campaigns FOC for vendors.
Personally, I find that (although this may be obvious), the trick is always in the call to action. For instance, customers do not care that HP spent $300million on R&D for the Gen8 servers. However, this is suddenly of interest to them if you give them the option to explore this at a demo lab. The opportunity to see and touch a product wakes up the sleepy IT Manager who is bored of being spammed with the £10 off box bonus.