Navigating Marketing Development Funds (less stressy, more success-y)

Marketing Development Funds have long been the cause of frustration for vendors and resellers alike. As MDF veterans, we share our top tips for getting the most from your funding. 

  • 1st February

Marketing Development Funds (MDF) work like many of the best laid plans: while the logic is sound, the execution is often… chaotic. Vendors award money to partners (either directly or through a distributor) for the purpose of promoting products. And to ensure a speedy return on investment, partners are given a deadline by which the vendor funds must be executed on.

It’s at this point that things often begin to unravel, because while funds are normally awarded a full quarter or two in advance, we know all too well that this is rarely the reality of the situation. As you may have experienced, it’s common for funding approval to arrive late, thereby reducing the execution window for compliant marketing activity. And while partners don’t want to lose the potential opportunities that vendor marketing investment represents, time restraints often limit what and how money can be spent. After all, nobody likes throwing money at a half-baked campaign because there simply isn’t time to do any better…  

We hear you. And having experienced this stipend soap-opera first-hand for several years now, we’ve come up with a number of solutions to counter the ever-challenging MDF conundrum.  

‘Always On’

Chances are, you already know what you want to say about your vendors’ products and solutions. Maybe you even have some ideas about how you want to say it. Spend some time getting a few campaign frameworks in place – preferably ideas that can suit multiple vendor partners and be sized up or down according to budget – and make sure your team understand the concepts. Once an MDF opportunity or commitment comes your way, you should be able to quickly slot in the specifics while steering well clear of unnecessary panic. As well as being convenient, these ‘oven-ready’ campaigns can be tweaked with every use to become more effective, so you can be confident they’re getting results for both you and the vendor.  

Know your vendors

This is another ‘front-loading’ approach, however it’ll help with more than just your MDF. Ironically, one of the biggest hold-ups we experience when building plans with partners is choosing the right tech to market. We understand that in the busy world of resellers there’s barely time to make a brew, but the fact of the matter is that your vendor funding will only be effective if it’s focused on the right solutions and targeted at the right audience segments. To achieve those all-important goals, you need to have more than a cursory understanding of the vendors product and solution landscape. It’s this insight that will help you respond to MDF requests more quickly and successfully. 

Less is more

Controversial opinion: smaller MDF allocations can be a blessing in disguise. The fact is, they’re often easier to execute against, they can be actioned faster as there’s less to do, and they can still produce fantastic ROI. All too often we see resellers eager to get their hands on a sizeable MDF, only to regret their decision when they then run into challenges over execution or, at worst, risk non-compliance. Of course, that’s not to say you should never seek to acquire larger MDF commitments from vendors we’re practical, not foolish. This is just your friendly reminder that more money doesn’t necessarily equate to more returns. 

Work smarter

When time is short, delivering fully-fledged campaigns may simply be impractical – but that doesn’t mean you should have to lose out on MDF. Think differently about how funding could be harnessed: is there a case study you could create that would help future sales development? Perhaps you have an existing item of collateral that can be repositioned to suit a new capability or service offering? Keep in mind that vendors don’t expect the majority of submissions to be award-winners – more modest, simple requests can be easier to deliver and still add lots of value, while proving your hunger to work with a key vendor. 

Good foundations

We’re back on the preparation bandwagon – and boy is it a good place to be! The ability to execute in tight timeframes is often limited by a lack of marketing basics – we’re talking suitable targeting data, or even appropriate templates in email distribution tools. If you’re having to build these from scratch, especially when you’re also tight on time, you’re going to be under pressure. Ensuring good foundations are in place will help support faster execution in pressured situations. 

Get in touch with a good agency

There’s no getting away from the fact you need to mobilise quickly when it comes to MDF. However, keep in mind that lots of MDF drops back into vendor budgets due to partners declining offers as they don’t feel they can execute within the given timeframe or budget. Simply put, you stand to benefit disproportionately just by responding. We’ve learnt this after years of MDF experience ourselves – which brings us to our final point: working with a knowledgeable agency that understands the dynamics, the tech, the compliance hurdles and what works will help you respond faster, ensure compliant activity, and get results. 

Your next MDF application

If you’ve read this far, you may be surprised that we haven’t suggested some way of changing the way vendors approach MDF – and that’s because we’re nothing if not realists. As the budget holders, they ultimately call the shots, which is why our approach has always been about mitigating panic while maximising results. So, whether this blog has sparked a few ideas for you, or you’re still a little wary of what’s around the corner, speak to the team at Asgard today about helping with your future MDF submission. 

Fran Caruana is our in-house copywriter. Her work is essential for our ability to deliver top-notch copy on any topic our clients desire.

Fran Caruana, Copywriter, Asgard Marketing

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