The modern partner program has, thankfully, become a much more reciprocal affair than in the past. While it used to be that vendors had a clear steering hand behind their partners, often with minimal support, oversight or development of relationships, things have changed significantly in recent years. Now the creation of great vendor-partner relationships has become core to program success and nothing highlights this quite like the rise of MDF. Now widespread in most large partner programs, MDF can offer a new lease on life for some smaller partners, and the opportunity to outsource or grow even further for larger businesses. But the process for procuring MDF from a vendor can be difficult with many criteria necessary to fulfil, tats where the MDF Request comes in.
If you’re comfortable with what to expect in your MDF Request and would like to see a version like something you could see from your vendor to prepare your responses, click the link below and get your hands on our MDF Request Breakdown. Otherwise keep reading and get your copy after some explanation.
What is an MDF Request?
To begin let’s take it back to the basics MDF, Marketing development funds, are a pool of monies set aside by a vendor that are injected directly into their partner program to – do what it says on the tin – help partners develop their marketing. A good amount of large vendors now have these provisions set up within their partner programs and they are a great leg up for smaller partners to help begin or maintain their marketing efforts, while still benefiting the vendor.
MDF is usually divided up on a per case basis by the vendor and as such it can be a big task to decide what money goes where. The best solution for vendors is to have an MDF usage plan along side a good quantifiable solution for tracking expenditures. Lastly they will have a form, that partners can use to request MDF. The form has different questions devised to ascertain the usage case and needs of the partner and can all be compared to create an overall sense of the partner ecosystem’s needs, this is the MDF Request.
What are the Key Elements of an MDF Request?
The most common MDF Request can be broken down into a few distinct sections which cover your need for and usage of the marketing development funds your vendor is offering and are briefly outlined below. By considering your answers to these questions carefully you can develop a clearer understanding of how you will use an MDF assisted budget to create value for both you and your vendor while also understanding some of the factors that will impact the providers point of view on your activities and possible desire for proof of utility.
- Partner Information – Within larger partner programs MDF requests per cycle can run into the hundreds if not thousands and every one should be considered equally by the vendor before decisions are made about resource allocation, in order to do that it’s important the vendor have all the key information about their partner including their partner program credentials and tier so as to make the right decision about where to direct funds.
- Activity Needs – Vendors are very keen to have a good idea about how the money is being used, not only to align or support their own marketing ethos for their products but also as a good metric for how the partner program operates as a whole. Some vendors like a mix of partner types that help cover their bases when it comes to marketing styles. Having an entirely digital focused partner program may seem fine in 2022 but the reality is non-online marketing systems, like events and direct mail, while often comparatively expensive still work (often very well) to help create and nurture MQLs.
- Campaign Objectives – While many vendors are happy for MDF to be spent on whatever the partner needs in order to help bolster their marketing needs it is often helpful to secure MDF by clearly outlining the goals and benefits to the vendor of the MDF usage. Here you should state how the campaigns will be measured and what the overall value should be to you and the vendor, specificity is excellent where it would help promote your cause, but otherwise a broad overview rather than hard figures can usually be at least a door opener.
- Campaign Messaging – This should align with your previous points and go over how the campaign will be run. In essence this is an assurance to the vendor that their money will not be used to fund a project that won’t support their interests and be consistent with their brand, its voice and image. Many vendors will have marketing materials built to support their products and these should be used where possible to help with coherence. Using these options and listing them in the request will be helpful to the vendor to better understand how and what partners want to market from their catalogue.
- Expense Allocation – Here is the real bones of the MDF request, vendors do not expect a full 1-to-1 costing breakdown for the use of MDF as a whole, however having a good handle on how the funds would be spent is certain to help bump you up in the likelihood of being able to claim your share of the MDF. The vendor has likely already expressed to you what amount of MDF is available for each partner and a coherent scope of how this would be used, take this as a guide. Work as best as you can to make a breakdown of how the money would be used item by item, each tactic should have a rough budget, any cost around in-person or physical marketing should be especially concise, and should you need to hire an agency to work on your behalf add this too
- Agreement – Lastly comes the legal bit, after all MDF usage can frequently be a large transfer of funds, and certain assurances must be made to help protect both you and the vendor. This section will likely be relatively short and consist of a brief but important contractually binding set of guidelines designed to protect the vendors investment, whilst allowing partners the freedom to work as they wish.
Get a Request Template
At 8-Digital, we know just how important it is to get your MDF request right. While this might look different depending on your company’s needs, we’re here to get you started. By downloading the free breakdown, you will be guided through everything your vendor wants to know in order to clearly communicate what you need to see your project to success. With plenty of space to tweak, edit, and customise the template, you can guarantee you’ll be ready for the real thing from your vendors.
To download the template, simply fill out the form below.