MDF is a wonderful thing. After all, who doesn’t like essentially free money? But MDF is only beneficial if managed and utilized effectively.
It’s often complicated to manage because rules are constantly changing, deadlines remain a mystery, and in many cases, little to no recommendations are made on how to best utilize these funds.
It’s not easy, but is throwing in the towel really worth the thousands of dollars you’re leaving on the table?
Follow these best practices to get the most out of your MDF:
- Assign a dedicated employee to manage funds
Marketing is complex and, for many, can be difficult to keep organized. It isn’t uncommon for tasks to get pushed aside and deadlines to be missed. But when it comes to MDF, the stakes are higher.
Dedicate a point person to be responsible for MDF. Someone who will make it a priority over other marketing tasks, no matter what. Incentivize this position against funds raised. You’ll be surprised how quickly these funds can add up if properly managed.
- Know how much you have and where it comes from
Many manufacturers have various ways that MDF can be acquired, resulting in ever-changing wallet balances. Document and actively manage all available funding sources. Programs are constantly changing and funding is often made available on a whim.
To stay informed about how much money you have available, regularly connect with your channel managers and where available, log into program portals a minimum of once per month for updates.
- Review guidelines before spending the money
One of the most common MDF mistakes is not fully reviewing PoP guidelines before spending the money. Remember, in most cases, you must first make payment before submitting for reimbursement. It can be easy to spend money on activities that may not be eligible for reimbursement. As a result, you will suffer twice. You are no longer eligible for those funds and the cost of those activities come at your business’ expense.
- Stay on top of deadlines
Every manufacturer, distributor, and funding program will have different deadlines to claim and submit proof of performance (PoP). Just as you should manage available sources and funds, you should closely manage deadlines. Set up calendar reminders to avoid losing funds to expiration dates and be sure to review all program communications. It is not uncommon for deadlines to change from quarter to quarter.
- Know your resources, invest wisely
Many manufacturers provide the flexibility for you to choose how you allocate MDF. While this is a luxury, it can be overwhelming to know where that money is best spent.
What marketing tactics will perform the best? Which vendor should you work with? What‘s working for other partners?
Keep up to date on marketing best practices and industry trends to optimize the utilization of your MDF. Work closely with channel sales and marketing as they can often provide insight and make recommendations.
If you don’t plan, don’t plan on getting MDF
Managing funds from multiple sources can be a daunting task. That’s why we highly recommended you draft a quarterly plan that outlines all available funding and how you intend to invest it.
Don’t know how to get started? Don’t worry, we built an easy to use template to help you out:
In planning your campaign and the use of your MDF, be aware of the common challenges you may face throughout the process: