MDF is probably one of the hottest topics we talk about here at A Fluent Vision. Go figure, partners’ ears perk up when you start talking about money.

The problem is, working with thousands of partners, we’ve seen a lot of bad practices over the years. And if you’re reading this, my guess is that you want to avoid falling into that category.

So, what are we doing wrong when it comes to spending MDF?

MDF activities are not strategically aligned to existing marketing initiatives

This is something that we see all the time when it comes to channel marketing, but especially when MDF is involved. I get it – as a marketer, I highly recommend getting outside of your comfort zone and trying something new. Marketing is always evolving, and there are a million and one ways to reach your target audience. And if we’re being honest, when you get ‘free’ money from vendors, it makes it that much easier to justify experimental marketing initiatives. But the rate at which we see partners practice this is becoming more and more alarming.

The problem is, too many MSPs, VARs and alike are spending MDF on these activities that operate in silo. No marketing activity – whether you’ve done it once or a million times – works well in silo. Marketing is so much more effective when executed in an integrated fashion. Marketing is about creating a seamless experience for your customers. If you aren’t building activities into your overall plan, all you’re doing is creating a level of disconnect with your prospects and customers.

So, by all means, try new things. But, let’s be a little more strategic. Let’s make sure those new activities fit into your overall marketing plan. Don’t have one?

Download our Marketing Plan Template

Majority of funds are being spent at deadlines

As MDF deadlines approach, we’ve got boots on the ground. AFV often works with manufacturers to encourage partners to spend funds before they expire. We literally have our reps reach out to partner contacts to say ‘hey, you’ve got MDF and about a week to spend it’. Most of the time, partners didn’t even know they had funds in the first place!

Now, take a deep breath. No need to panic. If you’ve got a solid marketing plan, this news should be a blessing! Just allocate funds to the activities you already have planned.

And, if not, there are plenty of ways to spend MDF. What have you done in the past that has worked? Double down on what you’re doing well. If you find yourself in this scenario, its time to hire someone to manage your vendor resources. Don’t get caught spending money on marketing activities that yield no results.

…and some funds are not being spent at all!

It’s one thing when MDF goes to waste because of a bad campaign. But to let funds expire altogether…

There’s a lot of money floating around the channel, so it’s easy to lose track of some of it. But we’ve heard horror stories of up to 80% of funds going unclaimed! And that’s at the program level, not for a particular partner. Now that’s just unacceptable!

Be aware of the vendor resources that are available to you and how to get the most out of them. If you need help, we’ve got you covered.

A shift in mindset

It’s easy to look at MDF as ‘free’ money. So, if you miss out, no big deal, right?

The truth is, this money is yours – you’ve earned it. Funds are distributed based on sales or the level of commitment you’ve shown vendors and distributors.

How much scrutiny is put into your marketing budget? The same should go for MDF. Some partners even incentivize their employees for funds management (based on how much they can bring in and how effectively it is spent). Capital is a valuable resource, regardless of its source. It’s time to treat it as such!

Like this post? Then be sure to check out our MDF best practices guide. Happy spending!