Ask most vendors who supply market development funds (MDF) to partners, and they’ll tell you that the biggest challenge they have isn’t getting ROI on the money they allocate. It’s getting partners to ask for that money in the first place. According to Hedden, vendors that do a poor job of promoting their MDF offerings have only themselves to blame for that issue.
“Making sure the partners are aware of the program and that they know how to use it and take advantage of it is huge,” she says.
So is streamlining the application process. “Make sure the request process is easy to follow,” Hedden says. “Often vendors have a cumbersome request and invoicing process, which may deter partners from using the funds.”
Providing feedback on MDF requests, especially when they’re rejected, is critical as well, she continues. “If a partner is not yet eligible for funds, making sure that the vendor is giving the partner an idea of what they need to do to become eligible is important.”
Last but not least, Hedden advises, vendors should resist the temptation to hand out money in small amounts to large numbers of partners. “I call it a peanut butter spread,” she says, adding that it can result in MDF programs that consume lots of budget but have only a modest impact on revenue.