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5 Market Development Funds Best Practices to Maximize ROI

Market development funds (MDFs) can help you build successful partner programs, but getting a clear ROI from your MDF program can be challenging. Understanding market development funds best practices, MDF accounting rules, effective management techniques, and the benefits MDF campaigns can offer is a great way to get started.

We recently hosted a MasterClass webinar with Spur Reply on getting clear ROI from your MDF program. You can catch the full recording below, but we've built a summary of the top tips and insights from our discussion. Whether you are building your MDF campaign or seeking to enhance your current initiatives, these invaluable insights from the experts will empower you to drive partner success and unlock the full potential of your MDF investments.

👉 What you’ll find:

Benefits of market development fund campaigns

Market development funds offer numerous benefits for both vendors and partners across various industries. These benefits include:

  • Greater partner success: MDF campaigns empower partners to invest in demand generation, solution development, enablement, and other activities that drive growth and success in their markets.
  • Strengthen relationships: By aligning MDF investment with strategic priorities, you can strengthen relationships with partners and foster long-term partnerships based on mutual trust and shared goals.
  • Increase revenue: Well-executed MDF campaigns generate qualified leads, drive sales, and ultimately increase revenue and market share for both you and partners.
  • Drive brand awareness: MDF funds can be utilized for marketing activities, events, sponsorships, and other initiatives that raise overall brand visibility and create market impact.
  • Increase partner engagement: By providing partners with MDF opportunities, you can foster a sense of collaboration, trust, and mutual growth, resulting in higher overall partner engagement and satisfaction.

By implementing the best practices discussed later in this post, you can optimize your MDF initiatives and unlock the full potential of your partner ecosystem.

🔎 Discover more: Read our 101 guide to market development funds to learn more about what they are, how they work, and how to leverage them effectively to maximize your partner program's success!

What are MDF accounting rules?

MDF accounting rules refer to the guidelines and regulations that govern financial management and reporting related to market development funds. These rules provide a structured framework for you and your partners to ensure transparency, accountability, and compliance when dealing with MDF funds.

While your accounting and legal teams will likely oversee this portion, it's a best practice to have a high-level understanding of the accounting rules that govern these campaigns and to always comply with your business and industry requirements.

MDF accounting rules typically cover:

  • The specific criteria and conditions for partners to qualify for MDF funds
  • The permissible use of these funds
  • Necessary documentation to support activities
  • Timelines and procedures for submitting reimbursement claims
  • Supporting evidence or metrics that's required for validation

Adhering to MDF accounting rules is crucial for both you and your partners to ensure proper utilization of funds, minimize the risk of misuse or fraud. By following these rules, your team can maintain transparency, establish trust, and demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of your MDF investments.

How to manage MDF effectively

Building and managing MDF campaigns effectively is crucial for driving partner success and demonstrating a strong ROI. Let's delve into actionable best practices that will empower you to create MDF campaigns that not only address common pain points and challenges, but also maximize partner engagement, deliver tangible results, and showcase the impact of your initiatives.

By implementing these market development fund best practices, you can ensure that your MDF campaigns are strategically aligned, optimized for success, and provide measurable value to your organization and your partners.

You can also watch the full webinar below to listen to our in-depth discussion with Spur Reply.

1. Get better visibility into your data

One of the major challenges in MDF management is proving the ROI of partner activities. To overcome this, insist on higher proof of performance and execution. Upgrade your program tools to leverage platforms that provide accurate reporting and analytics. By closing the loop between MDF investment and tangible outcomes, you can gain a clearer picture of the effectiveness of your campaigns.

For example, a PRM (partner relationship management) platform with robust segmentation capabilities can help you target MDF programs to the right partners and track their performance effectively. With enhanced visibility into ROI, you can make data-driven decisions, optimize campaign strategies, and allocate resources more effectively.

🔎 Discover more: Empower your company with the world’s only PRM-based end-to-end MDF management tool with Impartner. Find out how to automate and gain valuable insights into your MDF program here.

2. Align your campaigns with strategic priorities

To optimize your MDF campaigns, it's important to segment your partners and align these investments with your overall strategic priorities.

Instead of exposing MDF to all partners, for example, focus on those who have a proven track record of delivering strong results and aligning with your business goals. By working closely with partner management teams, you can steer partners towards high-value activities that drive mutual success. This approach ensures that MDF funds are allocated to partners who can make the most impact and achieve strategic objectives. And rather than solely focusing MDF on demand generation activities, explore using MDF for solutioning, enablement, and practice building.

For example, a tech company may want to promote a new product launch by incentivizing partners to develop solutions and deliver training on the product. They segment their partners based on their expertise, market reach, and commitment to product adoption. MDF funds are allocated to partners who have a strong track record in solution development, customer service, and training delivery.

By aligning MDF with their strategic priorities, the company ensures that partners are motivated to invest their resources in both servicing and selling the new product, resulting in accelerated market adoption and increased revenue.

3. Establish a strong governance framework

In larger MDF programs, complexities can arise, leading to MDF silos, uncontrolled spending, and inefficiencies. To address these challenges, it's essential to establish a strong governance structure that fosters collaboration among your worldwide and regional teams.

Regular meetings and discussions help align priorities, steer MDF investments, and streamline back-office processes. Establish a clear set of allocation criteria, such as market potential, partner performance, and alignment with marketing campaigns.

By creating a centralized governance structure with representatives from different teams, you can facilitate collaboration, ensure compliance with MDF accounting rules, and allocate funds wisely in alignment with strategic goals.

4. Balance MDF campaigns with other incentive programs

MDFs are a flexible tool, but they should be balanced with other means of incentivizing partners, such as rebates and margin incentives. Consider your broader partner profitability and incentive strategy. Unify and streamline your incentive programs, leveraging MDFs for activities that are not covered by other incentive initiatives.

Instead of duplicating incentives, identify unique opportunities where market development funds can be used to drive specific partner behaviors or support activities that are not already incentivized through other programs.

For example, consider that a manufacturer wanted to launch a joint marketing campaign with its resellers to promote a new product line. They could allocate MDF funds to cover marketing collateral development, co-branded advertising, and event sponsorships. Simultaneously, the manufacturer could also offer margin incentives to partners based on their sales performance.

This balanced approach ensures that partners have the necessary resources to execute marketing campaigns while also incentivizing them to achieve strong sales results and maintain profitability.

5. Invest in the right tools for seamless MDF management

Partner management platforms with integrated MDF management features can offer your partners user-friendly interfaces for MDF fund utilization, performance tracking, and reporting. These tools enable streamlined and efficient MDF campaigns by offering real-time visibility into budget allocation, performance metrics, and ROI analysis.

By empowering partners with excellent tools and a smooth user experience, you'll encourage active participation and maximize the impact of your MDF investments.

Automate your MDF management

With these market development funds best practices, you can gain visibility into ROI, align MDF with strategic priorities, and build exceptional MDF campaigns that deliver outstanding results. Embrace the power of MDF to unlock the growth potential of your partner programs with an automated, seamless tool.

Impartner makes MDF management easy for you and your partners. You'll enjoy a sleek drag-and-drop form MDF management tool, elegant program interface, instant access to relevant partner data, and robust budget management capabilities. Partners will love the intuitive fund request and claim process.

With Impartner’s MDF tools, there is no need for spreadsheets, no third-party integration, and no extra work for you. At the same time, you get higher ROI, more engaged partners, time-saving automated processes, and greater clarity of ecosystem effectiveness. Let's get started. 

About the Author

Trevor Burnett is the Head of Product Marketing at Impartner. Burnett has over 15 years of experience in the partnerships space. Over the years, he has built both technical and business acumen as he's done everything from building partner portals himself to strategizing how to solve partnership problems through technology with hundreds of companies. He's also the host of Impartner's popular MasterClass series, in which he talks about the latest trends and tech in ecosystems.

Profile Photo of Trevor Burnett