Marketing funding comes in many guises – MDF (Marketing Development Funds), BDF (Business Development Funds), ADF (Account Development Funds and Co-Op (Co-Operative Funds) – but at the end of the day, it all boils down to the same thing – money!

Most vendors offer their partners a funding scheme to help promote their products and services. But although very attractive-sounding, these schemes can sometimes seem a bit daunting and leave you pulling your hair out! Here are our top tips that will help you make the most of MDF schemes…

1. Read the rules!
Although the principles of partner funding are obvious, no two MDF schemes are the same. Make sure you read the rules and understand how they work, even if they don’t appear to be that formal. It’s crucial to find out as much as you can to avoid any delays or problems with your claims further down the line.

2. Make sure you can match-fund if required.
In many cases, your partner will require you to match the amount of funds they will offer so make sure you can fulfil your part before committing to the project.

3. Discuss your plans for required funds with your partners.
Before submitting a formal request for funds, discuss your proposed plan with your marketing contact. They are likely to know if the funding is available and can help you ensure your request will be accepted.

4. Use your partner’s MDF system (if they have one).
Most vendors have an online system that manages MDF requests and claims so it’s essential that you use it. Ask your marketing contact to set you up with a login and get some training to make sure you use it properly.

5. Be realistic with your targets.
When making a request for marketing funds, you’ll be asked to declare your targets. It’s only natural for your partners to want to know what they can expect in return for their contribution but it can be hard to specify targets for a specific activity, especially if it’s part of a wider campaign. Just be realistic and don’t over-promise, and use notes fields to mention your overall plan if possible.

6. Don’t start any work until your funding has been approved.
If you’ve already discussed your joint marketing plan with your main contact, it’s fairly unlikely that your funding request will be denied. But things can sometimes change which have an impact on funding, so it’s good practice to hold fire on starting any work until your funding request has been approved.

7. Gather evidence as you go along.
When it comes to claiming your approved funds at the end of a project, you’ll be asked to provide evidence and proof of performance. To avoid any frantic scrabbling around, it’s a good idea to collate documentation as you go along. You’ll need copies of completed collateral which includes your partner’s branding, plus copies of any 3rd party invoices to show the costs incurred.

8. Ensure you make the claim in time.
Most approved MDF requests have to be claimed within a certain amount of time. It’s often within six months of the project completion but it can often be sooner. There’s nothing worse than losing out on funds that you’ve worked hard to be entitled to, so make you check the rules and make your claim in time.