The MDF Marketing Process

An overview of the steps taken to start, execute, and complete a MDF Campaign.

The 7 Steps

See an in depth explanation of each step below.

Step 1: Plan

Thorough planning is crucial to launching a successful MDF campaign. Without it, the campaign can easily unravel and waste time and resources.

Before mapping out the entire campaign, seek buy-in or endorsement from the field. This can save valuable time, ensuring the campaign aligns with their expectations and they’re willing to support your initiative. Depending on the vendor’s channel structure, you may have multiple contacts to approach for this. The more supporters you have, the better your chances of securing approval.

Include detailed information about the initiative you’re proposing in your plan, such as the timeline, budget, and expected outcomes. Presenting a comprehensive plan shows the vendor that you’ve carefully considered the campaign’s details and have a clear strategy in place. Referring to vendor-specific MDF guidelines can help ensure your plan covers all the details they require.

Step 2: Submit Activity Request

Once you’ve gained buy-in from the field and completed your plan, move on to submitting the activity request. Typically, this is done via a partner portal, but some vendors may ask you to send your plan via email. Check with your channel account manager for specific instructions. Submitting the activity request formally requests funding and support from the vendor.

Step 3: Activity Approval

If your plan is approved, carefully review important dates, such as the start and end dates for the activity and the claim deadline. Find these dates in the partner portal, and if you submitted your plan via email, obtain them in writing before proceeding with the activity.

If your request is denied, don’t be discouraged. The vendor will typically provide feedback on the reasons for the rejection. Often, it may be due to missing or incomplete information in your plan. Take the time to review and revise your plan accordingly before resubmitting it for approval.

Step 4: Execute Activity

With an approved plan, proceed with executing your activity. Remember to keep the start and end dates in mind and ensure you execute the same activity you submitted a plan for and received approval.

Step 5: Upload PoP & Submit Claim

After executing the activity, gather all required information to submit the MDF claim. Prepare a proof of performance (POP) or proof of execution (POE) report to demonstrate you met the activity’s expectations and executed within the correct timeline.

If you submitted your MDF activity request through a partner portal, upload your POP/POE report and submit your claim there. Depending on the activity type, your report could include various details such as attendee lists, email templates, digital assets, analytics reports, etc. Before submitting your claim, carefully review the vendor’s MDF program requirements.

Step 6: Claim Audit

During the claim audit phase, a third-party entity typically reviews your POP/POE report to verify that you’ve provided all required evidence for the approved activity.

If your claim is approved, it will proceed to the reimbursement phase. If denied, you’ll receive a notification with the decision and an explanation of what’s missing or needs to be added for approval. Edit your claim promptly upon receiving notification since this is often time-sensitive. Once you’ve made the necessary modifications, resubmit the POP report through the portal or send it to the correct person via email (if that’s how it was originally submitted).

Step 7: Reimbursement

The final phase of the MDF process involves receiving reimbursement. The specifics of this phase can vary based on the vendor and your established agreement. Generally, reimbursement comes in the form of a payment, usually delivered via check or ACH. However, it may also be processed through a third-party payment portal. Additionally, vendor rebates may also serve as a form of reimbursement.

The claim and payment processing phase generally takes 60-90 days to complete. It’s worth noting that some vendors follow a quarterly payment schedule, disbursing funds on the same day each quarter.

It’s important to review your reimbursement agreement with the vendor carefully, ensuring that you receive payment according to the agreed-upon terms. Keep track of your reimbursement requests and follow up if there are any delays or issues. This way, you can resolve any problems promptly and ensure that you receive the full amount of reimbursement that you’re entitled to.

MDF Resources

Learn how to capitalize on MDF with these resources.

9 MDF Trends to Watch eBook

In this eBook, we break down the tactics you can leverage to deliver the type of experiences and content your customers and vendors want.

MDF Planning Workbook

Use this resource to plan your marketing and MDF funding for the next 6-12 months. It will help you identify key information needed for your proposal(s) and get you in the right mindset.

Video: How to Maximize MDF

During this workshop we teach you how to leverage vendor market development fund (MDF) dollars to supercharge your marketing and sales. So you can close more deals and grow your business.