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Sometimes your partners need more resources to market your brand effectively. By creating marketing development funds with impact.com, you can set up all your partners for success. What better way to keep your partners engaged than by showing them support?

Marketing development funds (MDFs), also known as co-op funds, are a way for partners to request reimbursement for the costs associated with co-marketing projects. They are commonly used by B2B companies who market their products and services through other companies, such as agencies, consultancies, and different kinds of resellers. Put simply, MDFs allow brands to allocate money to their partners to promote them.

A commission isn’t always enough

You might be wondering: if you’re already paying a commission to referral partners, why create an MDF? Events, targeted campaigns, and many other co-marketing activities can drive incredible results but are costly to execute. 

It may be hard for your partner to make a business case for those activities if the costs of promoting your brand are falling entirely on their shoulders. By funding those promotional efforts, your partners get the assistance they need to drive results without worrying about shouldering everything on their own budget.

For example:

  • A partner of yours may be planning a booth at a trade show where they will also advertise your products. Rather than the partner shouldering the total costs for booth design, printed materials, and other needs, MDFs allow both partners to share those expenses to take advantage of a mutually beneficial co-marketing opportunity. 
  • A professional services firm like a consultancy may have an excellent idea for an educational webinar showing off your SaaS solution to a common problem their clients face, but they already spent their budget for the quarter. By funding the activity through an MDF, you can reach new potential users who are freshly motivated to sign up.
  • In retail, many stores have particularly strong promotional partnerships with certain brands they stock. Using MDFs, a retail store can request money to offset the costs of promoting the brand’s products in print ads and in-store displays. 

How MDFs work on impact.com

The MDF feature at impact.com allows you to manage these funds from the same platform you use to manage every other part of the partner life cycle, from recruitment to payout. When a partner comes to you with a co-marketing opportunity, they need funding to execute on. The MDF funds on impact.com allow you to assess their plan and choose whether or not to fund the activity. 

Your customer success manager can enable this feature at your request. Once enabled, your partners can submit requests detailing the activity they need funding for and the amount they need to move forward. 

Submitted requests

Your customer success manager can enable this feature at your request. Once enabled, your partners can submit requests detailing the activity they need funding for and the amount they need to move forward. 

You and your partner can negotiate the proposal’s details through the messaging function built into the individual request page. 

Transferring funds

Once you and the partner have reached an agreement, you have the option to approve the request without transferring any funds or to approve and transfer the funds immediately. The first option gives the partner the go-ahead to start work on the proposal now with the knowledge that they’ll receive reimbursement later. The second takes you directly to the standard partner funds transfer screen, prepopulated with the partner and the requested amount.

Which option you choose should depend on your relationship with the partner as well as your own policies. If you have a longstanding, trusted relationship with a partner, you may feel comfortable paying up-front. Otherwise, you may choose to transfer the funds after the co-marketing event occurs or wait for an invoice from the partner.

Quick tips for a successful MDF program

With this new tool, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make regarding how best to implement it. It would be best to have goals and policies to guide its use. 

  • State clear submission requirements. Be clear with your partners on the details and documentation you require from them in both the submission and the payout phases. Sending a checklist that partners can run through before submission would help eliminate uncertainty and miscommunication.
  • Set criteria. Unless your referral program would benefit from a more open policy, establishing criteria for which partners qualify can help bring focus to the program and avoid abuse.
  • Be specific about what qualifies. Not every activity needs to be up for consideration, even for qualified partners. Your policy should outline the specific activities eligible for funding and the expenses authorized for reimbursement. 
  • Set clear guidelines. Guidelines that set boundaries for how partners represent your brand can help avoid risk to your reputation. However, giving partners the freedom to be creative within those lines can improve their performance as well as your relationship.  

With the costs of marketing your brand covered, your referral partners have a solid incentive to be bolder when generating demand for your products or services. Ready to see all that impact.com has to offer? Reach out to a growth technologist at grow@impact.com or request a demo.

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