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What Are MDF and How Can They Bolster Your Business?

It can be tough to garner the resources you need to properly market your business. One of the great benefits of partnering with Microsoft or an ISV like AvePoint is the chance to secure MDF, or Marketing Development Funds.

In this episode of P2PNow, we break down:

  • How to gain access to these funds
  • What they’re typically used for
  • How Microsoft in particular handles MDF activities
  • What you can do to get started today


Sam: Today’s question is “What are MDF, or Marketing Development Funds?”

When we’re talking about MDF, what we’re really getting at are funds that an ISV has set aside for you as a partner to do marketing events on their behalf.

It’s good to know that they come in a couple different flavors. On the ISV side, we have two different ways we allocate these funds when working with partners. The first is with co-marketing activities. That is when we go out with partners to do a marketing activity together and AvePoint assists with the bill at the end. The second is when an MDF is tied to some sort of business or success plan where you’ve said “Hey, I’m gonna hit X number dollars of revenue leveraging your solution. To do that, I need Y number of dollars.” So you say “Hey, I’m gonna do this,” and as you complete different marketing activities we reimburse you for those activities.

So that’s how we handle it. Christian, how does Microsoft handle MDF activities?

Christian: Again, I think MDF comes in a number of different flavors. There are different programs that’re available from Microsoft that you’re likely familiar with. For instance, Fast Track has a form of MDF that’re available. So there are certain workshops and training activities that Microsoft will incentivize working through partners and provide this to customers. So there’s an opportunity there for funds that partners can take advantage of.

ECIF funds are marketing related. From the content services team to a lot of what’s happening around the growth and development of Microsoft Viva, there are MDF available around those. In each of these cases, their are program outlines and partners (like AvePoint) that are certified in each of these programs and are able to go and unlock those dollars and then work with other partners to utilize those funds for our end-user customers.

One question, Sam, is around how AvePoint treats MDF. Is it always part of a planned program, or if an ad-hoc opportunity comes forward, can I reach out and work with AvePoint to potentially get access to these funds?

Sam: Yes, that’s a good question. That’s why we break it up into two buckets. the co-marketing activity money is really set up for what you’re talking about, for things like booths at conventions or digital campaigns. For partners who want to sit down and do more long-term planning with us, they’ll be able to schedule out those activities over the course of the year so we can have a cadence of activities per quarter we expect that partner to accomplish. As those activities are completed, the partner can have confidence that they’ll be able to put in a claim or request for reimbursement for those particular funds.

Another common question we get asked is, “How do you get access to the funds as an ISV partner?”

Really, it comes down to 1) you’ve got to join the program, and 2) you have to make sure it’s known that you have the intent to do these activities; it’s going to take some planning on your side. Finally, 3) you want to have everything documented. You want to have that proposal put together. Many ISVs have documented success plans already pre-set. In terms of Microsoft, though, how would one get access to those kinds of funds as a partner?

Christian: Well, it’s going to be very customer or solution-centric. Have a conversation with your contact, let them know it’s something you’re interested in doing, and see what options are available to you. Sometimes programs can have funds available that overlap, so you may be able to double dip into those plans. So you need to ask those questions and have those conversations.

Sam: So, what can you do today? First, you have to be part of the program, be it Microsoft, AvePoint, or others. To do that here at AvePoint, you can go to avepoint.com/partners to learn more about our program. Someone will then be in contact with you so you can gain access to the partner portal and all the great resources that provides.

Then, really, it’s about having the internal conversation about how the company you’re partnering with going to help with the story you’re selling to your customers and take you to the next level? Write down some of those ideas with your partner account manager to have that plan put in place and get those funds allocated to you.

Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you in the next one!

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Christian Buckley
Christian Buckleyhttp://buckleyplanet.com
An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.
Sam Valme
Sam Valme
Sam Valme is Senior Director of Partner Experience at AvePoint, working out of our Arlington, Virginia office.

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