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Marketing development funds (MDFs) are resources (most often monetary, sometimes knowledge-based) that a business grants to its channel partners to aid in their sales and marketing efforts.
Marketing development funds can be used by marketers to fund a range of initiatives, but some of the most popular include brand awareness, covering the cost of sales lead list rentals, or supporting efforts like webinars and lunch-and-learns.
Marketing development funds may be distributed only to top-performing partners, or a company may employ a proposal system where all partners can apply for funding. Funds are usually given within an agreement wherein partners must be able to report on their use and ROI, which can help build a case for future or continued MDF investment.
Example: The marketing team at Lotus applied for MDF dollars from their vendor to pay for a series of radio ads. The funding led to a marked increase in brand awareness, so they decided to apply for the funding again next quarter.