How to Expand your Marketing Budget with AWS

One of the benefits of being an AWS Partner is the entitlement to Marketing Development Funds (MDF). In the past year, Keren Shmuely and I got acquainted with the MDF program that AWS offers its customers and we use it to accelerate Epsagon’s marketing. As Epsagon is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner, we knew that there is an MDF budget that we can leverage, but we didn't know when and how we could use this resource.

I this blog, Keren Shmuely and I share our insights and best practices about how to use the AWS MDF resource to expand the marketing budget.

This Blog includes:

  1. MDF Funding
  2. Eligible MDF Activities
  3. MDF Request Process

What is the AWS MDF

The AWS MDF provides marketing support to Advanced APN Partners (read here how to become an AWS Advanced Partner) by sponsoring up to 50% of eligible joint marketing activities. The purpose of this program is to help AWS partners develop an ongoing marketing strategy and drive demand generation in order to build a joint sales pipeline.

From a partner’s perspective, this can also be viewed as extra funds for the yearly marketing budget. If you were reluctant to spend X amount on certain marketing activities, interested in trying out something you haven’t done before, or just didn’t have the budget, this can be helpful in pushing them forward to the decision-makers in your organization.

At Epsagon, the MDF program enabled us to produce different assets, participate in more events, and expand our marketing strategy with the extra funds resulting in new demand pipelines and brand awareness overall.

MDF Funding

There are two main benefits APN Partners may receive from the MDF Program:

  • MDF Cash — Can offset up to 50% of the actual costs of eligible marketing activities that focus on awareness or demand generation.
  • MDF AWS Promotional Credits — Can help offset future AWS usage costs incurred during eligible marketing campaigns.
Epsagon’a AWS Partner Badge. As you get more competencies, you get more MDF Funds.

Things you need to know before submitting a request:

  • 50% of MDF tier benefits expire on June 30th if not associated with an approved activity. ***In a recent update released by AWS due to the effects of COVID-19 globally, the 50% MDF cash baseline fund expiration deadline of June 30, 2020, has been removed. All activity requests must be submitted prior to November 15th for approval.
  • All MDF benefits expire on December 31st, any unused MDF or unclaimed MDF will not be carried over to the following year.
  • All upfront costs are to be covered by the partner (meaning — you)
  • The reimbursement funds will be provided after the activity is completed and for actual costs only.

Eligible MDF Activities

The is a list of eligible activities in the AWS Partners portal. Here are a few activities we have received MDF for.

  • Industry Conference Event.
  • Partner Led Customer Event.
  • AWS-led webinar.
  • Epsagon’s AWS Sales Content.
  • Case studies.

For the full list, visit the AWS Partner Portal → Funding → APN Funding Tool → Launch.

3 Steps to Submit MDF Request in the AWS Portal

Your first point of contact to apply for MDF Funding is your Partner Development Manager (PDM).

STEP 1 — Setup Amazon Payee Central

Prior to applying for MDF, you have to set up an Amazon Payee Central in order to execute a pre-approved MDF activity and to eventually be funded. If you are not already registered on the Amazon Payee Central, you will need to reach out to your PDM to get a registration link. Once you receive an invitation email from Amazon Payee Central and complete registration and tax interview, you’ll receive your PO # and only then you can move forward and start submitting claims.

This step is a one-time setup that you need to do for all future requests.

STEP 2 — Submit an Activity/Campaign to be Pre-approved for MDF

All activities must be submitted at least 2 weeks before the activity start date. Otherwise, it will not be approved for reimbursement. In general, your planned activities should achieve a minimum of 8x ROI in order to be pre-approved (“Estimated Marketing Activity Results”).

When submitting an activity, you’ll first have to select whether you’d like to be reimbursed in cash, credit, or both. Then, you will continue to the “Activity Details” screen.

Pay close attention to the details, dates, and attachments required in order for your activity to be reviewed. (Tip: describe your activity with as many details as you can and how it will help leverage your partnership with AWS).

After submitting the activity, you will be waiting for feedback on whether it has been pre-approved, or not. The approval process takes about 1–2 weeks from our experience. If your activity has been approved, you should move forward to the next step.

STEP 3 — MDF Claim Process

Only after your campaign/activity is completed, partners can begin the MDF Claim process (provided that the activity was approved). Further, AWS will provide MDF based on the actual submitted. For example, if an event was pre-approved for $8,000 at 50%, but the actual costs were $6,000, then you will be refunded $3,000.

Here is a helpful video that shows how to submit a claim.

The reimbursement process can take up to 8 weeks upon claim submission if all goes smoothly.

All claims must be submitted within 30 days after the activity completion date. On the claim process, you would need to detail actual costs, required contribution from AWS, activity results, etc. You may also be required to submit evidence for Proof of Completion.

Get Started

APN Partners can access MDF benefits by logging in to APN Partner Central and navigating to the APN Funding Programs page. From there, just launch the APN Funding Tool.

Learn more about how to access your MDF benefits via the APN Funding Tool Quick Guide.

Key Takeaways

  1. Leverage the MDF program — Whether you’re part of a small startup or a huge enterprise, money is money! Make sure you take full advantage of this program and the funds you were allocated with.
  2. Be organized — Everything you submit, including every tiny detail, should be on your records as well. Keep track of submissions, dates, deadlines, and especially declined and approved activities. This will help extremely moving forward! You’ll know what worked before, what didn’t, and why exactly.
  3. Stay positive — This process might get long and sometimes tiring but don’t give up! Learn from past submission and remember that the MDF team is there for you! Be sure to get acquainted with your AWS MDF contact as soon as possible.

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Nofar Asselman

Nofar Asselman

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Startup Partnerships Lead at Microsoft Cloud (ex-AWS Hero) Focused on Channels, Partners & Alliances. Traveler & tennis lover