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Digital Advertising

Advice for Finding and Using Co-Op Marketing Dollars

Nate Amspacher | Mar 21, 2018

Tired of spending your own money on marketing? If you work with large brands or manufacturers, you may be entitled to bonus marketing & advertising funds.

What is Co-Op Marketing?

Cooperative marketing is a way that large brands support smaller brands, dealers, or vendors by aligning marketing resources. The most common form of co-op marketing is by funding specific advertising campaigns or through co-op dollars for local dealers to use.

The practice, requirements, and amount of funds can vary greatly based on industry, company, and campaign. Usually co-op dollars are reserved for high ticket items (vehicles, appliances, enterprise-level software or hardware) or premium quality products.

Benefits of Cooperative Marketing

There are plenty of benefits from co-op marketing for both the manufacturer and the local brand. For the manufacturer, you can send marketing dollars to specific local markets, while also strengthening your relationship with your dealer.

Here are some additional benefits for the local dealer:

  • Save marketing & advertising dollars.
  • Use of big brand’s creative assets, customer list, or data.
  • Stretch your marketing budget even more.
  • Leverage larger brand’s name recognition.
  • Invest in new marketing initiatives.

How Do Co-Op Marketing Funds Work?

Every brand will have their own standards and regulations in applying for and using co-op dollars. Overall, we’ve seen most cooperative programs follow one of these models:

  1. Project Based Funds – The national brand will fully or partially fund a specific marketing campaign. This could be a series of videos, email campaign, or advertising on social media, search, display, and more.
  2. Matching Advertising Funding – The manufacturer will offer you a certain amount of money for use in advertising, so long as you can match it. This allows you to double the impact of your marketing and advertising budget.
  3. Discount on Products – We’ve seen some manufacturers offer steep discounts for products purchased at events hosted by the local dealer. The dealer can attract more people and gain more sales at this event, submit the sales to the manufacturer, and get reimbursed for the difference.

What Can I Use Co-Op Funds For?

In the past, co-op funds have been used for more traditional advertising channels, including billboards, radio ads, and placement in the newspaper. Nowadays, co-op programs are transitioning to digital marketing channels, including paid search advertising, email marketing, and video marketing.

If you qualify for co-op money, you’ll want to plan carefully how to maximize the funds. Putting money into paid search can deliver high-quality leads, but investing in video or updated content can have a longer-term positive impact on your site.

Tips for Using Co-Op Funds

  • Know and follow the guidelines for the co-op program. Be sure to note any reporting or spend requirements, as well as brand standards to follow in creating the assets.
  • Track metrics for your digital marketing campaigns. The manufacturer will likely ask for info on how the campaign performed, including traffic growth, number of leads, and number of conversions or purchases.
  • Focus on your brand. While the manufacturer is footing some or all of the bill, they want you to succeed and grow, too.
  • Use every single dollar. Don’t let co-op funding go to waste by not using it. With the right marketing plan, every co-op dollar is free money going to expand your brand.
  • Ask for funds. If you do not currently receive cooperative marketing funds from a manufacturer, ask if they currently have a program or would be willing to set it up. If they are not receptive to the idea, consider switching to another brand; there are plenty of savvy brands out there who recognize the importance of digital marketing and supporting local brands like yours.

See How Co-Op Funds Can Enhance Your Digital Efforts

Cooperative funds can help you expand your brand’s awareness, increase sales, and get even more out of your digital marketing efforts. Be sure to ask your brand reps if you qualify for these funds and let your digital marketing agency know so they can help you best use the funds.