Brands and their channel partners put enormous effort into the creation of their co-op advertising guidelines to ensure everyone plays by the same rules. At the heart of every decision is one overarching goal: return on investment (ROI) for each distributor and retailer.
Getting the most out of a co-op advertising account depends on a variety of factors, such as budget and resources, but the right strategy can make a big impact. Here are the top three approaches to managing co-op advertising to get the greatest financial return.
1. Handle Co-op In-House
Some local retailers have a marketing director or a designated employee who can take charge of the co-op account. One benefit to keeping everything in-house is that dealers save the money they would have otherwise spent on outside services. However, this is only a benefit if the employee in charge of the co-op account can produce the same results an outside agency could.
Sometimes this is easier said than done.
An employee must have the time and skills to complete all of the following to get the best results from a co-op advertising account:
- Stay up-to-date on program changes and guideline updates
- Work with the co-op company to get pre-approval for ads before they run
- Submit claims with appropriate documentation and follow up on approval
- Measure advertising’s effect by analyzing reach, conversions, and other key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Budget advertising spend to avoid over- or under-utilizing co-op dollars
These tasks add up, and it can be difficult for one employee to handle it all. If a dealer can’t get good results by handling its own co-op account, the better choice is to hire a professional.
2. Hire an Agency
Reputable agencies — meaning, those who have relevant experience and a long track record — should have a dedicated team to handle all co-op tasks listed above.
Before hiring an agency, set clear expectations about budgeting, pre-approvals and claims processing, and ad performance. Be wary of companies that won’t measure results or can’t promise approval for co-op claims. If an agency can’t demonstrate that your business benefit outweighs the cost to hire them, then find another agency that can. The very best agencies have a streamlined co-op advertising process similar to other turnkey vendors.
3. Leverage Turnkey Media
Turnkey media is one of the safest, most efficient ways to use co-op advertising dollars. Turnkey vendors take care of everything, including content creation, media placement, and claim submissions.
In order to see success with this option, the co-op program should conduct its due diligence to identify the right turnkey media provider. Once the right partner is identified and the program is underway, retailers should have peace of mind that the advertising spend has been tested for effectiveness. Further, the guaranteed approval of co-op claims will reduce the risk of unexpected costs.
With turnkey vendors responsible for this entire process, retailers can focus on running their stores and making sales.
Which Co-op Advertising Approach Is Best?
Co-op advertising can be surprisingly simple, but each brand must find the right approach for effective management. Discussing options with a marketing strategist can help determine how to realize the brand’s business goals.
In reality, the interests of the national brand, dealers, and channel partners should be closely aligned. When all parties work together toward their common goal, the brand-to-local strategy will fall into place — and so will ROI.