Co-op advertising tips gleaned from manufacturers and retailers.
- If you don’t ask, you may not know. While many of the bigger manufacturers have well-structured co-op programs in place and will inform a retailer via the company rep or when a distribution agreement is signed, it really is up to you, the retail buyer or owner, to ask. In researching this article, we were stunned at the number of smaller manufacturers that had co-op programs but weren’t proactive about informing retailers. We were also surprised at the larger manufacturers that had programs but really left it up to the retailer to ask for the dollars.
- Get co-op agreements in writing. Once you have spoken to a manufacturer about a co-op advertising program, get the details in writing so you understand the rules and stipulations—which in some cases can be very restrictive—regarding applying for and receiving co-op dollars. There is simply nothing worse than thinking you are getting co-op dollars to use toward an ad program or a marketing promotion, only to learn you used the logo incorrectly or failed to mention the manufacturer properly, making you ineligible for reimbursement.
- Learn what opportunities exist locally to maximize co-op dollars. It is a rare day indeed that most major metropolitan and even smaller suburban newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations don’t have ad reps standing by to help you spend co-op dollars—and they may even help you discover local co-op dollars you didn’t even know existed. Best of all, most of those reps also have ad creation resources at their disposal to assist you in creating an ad that will both promote your most important brand (your store), while adhering to the co-op ad rules of the manufacturers that are footing some of the bill. Use caution though: Ad reps want your money, and if you are not clear on what you want in return regarding advertising outcome and message, you may be throwing away your money as well as the money of your co-op partners.
- Keep very, very good records. It is essential that you keep accurate records of how much you spent on every co-op advertising program with each manufacturer. It is also very important for you to keep copies of any use of co-op ad dollars (print ads, web banner ads, email promotions, photos of logo placement at an event, audio from a broadcast ad, etc.) to be able to demonstrate how you used the ad dollars and that you successfully met the co-op ad rules of each manufacturer.
Web Resources — To learn more about co-op advertising, check out these resources.
>> Information and references to co-op advertising articles at Answers.com: www.answers.com/topic/cooperative-advertising.
>> “The Secrets of Cross-Promotion” by Stephanie Gruner, published in Inc. magazine, June 1997: http://www.inc.com/magazine/19970601/1259.html.
>> “Co-Op Advertising Programs Sourcebook” is considered THE bible for media companies, ad agencies, manufacturers and national retailers. Pricey, but loaded with info: www.co-opsourcebook.com/.
>> Advertising Checking Bureau is an agency that addresses the needs of manufacturers regarding co-op and trade promotions, ad tracking and marketing services: www.acbcoop.com.
>> The Newspaper Association of America marketing and advertising information pages:
>> Co-Promote is an Internet advertising cooperative: www.eliteweb.com/copromote/ad.htm.
>> Trade Promotion Management Services is a national association that specializes in the development and administration of co-op advertising, market development funds and other program allowances provided by manufacturers to retail and wholesale customers: www.napaa.org.
>> MultiAd Recas (Retail Co-op Advertising System) is a free program available to manufacturers and retailers designed to support media co-op advertising programs by offering software and programs to help track, report and support co-op ads: www.recas.com/contact/mfr.shtml.