Co-op Advertising is Simply Localized Brand Advertising

Co-op advertising arrangements are baked into the local sales process of almost every brand name you know. From Allstate Insurance to Zerex Antifreeze, part of the supplier’s selling process is to build the brand nationally and engage the local seller with support for the same branded advertising at the market level. None of the national branded messaging tells the consumer where to buy the product; that’s left to the channel partner to run in local media, sometimes with the same brand content but now with “where” and “why” messaging.

As with all things, some of these co-op plans are simpler than others, but it should never be assumed that the dealer is fully aware of the details and how to use them in their own advertising efforts. With some manufacturer co-op efforts, up to a third of the established budgets for these programs can be left unused by small to mid-sized retail partners that don’t have the resources to plan and execute with all of the program details. With these local merchants, there is a need for assistance with ad design, manufacturer approval of the content, and co-op claim assistance to gather the advertising reimbursement.

Most co-op programs have specific guidelines for local media products. From digital and broadcast to newspaper and direct mail, these programs will have specific content requirements and claiming procedures to reimburse their channel partners for local advertising. The budgets for these programs are generally based on a percentage of wholesale purchases and are left to the local partner’s discretion on where and how that funding is allocated.

Agencies are stepping into the void of dealer adoption to simplify the co-op process. They offer opt-in solutions with various media types and an emphasis on digital to engage the dealer channel and perform all of the media buying functions on a regional/national scale. This, of course, will largely take local media options and individual dealer versioning off the table.

Take a look around your market area and note the local merchants with brand name signage in their locations. Paint stores with Benjamin Moore, Pittsburgh Paints; insurance agents with State Farm, Nationwide; oil change shops with Quaker State, Castrol; flooring stores with Mohawk, Karastan; motorsports locations with Yamaha, Honda; not to mention all of your auto dealers.

All of these locations have some level of advertising support from their manufacturer partners. Some of them are better at utilizing these resources than others, but it is the rare media sales executive that will go the extra mile and offer some level of assistance here. That, in and of itself, could make all the difference in your sales efforts because co-op can foot a sizable portion of the bill.

All of this is to say that it is critical to have a partner that can set the foundation to build co-op related revenue with some of your local accounts. As with anything worthwhile, there will be some legwork involved. However, an effective co-op partner will be able help with some of the heavy lifting and better enable co-op programs at your local media organization.

Click here to see how the Local Search Association can make co-op advertising a simple, revenue-driving strategy for your local media and marketing company.

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