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Co-op marketing has been an important strategic lever for brands for decades and a proven method to help generate demand and increase channel partners success at the local level. However, as the marketing landscape continually changes, brands frequently struggle with getting the right information to the right channel partners at the right time, to optimize their spend and choose the most effective marketing tactics to meet their needs. Industry-wide, approximately 50%, or $50 billion dollars, of market development and co-op funds are not used each year. That’s a lot of local marketing money left on the table in a time when, more than ever, local marketing is the key to success. While national marketing campaigns can help brands build brand awareness, local marketing campaigns can reach consumers in a more targeted way and at a point when they’re searching for goods and services. As much as co-op programs have been maligned as too complex and accused of being a waste of money, it doesn’t have to work that way. Co-Op programs are not the problem; brands who are failing to leverage these programs for success are the problem. Co-op marketing is a great way to get brand share of voice inserted into a steadily increasing local marketing share of spend. Here are three sure-fire ways to make your co-op program more effective in local markets.
Let the Data Drive
Brands who view their co-op programs as transactional incentive programs are missing out on a wealth of knowledge and potentially missing an opportunity to mine valuable data. Of course, data can only be gathered if you have the technology to do so. If you’ve been putting off investing in a co-op platform because you figure your team can do it manually, or you assume the information will sit in a database never to see the light, think again. The data generated from a robust platform and turnkey digital programs not only supports ROI, it is ROI. You can use data points and trends to help strategize content, tweak content to meet demand, and measure the outcomes of the actions taken by customers. Knowing how your high performers are spending their co-op funds is one valuable data point, but understanding which content is engaging consumers and which is not, can be a game changer for both your customers and your budget.
Live up to Your Customer’s Expectations
Spoiler – your customer’s expectations are really high! In today’s always-on environment, a centralized 24/7 portal where you can submit claims, check your funds, learn more about programs and best practices, create ads, access in-store merchandising, set up spiff and other incentive programs, view reports, and more, is a strategic imperative. This makes it easier for channel partners to find everything in one spot when they need and want it. Mobile apps and text messaging can help you control the messaging and timing. B2B customers are B2C consumers in their off time, and they are looking for the same level of convenience and access that they get from their favorite retailers, online and offline. Brands who can provide a comprehensive customer experience that gives them access to the big picture of all the moving pieces that your customers are juggling; funding programs, incentives, in-store solutions, digital content, and services - all wrapped in an excellent customer experience every step of the way - will win. Customer engagement results in better program usage and compliance, more effective spend, and partner satisfaction. It’s a great place to start to start a transformation.
Deliver Actionable Local Marketing Strategies
Channel partners are not all the same. In fact, channel marketing is complex and brands need to know who their customers are and the key factors driving their marketing decisions. In addition to a robust platform and communications portal, brands need to make it easy for customers to activate on programs, campaigns, and offers. Turnkey solutions for digital and cross-media campaigns that can be personalized for local markets are a couple of options. However, they are not a silver bullet. For some customers, these options are great and for others, they are much too prescriptive and do not give enough attention to the customers’ own growing brands. Providing marketing planning and diagnostic tools to help customers pinpoint the outcomes they are looking for and choosing the most effective tactics to meet those needs is an important service for local marketing optimization. Creating programs that have the flexibility to provide solutions for all sizes of customers, markets and budgets are key to an effective program.
Co-op marketing is a cost-effective way for brands, retailers or distributors to reach their local marketing targets. Co-op marketing is far from dead. In fact, it could be the most strategic investment you’ll ever make toward local marketing success.
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