Co-op marketing has long been a staple of successful channel marketing programs. That said, its utilization has ebbed and flowed over the years for a variety of reasons. Detractors would say co-op marketing guidelines and processes are too complex, it takes too much time to be reimbursed for approved marketing expenditures and co-op programs lack an optimized customer experience in terms of program delivery.
Today’s most successful co-op programs are driven by sound strategy, a powerful brand and channel partnership, and desired outcomes that are clearly defined and measured. How are channel marketers accomplishing this renewed co-op success? They are utilizing a multi-faceted funding model, a segmented approach to channel partner engagement, leveraging data to provide meaningful insights and utilizing new technologies within their overall channel marketing ecosystem.
With the ever-expanding and evolving marketing mix available for brands and channel partners alike, having a co-op funding model that is flexible and adaptable is critically important. Establishing pre-approved assets that don’t require a claim, providing the ability to pay third-party suppliers directly and offering targeted incentives for high value marketing activities are just a few examples of simplifying the co-op claims process within a multi-faceted funding model.
Audience segmentation is a cornerstone of data-driven marketing programs. Similarly, for channel marketers, understanding that not all channel partners are alike is important when it comes to successful co-op marketing programs. Segmenting channel partners based on goals, markets and products, for example, allows channel marketers to identify the specific challenges each segment faces and create a marketing mix of offers, assets and program elements that maximize effectiveness and outcomes.
By leveraging business intelligence systems in today’s data-rich marketing environment, brands can analyze data in real-time and adjust channel program elements quickly and efficiently. This efficiency allows brands to maximize co-op marketing investments and enhance the relationship with their channel partners by providing an optimized experience in terms of program delivery.
Leveraging New Technologies
Data-driven insights are being powered by new technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). In addition, these technologies are also being used to inform and guide channel partners within their co-op programs. Long gone are the days of throwing darts at a target of random marketing program elements. Now, brands are leveraging machine learning and AI to help channel partners make precise, informed decisions regarding the right solutions to use at the right time based on their desired outcomes.
With multi-faceted funding, channel partner segmentation, business intelligence and data-driven insights in place, brands can turn their attention to providing channel partners with turnkey solutions that are informed by data and help take the guesswork out of their co-op marketing offering. Examples include tiered digital marketing packages that are easy for channel partners to understand and deploy. To that end, some brands are working with their channel marketing providers to offer digital marketing consultants that work directly with their channel partners to deploy and oversee digital marketing packages. These tiered packages include different amounts of paid search, content marketing and business listings management, for example. In addition, these packages are often expanded to include elements such as integrated promotions that incorporate digital along with print-on-demand direct marketing, events-in-a-box, custom offers and incentives.
Much like a pendulum, the utilization, or lack thereof, of co-op marketing as an integral part of an overall channel marketing program has swung back and forth over the years. Today, the brands and channel partners that have embraced and delivered a powerful combination of innovative strategies, technologies and co-op program elements are thriving and realizing their desired channel marketing outcomes.
About Channel Fusion
For nearly 20 years, Channel Fusion has provided brands and their channel partners with a wide variety of solutions and industry expertise. We continue to invest in the overall ecosystem of our channel marketing offering to ensure our clients provide their partners with an optimal customer experience. Our core technologies and configurable platforms are supported by a team of customer-centric “Fusers.” Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we deliver desired outcomes for brands and their channel partners.