When it comes to successful co-op marketing, being able to check the box on key program elements and objectives is imperative. Here’s a checklist of five things channel marketers should consider when looking to implement a new co-op program or improve an existing one.
Item 1: ensure the co-op program helps both the brand and its channel partners grow their business
Believe it or not, some co-op programs are developed and implemented without considering how the program will increase sales of a brand’s product and drive sales for dealers or distributors. Channel marketers need to step back and consider things like how sales leads will be generated and delivered to their channel partners as well as how the co-op program will promote brand compliance and program awareness at the corporate level.
For channel partner lead generation, brands should consider developing packages that can be easily implemented and reimbursed from a co-op claim perspective. Better yet, brands should consider working with a partner that can implement lead-generation activities on behalf of its dealers and distributors. Oftentimes, dealers and distributors don’t have the time or resources to manage marketing activities, so a designated or approved agency partner working on behalf of the brand can develop and execute packages that are brand compliant while also being able to submit co-op claims for reimbursement on behalf of dealers and distributors.
A key consideration for channel marketers is the ability to demonstrate program effectiveness within their broader organization. To accomplish this objective, channel marketers need to work with their program provider to provide reporting capabilities – dashboards and detailed reports – that are easily accessible to key stakeholders within their organization. This reporting should be based on defined desired outcomes and delivered in a way that clearly shows how the co-op program is driving product sales. The reporting should also show how the co-op program is supporting brand compliance at the dealer and distributor levels.
Item 2: make program participation simple
With more than 20 years of experience in channel program implementation and management, we have seen too many co-op programs that lack simplicity and don’t offer turnkey packages for channel partners.
A co-op program should be easy for a channel partner to utilize. Too many times, brands make the pre-approval and approval processes cumbersome. The result? A lack of engagement and funds utilization from the dealer or distributor and lower than expected product sales for the brand.
Similarly, providing dealers and distributors with easy-to-use, turnkey packages that have specific reimbursement parameters is another key consideration for a brand’s co-op program. For example, Digital Fusion, the digital marketing agency within Channel Fusion, designs and delivers advertising packages that are developed in partnership with a brand’s channel marketing team. The Digital Fusion team promotes those packages among a brand’s dealers and distributors, implements the programs and submits reimbursement claims on behalf of participating dealers and distributors. The Digital Fusion packages are often developed in conjunction with a brand’s national promotions and are designed to provide a localized payoff. Check out the results for one of these programs.
Item 3: ensure program partner is providing best practices and marketing channels to support program activities
In our digital-first world, brands need to provide dealers and distributors with the marketing tools and best practices to be successful. Whether a brand works with a partner like Digital Fusion or delivers digital marketing internally, it’s important to have an offering that includes channels that will support the path to purchase at a dealer or distributor’s location.
Depending on the industry and the defined path to purchase for a brand’s products, today’s local marketing calls for digital capabilities that support each step in the purchase funnel. That includes everything from paid search and social, organic social content generation and publishing, search engine optimization and retargeting, for example. Those tactical elements should all be driven by an overarching strategy designed to deliver the desired outcomes for brands and channel partners alike.
Item 4: make sure reporting capabilities are based on desired outcomes of program
Providing co-op program reporting is one thing. Providing reporting that truly measures the desired outcomes for a brand’s co-op program is another thing. While many channel program providers offer reporting, it’s important to partner with a firm that develops and delivers reporting that is designed based on established key performance indicators.
Establishing KPIs should be part of a broader strategic approach to designing and implementing a co-op program. Look for a partner that has an established strategic planning process. Channel Fusion has developed the Outcomes Blueprint process to establish strategic alignment among all stakeholders within a client’s organization as well as the internal team that delivers the co-op program on behalf of the brand. This alignment includes a clear understanding of how a co-op program’s success will be measured and the optimal way for reporting progress through dashboards and specific reports.
Item 5: ensure partner is providing channel support needed for successful program
Technology platforms and portals are table stakes when it comes to today’s co-op marketing programs. The programs that are truly differentiated are the ones that have robust support capabilities and team members. Those support teams become an extension of a company’s brand and serve as the front line of brand stewardship with a company’s dealers and distributors. That’s why having the latest tools available to co-op program support teams is critically important.
At Channel Fusion, the support team not only utilizes an integrated support communications tool, but also leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to deliver optimal dealer and distributor experiences when supporting a co-op marketing program. This provides the ability for continual development and optimization of the support provided for clients’ co-op programs while providing clients with insights and program sentiment that informs ongoing program enhancements and optimizations.
About Channel Fusion
For more than 20 years, Channel Fusion has been delivering strategy, customer experience and return on investment outcomes for 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 can provide their channel partners with an optimal customer experience to drive results. Our core technologies and connected platform 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.