It’s Like Finding Free Money!

Over the years I’ve heard countless folks say: “I’d love to market more, but can’t afford it.”

My response: “You can’t afford NOT to market more.”

But how does one squeeze more from the marketing budget? For that, let’s draw a lesson from our friends at Costco.

Over the weekend I heard Costco’s radio ad hawking Gillette deodorant. Costco sells roughly 4,000 products, so there’s only one reason this commercial focused on Gillette: Cooperative advertising.

Cooperative (or co-op) advertising is a system wherein manufacturers pay some costs for developing and placing advertising. Retailers may gain access to cash, displays, or promotional gimmicks.

Handled properly, co-op advertising reduces your costs for media, production, and creative development. The bad news is that each company has their own rules by which you must abide.

Yup, whether ads are in print, broadcast, or online, each manufacturer has their own rules regarding ad creation and budgetary contributions.

Meaning working with co-op dollars can be a nuisance.

Still, given the potentially significant resources you might uncover to expand your own communications efforts, I’d argue it’s worth the investment of time.

Furthermore, retailers can oftentimes coax co-op money from a landlord interested in driving traffic to the location during a major holiday.

This can be valuable for stores in strip malls wishing to promote Back-To-School and other events for which consumers are already primed to go shopping.

The critical factor here is the need to coordinate co-op advertising within your own overall marketing plan. Be sure your cooperative messaging complements both your company’s themes and those of the manufacturer.

Because switching your campaign messaging merely to accept free money is, at best, unwise.  

Make co-op advertising work for you by:

  • Tracking your purchases from each supplier and asking larger suppliers about their co-op program. If they don’t have a co-op program, encourage it or find a supplier who does.
  • Getting prior approval from involved vendors before actually creating any marketing tool.
  • Working with marketing professionals to prepare ads to appeal to the manufacturer and customers.  
  • Making your company’s name stand out to draw traffic into your store.
  • Getting terms in writing.
  • Following up, as co-op money only goes to those who submit claims.

Bottom line: there’s big money you’re probably leaving on the table needlessly. 

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Get free marketing advice at www.askmrmarketing.com.

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