CO-OP Advertising…Leveraging Someone Else’s Money to Expand Your Presence

What is CO-OP Advertising?

Keeping your name in front of consumers does not have to be expensive. There are thousands and thousands of CO-OP advertising and marketing programs in the marketplace today. It does not matter what industry you are in (manufacturing, retail, professional, wholesale, service, etc) because there is usually a company, trade association or government body that wants to get their name or program in front of consumers. Learning who and what CO-OP resources are available for your industry is the key to making the most of your advertising and marketing dollars. Most CO-OP programs come in two forms: Fixed and Unlimited. “Fixed” programs have a set limit on the number of ads or a maximum reimbursement dollar amount. “Unlimited” programs allow for an unlimited amount of reimbursement. Although most people think of CO-OP advertising as print advertising, many of the programs out there today allow for all types of marketing, including direct mail, point of sale merchandising and store signage. Most of the programs require that you invest some of your own funds and will reimburse you after you place and have paid for the advertisement. Program reimbursement can range from 20% to 100%, with most plans reimbursing at a 50% to 75% level. Be sure you understand the branding, messaging, program rules and approval process before you place the advertisement.

Finding CO-OP Programs

Finding CO-OP dollars is as simple as doing a Google search for ‚ÄúCOOP,‚Äù COOP funding, COOP marketing, Coop advertising …, asking your vendors, or asking your trade associations, etc. You can even purchase The Co-op Advertising Programs Sourcebook‚Ñ¢. The book is considered the essential link between businesses trying to find subsidized advertising programs, and the book lists over 4000 available programs. Keep searching and asking until you find something. If there are no formal programs for your industry, start asking the question ‚Äúwould you consider partnering?‚Äù and ‚Äúwe should have a program like the ‚Ķ industry does.‚Äù Keep asking, you will find someone that wants to partner with you.

Programs I Use

As an insurance agent I typically use CO-OP funds from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), insurance companies, and the trade group called the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT). The NFIP’s program rules can be found by clicking here and the IIAT’ rules are found by clicking here. Most insurance companies programs are proprietary and not shared openly on the web. Even if you are not in the insurance business you may want to look at these programs as a reference tool for learning about CO-OP advertising. In 2009 we have received or have commitments to receive $60,000 in CO-OP reimbursements. The reimbursement percentage varies from each program but on average we will get 60% of our advertising investment reimbursed.

What Happens to The Money If It Is Not Used?

Most of CO-OP programs are set up on a “Use it” or “Lose it” basis and many CO-OP eligible partners don’t “use it”, so, as with most unused budgets at companies, the funds are swept by the finance department at the end of the fiscal year, and the budget is at risk of being reduced for the next business cycle. Because of this issue, most CO-OP fund managers make additional funds available over and above the original commitment that was made to you. Rarely is this fact publicized, and the funds are distributed to the CO-OP managers’ best program users or the folks that ask for additional funds. We recently had exhausted our budget with an insurance company so we went back to the program manager and showed him how effected the promotion they funded had been and asked for the funds to run a second campaign. He said “no one else is using the money, why not” and the funds were approved immediately!

Leveraging Your Budget

In today’s world, spending your advertising budget in the most cost efficient manner is vital to your company’s success, and using CO-OP dollars is a way to leverage your spend to its maximum level. In our operation, we are getting $100,000 worth of advertising for $40,000 because of our CO-OP partners’ investment. Since we were going to spend the $100,000 anyway, we really have increased our budget by $60,000 and maximized our advertising to truly increase our presence in the market place. By spending a little time and effort researching what is available in your industry you most likely will find several opportunities to leverage your advertising budget to it maximum.

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