As marketers, we must evaluate our efforts and make sure they accomplish our business goals. While your co-op marketing program may not always be top-of-mind, it is important that you assess it as critically as you would any other initiative. Why? Your co-op program is the most important way to engage your local channel partners with your brand. If your program is ineffective, your local marketing could be in jeopardy.
Here are five questions that will help determine if your program is working as it should.
- How well are your channel partners spending co-op funds?
In asking yourself this, remember the rule of quality over quantity – to a point. While your channel partners need to spend as much of their co-op funds as possible, how they allocate that money is of equal importance. Co-op funds need to be spent on activities that elevate both your brand and your partners’ market needs. Any spending that favors one over the other violates the nature of co-op marketing.
Establish a system by which you measure the usage and effectiveness of your partners’ co-op funds. Such a system should provide comprehensive analytics on your co-op program, including your partners’ co-op purchases and unused fund balances. Your system should also present sales data that illustrates how these co-op purchases impacted your local partners’ business. These analytics will show you exactly how well your program is working.
If you find that co-op activity is either too low or misplaced, consider the collateral that is eligible for coverage. Is it too brand-focused? Is there ample opportunity for your partners to customize (i.e. add local information) and personalize (i.e. add customer information, such as a first name) the materials? Brand-compliant marketing assets that balance your needs and those of your channel partners are exactly where co-op money needs to go.
- Do your channel partners know how to best spend their co-op funds?
With so many assets and co-op funds available, your channel partners may become overwhelmed in figuring out where to spend their money. They also want to be sure that their purchases are covered. Make sure that you have established clear, feasible co-op guidelines. These guidelines are not meant to be restrictive, instead they should direct your local partners on how to best spend their funds.
Another way to alleviate your partners’ hesitation is to provide them with a support line to address other concerns. Have a team that is solely dedicated to providing co-op support. This team can even formally train your partners on the benefits of co-op funds and how to use them for more effective marketing.
- Are you distributing your co-op funds properly?
Once you disburse funds, it might be easy to assume that your channel partners are set with the amount of funds you have given them. What if a partner need additional funds to run a test marketing campaign? Instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, consider distributing funds more dynamically and strategically.
One way to do this is to institute performance-based funding. This entails creating funding tiers so that higher-performing partners receive more co-op money. However you choose to distribute funds, your co-op program should be flexible enough to address partners’ needs and keep them excited about your brand.
- How much time do you devote to managing your co-op program?
If overseeing your co-op program takes too much time out of your day, you may need to reevaluate your management process. One of the best investments you can make is an automated platform that seamlessly manages your program. Such a platform not only relieves you of stress and time, but it also gives your partners instant access to both their funds and their marketing collateral.
- Does the speed of your co-op processes – disbursements, reimbursements, and approvals – frustrate your partners?
We know your to-do list is long, and you do not always have time to evaluate each co-op claim one by one. Put yourself in your channel partners’ shoes. If you were participating in your co-op program, would you be happy with how soon you received your money? Would you be certain that your claim would be approved in time to spare out-of-pocket costs? If the answer to either question is “no,” then you have another reason for an automated co-op management platform. With just a few quick steps, your partners will have their funds and continue to help you build your brand.
Co-op marketing is indispensable to your business. Without it, your channel marketing partners are not equipped to connect their customers with your brand. These five questions will help ensure that your program stays true to its purpose. Devote some time to reviewing the effectiveness of your co-op program, and make any necessary adjustments along the way. You owe it to your partners and your brand to provide the most seamless, effective co-op marketing possible.
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