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How can tech help you make the most of your co-op program?

 

Retail business owner using technology with co-op program

 

Co-ops seem like a no-brainer, at first. The costs are lower. You share media budgets. You share ad production costs and creative expenses. You align the partners. You set goals and achieve higher impact.

However, only 15 percent of local advertisers take part in co-op programs, according to research from Borrell Associates. Overall, U.S. advertisers have been neglecting $14 billion in “free advertising,” according to the report.

The are many reasons for this. The research suggests that co-ops fail to recognize the changing requirements of advertisers, especially in digital media.

The opportunity is huge for manufacturers and distributed sales forces.

Where have the missing billions gone? Let’s look at a few other insights from the research:

  • Only about one in ten brands said mobile tech was significant in their co-op marketing strategy.
  • About two out of every five marketers wished their channel partners would spend more on mobile search.
  • About 40 percent of small retailers were not looking at mobile services at all, or at least not in a serious way.

Manufacturers, distributors, and store owners aren’t getting the most they can from their co-op situations, due in some part to slowness in tech adoption. This is a problem, but it is also an opportunity.

Co-ops need real co-operation.

Apart from digital services and tech, other reasons cause billions of dollars in co-op marketing to go to waste every year in the U.S.

For example, you put more brains into the marketing storm and creative differences arise. Added input means more delay. Soon you could be pushing for time, or the red tape gets in the way. You drop the co-op.

A little more tech could remove these obstacles. For example, relationship issues can be managed better by creating a more transparent platform. Or field requests could be answered through automated workflows.

It only takes a few tech enhancements to make a difference. Some of the main “problems” with co-ops could soon become opportunities.

Why do co-ops fail?

 

Stacks of incomplete paperwork due to misaligned communication channels

 

To turn a problem into an opportunity, you must first recognize the problem. Get to know some of the most common causes of co-op program failure:

  1. Not enough resources. Bringing in an extra partner to your marketing is one more cost to bear. If your budget is tight as it is, or time is short, you won’t have time to negotiate with another person on sales strategy. A successful co-op strategy usually equates to a higher overall marketing budget.
    Tech solution: By putting in place a turn-key fully integrated co-op funds management system you would have more control and visibility on where the budget is heading.
  2. Rules or restrictions between participants. Whether you’re coaching a team, participating in group work, or building a successful marriage, compromise is everything. Unfortunately, without proper guidelines surrounding the sharing of ideas, conflict can occur.
    Solution: Aligning the co-op and better integrating it within your organization can reduce associated costs up to 50 percent.
  3. Substantial paperwork requirements. More people involved simply equals more emails, reports, and invoices. And if you don’t have proper, aligned communication channels to speed or facilitate this, gridlock can make a co-op unbearable.
    Tech solution: Make sure your resources are scalable. If your marketing team is awash with approvals, proofing, and mundane tasks they will spend less time and effort on more strategic goals.
  4. Sellers being unaware of what co-op funds are available. Often vendors won’t divulge their co-op budgets. Larger companies with big budgets can afford to lose sight of co-op dollars that go unspent.
    Tech solution: Increase transparency. Hoarding all the data, insights, and content can be tempting. But sharing across a frictionless tech platform is a simple solution.
  5. Communication breakdowns between the co-op members. Your partner on the shop floor is already occupied with the many day-to-day duties of running a business. If communication is not simple, direct, and with a purpose in mind, then it becomes easy to turn away.
    Tech solution: Communicate. With new tools emerging every day in business communication, there is no excuse for “crossed wires” anymore.

What’s the right tech for your co-op?

It’s tempting to think of the task as insurmountable. Others opt for an all-or-nothing response: “If a piece of tech doesn’t do everything, then I don’t want it.”

Finding the right tech solutions for your business usually takes time, expertise, consultation, and a customized variety of software.

Some fundamental features to look for in a co-op management platform might be:

  • On-demand and customized. Automation is vital.
  • Scalable and resourceful. Eliminate repetitive and mundane busywork. Get it together from print to mobile.
  • Alignment with your organizations. From legal compliance to finances, make sure the tech is in step with your company’s targets and future ambitions.

Getting your content from idea to execution has come a long way from tiresome content management portals and web-to-print systems. As more and more co-op dollars in the U.S. move toward the digital sphere, make sure your company is keeping pace through a technology solution that has the best intelligence possible. Triptych is here to help. Click here to speak to one of our experts.