Benefiting From Co-Op Marketing
Some vendor affiliations and business partnerships may have hidden benefits that you’re not taking advantage of. If you work directly with a specific material or equipment manufacturer, you may be missing out on some co-op marketing dollars – which means you’re losing out on the opportunity to get your company in front of even more potential customers.
What is Co-Op Marketing?
Say you are an HVAC company and you exclusively use XYZ Cooling Systems as your equipment vendor. You already get some better deals on unit cost, but that’s not where the relationship should end. XYZ Cooling Systems wants to you sell even more of their equipment. They already do their own advertising on TV and online to raise brand awareness on a national level, but they need more help to get their message distributed locally, within the service areas of their partner HVAC companies. But that’s a lot of marketplaces, with lots of niche marketing needs. They could do some targeted mailers, but overall it may be too much work for XYZ Cooling Systems to identify all of the areas in which HVAC company partners work and send out marketing materials to each individual market.
So what do they do? Since you are on the ground in your service area, and you presumably have a strong existing client list or at the very least a good idea of what specific mail routes would be a good market to target – your individual HVAC company could take charge of the marketing. XYZ Cooling Systems will help you to foot the bill for the print materials or whatever local advertisement is approved – and your company handles distributing that advert to the appropriate market.
It’s a win-win for all parties involved. Your HVAC company gets to advertise at a lower cost than normal and XYZ Cooling Systems gets to spread their message and increase brand awareness in your local area. You get to install more units and XYZ Cooling Systems gets to sell them to you.
Common Co-Op Marketing Approaches
Print marketing is a very common co-op marketing tactic. Some vendors may already have approved print marketing templates, others require explicit approval of custom direct print marketing messages before they are sent out to ensure it is worth their co-op marketing dollar investment.
Trade Shows and Home Shows are a great way to network with other industry professionals, homeowners, and business owners. The cost of attending home shows, however, can be quite high – especially if you factor in the need to create large signage and collateral marketing materials if you haven’t exhibited in the past. Your partner companies may allow for splitting costs for entry fee and signage, so long as their criteria are met.
Websites and Ongoing Marketing – Some vendors may even grant an allowance for the contractor website design and development as well as the continued support costs of maintaining a website for your business, so long as it doesn’t feature other vendors.
Working Within The Box – Following Co-Op Marketing Guidelines
The important thing to remember when trying to take advantage of co-op marketing dollars is to work within the confines of each company’s guidelines and best practices. Some companies will give you a better split on cost sharing for using their preferred vendors. Others may only agree to split if you print their specific marketing pieces without modification.
If you don’t follow the rules, you don’t get the chance to split the cost – leaving you with the full bill for the marketing effort. So, for this instances, it is important to work within the box. Each company is different. Contact your vendor and ask for information about any co-op marketing opportunities and their guidelines before you pull the trigger on those advertising dollars.
Partnering With A Marketing Company To Maximize Your Efforts
Remember that the vendors you are dealing with likely have their own teams of internal graphic design and marketing professionals developing advertising materials on a regular basis. If they are going to split the cost and spend of co-op marketing dollars with anyone else, they will require the same level of technical proficiency and overall quality from your marketing pieces. This is not the time to fire up Microsoft Word and create a flyer with clipart. Partner with a marketing company with the resources and technical ability to create materials that fit the specifications of your vendors and partner companies.