Co-operative Marketing Assistance

Whilst co-operative marketing assistance is often thought of in terms of financial assistance, it could also include the provision of equipment, collateral, manpower, or access to databases. For example, more than one distributor claims to offer Vars telephone canvassing staff for special promotions.

In order to obtain assistance you should have a strong rational to justify your claim and you must ensure that your proposed marketing campaign is in line with the vendors current marketing strategy.

Co-operative marketing funds can be obtained for advertising, telephone canvassing, direct mail, exhibitions, open days and seminars, product launches and promotions. Because most vendors (and the biggest dealers) rely on advertising as their main marketing activity, advertising seems the easiest one to obtain funds for. I think this is a shame as whilst advertising is often perceived as creating the market, it is the process of adding value and providing service which sustains a market. And this is mainly accomplished by Vars getting on the phone, mailing people and visiting prospects and users.

Co-operative marketing funds are most easily obtained where a vendor recognises the importance of the Var in developing a market. However, it must be remembered that vendors are interested in developing new markets and not converting existing users to different Vars.

Co-operative funds may be available direct from a vendor or via their distributor. Where funds are obtained via distributors, do not forget that you must continue to build relationships with vendors in order to obtain other benefits such as leads, loan equipment and technical support.

One of the advantages of working with a distributor is that they can obtain co-operative marketing funds from several vendors. As an example, one of my clients buys Macintosh computers, Claris and Adobe software, Epson printers and Agfa scanners from Frontline and their field sales representative helps obtain co-operative marketing funds from all our vendors.

Budgets for funds are usually available on a quarterly basis beginning in January, April, July and October of each year. Applications should be submitted just prior to new quarter funds becoming available. The amount of money available to a Var is usually expressed as a percentage of the turnover of finished goods supplied and is usually around 2%. Where services other than money are supplied, such as access to a database or telephone canvassing, negotiations are more flexible.

The best way to obtain funds is first to formalise your companies marketing strategy for the next couple of years. A marketing strategy report will usually consist of 10 to 20 pages and include details of the companies history, staff and resources, the products and services sold, the markets serviced, the companies strengths, how the company sees the market developing in the future and how the company intends to maximise sales opportunities. The report should include an outline marketing communications plan for the next 12 months.

For the period in which the application for funds is being made, the communications plan should itemise all the marketing activities for each month including how many direct mailings, faxed mailings and telephone calls will be made. If advertising and press releases are to be run, the plan should include a list of journals and the editions that will carry advertisements. Details of all costs should be included such as creative and art work costs, as well as the cost of the advertising. Enclose a copy of the art work for any proposed advertisement.

For each marketing activity specify the exact costs and then summarise the costs by month before providing a total for the period. Normally a percentage of the total cost of the campaign is applied for, and an amount not exceeding 2% of purchase value, in the period, is negotiated from the vendor or distributor.

Not all applications will be successful initially, and often negotiations will be required in order to obtain a percentage of the monies applied for or to fine tune the agreed marketing activities. However, once vendors and distributors start to receive quality applications your credibility will rise and this may bring other benefits such as more leads, better support, advanced knowledge of new products, improved terms, etc.

The first application may seem horrendous, but once it is successful the whole process becomes straight forward and much less time is required for future applications!

One form of marketing which costs very little and yet can produce good results is the use of press releases. Press releases can generate leads and help re-enforce your companys’ image. Once a system for sending press releases is set up it is no trouble to keep the press informed of your companies activities and successes.

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