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Co-Op Advertising For Dummies


The response to our Co-Op Advertising is Walking Dead post has been overwhelming. For those who have been dealing with co-op advertising on a daily basis, there has been overwhelming agreement that it’s time for change. However, even with this agreement, many of my marketing colleagues still don’t understand co-op advertising fully.

To help explain, I searched “Co-Op Marketing for Dummies” and what I found was called “How to Use an Advertising Co-Op Program” taken from the popular book series, For Dummies. This excerpt is a 5-step process written, I assume, for retailers. The thing you’ll notice is that every step is actually work for the retailer. By putting all the work on the retailer, you’re cutting into the time that they have to spend on building really great local businesses.

Here are the 5 steps and our responses:

1. Talk with vendors’ sales representatives.

Even though sales reps may not be inclined to offer you information on co-op funds on their own (because of some bonus arrangement they may have with their employers), they can definitely tell you about them if you ask. If you get a positive response from one or more of these sales reps, get the lowdown on how you can go about collecting some of this money.

Response– Right away, the author infers that the sales rep might be withholding a co-op program from the retailer for personal gain. I’ve never heard of this, but it seems plausible. However, the bigger point here is that a rep should be encouraging their retailers to participate in co-op marketing. Co-op advertising should drive sales and it’s money that should be used.

2. Talk to the marketing and/or advertising managers of suppliers who offer co-op advertising.

These people control the advertising funds (including co-op money), which means you can get your answer straight from the horse’s mouth.

Response- So, given that the sales rep may be misaligned in motivation, the author suggests going straight to the “horse’s mouth” through communicating with the marketing folks at the supplier level. Good call, but again the retailer shouldn’t have to do this. The marketing departments of most suppliers are understaffed and shouldn’t have to field requests from retailers about co-op. Our suggestion is that a brand should be proactive.

3. Get your ads pre-approved.

Manufacturers don’t just hand out co-op money as if it were candy. Before you can begin to spend any co-op money (no matter whose idea it was), you must get your ads pre-approved by the manufacturer you’re working with.

Response- The fact that a retailer has to actually build the ads is another unnecessary burden. A brand should provide easy-to-customize creative to the retailer and also control the flighting of the ads through approved ad channels. Done correctly, this step should be entirely removed from the process. Once again, this is a step that requires the extra effort of overworked, understaffed retailers.

4. Obtain proof of performance.

After you make the manufacturer’s requested changes to your ads (if there were any), you need to make sure to get what’s called proof of performance from the media, which is really just verification for your vendors that you ran the ads as you said you would.

Response- In the current state of co-op advertising, this is another burden that is on the shoulders of retailers. Instead of this, the reporting should automatically flow back to the manufacturing brand without the retailers having to initiate the process.

5. Submit your co-op claims package.

After your ads have run and your campaign is attracting customers in droves, you just need to submit your co-op advertising claims package. Your package includes your pre-approval form, your proofs of performance, and a written request for reimbursement of the promised percentage of the campaign.

Response– This is another massive burden on the retailer. After doing everything described above, retailers still need to complete one more step to get paid–sometimes weeks after they submit the claim. The solution to this? Promoboxx Match. With Match, manufacturing brands immediately reward their retailers’ digital marketing actions with local ad dollars. Rather than retailers having to go through unnecessary paperwork, the brand controls the entire process which ultimately drives more customers in-store to buy.zombie-boy-red

For marketing friends and colleagues who asked– Yes, this is the basic outline of a co-op advertising program. However, in today’s digital age, you can see that it’s tedious, time consuming, reduces retailer cash flow, and leads to unspent marketing dollars. Shouldn’t local retailers be focused on growing their businesses, instead of obtaining ad approval and submitting reimbursement paperwork?

This is why I believe strongly in our mantra that Co-Op Advertising is Walking Dead. If you share the same frustrations, reach out to me at