Are you considering a channel marketing program? If so, you're not alone. These programs, also known as a cost-share or co-op offering, can have a big impact on your channel marketing strategy. And it’s becoming increasingly popular for companies that sell through an independent distribution channel, like dealers or distributors, to offer support for local or regional marketing efforts.
At the heart of a good channel marketing initiative is a robust co-op marketing and advertising program. A strong co-op program allows channel partners to promote their brand locally, while adhering to certain brand standards, making it a win-win for the channel and the brand.
Despite this winning combination, a majority of co-op funds are left unused every year, regardless of industry. To ensure channel partners are making the most of your marketing co-op program, follow these three keys to success.
1. Keep It Easy
Marketing is typically one of the last tactics on a dealer’s or distributor’s to-do list, which is why it’s so important to keep rules and policies easy to understand. Keep policies short and succinct and eliminate unnecessary obstacles for channel partners to take advantage of the program. For example, a clear, simple policy might state: All marketing tactics must include the approved logo. Or: All marketing tactics must be pre-approved by the corporate marketing team.
Brands should also consider having simple opt-in marketing programs and campaigns that their channel partners can easily use. Channel partners wear several hats in their business, and appreciate opt-in marketing campaigns and tactics that support the brand and are more cost effective and quick to deploy.
2. Align Marketing Co-op Program Rules With Channel Partner Needs
The co-op rules and policies set by a company should align to what channel partners are interested in executing. It’s important to have a well-rounded program that includes a variety of marketing tactics, including print, digital, media, and traditional marketing opportunities. For instance, if events or sponsorships are a key component of your channel partners’ local marketing efforts, then look for ways to include those and make them eligible for support. Alignment to these tactics shows channel partners that your brand acknowledges what is important to them.
3. Provide Ongoing Marketing Education
Marketing knowledge and marketing spend go hand in hand. Research shows that whether channel partners choose to execute marketing activities on their own, or have someone else do it for them, they all want and need to be educated on marketing best practices and trends. Channel partners are business owners or managers who want to understand the impacts marketing can have on their business — specifically return on investment (ROI). Provide them with easy marketing programs and campaigns to opt-in to as well as educational resources to understand the foundations of marketing.
Whether you have an established channel marketing program or one in its first year, these three steps will help ensure success and effectiveness for your brand, and the channel partners.
Interested in improving or implementing a channel marketing program for your products or services? Learn more about our agency’s channel marketing expertise and experience.