The Three P’s: Considerations When Developing A Cooperative Marketing Program
For both small and large companies, a cooperative marketing program is a powerful way to grow your business. By making your marketing efforts more strategic, consistent, and process-driven, a cooperative marketing program can be a very effective way to cascade your national marketing initiatives to your local channel partners.
The success of your program will depend on the strategy in place and the team supporting it. If you are considering developing a new cooperative marketing program or re-assessing your current program, there are three main considerations to keep in mind to help ensure a successful program and strong return-on-investment (ROI) for all of your partners. We refer to these “Three P’s” – Program, People, and Platform – and have outlined each one below and important questions to ask yourself when contemplating the best approach for extending and scaling your marketing efforts to all channel partners.
The program lays the foundation for a successful cooperative marketing strategy. Ideally, your cooperative marketing program should operate hand-in-hand with larger brand marketing efforts. As national marketing efforts are developed and enacted, they should be supported at the local level by a well-thought-out cooperative marketing program. Some key items to think through in developing or optimizing your program include:
- Process/Procedures: Have you outlined the overall process/procedures and included all key stakeholders to help ensure the program is streamlined and fully optimized?
- Standardization: Have you standardized as many components as possible to ensure QA and set the program up for success (guidelines, brand assets, approval process, etc.)?
- Support: Do you have multiple layers of support in place for both corporate and channel partners (team, platform, chat, help desk, tutorials, etc.)?
- Training: Do you have a training program in place for all users with supplemental support materials?
- Flexibility: Is the program flexible enough to adapt over time as needed (different reimbursement models, fund availability, etc.)?
- Strategic Guidance: Does your provider offer strategic guidance and consultative support when developing your program?
- Fund Forecasting/Utilization: Have you or your provider run fund forecasts/utilization projections to understand financial metrics (cost, sales impact, ROI, ROAE, etc.)?
- Analysis/Insights: Is your provider effectively capturing and providing program insights?
At Cooperate Marketing, we believe that people are greater than platforms. Whether that is your national corporate marketing team, marketing and media partners, or individual channel partners (dealers, retailers, franchisees, etc.), everyone involved influences the success of your marketing efforts. But when it comes to running a cooperative marketing program, it is essential that the program be supported by experienced and strategic marketers who add value to your network. Consider the following:
- Staffing: Do you have a dedicated, trained support team in place with FTEs?
- Customer Service: Does your provider offer concierge-level consultative treatment to all users and timely issue resolution?
- Approach: Does your provider take a partnership approach and build relationships with not only corporate but also your channel partners?
- Talent: Are you utilizing onshore talent where English is their first language?
- Support: Does your provider offer active after-hours support and/or self-service support features (chat bot, help desk articles, etc.)?
- Communication: Does your provider actively manage all aspects of your channel communication and the various touch points (phone, email, chat, tickets, help desk, online support articles, etc.)?
- QA/QC: Has your provider established a formalized process to ensure QA/QC standards for both corporate and all your channel partners?
While we believe people are greater than platforms, we also believe that having a customized platform is critical. At the heart of your program, your platform is the main way for channel partners to liaise with the master brand, access tools and resources, and manage the day-to-day activities. Every brand is different, and your platform should be built to capture the complexities of your entire program – from claim submission and review, to fund reimbursement, to customized marketing materials and much more. To effectively manage your program, ask the following:
- Customization: Can the platform be fully customized to your specific organizational needs?
- Modularity/Flexibility: Is the platform modular so that features/functionality can be either enabled/disabled and is it flexible enough to include new feature sets?
- Accessibility: Can the platform be accessed across all mobile devices (phone, tablet, etc.) via adaptive design as well as laptop/desktop?
- Scalability: Can the platform scale to meet your future needs?
- API Integrations: Does the platform allow for API integrations with other third-party providers?
- Reporting: Can you access customized reporting?
- Data Integrity/Compliance: Is the data in the platform 100% accurate and does it adhere to SOC 2 compliance, regulatory, etc.?
- Feature Sets: Does the platform provide basic features as well as advanced feature sets?
- UI/UX: Does the platform offer a seamless turnkey experience across all feature sets to encourage optimal channel partner participation?
- QA/QC: Does the platform include this as part of the user submission/approval process?
Cooperative marketing is an invaluable way to help grow your business and increase ROI for you and your channel partners. The “Three P’s” – Program, People, and Platform – form the backbone of your cooperative marketing efforts and asking thoughtful questions about each can help you to best establish or improve your channel marketing endeavors.
While many providers offer a one-size-fits-all approach to co-marketing strategies, Cooperate Marketing’s platform is fully customized to meet any client’s needs. We pride ourselves in taking the time to identify potential areas of improvement and then developing strategic and customized solutions for each of our clients. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary Co-op Checkup™, and we can discuss ideas on how to develop or optimize your program.
This piece was written by members of the account management team at Cooperate Marketing. Contributing authors include: Maddie Hayes, Ryan Parker, Rick Ekelof and Brian Fourman. Maddie and Brian are University of Illinois alums, whereas Ryan and Rick are Indiana University alums. Rival football and basketball games to this day remain highly contentious.
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