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    Distributor's Guide: How to Use Supplier Co-Op Dollars

    Learn how to use supplier co-op dollars to pay for your next catalog or website project.

    When last did you collect co-op dollars from the suppliers featured in your marketing efforts? The process of claiming co-op dollars isn’t terribly complicated but many distributors leave the majority of their available market development or co-op funds on the table every year. Let's help you fix that...


    What is advertising co-op dollars and why you should you be using them?

    You’re probably already aware that many of your suppliers offer co-op funds or rewards when you feature their products or brand in your marketing . Oh, you didn't know? Stop reading this article, shoot your sales rep an email asking for the terms and come back.

    It's okay. I'll wait.

    This is a win-win situation for distributors and suppliers—you showcase your business and they build their brand. These mutually beneficial programs are referred to as cooperative advertising. Here’s a quick definition from the Small Business Encyclopedia over at Entrepreneur.com:

    Advertisements by retailers that include the specific mention of manufacturers, who—in turn—repay the retailers for all or part of the cost of the advertisement .

    Of course, this isn’t limited to just retail. Your supplier may also have a co-op program in place and utilizing these funds to offset the cost of your next printed catalog would be a smart move.

    All of this sounds like a great deal, right? Surely every distributor out there must be taking advantage of these programs. In fact—and you probably already knew this too—most distributors don’t claim these co-op dollars at all.

    Think about your last printed catalog, media display, or flyer. Did you collect co-op dollars from the suppliers you featured? Chances are, you did not. Why is that? The process of claiming co-op dollars isn’t terribly complicated— I’ll outline all the steps involved below —but keep reading and you’ll begin to see why this marketing tool is so underutilized.

    How to Use Your Co-op Dollars

    There’s really no sugar-coating this: it’s going to take effort. Sure, suppliers are willing to pay up when distributors use their product images, but the burden of labor falls on the distributor. Don’t be deterred though; it is a long process but not an impossible one. Here’s what you’ll need to do to begin claiming co-op from your suppliers:

    • STEP 1: Distributors, get to know your suppliers' co-op terms!
      Before you do anything at all, find out what your suppliers offer and how this will help your bottom line. Co-op terms differ from supplier to supplier; some larger suppliers offer generous reimbursements while others offer a small percentage or credits on future orders. Knowing all of this upfront will help you plan a more effective and economical publication.

    • STEP 2: Get your images and text pre-approved by the supplier.
      Suppliers want to have a certain amount of control over how their brand is portrayed so it’s a good idea to have your content approved before you get into production on your catalog. Many suppliers even give distributors access to their image libraries so if you use their images you can be fairly certain that they will be approved. (Note: there are some instances where suppliers may have an updated image that’s not available in their image library.) Seeking content approval at the start of your project gives the supplier the opportunity to provide you with their preferred images/text and will help save you time later on in your production process.

    • STEP 3: Verification of usage.
      The supplier needs to know that they’re actually featured in your catalog/print piece so you’ll need to send them some sort of proof. For catalogs this would mean compiling all the pages on which each supplier is featured. Bear in mind that this may be spread across several pages and sections. You’ll have to pull copies of each page containing content from Supplier A. Then you’ll do the same for Suppliers B through Z.

    • STEP 4: Calculate the real estate percentages.
      Next, based on the pages you’ve just pulled, calculate the total percentage of space which each supplier takes up in your catalog. This step is important because suppliers base their co-op payment on this percentage. You’ll probably want about 10 more cups of coffee at this point. I understand.

    • STEP 5: Create a co-op claim package.
      For each supplier. This is what you’ll be sending to your supplier to claim your co-op dollars. Include the evidence that the supplier has been featured as well as your numbers on how much space they take up in your publication. Distributors should also include a copy of the invoice for the project as this correlates to the amount suppliers will pay.

    Weighing the Benefits

    Collecting co-op dollars can be challenging and time-consuming but it’s well worth the effort. Distributors can recoup some of the initial costs of their project and in the long run, these savings will allow businesses to actually increase their marketing efforts.

    Still not ready to wade into the deep waters of advertising co-op? Do the benefits sound compelling but the workload seems too heavy? We get it, it’s a little daunting but we’re here to help.

    Spinstak Makes Collecting Co-Op Dollars Easy!

    We include a Co-Op Estimation Package along with every printed catalog or flyer project so when you’re considering your next catalog or other print project and the costs seem too high, remember that there are supplier co-op dollars available to offset those costs and let Spinstak do the hard work for you!

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