The notion of co-op marketing seems to be a practical advertising strategy for local businesses, enabling small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to coordinate with manufacturers and sellers, operate within their budgets, achieve financial security, and collaborate in a local economy. But, notes StreetFightMag, co-op marketing does not seem to work effectively in the digital age and does not work as well as numerous “fast, direct, Internet-centric opportunities.”

Netsertive, a digital marketing company, collaborated with research firm, Borrell Associates, to create a report that reveals a $14 billion chasm between co-op and other marketing types, accounting for what is “left unused by brands and retailers alike who are paying more attention to search, display, and email marketing … in addition to other digital options, like social media,” writes StreetFightMag. “The local retailer is the frontline of the business battle,” says Netsertive CEO Brendan Morrissey, “so it could be that they are looking for adjustments to respond to that direct market feedback they get every day, and this is driving them to seek out the digital opportunities.”

What’s more, co-op agreements have been weighed down with mandates that are often frustrating. In fact, the report indicates that 38 percent of local businesses cited “too much paperwork” as the greatest barrier to co-op marketing; another 38 percent cited “too many rules.”

Morrissey does point out that there are ways in which to utilize the “familiarity” of local business with digital to renew emphasis with co-op marketing. If businesses approach co-op more introspectively; that is by understanding the consumers they seek to reach, and if their brand partners also utilize an introspective approach, in which they use “their expertise to support businesses in applying their specific capabilities to a co-op strategy,” then they may create a meaningful partnership. This collaboration will enable them to avoid the snares that have beset co-op marketing and may also enable benefits from potential, untapped financial value, notes StreetFightMag.

“What local businesses invest in needs to line up with what their priorities are as individual businesses,” Morrissey told StreetFightMag. “Local businesses know that it can be very challenging to comply with the myriad requirements set out by their various brand partners, and what puts them most at ease is when they have someone they can turn to who can demystify all of that.”

So, mobile, it seems, is a significant potential area in which co-op marketing may be used. For example, in the face of the hype associated with mobile advertising and how it works, co-op marketing has never been considered. The report points out that, “73 percent of brands and local businesses aren’t leveraging co-op funds for their mobile marketing efforts. Those that are remain focused primarily on mobile search and mobile-optimized websites.”

As to strategy, Morrissey recommends, “If you are a retailer, dealer, or local business that sells national brand products, immediately do an inventory of the co-op or MDF programs that those brands have right now…. Ask your brand reps which of their local retailers take great advantage of the available programs and how. Collect all of the documents on the various uses, guidelines, and reimbursement opportunities and identify areas where you may be leaving money on the table.” Morrissey adds, “If you are a brand, create a plan to reach out to your local partners and ensure they have all the information about your programs. Advocate internally to modify the guidelines so that partners can better take advantage of high performance digital channels and get stronger reimbursement rates as incentives. Find a partner who can quickly deploy both the education and the brand-compliant local marketing execution and leverage them to start building your digital future with local partners before it’s too late.”


Melton, Annie. StreetFight; Study: Local Advertisers Are Leaving Behind $14 Billion in Co-op Marketing Every Year; August 13, 2015.