According to the Harvard Business Review, national brands who’ve shifted marketing efforts from national to local campaigns have produced millions of dollars in new sales, with no net changes in total ad budget.
When done correctly, co-op advertising can be a win-win for brands and their local retail channel partners. Brands gets a boost in awareness and product visibility at the local level, while retail partners gets the sale and the top-of-mind association with brands.
In the past, brand marketing managers using traditional marketing channels for co-op have been frustrated that their messages were sometimes diluted or mishandled in local markets. Add to that frustrated retailers are trying their best to follow complicated rules to redeem co-op requests, it’s no wonder more than $1 billion of the $22 billion brand set aside by brands for co-op isn’t redeemed.
While co-op advertising has been a fixture in print and broadcast media for decades, it’s still relatively new to the world of online marketing. That’s especially surprising, given that the Internet gives brands total control of their messaging, along with precise data on which ads in which markets are working to quickly and inexpensively switch out creative.
So, in the give-and-take world of digital co-op marketing, here are four ways that retailers and brands can work together to move merchandise and increase revenue.
1. Use Consistent Creative
One of the biggest challenge that large brands face when using local marketing platforms is keeping their messages consistent. Imagine a consumer seeing a TV commercial touting a particular refrigerator’s high quality and durability and then seeing a local print ad saying prices have been slashed for this model. These messages aren’t contradictory, but they don’t reinforce a clear image of the brand. The consumer might be thinking, “If this model is so good, why is it on sale at such a reduced price?”
Maintaining brand consistency at the local level starts with consistent creative. Many large brands provide approved ad templates that can be customized for local stores. Some customized local ads can even include photos and local reviews (e.g., Named Best Place to Buy Furniture by Readers of Omaha Magazine).
By providing customized ads for each channel partner, the brand can ultimately save time and money through quicker approval turnaround and more control of its marketing messages.
For example, my company works with Serta, Michael Amini and many other brands to create consistent, turnkey Internet creative that delivers qualified shoppers to local channel partners.
Co-branded display ads and local search ads lead them to retailer websites. Ads also appear in the target market when shoppers search on their mobile devices. In this example, a national brand (Lutron) empowers local integrators to turn local research activity into local sales through the power of online marketing.
Our technology also delivers customized conversion webpages, which are automatically injected into retailer websites. Every click on a display banner or text ads connect local buyers to this conversion-optimized landing page which captures leads for the local integrator or dealer.
All the while, the brands maintain control over their multiple lines and products.
2. Understand User Motivation on Mobile Devices
By 2014, mobile Internet use will surpass desktop access. Consumers conducting searches on mobile device behave differently than those searching on a PC. While local search accounts for 20 percent of queries on PCs, it’s 40 percent of all mobile queries.
Tech-savvy shoppers using smartphones are researching “on the go” and are in-market and ready to buy. PC users are still conducting research and reading reviews before making purchase decisions. The co-branded campaigns should consider these behaviors on different devices.
Mobile ads should not just be a reformatting or resizing of banner ads. Content on mobile ads should be optimized to leverage the way mobile users consume information. Less is more in terms of ad copy, and messaging should stay focused on a central call to action.
3. Leverage Online Features and Geography
Each online marketing channel has its unique strengths and weaknesses, both in terms of functionality and user preferences. Twitter users love links, while Facebook users respond well to photos. Pinterest and Instagram by their very natures are visual.
Brands can work with local partners to develop campaigns that tap into the preferred actions and responses within each social and research channel. As with online analytics, many of these sites can elicit instant feedback from online communities.
User demographics can also come into play. Women make up 58% of Facebook users, 70% of Pinterest users, and 62% of Twitter users. Men make up about 54% of LinkedIn and YouTube users, and 64% of Google+ users.
Likewise, geography can play a big role. For mobile campaigns, targeting the user’s location can drive messaging on mobile devices such as “We’re just around the corner” or “Big sale today!” The retailer knows local events and community attitudes better than the brand does, so little tweaks that highlight local involvement (“Congrats to Central High Football Team!”) can impact ROI.
4. Observe Ad Guidelines
Brands should set clear guidelines with local retailers and be clear about how much control local marketing managers have and what boundaries are set for modifications. They should share corporate messaging with the retailer but allow some leeway for customization and localization.
To facilitate review and approval, the brand’s market staff should utilize file-sharing tools and promise quick review. Whether it’s a password-protected portal or specific email address designated for review of customized ads.
Brands should seek out a partner like Netsertive. Our digital channel marketing platform unleashes the power of cooperative Internet marketing, unlocking unused co-op funds by streamlining reimbursement and giving brands total control of their advertising. Transparent results reporting ensures that both local retailers and brands get the maximum return on their shared investments.