Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Business owners really should always be thinking of ways to “tighten our belts” right? However, during times of economic downturn there’s a ton of focus on ways to save on expenses in our businesses and as you may know, many businesses are going into a “panic mode”. They’re laying off staff and delaying plans for growth and reducing their budgets…..including their marketing budget. Companies who reduce their marketing budgets give me “pause”, especially since marketing done properly is the best investment a company can make when the economy is slow and some vendors have an “Economic Stimulus Package” already in place to help their dealer network. The name of this Economic Stimulus Package is Cooperative Advertising, otherwise known as Co-Op.

 Every year, over 10 billion dollars of Co-Op advertising money goes unused!

Chances are likely if you are reading my blog, you are BUYING, SERVING or SELLING advertising (or just someone who ran into my blog because they like cats.)  No matter who you are, what you don’t know about Cooperative Advertising could cost you money.

Cooperative Advertising, or “Co-Op”, is a sharing of advertising costs where a vendor shares all or a portion of a retailer’s advertising in order to promote product. Think of Co-op like a partnership between a vendor and their dealer network (retailers). Vendors want their dealers to spend money on marketing because they know it works…AND are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Now may be the best time to check with Vendors on programs that may be available!

It’s not a surprise to know that some of the most aggressive Cooperative Advertising Programs are run by brands, such as: Polaris, Apple, Rolex, Carrhardt, NAPA, AAA, Ace Hardware, and every car brand out there, Thomas Kincade, Pennzoil, Bosch, and many more! Vendors are also getting more and more comfortable across the board with internet advertising.

The Common Benefits of Co-Op Advertising

Many vendors offer free Yellow Page Advertisements.

Co-Op reimbursements are commonly at 50% or above.

Some vendors provide the ad copy, including television ads, webverts, and radio scripts.

Co-op can be handled in-house, but very often it is a place where Industry Professionals really can offer great help and support. Here’s an example of a professional that keeps her ear to the ground for her clients as well as her peers.

There may be money available to help defray the cost or enhance Trade Shows and Special Sale’s events.

Cooperative Agreements can be negotiable between a vendor and a dealer to create better return on investment.

 Now, what could be bad about Co-Op Advertising Programs?

 There may be some Co-Op money you choose to leave on the table.

Remember that vendors want to sell their products and some have constructed their advertising programs to sell only their products without regard to an individual company’s identity and brand. This is not too terrible if the Dealer Network has a territory that is spread out and if the Vendor does not sell direct to the public. Be sure that all of your advertising works for you and not against you.

It may be tempting to attempt to combine more than one vendor in a cooperative ad in order to cover more $$. Have you ever heard those radio ads just listing name brands of stock …….really fast? Make sure to use proper advertising methods and don’t create noise. Again, I recommend utilizing a professional copywriter with experience in Co-Op advertising. If the copywriter says it  “would be better if….”, LISTEN.

Vendors may request that ads be “approved” before running them in media. This could cause delays in scheduling marketing.

Co-Op funds can expire. It’s common that they don’t carry over. You lose what you don’t use!

Co-op is usually paid upfront by the retailer and reimbursed by the vendor. It is very important to follow the specific rules to avoid losing the ability to collect reimbursement.

Though it may be important to not delay in learning about the Cooperative Advertising money available, it is equally important to NOT RUSH in spending it. Plan Co-op wisely based on budget allowance, marketing plans, stock seasons and market niche. An advertising / marketing calendar is recommended.

Advertising is not a product you attempt to purchase at a discount.
Advertising is an investment in which you attempt to maximize your return.
The GIGO rule applies: “Garbage In=Garbage Out”

I have added a little bit of funny yet excellent advice below. Enjoy!

Seven Stolen and Adapted (Katnapped) New Year’s Resolutions – PLUS a FREE Gift for the New Year

2008 was a great year. I have learned a lot about my business and grew clientele and friendships across the continent. My family is thriving and my life is filled with love and hope.


Still, there are some things I would like to improve in 2009. I have recently enjoyed some recent resolutions so much that they…shall we say “inspired” some of my own. Before you accuse me of Cyber-Theft, let me mention that all will receive the credit they deserve in this Blog.

1.     I will strive to be a better Networker and not a “Collector of Contacts”. Yep, I admit it. I do get a kick out of “how many” contacts I have instead of trying to find a way to network with people that would mutually benefit from our relationship. I have a few ways of achieving this goal and none of them are as easy as 1-2-3. But, nothing worth doing is ever really easy and I will tackle this challenge “head on” by making time and making a strategy to build better relationships. Not for sales, but to ensure my clients have a well rounded talent always offering the most up to date and complete packaged services.

2.     I will venture outside of my comfort zone. This is a challenge for me in 2009 for both personal and business pursuits. Personally, I will fight my fear of looking incompetent. I will be “OK” learning things that I may not ever gain 100% proficiency. Normally, I enjoy being competent at my tried and true skills and seldom venture to learn what I’m afraid is beyond me. I will meet 2009 as a “student” and will seek information and learn about things of which I either have no interest in or have strong beliefs against.  In business, I must venture into areas of marketing that require me to learn strategies that go against my earlier beliefs. I need to mix the old with the new and be creative. And, I have to trust myself- and that is a scary and uncomfortable place for me. I am equal to the challenge and just need to take some bold steps.

3.     I will take the time to Highlight others’ accomplishments in my network. I have always “tried” to remember to mention and support my network’s accomplishments. Sometimes I accomplished it, but not consistently-not faithfully. My peers, friends and colleagues deserve more than that. They are not my competition, they are my industry-my client base-my “life blood”.   To illustrate this immediately, I would like to share with you a well researched report developed by the incredible team at illustrating some statistics and trends related to the VO industry. Report of the Voice Over Industry . The information found in this report will benefit voice over artists, web marketers, podcast publishers as well as anyone interested in new marketing techniques. has always taken a proactive role in strengthening the Voice Over Industry and their efforts are ahead of their time. Thank you for offering this FREE report.

4.     I will maintain an open mind to new ideas. This is a simple idea that is not so simple to achieve. The idea of “why fix what isn’t broken” is sometimes flawed. Sometimes things that are broken don’t get fixed because fixing it proves something was done wrong to cause it to break. The ideas that things can’t change or couldn’t have been mistakes to being with are hard to accept. I will listen more, work toward active thought, and grow in understanding. I will be humble-not smug. I will not evaporate, deflect and reject ideas based on ego and pride. Also, I will accept that there is more than one solution to problems.

5.     I will become more active in supporting causes important to me. There are some exciting things that I have worked on in 2008. I performed a character read for a Cancer Institute and also performed a Skin Cancer Prevention DVD Pro Bono. I would like to seek out more opportunities to donate my voice to causes important to me. I have always been of the mindset of helping, but some new friends have really inspired me to set my goals higher. I will expand on them in future blogs so I can highlight their efforts when they have officially launched. If anyone else has a worthwhile effort, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will review and consider all requests for donations.

6.     I will remember that most people are good. This is the mindset that keeps me happy and full of joy and hope. My recent experience in 2008 reminded me that it is “most” and not “all” that are good. Some people are not good, not honest, not fair. Whether is by nature or nurture, they take the good away from people and make it ugly. These people will be forgiven and forgotten by me-left to their own self destruction. I will greet 2009 fully trusting, fully loving, and 100% open to people with the hope and belief that most people are good. If  again I meet with the perilous few, I will forgive and heal again remembering that barriers don’t keep the bad people from hurting you. Barriers only keep the good out and away from your soul. I accept that I need people more than I need to win. Bitterness, resentment and retaliation kill the soul and power all that is bad and wrong with the world.

7.     I will properly thank those who have given me business, referrals and the opportunity to do what I love to do for a living.

As a “thank you” , I would like to offer one full minute of audio FREE to any of my clients, referees and fellow voice talents that mention this post.

 This audio can be used for any reason, but I’m hoping that it’s used to test marketing that you are exploring. Perhaps you have always wanted professional narration on a web video, or you wanted to try out a podcast and needed an into, outro and music…OR you are on the fence with a different style for your radio or television ads…whatever. For VO’s, this offer may be a way to enhance your services or help you gain a client by offering “one stop service”. The only restriction placed on this offer is that you do your best to allow me a 48 hour window for the finished production. Everything else is fair game!

Please review those who have inspired this list and please visit these sites to learn more about those with sharper minds than I.

The Freelance Folder
Amazing Voice Talent – Terry Daniel
Connecting People _ Andy Lopata
International Network of Social Entrepreneurs