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Have you ever heard of co-op advertising? While the U.S. Small Business Administration calls it a ‘relatively unknown form of advertising,’ it’s touted as a way for small businesses to engage in advertising that might normally be out of financial reach. Here’s why co-op ads should be considered, as part of your overall horsebiz marketing strategy….
In a nutshell, co-op advertising is an ad cost-sharing arrangement, typically where national manufacturers or suppliers make available co-op dollars to their retailers, often based on the amount of sales. It can be applied to any medium (TV, print, radio, Internet), and can include graphic design or other creative assistance, or promotional support such as display items.
Co-op ad programs can have many benefits beyond just financial savings, such as enhanced response due to recognizable brand names and tie-in with national advertising campaigns. Here are a few resources that share insights on how to set up and use co-op advertising arrangements:
- Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia offers tips on several different kinds of co-op advertising in addition to a few caveats to watch out for.
- In this USAToday’s Ask an Expert column, Steve Strauss recommends co-op advertising as a too-underutilized form of advertising that can get your business name out at half the cost, and offers both upside and downside wisdom; he also recomments a sourcebook listing 4,000 different co-op programs.
This Portland Press Herald newspaper ‘laundry list’ shows many of the ways that co-op advertising dollars can be used, including to increase customer traffic, focus on specific products, or enhance general brand awareness. They’re also set up to help advertisers identify co-op dollars available to them, something you can check into next time you’re considering an ad; media outlets want to sell ads, so ask them how they can help you identify and use co-op tactics to advertise more frequently and with greater effectiveness.
Right about now you might be saying ‘that’s all fine and good for retailers and manufacturers, but what about my farm/stable/breeding & training operation?!’ Have no fear – here’s one example of co-op advertising for Paso Fino horse breeders. Pasofinofinder.com’s Co-op Advertising Network sets up a theme each year, with advertising placed in print and at many of the larger horse expos such as Equine Affaire. Expos can be a great way to reach potential customers, so banding together in this way to get your breed & farm in front of new markets more economically is a great idea.
And finally, whether you plan to advertise in the Yellow Pages or not, the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association has an 11-page PDF outlining in detail how co-op advertising works; while it’s geared toward Yellow Pages advertising, it’s also got some great sample ads that can serve as inspiration and will explain some of the key terminology.
If you’ve never considered co-op advertising before, take some time to mull over how to fit it into your existing marketing strategy. It might put a different level of advertising within reach of your horsebiz.
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