About $40 billion is provided each year in Trade Fund — or Co-Op Advertising — support from Manufacturers to retailers and distributors. But huge amounts of that money go unclaimed because many small- and mid-sized businesses simply don’t know it’s available — or how to go about claiming it.
Are You Eligible?
Chances are you’re eligible for at least some marketing and advertising support from the manufacturers and vendors whose products you use and sell, and you can take some simple steps to find out.
- Make a list of all of the vendors / manufacturers from whom you acquire products. If you get merchandise directly from the manufacturer (from, say, an area sales rep for that company), you can contact that rep to ask what may be available. In most co-op or trade fund programs that provide funds directly to retailers or dealers, the sales rep will be the person with the information about how to qualify, how much money is available, and what you need to do to claim any funds.
- If you get merchandise from one or more distributors, you may still have access to funds. For programs in which manufacturers fund the distributors, rather than the end-seller, those distributors receive and then determine how to spend or distribute those funds. Simply ask your main point of contact with the distributor if they can find out whether you’d be eligible for any of these funds.
- See the graphic on this page for an idea of the types of manufacturers who provide co-op programs. If you sell any of these products and services, chances are you qualify for some sort of manufacturer support for your marketing and advertising.
I AM eligible. Now how do I get these funds?
Congratulations! You now have access to more money for your marketing and advertising programs. There are often rules, however, for these programs, and they range from lax to strict. If you are eligible for funds, you need to make sure you know and understand the program rules so you can get the full funding to which you’re entitled.
First, request the manufacturer’s Co-op or Trade Funds Program Guidelines, if they’re available. These rules will typically let you know everything you need to know to qualify. Some things to watch for:
- Some programs will reimburse you for 100% of your advertising expenditures for a certain product or products, while others will allow you to claim a portion of those expenses. Some of the more complicated programs may even have differing levels of reimbursement depending on how much of their product you sell each year. Ask what you’re eligible for now, as well as if there are other tiers of eligibility.
- Nearly all of these programs have rules about how the brand is allowed to be conveyed in your ads for you to be eligible for payment. Some of them will have requirements on how much of the space needs to be devoted to the products or to the manufacturer’s logo, while others will disqualify ads with any products not from that manufacturer. If in doubt, check with your sales rep, the distributor, or the company administering the program for details BEFORE you create and place your ad.
- Each of these programs will have rules about how much time you have to claim any of these available expenses. Some of them will require you to file a claim within 15-30 days of the advertising invoice date, while others simply require you to file everything by the end of the fiscal year. Stay on top of your filings so you don’t risk losing out on your reimbursement.
Online Marketing Resources
Many manufacturers will provide you with some sort of online support for the program. Whether it’s a simple page that allows you to check the balance of your advertising account, or a full-fledged marketing portal that allows you to create entire advertising campaigns with a few mouse clicks, find out what is available.
Some of these tools are much better than others, but you’ll never know unless you access them to find out. Some of them will even allow you to file your claims online, saving you some time and postage. Others will allow you to order materials like POS pieces or direct mail, and deduct the funds directly from your co-op account.
Isn’t This a Lot of Work?
Well, it’s true that some manufacturers or vendors will make you jump through more hoops than others. But in many cases, they’re providing you free money for your advertising and marketing, so they expect something from you in return. If you sell products from only a handful of manufacturers, the bureaucratic aspects of the program will be easier than if you sell products from dozens or hundreds of manufacturers. But even then, the monetary value may make it worth it.
If you work with printers or agencies who help you with your marketing, they may be willing to file your claims for you (it never hurts to ask). We offer that service to our customers, and they appreciate the value of having the professional help with their marketing and the peace of mind that their funds are being claimed properly.
How We Can Help
Here at SilverGrass, we have more than a decade of experience working with manufacturers, dealers, and distributors on getting the most out of their co-op programs. We offer a full suite of marketing services for dealers and retailers, we provide consultations on how to find out if you’re eligible for co-op funds, and we file claims on behalf of our marketing and advertising customers.
Let us know if there’s any way we can help you get the most out of the money available to you.