Level Up Your Co-op Marketing : Here’s How

You always hear about co-op marketing, but will it really work for you? Here are some ideas to make a co-op ad or promotional campaign a success.photo co-op

Background: the idea is to get together with some complimentary businesses and form a marketing consortium: pool resources to advertise, attend a trade show, put on an event, sponsor a fam tour, or any other type of promotion.  You each contribute to the campaign which is ultimately intended to drive some incremental sales your way.

The best campaigns are those that work synergistically, creating incremental sales by increasing your ad reach, your frequency and also your effectiveness together as a team.

  1. Come up with a plan, then choose your team. The temptation will be to first go to your friends and acquaintances in the industry to make a team, but really you should start by thinking about your market. What do they want? Then think about what business paring or grouping would make the most sense. If you are looking at making a package it might look one way. If you are doing a group sales mission, it might be another. Think before you commit to a co-op group, try to pick your partners for what they bring to the co-op equation. If its just money, that might be enough. Just make sure that you have a team that fits with a plan, and not the reverse.
  2. Don’t rule out using non-traditional partners. If you are wanting to promote a mountain biking event, with accommodations and gala meal event, why not approach a local food and or beverage seller to partner with you. Not only will you get a little more leverage, you may get a lot of additional exposure in a new market.
  3. Investigate whether you can get any co-op marketing funding from your local tourism authority or destination management organization (DMO). Co-op advertising is getting more common these days as different destination marketing models become adopted.  Travel Alberta, for example, reports their coop program gets great results ” The program is producing a strong return on investment of 5:1 — with $5 of incremental tourism revenue generated for industry partners for every Travel Alberta dollar spent.”  In many programs you can get up to 50% of your project funded, but research carefully as programs vary.   Some DMO’s will allow you to include the cost of a project coordinator, which makes a great deal of sense since there is an additional burden to putting together this type of programming. Keep in mind that if your co-op plan makes sense, it will still be good idea to go ahead even if you don’t get any additional funding. Reporting back to DMO’s can be onerous, so be forewarned.
  4. The biggest mistake you can make  is to not have a clear call to action with an easy booking process. Studies have shown repeatedly that your program, be it a trade show, a digital ad campaign, an event, or a combination, will benefit by using a product specific landing page which leads to a well constructed shopping cart. It is here that one of two things happens. In 2015, an average 85% of travel shoppers abandoned the shopping cart. The remaining 15 went on to complete the sale. At either of these outcomes there are techniques to complete and possibly add to the sale. Abandoned shoppers are covered extensively in this blog site. (Just type in “abandoned” in the search box on the top right of this post to bring up the articles.)
  5. Studies show that remarketing to your landing page visitors increases conversions. It is known that travel is slower “sell” and, depending on the offer, sales may start to peak weeks into a campaign. This chart from a 2014 report by Rocket Fuel shows that conversions peak when ads are served up 34 times. Make sure your digital campaign has enough time built into it to allow multiple ad views.ScreenHunter_197 Aug. 08 12.06
  6. Create a separate landing page and offer your remarketing campaign. Since these are returning visitors, they are somewhat more interested than just curiosity seekers. Remarketing ads and landing pages that provide an additional incentive to buy can really jump up your conversion rates. Think of something you can offer like a gift card that must be consumed on-site, or for something incremental. I’ve used something as small as a Starbucks gift card for $10.00, that I costed into the campaign costs. You may want to offer something non-monetary like “no single supplement” or “no  cancellation penalty”. Simply getting people to register for a newsletter or future offers is also good value. Getting qualified sign ups to newsletters is not as easy as it once was.
  7. Make it easy for people buy your product easily and cross sell your partners to increase the sale. Using Adventure Engine platform to create  cross selling opportunities is one of the best ways to add incremental sales and bring additional value to your co-marketing project.
  8. Remember to measure and define what success looks like. Adventure Engine has built in reporting functions and all the data to output custom reports.  If you are using leveraged funding from any third party (ie gov’t or DMO) you may have to conform to their criteria. Plan for success and remember the old saw, what gets measured, gets done.

Please contact us to help you on your a co-op marketing program. We will help you set up a digital ad campaign with retargeting, help coordinate the program, provide a custom branded landing page and a booking platform, all as a single service.

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