Why do vendors and manufacturers run into so many problems with their Co-op program management?
Obviously, this is a loaded question. Of course, problems associated with Co-op program management rely on many different elements and on the strength of your channel partnerships.
Each channel partnership is unique in its own right—engulfed with tribulations relative to a number of possible reasons such as lack of:
- Marketing experience
- Affiliate participation
- Follow-up/campaign updates
- Reimbursement turnaround
- Manpower to monitor ROI and administrate
- Product training
- Requirements for eligibility
With so many loose ends open to interpretation, it’s easy to pass blame; in doing so, a channel partnership that once brimmed with potential, unfortunately, disintegrates into the B2B marketplace abyss never to be seen again.
However, instead of pointing fingers, vendors and manufacturers can easily avoid these common Co-op program management hiccups. It just takes a little patience, strategy, and structure before deploying a lucrative marketing incentive for channel partners such as Co-op programs.
Here are 5 steps towards improving your Co-op program management process:
Step 1: Mandate a ‘Right to Audit’ Clause for Eligibility
Each channel partnership that includes a Co-op program (or any channel program) should be subject to further inspection that goes beyond emails, meetings, and phone calls. This Co-op program management strategy will allow you to identify which partners are to be deemed ‘risky,’ as well as provide insight into how constructively your dollars are being spent.
Step 2: Design Program with Objective Guidelines
A Co-op program without clear and concise parameters is a program destined to fail. It’s imperative that eligibility requirements are clearly stated during the documentation process as well as to provide a start/end date, expectations, consequences for non-compliance, etc.
Step 3: Deploy a Competent Channel Manager
Miscommunication within the indirect sales funnel is one the most common (and damaging) errors vendors/manufacturers make while opting to invest in a Co-op program. Deploying a competent channel manager with extended experience in Co-op program management for each partnership is essential in order to establish b2b success, loyalty, and longevity.
Step 4: Offer Formal Training
Whether you sell tennis balls or surgical instruments, channel partners should be mandated to extensive product training regarding functionality and ‘best go-to-market strategies.’ Remember, your channel partners should be an extension of your own in-house sales team, not “just another customer.”
Step 5: Marketing Programs Tailored to Each Partner’s Needs
Simply allocating funds without taking into consideration of marketing strategy is a drastic error in b2b relations. For example, allocating available (or discretionary) funds for a direct mailing campaign may be a lucrative tactic in driving consumers to a ski resort, however, SEO (e.g., keyword advertising) may not provide any traction for the same objective—and be a complete waste of money.
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