As a small business, your success often depends on developing excellent relationships with larger companies.
For instance, if you make products you need to work closely with those who sell your products to end users, such as retailers, or who get your products on shelves, such as distributors.
On the other hand, if you’re the one who sells products directly to consumers, you can often turn to your larger suppliers to assist you in promoting their products. Virtually every large manufacturer has a co-op program to help underwrite the cost of advertising or marketing their products.
How can you work toward getting these promotional opportunities for your company?
1. Ask and ask again.
If you’re a small retailer, you may be missing out on thousands of marketing dollars. Ask suppliers whether they offer co-op money to support your advertising.
2. Start small.
If you’ve created a new type of pet product, it’s going to be a lot easier to land a promotion in a local pet shop than in a national pet superstore.
3. Start lining up promotions and co-op money well in advance.
Promotions are decided upon many months in advance, especially at large retailers. You can’t approach a store in November or even September or October about Christmas promotions. Likewise, it takes time to get co-op money approved. Ask at least six months in advance.
4. Develop a good sales track record.
Retailers only want to promote items they’re confident will sell well. Co-op dollars go quickest to those who have sold the most of a supplier’s products. This is a bit of a Catch-22, but you’ve got to demonstrate you can sell.
5. Build relationships.
Get to know the people in charge of promos and co-op programs at the companies you do business with. Stay in touch with them.
6. Understand the costs.
Promotions are not without costs. First, you’ll typically have to supply the retailer with a lot more inventory — often on a returnable basis or at your expense. The retailer may require a contribution for promotional or advertising expenses.
7. Support the promotion.
Make sure you’re doing your best to promote the promo or special offer. Don’t just rely on the retailer.
8. Ask about off-site promotions.
Some retailers participate in special sales activities off their store premises. An athletic shoe store, for instance, might have a sales booth at an event for runners.
9. Finally, don’t give up.
Like all marketing efforts, success in promotional opportunities and co-op advertising takes repetition and persistence. Keep at it!
Photo by FelipeArte.