The Double-Edged Sword
By Ellen Fruchtman, President
The double-edged sword rears its head every year. It dangles like a carrot. It moves otherwise brilliant business people to make marketing decisions based on reimbursements, versus the benefits of your own brand awareness. Ahhh. It’s co-op time. Typically, by the end of Q1, many larger brands who dole out the dollars (actually credit), have sent you their guidelines and slick creative. Much of the creative is similar in nature with glamorous models adorning the jewels. It should be noted, some of these creative executions (good or bad) do not necessarily resonate with your own consumer. Brands, however, do need to maintain some sort of brand standards, which we all need to understand. It would just be great if every now and then a retailer could weigh in. But hell, you’re only paying 50% of that ad. However, it’s important to remember your own brand typically receives 10% awareness within the ad. But, it does help to increase exposure. And yes, we are receiving a 50% reimbursement. Who could pass that up?
Co-op is a double-edged sword.
When you cut through that feeling of being lucky enough to have it, let’s remember you’ve made money for the brand. You’ve been a loyal soldier. You’ve invested in shop-in-shops. You’ve welcomed their required signage taking up 3 feet of prime space. You’ve endured the large buy-ins and the “best-sellers” that never sold. You have been instrumental in providing the designer brand awareness in your own market. And, that should account for something. So maybe, just maybe, it’s time you get to call the shots. Maybe it’s time to turn the tables. Maybe you set the strategy for your own company when you begin to work with a designer. Maybe you know what media works best in your market. Maybe they don’t get to tell you a series of emails to your lengthy, well-culled email database is not effective or worth their 50%. Maybe they agree to a private event with your top 100 customers is better than the print insertion. It’s time. It’s time you sent them your guidelines. It’s time to send them a proposal of what will connect to your customer. Maybe they’ll listen to you. Because hey, it’s your business. Your hard-earned cash. And, when you think of it, you both have the exact same goal in mind: Sell their product.
Retailers have put a lot of faith and dollars behind many brands. Some of that has turned out to be blind faith. How many times have brands gone directly to consumers? Opened retail establishments? Not protected your zip code territory? Competed with you online even in your SEO efforts? Hell, I’ve seen some brands sell online and have the audacity to tell the retailer they can’t sell their product online. Overall, the track record isn’t very good. You’re a partner until you aren’t.
This is not a slam on brands. Many brands do protect you. Many are open to your input. Many are flexible and do have your best interests at heart. By the same token, it’s time everyone takes another look at the world of co-op. Take control of the sword. So that the battle is not double-edged, but even.
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