Making 2020 a Come-from-Behind Win.

Companies nationwide continue to work hard to stay in business in the ongoing wake of the COVID-19 downturn. According to a June Census survey, 44 percent expect it to be at least six months before “normal” business operations might resume and in July, the National Federation of Independent Businesses reported that one-third (1/3) of the business owners they surveyed were at 50-75 percent of last year’s sales levels (with one-fifth saying they were only at half of their 2019 sales levels).

So, what can manufacturers and suppliers do to help? How can they (you) create a win-win for everyone?

Maximizing co-op budgets is a great place to start.

In a “normal” year, a big portion of co-op money goes unused – often because dealers don’t have the bandwidth or knowhow to manage it correctly. This is where brand managers can step in to make co-op easier to use and ultimately increase participation and boost sales for their brand and their dealers.

There’s still time to make it happen in 2020.

Get creative. Produce an all-inclusive marketing campaign for your dealers. Instead of depending on your channel partner to create a promotion (while trying to run their business), devise a plan for them that consists of both online and offline components. Include elements like emails, social media posts, pre-designed advertising, a co-branded website (optimized geographically), in-store promotions or other print material.

Providing dealers with this – including all the materials it will take to pull it off, will make it easier for everyone. As a supplier, you can have confidence that your brand standards are in-tact, dealers can more easily gain pre-approval on their expense and you’ve removed the barrier of the claim process.

Be deliberate. Co-op is a big piece of a brand’s budget, so it’s essential for these funds to be used intentionally, as part of the overarching marketing strategy. Instead of tasking your dealers with the responsibility of guiding customers to your brand, create tools that align with your objectives, only leaving them with the task of adding their contact information. If possible, incorporate seasonal promotions or special financing options – all with the intent of leveraging market activities to execute your strategy and reach your goals.

  • Communicate thoroughly.  Once your strategy or campaign is established, confirm the details with your dealers and provide them with regular updates.
  • Confirm brand guidelines. Even though you may be providing them with the above-mentioned resources, also give them access to the resources they need to easily and effectively represent your brand (logos, photography, product details, etc.)
    • Be flexible but clear. Seasonality or other local factors (even weather!) can impact a campaign. Reinforce start and end dates…but be aware of regional difference and pivot or provide options where it makes sense.
    • Track and measure. Set key performance indicators and success metrics up front. Follow your progress along the way and provide updates.  Sharing the results with your dealers will give them visibility to the value they received from your joint effort.

Everybody Wins!

Getting the most out of your co-op budget – and your dealer’s allowance – is possible with a well-planned agenda.  Developing readymade options for the 4th quarter of 2020 (and beyond) that puts minimal demand on your dealers and yields maximum results, is possible (& repeatable).

At Iris, we’ve got your back every step of the way. Our GearBox system can manage assets, track budgets, expedite campaign execution and provide real-time program metrics.  This tool is easily deployed and integrates all your marketing programs onto a single platform (and it’s vendor agnostic).

Planning now for 2021? Let’s talk! Contact us to schedule a demo, 913-749-4100 or

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