Article from the Fall 2023 Sphere 1 Circular Newsletter
Written by Aaron Berger, Owner of Tool Country – Denver, CO
Opportunities don’t just happen; you must create them.
One of the best ways to create opportunities is by putting the CO-OP dollars offered by suppliers to work for you. CO-OP usage can be a daunting endeavor. It often requires a CO-OPerative plan between both the distributor and supplier, which can be time-consuming and potentially difficult, depending on the CO-OP dollar policy of the supplier. There are a multitude of ways that you could potentially use CO-OP dollars, but I think most of us would agree that using it in a way that grows both supplier and distributor market share, as well as product/brand awareness, is what we would all strive for. Being a part of Sphere 1, a group that advocates for its distributor-members and brokers the CO-OP deals with suppliers, is monumental, and we as members should not take that for granted.
I have heard from multiple more prominent suppliers that most CO-OP dollars go unused. This can be as frustrating to them as it is to us. As a member distributor, I view CO-OP dollars as my money, and I am hell-bent every year on using every cent. CO-OP dollars have essentially become my budget to help grow my business through creative marketing/advertising and branding. We do this by leveraging CO-OP dollars to exploit certain market opportunities, try to grow product categories, or expand our brand presence. This can grow in a compound way as well. CO-OP dollars utilized correctly = Increased Sales = Larger Purchasing Volume = More CO-OP dollars the next go around.
CO-OP dollars can be utilized in many forms to grow sales; something as simple as promotional flyers, in-store displays, contractor-specific promotional assets, digital marketing, and geofencing – the options are endless.
Branding is also of vital importance that can’t be overlooked, in my opinion. My goal with Tool Country has been to create a brand, supported by our marketing campaigns, that is constantly in the eyes and minds of our customers. Our brand is not just our company logo, but the combination of our mission, our belief in taking customer service to a higher level, and the overall message of ‘who we are and what we do’ that we want to project to our customers.
Over the last year, we have been working with 14-West to accomplish many of these things. They have become a true marketing/branding partner. They have a whole team that is dedicated to each part of the process, and they have been very responsive. Overall, it has been a seamless process. Even when we encountered an issue, they responded quickly with an amicable solution, and most importantly, took ownership of the issue. Everything has been high quality, especially the embroidery, which is where most promo companies show their true colors. They have also helped us with digital targeted marketing recently for Jet, Milwaukee, and DeWALT, with great results. They even handle much of the supplier CO-OP dollar submission, which honestly saves us a ton of time and headaches.
In my opinion, distributors can’t overlook CO-OP dollars. To me, it’s a fun, imaginative way to grow our business and supplier partnerships. While there are many facets to this, 14-West can help you make your idea a reality and support you through the process.
Not sure where to start with your CO-OP dollars? Check out this helpful directional article.