Why Aren’t My Affiliates Using Their Co-Op Funds?

Gina Ghamo | March 16, 2023

The harsh reality of co-op funds? Approximately 50% of these marketing dollars go unused each year. That’s a lot of moolah.

Unused co-op funds mean missed marketing and revenue growth opportunities.

So why do so many local partners neglect to activate these dollars? We’re glad you asked. There are numerous reasons affiliates leave marketing funds on the table. The good news? There’s something you can do about it.

Reasons Local Partners Don’t Invest Their Co-Op Dollars

If you have a fund management platform in place for your brand and channel partners, you’re on the right track. (Nice!)

However, simply managing your co-op dollars isn’t enough — these funds are only valuable if your affiliates activate them. Because when your affiliates actually use these dollars, you can boost revenue for your brand.

Lack of co-op use can feel like a kick in the shins, but there’s a reason for your affiliates’ inaction. If your partners aren’t investing their marketing dollars, get curious about what’s holding them back.

Here are the five main reasons affiliates let co-op funds go unused.

1. Complex Co-Op Rules

While co-op program rules are crucial for risk mitigation, creating too many can actually hinder usability. Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing — and co-op rules are no exception.

Establishing too many rules can complicate and lengthen the fund management process significantly, discouraging partners from activating their marketing dollars. If the effort to access your co-op funds outweighs the results of utilizing them, affiliates won’t bother to go through the process in the first place.

Some of the most common co-op program mistakes include:

  • Complicated claims submission and reimbursement processes.
  • Varying reimbursement rates with unclear guidelines.
  • Long and complex approval processes.
  • Lack of approved vendors.

2. Lack of Transparency Into Fund Availability

If your funds aren’t easily accessible to affiliates, you can’t expect them to use them.

Many local partners don’t know what funds are available to them, creating barriers to program participation. That’s because brands often provide poor visibility into their partners’ fund availability by using complex means of checking fund balances, such as manual spreadsheets, emails, and phone communications.

3. Limited Marketing Knowledge

Your affiliates aren’t marketing experts. Some partners’ lack of know-how prevents them from utilizing their co-op dollars.

They aren’t always sure which marketing tactics they should put their funds toward or how to execute their local marketing once they do, so they decide not to take the risk.

Your affiliates may need your support and enablement before they feel confident enough to engage with your co-op program.

4. Low Marketing Prioritization

Oftentimes, affiliates don’t use their co-op funds because they don’t see the value in doing so. In fact, 54% of partners question whether co-op programs are worth their time (not good).

They either don’t understand the value of marketing, their program is too difficult to use, or they view running their businesses as more important. When you’re running a local business, it can be difficult to find time to prioritize marketing.

If your affiliates don’t see fund use as worthwhile, they aren’t going to put in the effort to invest.

5. Outdated Fund Management Solution

If your partners aren’t using your co-op marketing dollars, the issue may be with your fund management solution. Many “tried-and-true” technologies become clunky and outdated over time, creating struggles for affiliates. What’s worked for you in the past may not be the best solution now.

It’s important to upgrade your fund management platform to ensure you keep up with the latest innovations, or risk falling behind the competition.

How to Get Partners to Use Their Marketing Dollars

Instead of letting your co-op dollars go by the wayside, it’s time to take action. Get affiliates to invest their marketing funds and drive revenue by making the following changes to your co-op program and fund management solution.

Implement Simpler Processes

Instead of forcing your partners to navigate complex claims submission, approval, and reimbursement processes they’d rather avoid, try simplifying your co-op guidelines. Start by assessing your current rules and processes to determine what requirements are absolutely necessary — then cut the rest. Be sure to evaluate the following areas:

  • Risk level: How much impact would an incorrect co-op submission have on your brand? If the answer is “not much,” you should pare down your co-op requirements to better reflect the risk. Programs are more profitable when partners participate in them, even if a few incorrect submissions slip through the cracks.
  • Number of approvals: How many layers of approval does your submission process have? How many people really need to be a part of that process? Try reducing how many people must approve your affiliates’ co-op submissions.
  • Approval time: How long does it take for a claims submission to be approved or denied? Try keeping the process between 24 and 48 hours or — even better — implement auto-approvals.
  • Rule consistency: Are your co-op rules consistent across all partners? Your guidelines shouldn’t vary from affiliate to affiliate based on arbitrary measures.
  • Guideline simplicity: Are your co-op rules clear and easy to understand? Make sure your guidelines aren’t complex or confusing.

Make Funds Easily Accessible

Your fund management platform should make funds easily accessible to your affiliates. That means it should be simple and intuitive to locate available fund balances and figure out where and how to submit a claim.

The easier it is for your partners to access and use their co-op dollars, the more likely they are to invest them.

Offer Affiliate Education and Support

Co-op fund activation isn’t always second nature for affiliates. That’s why they need your help on the best ways to execute local marketing. Luckily, there are many ways you can support your affiliates through your co-op program:

  • Offer do-it-for-me marketing execution programs and technologies.
  • Educate partners on your co-op rules, including fund expirations, claims submission deadlines, denials, reimbursement rates, and co-op allocation.
  • Provide brand-compliant marketing materials.
  • Identify pre-approved vendors.
  • Provide marketing tools and resources.
  • Communicate marketing campaigns through emails, webinars, phone meetings, or private messaging networks.

Invest in a Modern Fund Management Solution

You can achieve greater fund activation and marketing execution for your brand by upgrading your outdated fund management platform to a more modern, innovative alternative. With a simple yet robust solution in your corner, your affiliates can enjoy revenue-boosting co-op utilization and leverage top-of-the-line capabilities and features that take your local marketing to the next level.

Our Intelligent Local Marketing Platform comprises a complete suite of best-in-class solutions, including:

  • Fund management: Our fund management solution provides a streamlined co-op experience for affiliates, enabling them to enjoy fast approvals, easy fund utilization, and simple reimbursements according to your customizable co-op rules.
  • Brand management: Allow local partners to seamlessly execute brand- and legally compliant marketing campaigns with easy-to-use templates and custom creative services.
  • Marketing execution: Leverage marketing execution training, education, tools, and support to implement scalable and effective campaigns that drive revenue.
  • Analytics and insights: Gain data-driven insights across marketing campaigns and tactics to accurately measure performance.
  • Virtual assistant: Our Local Marketing Virtual Assistant, Markie, provides expert marketing recommendations and can even execute marketing tactics on your affiliates’ behalf.

Activate Marketing Funds With an Innovative Fund Management Solution

Help your affiliates make the most of their co-op funds and drive revenue with BrandMuscle. Our comprehensive local marketing platform enables partners to effortlessly activate their funds while optimizing their local marketing with our expert services and solutions.

Contact us to learn more about our solutions.

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