Top 3 Benefits of Co-op Programs - BrandMuscle
Top 3 Benefits of Co-op Programs
December 6, 2019
By: Adam Gockowski, Local Marketing Strategist

There are countless ways that co-op funds help agents with their advertising. Over the past five years, I’ve seen every possible angle.

As a marketing strategist at BrandMuscle, I get to work one-on-one with local insurance agents for one of the top insurance brands in the country, helping them use their co-op funds on local marketing campaigns. I’ve worked with insurance agents that own multiple locations and with agents that are newly licensed. Agents spend co-op on many different types of advertising campaigns, from large billboards to high school yearbook ads, but there are a few tactics that prove especially beneficial.

1. More Money, More Ads

Before contacting BrandMuscle, many agents already have established relationships with vendors in their local communities. Some of these agent/vendor relationships have been a result of being each other’s customers. If an agent doesn’t have access to co-op funds, they would pay 100% out-of-pocket directly to their vendors.

When an agent enrolls in a co-op program, their campaign budget and opportunity expands significantly. With more capacity to invest in everything from buying a larger ad space, better ad placements, longer runtimes. Co-op allows agents to run campaigns or ads they wouldn't be able to afford on their own and when they invest some of their own money into the campaign, it brings the corporate brand a level of local presence they couldn’t otherwise achieve of their own. It’s a win-win.

2. Co-op Opens Doors to New Ways of Advertising

When an agent only has their personal funds for advertising, experimenting can feel like a huge risk. Like trying a new dish at a restaurant, people may not order it out of fear that it’s not worth the cost. But if someone else orders it or splits the cost, they are more likely to try the new dish.

The same can be true for using co-op funds for advertising. Agents are more open to trying new tactics with the financial support of corporate co-op funds. When agents use their own money, they are often more likely to stick to what they know, like newspapers and billboards. Digital online ads might feel especially risky, especially for agents whose careers began before the online market exploded. Their biggest concern with digital ads are that they won’t see them because the ads aren’t targeting them directly. That implicit invisibility can cause cold feet.

The lower financial risk with higher rewards of a co-op program means that agents are willing to try new tactics. Agents are relieved when I suggest using co-op on an integrated or multiple tactic campaign, allowing them to continue to use tools they trust while also trying something new. And BrandMuscle has analytics to help them explore what’s working best, as well as what might not be.

3. Use Co-op to Help Agents Adhere to Brand Guidelines

The insurance client that I work with has specific rules in place to ensure brand compliance. In order to be eligible for co-op, agents must use the ads on our Brand Management site. In simple terms, if the ad isn’t from BrandMuscle, you can’t use co-op funds to pay for it. This rule is in place to make sure the overall brand and image is being held to its highest standards and that the complex legal disclaimers required for each agent, product line, etc. is never missed. Companies want to make sure that their name is represented the same way on the local level as it is on the corporate scale.

This might seem beneficial only to the national brand, but agents like it because they can quickly see that their ads are of higher quality. If the national brand rolls out a very popular ad campaign, local agents want to use it and are requesting that creative immediately. Depending on the company’s marketing layout, not every ad will be available in every market, but if the campaign message is available locally, BrandMuscle will have it ready for them. And the agent has no need for a graphic designer on staff, or hierarchies of approval that slow everything down. They can get to market fast, easily, and on-brand with co-op dollars to support it all.

The Ultimate Impact of Co-op

This insurance leader has seen enormous success with their co-op program When this company originally came to BrandMuscle, it was in need of a platform that could handle the complexities of local marketing within the insurance industry. Co-op utilization and agent satisfaction were both low because the approval and reimbursement process was long and frustrating. They also needed to mitigate risk association with legal compliance within agent advertising.

Now a strategic partner for over 14 years, the company has thrived with BrandMuscle’s full-service team of local marketing experts. They have gained complete visibility into co-op usage and effectiveness which allows them to optimize investments, allocate resources towards top performing agents, and reduce out-of-pocket cost for agents. As a result, more agents have invested their own funds in marketing, which is a significant contributor to local marketing maturity and agent satisfaction.

Want to Learn More?

Check out our on-demand webcast, Are You Burying Your Partners in Rules? and learn how to simplify your co-op guidelines.

About the Author

Adam works on local marketing campaigns for one of the biggest insurers in the country, creating and placing media advertising buys and campaigns for local agents. He manages co-op payment for media orders totaling over $2M annually. Adam is an avid runner and graduate of Kent State University.