Suppose you operate a small appliance store. The manufacturers of certain brands you sell may offer co-op funds when you run ads promoting those products. You may even be able to obtain funds from local utility companies that want you to promote energy-efficient appliances. Electric and gas companies are also frequent providers of co-op dollars to contractors who promote energy-efficient products and services, such as "tune and clean" central air conditioning services and annual furnace inspections.
"In the beauty industry, particularly in retailing professional hair products in salons, there are dozens of co-op programs," says Patti Ferraro, owner of Paul Ferraro Salon Inc., in Boca Raton, Florida.
"The one we take advantage of in my salon is from Redken. For any and all advertising I do, whether it be direct mail, print or TV ads, birthday cards to my clients or balloons to decorate my shop, Redken gives me a kick-back in product. The amount of co-op I qualify for is directly related to the dollar amount of product I purchase in a calendar year."
If you're not already receiving your share of this veritable gold mine, you should be! Co-op advertising dollars can help stretch your advertising budget. And in addition to giving you money, these sources often offer help with advertising and marketing, such as supplying pre-printed advertisements or prepared radio and television spots.
You can take advantage not only of funding, but of the expertise and creative buying power of companies much larger than yours. The result is an association between your business and the prestige of a national brand. All it takes is a little knowledge and a lot of organization.