Cooperative (co-op) marketing campaigns - what are they? Co-op campaigns are the joining of forces between at least two businesses, sharing the costs and the space of the marketing campaign. This is a great process particularly for small businesses, as they typically have tight budgets allocated for marketing. If two or more businesses pool their resources, they can reduce individual costs and gain much more exposure in the ad space than they would on their own, since the combined budget can purchase more visibility.
Though not a new concept, co-op marketing campaigns are becoming more popular these days - especially as everyone is working to come back from the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. With funds especially low, it is extremely helpful to find a partner or partners to share the costs with, and all gain the benefits of more visibility. That said, it is important to pick the right partner, as there must be a harmonious relationship in order for all parties to work together smoothly - working together to produce the campaign creatives and having the same end goals. This article has a great overview of pros and cons. And this article can help you understand the process of actually setting up and launching a co-op campaign.
An industry that we have seen - and continue to see - really embrace co-op campaigns, is the travel industry. The embrace is not a difficult task, as the natural process of planning a trip requires tapping into various tourism ‘arenas’. A traveller will think about transportation, lodging, restaurants, activities, etc. With all these seemingly disparate pieces coming together to form one travelers’ itinerary, they actually all have the same goal. So why not bundle the efforts? Tourism programs can team up to serve the greater good of the travel destination. When one wins - they all win!
We have seen this a lot with one of our clients - Switzerland Tourism (ST). ST works with many smaller entities, such as individual tourism boards for different Swiss cities or regions. Along with these could be specific activities such as local museums or hotels. These various partners pool their budgets to form a larger budget, and we work with the partners in order to craft a campaign that highlights all the partners accordingly. Sometimes they contribute the same amount of money which would mean equal highlighting, and sometimes they contribute different amounts which call for different levels of visibility. An easy example for equal visibility would be banner ads. Each partner provides their ‘key visual’, and we design the ads in the same vein, but make one version for each partner. These are then served equally. Check out this link for a more complicated example - we created a trip planner that highlighted six different regions in Switzerland, each with their own key visuals, promoted activities, and highlighted hotels. Not to mention, the Swiss Transportation System and Swiss Air. With this format, we were able to create varying levels of visibility, but keeping all partners in the same platform.
With the pandemic hitting hard on the travel industry, businesses and destinations are searching for any and all solutions to help speed up tourism recovery and to be top-of-mind as people begin to think about planning trips. Co-op campaigns can be an excellent solution. Check out this page from the State of Minnesota - they are seeking and sorting partners into various programs to ensure the group works well together for mutual success. You know what they say - teamwork makes the dream work. I think we will start to see a lot more co-op campaigns in the future!