You all remember co-op marketing. In the old days, two, three or more companies focusing on the same customer and seeking to reduce their advertising costs would combine their offers in the form of a coupon book, a (sometimes) complex promotion, or a newspaper ad. Oh, right, companies still do that. And, by the way, they do it online.

Those Market Niches Keep on Giving . . .

If you’ve ever visited an online wedding center, baby center, or pet center, you’ve experienced the internet version of co-op marketing. Several companies catering to the same customers but with different products or services combine their efforts to increase their online presence and sales numbers. Many may already have their own websites. However, as history has proven time and time again, co-op marketing distributes potentially high costs across multiple businesses and brings in additional sales for all for much less.

For Example . . .

One of our clients specializing in elegant ethnic-specific weddings, is about to launch a new website Active Web Group is designing for them. They are inviting other high-end wedding vendors, from musicians to florists to clothing designers, to join their site. Wedding vendors sign up as “member suppliers,” for a small fee and in return their products and services are featured on the site.

Participating vendors are spared the expense of creating their own highly optimized website, and reap the benefits of being “in the right place at the right time.” This co-op website marketing is especially advantageous for small businesses that may have high-end products, but lack the financial resources to develop their own online presence.

On the other hand, some member suppliers may already have their own sites. In that instance, joining forces with other wedding vendors gives them added exposure for a fraction of what traditional advertising would cost.

Another Co-op Option. . .

If you currently are not a member of your local chamber of commerce, you should consider joining. A chamber of commerce represents a very basic example of co-op marketing, and its “online power” often is underestimated.

More and more local chambers are developing local websites, promoting their own events as well as their member businesses. Details vary from site to site, with some chambers offering merely a listing and a link per company, and others providing descriptions and even online ads.

Being a part of your local chamber of commerce online is a good and obvious idea, especially if you run a small business with limited marketing resources. Usually for the cost of membership, your chamber listing gets you in front of the customers you need to reach in your local community.

On Or Off-line, Basic Marketing Principles Remain The Same . . .

Advancing technology certainly has given us more marketing options, and has enabled us to reach more targets in a split second. Overall, online marketing decreases costs and provides a much quicker return-on-investment.

However, though the means by which we market grow ever more sophisticated, the basic rules still apply. Co-op marketing was smart 20, 30 and 40 years ago in the form of coupon books, and online co-op marketing that brings together different vendors looking for the same customers is smart today.

Think of it this way: the vehicles we use today may be faster and more “fuel efficient,” but the roadmaps still lead us in the same direction – increased profitability.

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