For most of the dealerships we work with, marketing is one of the biggest areas of confusion. It’s always clear to me that most, if not all, dealers didn’t start their dealership because they loved putting together a good marketing strategy and then implementing it. No, most dealerships view marketing as a necessary evil. They know they need to spend money on marketing to increase their sales, but they don’t even know where to start, and the money they do spend can feel like throwing money at a wall and hoping it sticks.

One of the things that the dealership world has going for it, that so many other industries don’t, is the manufacturers’ ability and willingness to co-op marketing for their dealer base. This is a good thing! However, as a dealer it may seem like just another set of rules/standards to maintain.

So, how do you connect the two pieces? You know you need to spend money to market, you are aware that your manufacturer has co-op money available for you, but you’re not sure how to go about it and make the best choices for your business.

Ask your manufacturers

Most manufacturers have entire teams of people who specialize in marketing and they have an extensive amount of data to back up what is working best for your target customer based on your area. The power of reaching out and asking for help will go a long way in maximizing your co-op money.

We don’t expect you to be an expert in marketing. We expect you to be an expert on your business. The perk you have is that with the strong manufacturers you work with, they do have experts in marketing to help you come up with a plan that is right for you.

Some of the manufacturers have taken this one step further and have resources for their dealer network where they partner with them to come up with a cohesive plan and help them implement the programs they offer. By simply taking the guesswork out of what will and won’t be approved, they set their dealers up for success and allow them to continue doing what they excel at.

Come up with a plan that matches your goals

None of this can happen if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve. We often talk about balance in a dealership looking like 60% wholegoods, 15% service, and 25% parts sales. This is our goal, and it typically takes most dealerships as many as 10 years to get to a point of true balance in their dealership. With this said, your marketing budget and plan should match these goals. While your manufacturer wants to see you sell wholegoods, they have also spent a lot of money to approve you as a servicing dealer, so servicing the equipment is important to them. They also rely on you to have the parts distribution that the customer needs when they walk in the door.  Your parts business is important to them.

The progressive manufacturers realize that the co-op money made available for marketing is so much more than just selling the wholegoods. They are willing to work with you to make sure the entire value of your dealership is marketed and that your personal brand is represented in the market.

For more information on setting up a marketing budget, check out our in-depth marketing budget in the BCI Dealer Toolbox.

Stay in communication with your manufacturers; you both have the same goal.

The third thing you can do  to maximize your co-op dollars is to keep the communication open with your manufacturers on what is working and what isn’t.

When you have open communication about what you are doing and the specific results of each marketing piece you utilize, you will be able to partner with your manufacturer in a way that allows some give and take.

Many times, manufacturers are working on programs that increase awareness of their product to customers around your dealership. By staying in the know on what they are doing, you are able to double up and make the biggest impact for the time and money investment on both sides.

Your goal is to sell product and services while creating a strong, healthy, and profitable dealership. Utilizing co-op dollars from your manufacturer may seem overwhelming, but if we understand that we both have the same goals, we can find new ways to partner with our manufactures so that we can serve as many customers as possible.