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Co-Operative Marketing:          Print the current page
bolstering sales by sharing advertising overhead

by Brian D. Chmielewski

The saying goes that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Ideally, there should be no weak link, only strong ones to endure the most vigorous strains. Now think of this chain as a network of external sales channels, with each link representative of an independent affiliate relationship or reseller arrangement. Whether you are the engineer of these relationships, the end provider fulfilling a service or product order, or somewhere in between, it is important for you to understand how to forge stronger links in your chain.

* Train, Share Success and Support
There are legions of reseller type programs both on and offline, all competing for new members to hawk their wares. Most of them are weak in their efforts to help others succeed in making financial gains. An intelligent purveyor will not only offer his resellers initial training on how to market, where to market and how to make the sale, but will share successful tactics with the entire network and support them for the greater benefit of the business. If you are thinking about adding a reseller channel to your e-sales structure or are considering revitalizing an existing one, you shouldn't balk at the importance of having sound instructional documentation, an online tutorial or periodic reseller seminars. These types of commitments really pay off by creating a sales force that can speak intelligently about your product/service, sell efficiently and help to build your brand.

* Pay up or shut up
What is the incentive for your resellers to help you succeed? Money and opportunity are the answers, and if you make financial promises, you had better keep them. How many of us are willing to work, and keep on working, without eventually receiving some sort of compensation? The more real the reward and the more clear the path is to obtain it, the healthier the reseller relationship will be. Don't forget your bottom line, but don't forget to reward those that are helping you to reach it. Just how much reward is the right amount? Like a good marketer, you must test that value until you reach a point of greatest convergence, a point where new resellers are selling diligently and regularly from the moment they subscribe and one that consistently receives new applicants for your reseller pool. You should know how much this additional channel is worth to you and reward it according to the bottom line. You may find that the more you feed the channel, the more it takes care of your bottom line. Ignore it and you risk more than simply orphaning a single reseller.

* Share Costs to Grow
Possibly the hottest idea to hit the Web since affiliate programs themselves, co-operative or co-op advertising offers a way for businesses and their resellers to share in the cost of promoting a product/service and in the benefits of its sale. Simply stated, a co-op advertising relationship is one in which the principal business owner offers to help those within the network to market their independent sales channel for the purpose of increasing overall sales. The concept is widely accepted across many industries as a tool for supporting reseller channels, so it's not surprising that it has found its way to the Web. And it is even less of a surprise that it is a leading affiliate vendor and educator that is harnessing the power of this burgeoning idea. The ActiveMarketplace is home to Declan Dunn's celebrated book, 'Winning the Affiliate Game.' It is also the same place where co-operative advertising is being spawned on the Web.

Although 'Winning the Affiliate Game' is an instructional guide, it is also a living, breathing and evolving affiliate experiment. Believe it or not, it has been the inspiration and enthusiasm of the books' message, not promotional strategies, that has surmounted the obstacle of obtaining affiliate members to resell the book.

And the persistent pursuit of new methods for growing the affiliate reach and success rate sets this program apart from any other. Pre-formatted scripting for newsletter articles, email distribution, newsgroup posting, phone correspondence, advertorial display and more. ActiveMarketplace affiliates are provided for in every way possible, including the dollar for dollar matching program. The process is simple, once an affiliate decides that they wish to promote their unique sales channel, they contact ActiveMarketplace for a free consulting session where e-marketing tactics are discussed. Once the affiliate decides on the specific service or the amount budgeted, say US $1,000, ActiveMarketplace matches that amount. So, the original sum doubles into a US $2,000 promotional budget, allowing greater reach and flexibility of the marketing campaign.

How did ActiveMarketplace determine a 50 percent matching structure? "The numbers come from tried and true business experiences that we've had from the real (offline) world," says Patrick Anderson, co-owner and manager for ActiveMarketplace's adroit sales strategy.

From the reseller/affiliate side of things, the financial risk is reduced, a business relationship strengthened and a revenue stream widened. For more information about how to implement co-op advertising for your own business send an email inquiry to uPromote at manager@upromote.com or join ActiveMarketplace free of charge at: http://www.activemarketplace.com/market.