How to Spend Your Co-op Dollars Locally

I could never run a non-profit.

By law, a 501c3 must have a Board of Directors.
So every major decision I would have to make about strategic direction, expenditures, hiring, and even marketing would have to be “approved.”

Forget that.

It’s not that I don’t value input or advice.

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I voraciously seek out the knowledge, input, and expertise of people who know more than me to an almost obsessive degree.

However, when it’s decision-making time, I want the person with the most expertise on the topic to make the decision and get it implemented NOW.

No compromising.
No making everyone happy.
No “that’s the way we’ve always done it” opinions.
No worrying about hurting people’s feelings.

Clear, concise, actionable decisions and then move on to the next task.

Now think back to your last Co-op meeting…

Was it like running a non-profit with a Board of Directors?

Coma-inducing PowerPoint slides containing meaningless numbers.
A cacophony of drumming pencils.
Bowed heads in reverence of phones to shoot off a text or quick email.
Rolling of eyes.
Coffee break.
One new idea from the loudest person with no data or reason to justify its use.
A short squabble about percentage allocation.
An hour long “discussion” on what offer to run this quarter.
Lunch Break.
At the end, all you can say is ‘adios’ to hours you could have spent actually working on your business.


Was it a well-oiled meeting where facts, data and reason lead the way to decisive actions?

If your co-op is the latter, congratulations! Feel free to stop reading and take the afternoon to hit the links.

If your co-op is the former, you have some options.

After last year’s Culligan Marketing Survey, you were asked, are you preparing to control more of your money at the local dealership level to account for these changes in advertising?

Firstly, every prediction in that article about Internet Marketing, Newspaper Ads, Direct Mail, Yellow Pages, TV and even Radio becoming more locally targeted is playing out.

Our data continues to show that hyper-local is your best method for squeezing every ounce of lead juice out of your marketing dollars.

Secondly, you can control as much of your co-op dollars at your local dealership level as your co-op sees fit.

Finally, you can eliminate some Ad Agency fees while you’re at it.

This approach is in action for aboutt half a dozen co-ops right now so it works.

Here’s the 3-step process to controlling more of your marketing dollars at your local dealership:

  1. Draw your line in the sand – There’s active debate on whether your marketing should be going more regional (with co-op and state level websites) and national (with national ad campaigns) or hyper-local (with nearly everything controlled at the dealership level). Our research and data is quite clear that, except for very limited examples, hyper-local for TV, direct mail, websites and SEO/SEM is going to give you the absolute best ROI. Your co-op needs to decide if you see the future of marketing becoming more national or local.
  2. Vote a % of your co-op to be used for discretionary funds – At your co-op meeting have everyone vote on what percentage of the co-op budget you’d like to be discretionary. That discretionary money is the money that each dealer controls locally relative to how much they contribute to the co-op. I’m not aware of an upper limit to the percentage you can vote for discretionary funds.
  3. Add another approved agency to your co-opNo dealer I’ve spoken with was aware of this. Your co-op needs a designated agency but you aren’t required to have ONLY 1 agency. There’s actually no defined limit on how many agencies you can have for your co-op. In other words, you can have a designated agency do your offline marketing and then add on a separate company as your web agency. If Optimized Marketing does your web marketing, then you have $0 in Agency Fees on our services.

You are now no longer reporting to a “Board of Directors” for the majority of your marketing dollars.

There are still limitations on how co-op dollars can be spent. For instance, bottle donations, trade shows and local yellow page directories still can’t be paid for with co-op funds.

However, all internet marketing – web design, SEO, SEM, email marketing – can be paid for with local or co-op funds.

If you have any questions about how this works, how to bring it up at your next co-op meeting, or would like data proving hyper-local works, just contact us.

To success in best controlling your marketing dollars,