Co-op Funds: Did you use yours this year?

As the year comes to an end, it seems that your to-do list is rapidly getting longer. And there’s so much to remember, between year-end projects and orders to send out before the holidays…

Did you remember to use your co-op funds this year?

Practices that use co-op typically wait until the 3rd or 4th quarter each year to redeem their funds, so their accounts have had a good amount of time to accrue $$. But practices run the risk of losing the funds if they are not used within the calendar year.

Talk about lost revenue!

According to a recent study, co-op advertising is used by 25 to 40% of US manufacturers and is growing in popularity. Co-op advertising has shown a steady increase since 2000, with total spending at around $15 billion. Today, this figure is as high as $30 billion!

However, it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of co-op ad dollars go unused every year.  Despite the billions cited as spent, research has shown that co-op advertising is also one of the most underutilized methods of advertising and marketing. Surprisingly, many practices state that co-op dollars go unused either because the vendor co-op programs are too small to make the effort worthwhile unless a large order is placed; or the practice simply doesn’t have the means to effectively manage a co-op program.

But there ARE many tangible benefits to co-op advertising:

How Co-op Advertising Benefits the ECP

  • Reduces your advertising and marketing costs
  • Allows you to create larger, more creative, or more colorful print ads
  • Helps you tap into new markets previously unreachable due to limited funds

How Co-op Advertising Benefits Eyewear Vendors

  • Co-op ads increase overall awareness of their brands
  • Helps increase sales
  • Helps increase market share

Co-op funds can usually be used in many ways, not just placing ads. Most vendors will not say ‘no’ to an idea if it effectively uses advertising dollars that will promote the vendor, its brands, and the practice. And there is no “Holy Grail” or “best way” to use your funds. But there is certainly a wrong way, and that is not using the co-op dollars you have earned! So get your co-op plan ready for 2013 with a few tips to maximize your efforts:

Tips to Maximize Co-op Advertising

  • Create a co-op-specific spreadsheet that includes each of your eyewear vendors and assign a staff member to be in charge.  Include info such as Company and Rep Name, Co-op Contact, Percentage allowed, Reimbursement schedule, Records needed, etc.
  • Learn what is available. Speak to your suppliers and get a written copy of their Co-op Policy. If you are carrying branded eyewear, pay attention to specific requirements.
  • Keep good records.
    Record how much was spent with each vendor, and keep copies of ads to show your compliance with each vendor’s rules.
  • Get reimbursed.
    You will need to submit a claim form with a copy of the bill and your ad within a designated date.
  • Think outside the box.
    Be creative!  There are so many opportunities beyond traditional print advertising.

Make using co-op funds one of your resolutions for 2013! Learn how to register for ClearVision’s co-op program here:

Happy planning!
Rachel Rodriguez


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