Marketing Support for Your Importer

Find out how the Branded Program can help offset international marketing costs for a U.S. supplier using an international importer.

Let’s say you’re a US supplier with an importer in place in an overseas market. They regularly order from you, it’s a well-oiled machine, but you’d like to grow this business, gain more market share.

Or maybe you’re a US supplier with a new importer. You got that first order (congrats!) but are unclear of the future of this relationship. You want it to be steady and long-term, but it’s too new to tell.

Here’s where the Branded Program comes in. You offer your importer a marketing budget. This helps your importer grow that business and gain that market share, and the best part is that you won’t be paying for this marketing budget. The Branded Program will.

Here’s how to do this, step by step:

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1. Gain support from your importer

Set up some time to chat with your importer and gauge their interest in receiving support for their marketing. Make a few things clear up front:

  • The importer will cover 50% of all marketing expenses. The Branded Program reimburses the other 50%.
  • The importer will document their marketing expenses and provide that documentation in a timely manner.
  • There are two fees to utilize the Branded Program. Determine who (the US supplier and/or the importer) will cover these costs. The fees are:
    • $250 application fee
    • 6% administrative fee – This fee is based on the reimbursement amount for the marketing expenses.
  • Determine with your importer how often they’ll claim these marketing expenses for reimbursement: perhaps quarterly or after each activity. Especially for new participants, Food Export suggests claiming early and often. We can catch and fix documentation problems early, and our turnaround time for reimbursement checks is much faster earlier in the year. Don’t save the expenses and claim at the end of the year.
  • Contact Food Export with any questions. We’d be happy to join this conversation and speak with your importer.

2. Develop a marketing plan and budget

You and/or your importer will develop this plan. Food Export is going to need a plan that at least includes the following:

  • Types of marketing activities
  • Estimated USD cost for each activity
  • Projected sales resulting from those activities.

Here’s an example of what you might put together:

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3. Submit Branded application and sign contract

Our program runs annually. Ideally you want to submit this application before the new year starts, so the whole year is open to reimbursable marketing. But, we accept applications on a rolling basis pending available funding. Just be sure to submit the application before you pay and conduct any marketing you want to be reimbursed. Here are the steps in the application process:

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  • Submit a pre-qualification. This form ensures the US supplier meets the program requirements (small business, selling US ag products, located in the US).
  • Submit an application. This is where you plug in those marketing plans from step #2. You’ll also pay the first of two fees, the $250 application fee.
  • Once the application is approved, you sign the contract for the funding and pay the second of two fees, the 6% administrative fee.

4. Execute activities 

Your importer will put on the activities listed in the application, take lots of pictures, and save their documentation

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5. Forward documentation from importer to Food Export

Follow a schedule for requesting reimbursement – perhaps quarterly, annually. The last day to submit documentation is two months after the year ends (February 28th).

Either you or your importer will submit a reimbursement “claim” on Food Export’s website. A claim typically corresponds to one invoice, or one marketing event/activity. For each expense, we require the following:

  • Invoice
  • Proof of Payment
  • Proof of Activity (photo of the marketing activity or item)
  • US Origin Statement – needs to visible in each claim

Food Export reviews the claim and follows up if there are any questions. If not, we give the go-ahead to you that the claim will be approved.

6. Reimburse 50% of the expenses to your importer

Food Export only reimburses US suppliers, so you will need to reimburse your importer before we reimburse you. We will reimburse you exactly what you pay to the importer, and we try to reimburse you as quickly as possible.

Typically, a US supplier will reimburse the importer in one of two ways:

  • Wire the reimbursement to the importer.
  • Offer a credit to the importer off their next order.

7. Receive reimbursement check for what you paid from Food Export

Once we have your payment proof, we try to move fast to pay your claim. Claims are typically paid within 30 days of submission.