So, you know getting the word out about your new product/service is essential for generating leads, but you’re worried about spending too much of your limited budget on marketing at this early stage… sound about right?
It’s a dilemma all entrepreneurs must reckon with when trying to grow their business. If no one knows about you, no one will buy from you, but marketing requires investment, so what are you to do? It’s being able to help SMEs tackle teething problems such as this which makes the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) such a fantastic support for entrepreneurs trying to find their feet. The financial assistance this government body provides is what helps startups in Ireland survive and thrive. If you’re hoping to stir up some noise around your business, you should strongly consider applying for this amazing grant so you can put €2,500 straight into your marketing budget!
What is the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and what can it do for your SME?
The purpose of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is to help small businesses get set up online so they can start successfully trading. According to Enterprise Ireland, “only 23% of small Irish businesses are engaged in any meaningful way in eCommerce sales” and because of this up to 70% of online sales occur in overseas markets. Ipsos conducted a survey with over 1,000 members of the Irish public to find out their shopping habits and the results showed that as a nation we are the biggest international online shoppers in the world. There is no doubt that local businesses could be taking a much bigger slice of the pie if they prioritised their online presence!
As a part of the National Digital Strategy, the Trading Online Voucher is designed to help make this happen. On the LEO website, the actual value of the grant is described as follows, “Under the scheme a qualifying business may apply for matched funding to a maximum value of €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure (exclusive of VAT), whichever is the lesser.” Therefore, to qualify for the grant, you need to already have a budget of €2,500 so the LEO can match it. Thousands of SMEs have already taken advantage of this grant and, if you want to join their ranks, all it takes is for you to get in contact with your Local Enterprise Office to start the process. But before you do that you probably should check if you qualify for the grant! Let’s have a nose at the Ts & Cs…
Are you eligible to apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme?
The criteria for small businesses looking to apply for this grant is very lenient and shouldn’t be a problem for any young business in need of financial support. To fit the profile your business must have a limited online trading presence and must be trading for at least 6 months. The grant is aimed at SMEs, so you must have 10 employees or less and a turnover which is less than €2m. Your business must also be located in an area covered by the scheme which they describe on the LEO website as “being within the remit of the participating LEOs”.
Who cannot apply for this Local Enterprise Office grant?
This grant is not aimed at semi-state bodies, trade associations or company representation bodies. Not-for-profits are not eligible unless they operate in a commercial domain. The LEO is happy to provide you with business advice and this includes helping you decide what would be the best way to invest the grant, therefore it does not make sense for professional service companies who already have expertise in this area to apply and, therefore, they are ineligible. The same is true for any company assessed by the LEO as being capable of growing without the assistance of the scheme and this would include businesses which are already availing of similar financial support from a state body. The grant can also not be used for conferences or seminars or any projects deemed contrary to their public policy.
What can the €2,500 Trading Online Voucher be used for?
A lot, actually! Let’s have a look at exactly what the LEO says the Trading Online Voucher can be used for so you can begin to see how this will fit into your marketing strategy:
- IT consultation
- Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website
- Implementing online payments or booking systems
- Purchase of Internet-related software
- Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase)
- Developing an app (or multiplatform webpages)
- Development of a digital marketing strategy
- Implementing a digital marketing strategy
- Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity
As you can see, it is a pretty all-encompassing list. The only projects they outrightly say you cannot use the voucher for is for the building of brochure websites, the buying of non-internet related software and “anything other than online related activity”.
Do you know what you will spend your €2,500 voucher on?
You are required by the LEO to attend an information event as well as submit an application which will be evaluated by a specific set of criteria: Eligibility for the scheme, value-added potential, export potential, job creation potential, financial sustainability. At Engage Content, we work with SMEs who are applying for the LEO Trading Online Voucher and provide them with marketing advice so they are fully prepared for the application and evaluation process.
If you take a quick look at our services page, you’ll see we provide marketing services in areas such as social media, paid advertising, content creation, website management, SEO, creative digital media, reporting, and marketing consultancy. We have the expertise to help you determine what marketing activities will serve your specific type of business best and how to make your €5,000 budget get results. We take pride in helping local enterprises find their footing in the world of marketing and consider your success as our success too.