Before digital transformation became a hot topic, businesses had long known the need to modernise and step foot into the digital age. Large enterprises have done that successfully by building a website, having a presence on social media, and applying effective digital marketing strategies to promote their company. As a result, they can attract thousands of potential customers and make a lot of profit.
However, some small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are unable to successfully go digital as they solely have a presence on social media platforms and implement marketing without a strategy. That is why they are not getting the most out of their digital transformation.
According to Harvard Business Review, most SME owners do not fully understand the scope of digital transformation. Digital transformation is not just ‘doing digital’, but a deliberate, strategic repositioning of one’s business in today’s digital economy.
The digital economy is about economic activities, distributions, trades, and transactions done by businesses online—all executed on the internet and the world wide web. For developing countries like Singapore, digital transformation is one of the driving forces of economic growth.
Infocomm Media Development Authority(IMDA) once mentioned that the nation’s goal is to be a leader in the digital economy. One way to do that is to accelerate the digitalisation of industries by providing sufficient support to raise the productivity and efficiencies of businesses—that is where the digital marketing grant comes in.
What Is The Digital Marketing Grant?
The digital marketing grantis funding support given by the Government of Singapore to small and medium enterprises, encouraging them to transform by adopting digital solutions and equipment to improve their operation.
Once SME owners have applied and got approval for the digital marketing grant, they can expect to receive a certain amount of funding support that they can use to enhance and support their business operations.
However, you should know that the funding of any digital marketing grant changes. That is why whatever amount of support you have today might not be the same in future. If you plan to apply for a digital marketing grant anytime soon, make sure you are aware of the latest updates, so you know how much funding support you can receive.
Part 1: Importance Of The Digital Marketing Grant
There are more people online today than ever before. Back in 2019, there were more than 4.4 billion internet users worldwide. But when the COVID-19 pandemic came, that number dramatically increased, and now 6 billion people have internet access.
That growth is due to fewer consumers willing to leave their homes and risk their health to shop for their necessities in person. Instead of going out, most consumers nowadays prefer to use the internet to browse, watch, and buy what they need and want.
Because of that change in consumer behaviours, many brick-and-mortar stores had to change their ways of doing business. Since most consumers are now online, they should also do the same. Otherwise, they cannot promote their brand and make profits.
That is why as a business owner, the rule of thumb is: Be where your consumers are. The problem, however, is that digital transformation is easier said than done.
While there are many digital marketing starter kits and online tutorials that SMEs can rely on, learning and implementing them takes time, effort and finances.
Also, doing all of them yourself does not guarantee success. You should know that digital transformation requires years of experience and incredible skill-sets in specific fields such as ecommerce SEO and website development.
If you lack knowledge and expertise in those areas, you are less likely to reach your goals, and you might end up incurring more expenses than profit. The good news is that there is now funding support for digital transformation—the digital marketing grant.
With the digital marketing grant, SMEs can gain valuable resources for their business operation by seeking help from a pre-approved vendor to increase their brand awareness and online presence with digital campaigns.
The Advantages That SMEs Can Get From Digital Marketing Grant
You should know and keep in mind that the digital marketing grant is in high demand and has stringent requirements, so getting one for your business will not be easy. Not only do you have to plan out your goal, but you also have to complete your digital marketing grant applicant and compile all the required documents.
The digital marketing grant, in any case, has numerous advantages and is an excellent solution to enhance and support business operations and meet its goal.
1. Funding Support
Unlike loans, the digital marketing grant is funding support that SMEs can apply for. That means you do not have to repay the amount you have received for the digital transformation of your business, and there is no interest rate you have to worry about later on.
In other words, the digital marketing grant is an extra fund that you can use only for the digital improvements of your business and nothing else.
Create New Or Expand Existing Programme
Like other grants, SMEs do not apply for the digital marketing grant to receive funding support to maintain its status quo. Rather than that, SMEs use it to launch new campaigns or expand their existing programme to attract more customers, gain leads, and earn conversions.
Think of it this way: the digital marketing grant is there to help you cross out one of the goals in the list you have for growing your business. For example, if your goal is to attract more potential customers on Facebook, you can use your approved digital marketing grant to enhance your social media marketing strategy. You will be able to gain many followers, which you can turn into paying customers later on as a result.
Collaboration With Experts
Collaboration between SMEs and digital marketing agencies is more effective than an SME owner doing all their digital marketing needs alone. They can allow a digital marketing agency to understand their business needs and implement them accordingly to increase brand awareness and online presence.
However, collaboration is a two-way relationship. And one of the ways you can get the most out of your approved digital marketing grant is to work closely with your chosen pre-approved vendor.
For example, if you already have an ecommerce site yet lackSEO optimisation, you may apply for the digital marketing grant. Seek help from a pre-approved vendor that specialises in ecommerce SEO so that more potential customers will discover you as a result. Ensure that you set your expectations with the vendor beforehand so that you both can work toward the same goals.
Factors Hindering SMEs To Apply For The Digital Marketing Grant
While having funding support provides excellent opportunities, others often reconsider their choice of getting one for various reasons. Besides having limited time and resources, some SMEs are worried about getting rejected after submitting their digital marketing grant application.
Here are other factors that hinder SMEs from applying for funding support.
1. Too Complicated To Write A Grant Proposal
When applying for the digital marketing grant, the most challenging part is writing a proposal. It is a strategic plan on how the SME owners like you will use the funding support you receive. You should know that the government and other grantors are not giving funding support just because they want to but to encourage you to use the money to improve your business operation.
Most digital marketing grant application reviewers said they often fail an applicant for overlooking the given instruction. For example, if you are a digital marketing grant applicant and missed to explain your plan well, you are less likely to get approval.
On the other hand, not all grants require a grant proposal like The Productivity Solution Grant (PSG). To apply for this funding support, you only need to meet the eligibility criteria and submit the necessary documents.
That is why before you assume that it is too complicated to write a grant proposal, do your research first and see if that grant will require a grant proposal or not.
2. There Is A Grant Cap
Every digital marketing grant has a grant cap. It is one of the eligibility criteria that an SME applicant needs to meet and become eligible to apply.
But what does a grant cap mean? Grant cap is an established limit or condition that funding support to provide help for companies that need it.
For the PSG grant, SME owners should have a minimum of 30% of the local shareholding, and their turnover rate should not exceed more than S$100 million. They should also not have more than 200 employees.
If the said SME owners did not meet all of these, they can’t apply for the digital marketing grant, let alone receive funding support from the government.
Part 2: Understanding The Digital Marketing Grant
Types of The Digital Marketing Grant
1. Productivity Solution Grant
The Productivity Solution Grant (PSG) is a type of funding support that the Government of Singapore provides to SMEs to implement digital solutions and equipment to improve their business processes online.
If your SME belongs to one of the following industries, you will get covered under PSG. You can use it for purchasing digital solutions within industry-specific functionality of up to 80% of the cost:
- Precision Engineering
Besides that, the PSG also supports SMEs that plans to manage the following business functions:
- Customer management
- Data analytics
- Financial management
- Inventory tracking
Start Digital Pack
Start Digital Pack, launched by IMDA in January 2019 as part of the SMEs Go Digital Programme, is specifically designed to assist new SMEs and start-ups in carrying out the digital transformation of their businesses from the beginning.
Start Digital Pack provides the use of affordable and user-friendly digital solutions provided by Start Digital Partners. And if SMEs choose this government grant, they can choose which digital solutions they need for their Start Digital Pack grant to cover.
For example, to improve your digital marketing strategy and your website’s cybersecurity, choose digital marketing and cybersecurity as your Start Digital Pack grant.
If you apply for a Start Digital Pack for your company, you will be able to obtain any two digital solutions from the partners for free for at least six (6) months, with a minimum contract of 18 months.
Below is the list of digital solutions functions that the Start Digital Pack grant covers:
- Digital Marketing
- Digital Transactions
- Digital Collaboration
- HR Management and Payroll
To learn more about the Start DIgital Pack, watch this video made by IMDA.
2. SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit
The purchase of digital software and equipment is only one component of a comprehensive digital transformation process. It also entails investing in training programs to improve the skills and capabilities of your employees. As a result, they can fully utilise the new software and effectively manage the newly digitised business processes.
Of course, providing your employees with the necessary training also comes with additional costs. That is why SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) was introduced to help SME employers like you to invest in upgrading the skills of their employees.
Check out enterprisesg.gov to learn more about SkilsFuture Enterprise Credit.
When Should SMEs Apply For The Digital Marketing Grant?
Even though there are many different types of digital marketing grants to choose from, that does not mean that you should apply just for the sake of having one. As mentioned above, a digital marketing grant is funding support provided to SMEs in Singapore so they can improve their digital marketing needs.
To know when you should apply, listed below are some of the possible scenarios.
- Want to start a new digital marketing campaign or expand an existing project that requires quite a sum of money.
- When your current budget cannot afford the digital marketing services that your business needs
- When you know of a pre-approved vendor that makes the digital marketing grant worth applying for
- When you know that you meet the eligibility standards for the digital marketing grant and can help attract more customers and make profits
- When you want to stand out against your competitors in terms of brand awareness
PART 3: HOW TO APPLY FOR DIGITAL MARKETING GRANT?
When you are preparing for your digital marketing grant application, make sure you fully understand the digital marketing grantpackage offered by your chosen pre-approved vendor, confirm your eligibility, and submit a completed digital marketing grant application form before the deadline.
What Makes A Good Digital Marketing Grant Application?
A solid digital marketing grant application should effectively address the goals of your business. To do that, you have to identify the areas that your business wants to grow in and think about what kind of digital transformation it needs. That is what makes a relevant digital marketing grant application.
Understand The Digital Marketing Grant Programme And Check Your Eligibility
Before completing your digital marketing grant application form, ensure that you fully understand your chosen digital marketing grant programme. Of course, that also includes the digital marketing grant package you plan to get from your preferred pre-approved vendor. Doing so will help you get the most of it once you have received the digital marketing grant approval.
Nevertheless, listed below are the general eligibility criteria you must meet.
Productivity Solution Grant
- Registered and operating SME in Singapore
- Purchase/lease/subscription of the IT solutions or equipment will be used in Singapore
- A minimum of 30% local shareholding; with Company’s Group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100 million, or employee size of not more than 200 workers (for selected solutions only)
Start Digital Pack
- The SME should be a registered business in Singapore with at least 30% local shareholdings (They can be Singapore citizens or permanent residents)
- Has an annual sale turnover rate of not more than S$100 million or employment size not exceeding 200 employees
- Applying for Start Digital Pack under IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital Programme for the first time.
- The SME should be a new Start Digital Pack subscriber for the chosen solutions
SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit
- Within the qualifying period, the SME should have contributed at least S$750 Skills Development Levy over the period
- The SME should have hired at least three Singapore Citizens (SCs) or Permanent Residents (PRs) within the qualifying period.
- The SME should never be qualified before in any of the qualifying periods.
Attach All Required Documents
Meeting the digital marketing grant eligibility criteria is only the first step. To apply for the digital marketing grant, the next step you need to do is compile all of the required documents.
The following are the required documents that you must prepare, along with your digital marketing grant application:
Productivity Solution Grant
- Financial statements for the last three years of your company
- Other relevant supporting documents, such as projected income statements and up-to-date unaudited financial statements endorsed by directors or shareholders, must be submitted for start-ups less than a year old.
- Quoted digital marketing services from a pre-approved vendor that you think you need for your business. Make sure you have not signed a contract with them before.
- The license number for particular sector-specific solutions
- Utility bills may be used as proof of occupancy for those with non-ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) registered addresses.
For in-depth details of the required documents, go to this PSG grant checklist.
Start Digital Pack
- To sign up for Start Digital Pack, SMEs need to get in touch with one of the following Start Digital Partners.
- Afterwards, choose the first and second digital solutions that were mentioned above.
SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit
- SMEs who have fulfilled the eligibility criteria will receive written notification from Enterprise Singapore, showing they are eligible and qualified for the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit. That means they no longer need to apply since they can already use the funding support.
- Those qualified SMEs for SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit will see the S$10,000 credit when they log in either on Business Grants Portal or Skills SkillsFuture Singapore’s SFEC microsite.
For more questions about this digital marketing grant, view the FAQs for SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit.
Please keep in mind that there is a waiting period before receiving digital marketing grant approval. If a problem arises, such as submitting additional supporting documents for your digital marketing grant application, the person in charge will contact or notify you.
No Wrong Spellings Or Grammatical Errors
Most digital marketing grant applicants commit this mistake when submitting their digital marketing grant application form, along with the required documents.
That is why when you apply for the digital marketing grant, you must avoid this at all costs. You can do that by proofreading and spell-checking all the information you have written. It is even better if you can ask others to review your digital marketing grant application and documents to guarantee that there are no grammatical errors or wrong spellings. In doing so, you can rest assured that your digital marketing grant application will leave a good impression and receive approval sooner or later.
However, if you have no other people to check your digital marketing grant application and documents, you may use Grammarly to proofread them.
Where Should SMEs Go From Here?
Besides getting a digital marketing grant and seeking help from a pre-approved vendor, there are other ways you can expand your business.
You can start by doing your research and building on your content. Along the way, acquire more skills. Then work on how to generate leads and connect with your customers. The potential to expand your business is endless, and all of it lies within your hands. Don’t be afraid to grab any opportunity that comes your way.
If you become more interested in the digital marketing grant and want to know more, reach out to OOm. They are a pre-approved PSG grant vendor that can answer your questions. Contact OOm at 6391-0930 or leave a message on their website.