With the push for digital transformation, we explore the availability of a Singapore digital marketing grant for SME businesses. There is some misinformation online on what business grants in Singapore cover digital marketing costs, so this article is to clarify what financial support is available to local businesses (accurate of this writing) and provide a useful list of applicable digital marketing grants in Singapore.
COVID-19 has forced businesses all around the world, including Singapore, to evolve and adapt faster than they had anticipated or expected. The Straits Times reported that the pandemic had spurred a 20 per cent year-on-year increase in firms starting digital transformation.
Many businesses who want to transform digitally may not have the resources to invest in the necessary expertise or training to be digitally enabled. A grant or subsidy will help to cover a significant portion of these costs and motivate more businesses to adapt to the new economy.
Do note that the spirit of most grants is to help growing businesses scale their business and is not designed to be a lifeline for a business that is experiencing a downturn or has cashflow issues.
WHAT SINGAPORE DIGITAL MARKETING GRANTS ARE AVAILABLE?
The burning question is whether there is any specific Singapore digital marketing grant to cover online marketing costs in Singapore? The short answer is “yes, but only two”. Another previous exception was a short-term program (E-commerce Booster Package) designed for the retail industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ended on 31 Dec 2020.
However, there are ways you can tap on other available grants and types of funding for your digital transformation and marketing.
The grants are generally targeted at SMEs that have at least 30% local (Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident) shareholding, and group annual sales turnover not more than S$100 million or group employment size not more than 200 employees.
Here are the grants and support schemes that can be leveraged for digital marketing:
DIGITAL GROWTH SUBSIDY
The Digital Growth Subsidy, or DIGS, is the first of its kind digital marketing funding to help small & medium businesses improve their business fundamentals to increase brand awareness, leads and sales in the digital economy.
Singapore SMEs that can afford to embark on larger projects should consider the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG). However, if your business is not eligible or in a viable position for the EDG, you can apply for DIGS.
DIGS supports up to 50% of digital strategy and marketing costs (SGD5000) for each of the four projects available under the scheme:
1) Positioning & Branding
2) Website Design & Basic SEO
3) Enhanced SEO
4) Social Media Marketing & Online PR
Click here to learn more and apply for the Digital Growth Subsidy.
ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT GRANT
The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), administered by the Singapore government, supports projects that help Singapore companies grow and transform.
The pillar that can apply to all businesses, regardless of industry, looking to transform digitally would be “Core Capabilities”, specifically under Business Strategy Development or Strategic Brand and Marketing Development.
The previous incarnation of this component of EDG was called the Capability Development Grant or CDG. CDG was discontinued on 25 October 2018 and was replaced by the EDG.
Previously, under CDG, to a certain extent, digital marketing costs and web development costs could be claimed under this grant. However, this is not the case now. The EDG clearly states that it does not support the following:
Production of corporate and/ or marketing collaterals, such as brochures, videos, websites, photography, stock pictures, and copywriting
Implementation of marketing or PR campaigns, including retainer fees of consultants, advertising and media buys, engagement of social media influencers, management of websites/ social media platforms, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
However, a Singapore SME business can still leverage the EDG in digital marketing strategy and digital business transformation.
Digital marketing tactics, like the costs highlighted above, need to be guided by strategy. Businesses need to have a clear digital marketing strategy and plan before they invest in what EDG considers as digital marketing on-going costs.
A digital consultant will be able to develop a project with a scope that includes business strategy or identifying how your business can fulfil strategic market needs in the online space.
This will ensure you have a clear plan for digital marketing and only invest in the types of digital marketing that fit your business. The digital consultant should also be able to work with you to allocate digital marketing budgets and create a digital marketing calendar.
Singapore EDG Scope of Funding
EDG funds up to 70% of qualifying project costs, namely third-party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower cost.
However, specifically for food services and retail enterprises, Enterprise Singapore has a Food Services and Retail Business Revitalisation Package that will be available from 1 Apr 2022 to 31 Mar 2023.
It comprises three components:
- Extension of the enhanced maximum support level for Productivity Solutions Grant for eligible pre-scoped solutions at 80%
- Extension of the enhanced maximum support level for Enterprise Development Grant projects that support business model transformation at 80%
- Enhanced support through the sector trade associations to train and hire local job seekers through programmes such as the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme and Career Conversion Programmes
Therefore, for food services and retail enterprises specifically, EDG support will be 80%, instead of 70%.
Learn how to apply for the Enterprise Development Grant here.
START DIGITAL PACK
If you are a newly-incorporated SME that has just started your business or is new to digital technology, you can take up a Start Digital Pack.
Start Digital is an initiative under Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) SMEs Go Digital programme launched in January 2019 to help new SMEs start their business right with foundational and competitively-priced digital solutions.
The Start Digital Pack has solutions in five categories, one of which is digital marketing. Each eligible SME is entitled to one Start Digital Pack, and the Pack is available through an appointed Start Digital Partners.
Learn how to apply HERE.
SKILLSFUTURE ENTERPRISE CREDIT (SFEC)
One support scheme you can utilise for digital marketing for your business is to train your staff in digital marketing. If you are an SME, you can subsidise up to 90% of digital marketing training courses when upgrading the skills of your employees.
The scheme to tap is the Skillsfuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) which replaced the Productivity Solutions Grant (SkillsFuture Training Subsidy) on 1 March 2020.
Under the workforce transformation, you can subsidise several digital marketing courses supported by SFEC. View the qualifying courses HERE.
SFEC Scope of Funding
In addition, SFEC encourages employers to invest in enterprise transformation and capabilities of their employees. Eligible employers will receive a one-off S$10,000 credit to cover up to 90% of out-of-pocket expenses on qualifying costs for supportable initiatives, over and above the support levels of existing schemes.
Enterprise Transformation – Programmes that support enterprise transformation
Workforce Transformation – Job redesign initiatives, and curated training programmes by SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore, such as training courses aligned to the Skills Framework, Professional Conversion Programmes and sector-specific programmes.
This scheme is quite complicated, so learn how SFEC can help your specific business HERE. Or, it might be best to consult one of their officers directly.
E-COMMERCE BOOSTER PACKAGE FOR THE RETAIL SECTOR (Discontinued as of 16 Nov 2021)
To help SMEs in the retail sector that have been badly hit by COVID-10, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has created an e-commerce booster package to aid such companies in setting up online sales channels.
This package would be the closest to a dedicated Singapore digital marketing grant.
While this grant has currently ended on 31 Dec 2020, this grant was reintroduced on 16 May 2021, to help affected F&B and retail businesses diversify their revenue channels and defray business costs of going online.
The deadline to sign up is 16 November 2021. Successful applicants can benefit from 6 months of support under this initiative.
The e-commerce booster package primarily helps retailers who have little e-commerce knowledge and capabilities to get started with online channels. ESG has partnered e-commerce platform providers Amazon, Lazada Singapore, Qoo10 and Shopee.
Solutions offered by the appointed e-commerce platforms include:
Content development (e.g. product photoshoot, content copywriting, product packaging)
Product listing (e.g. setting up of merchant store, uploading of content, store decoration)
Channel management (e.g. assortment & pricing, promotion/campaign planning, forecasting and inventory management, data analytics)
Fulfilment (e.g. warehousing of products, fulfilment by e-commerce platforms, integration with last-mile logistics providers)
Advertising and promotion (e.g. cross-channel marketing campaigns, onsite/in-store marketing campaigns
Training workshops to enhance e-commerce capabilities
Eligible local retailers will receive a one-time support to defray 80% of qualifying costs (capped at S$8000).
For more information on the E-commerce Booster Package, click HERE.
MULTICHANNEL E-COMMERCE PLATFORM (MEP) PROGRAMME
For Singapore retailers who want to export their products to overseas markets for the first time can tap the Multichannel E-commerce Platform (MEP) Programme.
The MEP Programme, under the Grow Digital initiative by Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), connects SMEs – whether manufacturers, retailers or distributors of products – to MEP solution providers, which will help them to list and sell their products on multiple overseas e-marketplaces.
By leveraging on the expertise and strong in-market network of these partners, SMEs can expand their digital sales channels, access new customers, test in-market demand for their products and optimize sales.
MEP comprises three main components:
End-to-end package by appointed MEP providers to gain rapid entry to new markets via multiple overseas e-marketplaces.
Digital marketing support to help SMEs increase brand value and drive traffic on e-commerce platforms.
Relevant training programmes to operate an e-commerce business (working with Singapore Institute of Retail Studies as a designated training partner).
Eligible SMEs who signed up for the MEP Programme from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022 will receive a one-time support for up to 80% of eligible programme costs for a year.
Like the E-commerce Booster Package above, the MEP would be the closest to a dedicated Singapore digital marketing grant.
For more information on the MEP Program, click HERE.
BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT FUND (BIF)
If your business is in the tourism sector or if you have a project with a clear tourism focus, you can apply for the Business Improvement Fund (BIF) provided by Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
The BIF aims to encourage technology innovation and adoption, redesign of business model and processes in the tourism sector to improve productivity and competitiveness.
This grant is aligned to Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) so supports similar projects but specifically for tourism companies. You can also refer to the section above on EDG to see how digital marketing can be covered under this fund.
For more information and to apply for the BIF, click HERE.
DIGITAL SOLUTIONS DIRECTORY
While this is not a digital marketing grant per say, here is a directory of digital solutions jointly curated by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SGTech to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and businesses address business continuity challenges.
Some of the solutions are free or most are eligible for the Productivity Solution Grant, which provides up to 70% cost subsidy.
The specially curated offerings aim to make business continuity essentials more accessible to SMEs and businesses, across several key categories:
- Remote Working
- Workforce Management
- Visitor Management
- Bill and Pay Online
- Sell Online
For more information on the Digital Solutions Directory, click HERE.
WHICH SINGAPORE DIGITAL MARKETING GRANT FITS YOU?
All the best in finding a Singapore digital marketing grant that covers some aspects of your online marketing efforts.
The next step to do is consult a management consultant like Evolve & Adapt to discuss how to leverage on an appropriate grant.
We are one of the very few Enterprise Singapore-recognised management consultants who is also certified in both traditional marketing management and digital marketing.
We have a 100% approval-rate for Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) applications.
You can arrange a no-obligation chat by sending a message through the chat box at the bottom right corner of your screen or fill in the form below.
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