Many Canadian businesses are unaware that government grants can reduce the cost of common marketing and sales projects. Of those who do know funding exists, few actually take full advantage of these programs by planning and applying in advance of their projects. Due to the confusion surrounding these grants and incentives, there’s a lot of untapped potential here.
Small and medium-sized businesses could receive thousands of dollars each year to generate leads and convert them into new business. Marketing grants are a great way to expand marketing and sales budgets!
While some Canadian government funding programs are available federally, others exist on the provincial level and are specific to businesses operating in those regions. Other eligibility criteria apply depending on the marketing grant a company applies for. This article offers further insight into why you might want to use marketing grants and the funding programs that can reduce project costs.
Why Use Government Grants for Marketing Projects?
The real question here should be, “why only use internal cash flow for marketing projects?” Government grants and incentives are a strategic way to leverage more money for the marketing budget. While there are some limitations to what small businesses can use government funding programs for, there are many types of strategic marketing activities that can be supported.
Not sure if your team has the firepower to take full advantage of marketing grants? The programs listed below can be used to offset the labour of third-party contractors, up to a certain percentage of the overall project budget. This means you can leverage the advanced skills and tools of a full-service marketing agency like MoreSALES to help out with certain elements of the project!
Top 3 Marketing Grants for Small Businesses
Depending on your organization’s industry, size, location, and marketing plans, the availability of marketing funding programs may change. Your business should approach the funding discovery process by asking some important questions like:
- What marketing projects offer a high strategic importance to operations over the next 6-12 months?
- Where will the marketing budget be spent, and what’s the expected return on this investment?
- What markets (new and existing) are being targeted?
- What new processes or technologies could improve marketing’s success?
This thought process makes it easier to understand your suitability for the following marketing grants:
CanExport is a Canadian government funding program that helps small businesses participate in international trade shows. As the most popular marketing grant available, it’s widely open to businesses regardless of their industry and only excludes large companies with more than 500 employees or $100 million or more in annual revenues.
Small businesses may receive up to 75% of eligible project costs to a maximum $75,000 in trade show and event marketing grants per application through CanExport.
These grants are an effective tool for any new or seasoned exporter since they help offset the costs of trade show participation, booth and marketing material development, travel to the market of choice (for up to two employees) and help complete foreign market research before, during, and after the event.
Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative (Ontario)
Exclusively for Ontario agriculture and agri-food businesses, the Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative (previously CAP Ontario) can support certain marketing-oriented projects. The program uses targeted calls for proposals to solicit applications from companies; this means your business needs to stay up to date with the types of projects currently accepted and when it needs to apply by.
Ontario’s Place to Grow Initiative can support select marketing projects with up to 35-50% of eligible costs to a maximum $15,000 to $50,000 per application. Can have up to two ongoing projects.
The most commonly funded marketing projects funded through this incentive are development of marketing plans, marketing products in Canada, and marketing products internationally. These broad categories offer agricultural producers and processors with broad support for marketing and sales growth.
Industrial Research and Assistance Program (Federal)
The Industrial Research and Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) focuses on highly innovative projects that use technology to help companies overcome internal growth challenges. While this is not specifically a digital marketing grant, some companies have been successful incorporating website redesign into larger innovative projects such as new product launches or product/process adaptation to serve new customer segments.
NRC-IRAP grants can offset up to 50% of project costs to a maximum $10 million per project, although funding requests of $300,000 to $500,000 are more common for SMEs.
Eligible businesses can be located anywhere in Canada, but must be incorporated for at least two years and maintain fewer than 500 employees. Projects typically focus on establishing internal productivity improvements, including product and production design. These can have implications for an innovative business’ marketing team, so some marketing elements may comprise a portion of the overall project budget.
Brilliant Marketing Strategies Don’t Need to be Expensive
Ready to generate more interest in your business and convert prospects into marketing qualified leads? Accessing marketing grants can help, but they don’t replace the need for great marketing strategy and talent. Consider starting with less expensive marketing solutions that work, and add complexity along the way as you become more sophisticated.
Looking for a starting place to improve your marketing efforts without breaking the bank? Download our Frugal Tactics for Building Your Sales Engine white paper.