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Trading Online Voucher 2022 – National Digital Strategy

Trading-Online-VoucherNEWSFLASH  Compulsory Information Session for anyone wishing to apply for the €2500 NDS Trading Online Voucher – Talk to your local Enterprise Office.  To be considered for the grant you must attend one of these 60 to 90 minute Sessions.
Note: Online via Zoom call. No interaction required by you, no camera or microphone.

Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.

NDS Trading Online Voucher

Qualification for the Trading Online Voucher – eCommerce element

NDS-Voucher

 

 

 

 

Applying companies for the €2,500 voucher or grant will be expected to match that amount in terms of their own investment. It is not strictly confined to e-commerce websites, but some digital innovation, preferably eCommerce or a Digital change in the business, such as a new software solution or a social media marketing plan.
Companies must turn over less than €2 million per year and employ less than 10 people. Three quotes will be required for this ‘website grant’.

If an eCommerce solution was to cost say €4,000.00 then an applicant could apply for a €2000 voucher from the Local Enterprise Office.

Who cannot apply for a Trading Online Voucher or website grant?
Charities, Trade Organisations, Semi State Bodies or Not for Profit organisations or any company employing more than 10 or turning over more than €2m. A business must exist for at least 6 months before being qualified for this grant.

What can you use the Trading Online Voucher for ?
Third Party Costs only:
Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy can account for 30% of spend
IT Consultancy
Developing or upgrading eCommerce website
Implementing Online Booking or Payments Systems
Customer Fulfilment systems
Buying Internet related Software
Developing an App or Mobile website
Online Advertising – can account for 30% of spend

What can you not spend a Trading Online Voucher on ?
A Brochure or static website
Buying Non Internet Related Software
Anything other than online trading activity
Your own labour costs
Any non commercial developer or web design agency will not be recognised if they quote, so use a proper web design agency partner (Get clearance with LEO if required)

Redemption of your Trading Online Voucher
All money must be spent before the voucher can be given and an application must be made to your Local Enterprise Office in advance of any spend being done. Receipts and proof of payment, ex VAT, as in bank statement, should be sent in prior to cut off date. Include a Tax Clearance TC2 Form and 3 quotes. A one page report will be expected from your chosen web design agency when your website project is completed and before any grant payment is made. Get Application form by attending one of the Information Seminars.

How to apply for the Trading Online Voucher?
In order to make an application you must attend one of the information sessions at your Local Enterprise Office, which will provide all the details as to how to apply, but also how to best use and gain value from the voucher to support your online trading proposition. The Donegal LEO meetings last from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on how many questions people submit. This session is very educational and very much helps attendees understand what is involved in creating a website that will deliver results.

Vouchers can be used for?
The Online Trading Vouchers can be used for the development of a new website or upgrade of an e-commerce website such as implementing online payments for your clients or adding a booking system.
Other usage includes; purchase of Internet related software, online advertising, development of an app, implementation of a digital marketing strategy, consultation with ICT experts for early stage adopters of online strategy, training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity. At €5k this will not fund a full blown eCommerce project, but can be the first step of a strategic plan.

The LEO will base its decision on Project Suitability, Export Potential, Job Creation, Increased Online Sales potential and Quality of ICT proposal. Any applicant needs a TC2 Tax Clearance Certificate

Tips:

Show that you have done some Competitor analysis and have an understanding of who you are to compete with in your target market
State your Target Market
How does your proposed project help your business
What is the Export Potential
How will you use or leverage existing assets
What is the Value added potential
Is there any job creation potential – be realistic
Can your project be done in 3 months
The quality of of the ICT project must be good
Be realistic with your projections – high figures will not fool or impress the LEO
This is not just a subsidy for a Google Ads campaign

The voucher scheme will be managed by Local Enterprise Offices,  with Full Specs here 

Conclusion: Seize the opportunity

More people showed an interest in the recent rounds of NDS Trading Online Vouchers with many attending the information seminars, but the number of actual applicants was relatively low. Some put it down to an onerous application form – it was indeed a document with 15 pages, but the questions were straightforward and the time required was very small – maybe two hours. The process however of attending the Session and learning how to go about creating a successful online strategy, did put many people off, because it highlighted how much time and money would be needed by them. Herein lies the real challenge. Are you ready to move your business to the next stage, where digital becomes the future. The web is a new platform that offers great opportunities, but it takes time and investment to get right. Start somewhere and work on it. Make life easier by creating a Web Strategy or get someone in to do it for you. Is it confusing? Yes, but so is fly-fishing or golf until you learn the basics and practice. Talk to us if you have any questions

Note: There is a small grant of circa €1,000.00 to add Irish content on your website from Foras na Gaeilge Scéim Tacaíochta Gnó/ Business Support Scheme see here.

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History of the Trading Online Voucher from 2015

Phase 1 and 2 of the small, but very successful “Test” were done in Dublin in 2014. followed by the rest of the country in August for this part of the National Digital Strategy. Now seven years later in 2022, to build on the success of the previous roll outs, more vouchers are becoming available – LIMITED NUMBER. The Donegal LEO have issued over €1.1m so far. You can book their online meeting HERE.

Initially, 1000 Vouchers were given out by end June 2015 and a report revealed some findings, namely:

Consumers across Ireland now spending almost €1m online every hour

  • 70% of NDS Voucher firms expect to employ on average 1.4 new more staff members this year
  • Average sales increase by NDS recipients up by over 20%
  • 85% saw an increase in customer enquiries
  • 40% had generated customer interest from new markets overseas
  • 60% said that the new business was additional and did not displace existing sales
  • 99% expected their online business to grow in importance
  • 80% said the competitive application process helped them in business strategy planning.
  • Strongest growth in new export markets

” Recognising the growing importance of the digital economy, Minister Rabbitte also announced that he was setting aside €5m in 2014 to assist in the roll out of a national trading-online voucher scheme, aimed at getting 2,000 small Irish businesses trading online.

“There is an enormous opportunity for Irish businesses in the online space and significant risks if they do not develop online trading platforms” Minister Rabbitte said. Irish consumers spent approximately €3.7bn online last year, of which 70% was spent outside Ireland. Less than 1 in 4 small Irish businesses are trading online. Research undertaken for the European Commission indicates that traditional businesses which have a meaningful online presence grow twice as fast, export twice as much and employ twice as many people. “In Ireland, where the digital economy represents 4.4% of GDP, there is a real opportunity for small businesses to grow. My ambition is to ensure that a much greater proportion of the online spend stays in Ireland, supports Irish businesses and creates jobs in this country. For that to happen many more Irish businesses need to offer services online”.

In preparation for the design of a national scheme, a two phase pilot will be launched in Dublin next week. Under the pilot scheme vouchers of up to €2,500 will be provided to 50 small companies to help them develop an online trading presence. The scheme will be administered by the Local Enterprise Office and will target small enterprises that employ less than 10 people and have a turnover of less than €2m per annum.” Minister Pat Rabbitte in the Budget Speech 2013.

NB This should not be made a foundation stone for your Marketing Plan, but many eligible Companies will not read about this or apply for the grant – so get your application in now.
Tip: Make sure it is filled in correctly online and include your TC2 Tax Clearance form.

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Note: Clarification
The Extended Trading Online Voucher launched in April 2020 offered 90% grant up to €2500.00 if applied for before December 30th 2020 – see full details at https://meanit.ie/lp-trading-online-voucher-expanded/

Under the Government’s National Strategy, the now expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets.

UPDATE Dec 2020 – There was up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from business*, Heather Humphries the Department announced a further €20 million on July 23rd 2020. See HERE for full details on the COVID response stimulus package.
Scheme ended on Dec 30th https://www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Trading-Online-Voucher-Scheme-/ after which it reverted back to 50% up to a maximum grant of €2500.

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Hi, at MEANit we help 40 ‘Professional Services Businesses‘ to be effective online annually. Will your business be one of the 40 in 2022?

MEANit-Web-Design-Agency-Michael-MacGinty

Written by Michael MacGinty

Michael is a well known speaker, author and coach on how to use the web to grow a business. He is also WP Elevation certified as a Digital Business Consultant.
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A Web Presence Checklist, for the senior partner

12 things to oversee the web presence for your legal practice

LinkedIn including company profile page and personal profile for you and all employees. Post some articles about your services, giving some useful advice, sharing insights or sharing industry news. Connect with logical potentially good connections. No sales pitch, just hello with a short line to make the connection, like swopping a business card at a networking event. Read our Linkedin Guide.

Facebook – keep it a basic entry for the practice just to turn up in Facebook in search or get reviews. You could use it to get reviews from people who spend a lot of time on this platform. Or use Facebook to advertise your services, if it is right for your target market.

Website focusing on the services that you want to specialise in, the ones that make you the most margin and that you are happiest to deliver. Bear in mind that you can offer services that you do not personally have to deliver, but make you margin. You do not have to deliver you do not necessarily have to be involved in the process whatsoever. Who is responsible for your SEO Search Engine Optimisation? Read our Guide.

Include SSL – This is the little padlock that appears on the top left corner, to indicate the site is safe. This is not just for eCommerce websites.

Google Business Profile – Have you got one? Is your Google Business Profile profile populated, as in photos, service details, opening hours, blog items, reviews. Independent Google Reviews are fuel for your practice. Get as many as you can. Remember to reply to every single one of them. These are happy clients or people who are in need of attention. Read our Guide.

NAP – Include nap NAP everywhere that you write your address, search Google to see where you appear and ensure the NAP is exactly the same everywhere, including the Eircode.
Do any Google search of your name in an ‘Incognito window’ to see what people see on their computer when they do a search of your company. Whilst you’re there also do a search for solicitors in your town or area. Also do a search for the legal services that you want to promote in your area. Such as conveyancing in Dundalk or conveyancing solicitors in Dundalk.

Recruitment – Your website can also be used for finding new team members, rather than going through the expense of recruitment agencies. This tactic would generally be known as being a part of your overall content marketing strategy. This is where are you create content on your website that will attract people who are looking for certain things. Whether that be a specific legal service or a job in a legal practice that looks attractive to them.

Google Page Insights is a tool that is free and will give you an idea of the speed of your website. Google gives a lot of weight to a fast loading website, especially on a mobile view. Websites are being measured by Google more and more for their mobile view as a key metric.

Google analytics is also free and will give you an idea of the number of people travelling to your website visiting your website on a monthly basis. Use the overview to see how many people visit your website on a monthly basis to see if it’s going up or down. Google Analytics is a great tool but having a high numbers visit your website does not guarantee a conversion to a customer. In order to get conversions you continually need to add content and optimise content and compete with whoever your competitors are. A very simple search for a legal practice in your area will show you who is ranking number 1, 2 or 3. These are the competitors or people you’re competing with, so you need to be better than them. Read our Guide.

Google – With Google Ads you can spend a fortune easily. So if you want to use this platform, get to understand it or engage a specialist. It can be very useful in the short term or to use whilst you are working on your website and SEO. Read our Google Ads Guide.

Conversion. However, bear in mind even if you are number one and you get click through so people visit your website when they land on a page on your website. You have to work on the content in order to get them to convert from visitor to customer. This is your user experience as in UX through your User Interface referred to as the UI.

Reports – Ensure someone is producing a monthly report to measure the numbers. As Peter Drucker said “What gets measured gets managed — even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so”. Ensure you get a Google Analytics report. And ideally have a report created, so that you can see the numbers at a glance.

Conclusion:
As a senior partner you do not need to do all of this work. This is not what you’re qualified to do and could be way below your paygrade. Unless you engage someone who can deliver a high return in the long term and needs to be well compensated in the short term. Get a proper Digital Marketing Plan drawn up.

However, somebody has to do the work. It would be good if you could use some of these tools to see if the person, practice manager or web agency is doing a good job with your investment.
The bottom line is the practice should be kept busy. And ideally be able to recruit enough staff to deliver services. As a senior partner if you allocate a half hour every month to review these basic reports, you will then be in a position to see what is being done on your behalf.

Read the monthly reports from your Digital marketer. And if needs be, have a conversation about what needs to be improved. The Digital marketer will need a budget to do the search engine optimisation or create graphics for the website. And possibly doing advertising on LinkedIn or Facebook or anywhere where your potential customers are hanging out. Without sounding like an ambulance chaser you can have your content found when people do a search for chiropractor or osteopath or bad back or medical negligence. Get ahead of the curve.

How much time, hassle and money would it save you to have any and all advertising done online through your own website by a competent specialist agency?
Also posted here.

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