To support our region’s local businesses during their financial hardships associated with COVID-19, the Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board created a Bay of Quinte Marketing Grants program in November 2020. These grants were for tourism businesses, events and initiatives operating in our partner communities of Belleville, Brighton, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Napanee and Quinte West. They provided 100% funding, ranging from $500-$5,000 and were allocated according to categories, which were identified as areas of need: social/digital, outside market radio, accommodations, print/signage, experiential tourism, and photography/video.
- Use $35k for approximately 20 small business grants with 100% funding
- Build knowledge, capacity and support systems related to marketing
- Create strong ROI
- We expanded the program to more than double: supporting over 50 projects with more than $100,000.
- The impact of the program has been extensive for recipients. For example, Vivacious, a downtown Trenton retail shop, increased their staffing in order to keep up with demand as a result of increased traffic. Their sales were up 87% in August, during the height of their grant marketing.
- To support each of the 50+ grants projects, we created marketing “scrum teams”, which included a staff from BoQ RMB and a staff from the community of the grant recipient + the grant recipients themselves.
- This team approach has provided support to foster and environment of support for project success – there is a 100% success rate for projects implemented.
- It’s helped to build marketing knowledge through guidance, mentorship, and education and capacity in our tourism small businesses, which produced stronger project results, but will also help with success on future projects. From Sarah at Philburn Farms: “We cannot thank you enough for your time and approval for this grant to assist with digital marketing and signage.”
- It’s created and fostered increased partnerships across the region.
- After a successful grant partnership between more than 20 Quinte West retailers and restaurants, a new Shop Quinte West brand and social media platforms were created. Now, these platforms can be utilized by the Quinte West Chamber, BIA, City, and businesses as a “one stop shop” for what is happening in Quinte West.
- The target audience for this initiative was small businesses/events/organizations who operate in the tourism sector in our partner communities
- Information was shared through our Bay of Quinte online channels + those of our partners, including: websites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, newsletters + media coverage
Challenges & Changes Made
- Originally, we allocated $35k for one intake, but the number of applicants seeking marketing support during COVID-19 was staggering – we had over 140 applications for more than $260,000. Therefore, our Board of Directors approved an increase to just over $100k and the program was expanded to 2 intakes: winter and spring. We will continue to offer 2 yearly intakes of this program moving forward because of its success.