Building and growing businesses in South East Asia can be a unique challenge in comparison with many other parts of the world. In countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and even China there is a mix of Chinese and Western digital systems used by a large volume of people from very different backgrounds, speaking different languages. For a business operating in these regions this presents a challenge – which market do you focus on and what systems do you use?
The good news here is that you can ‘do it all’. With well-researched and documented buyer personas and a marketing system combined CRM which integrates with all of the popular Western and Chinese digital systems, you can efficiently manage and analyse campaigns and marketing performance as a whole. The benefits of such systems have been noticed by the Hong Kong government, who are renowned for investing in domestic business development and offering funds to support technological development.
What is the TVP?
The Technology Voucher Programme (TVP) was launched in November 2016 in Hong Kong to subsidise local small and medium enterprises in using technological services and solutions to improve productivity and business processes. Previously, eligible enterprises were granted up to HKD 200,000 on a 2:1 matching basis during the pilot phase. On April 1st 2020 the TVP was further enhanced and relaunched to provide more funding. The funding ceiling per-applicant has been lifted from HK $200,000, to HK $400,000, and now HK $600,000. The maximum number of projects has also been raised from four to six.
“Under the TVP eligible enterprises can be granted up to HKD $600,000 on a 2:1 matching basis”
"Funding up to $600,000 for each eligible applicant will be provided on a 3 (Government):1 (enterprise/organisation) matching basis. The applicant must contribute no less than one quarter of the total approved project cost in cash. In other words, funding of no more than three-quarters of the actual project cost will be provided to an applicant."
This means that you could be getting up to 75% funding for a new technology adoption project. Vetting for eligibility can take some time and projects must be completed within 12 months, so it’s best to prepare the criteria for the necessary application in advance.
How can I use the TVP funding?
The TVP is specifically used for funding technology projects and system upgrades (hence the T in TVP). If you're looking at upgrading your CRM, implementing a new all-in-one sales/marketing/customer service tool or building an ERP – this is a great opportunity. If you're interested in learning more about projects who have had TVP applications approved please see this list. Crucially, the TVP is not supposed to be used for marketing, sales or events purposes so any application needs to be more around the 'technology' side of things. For more information on marketing government grants see the BUD (branding, upgrading and domestic sales) fund or the SME (events related) fund.
- Technology consulting: essentially the fees of other agencies to help you get set up/onboarded.
- Purchase, rental or subscription of customised equipment, software and hardware.
- Purchase, rental or subscription of ready-made equipment, software and hardware (cannot exceed 50% of total project cost).
- Project auditing for projects with approved funding exceeding $50,000. The maximum audit fee to be counted towards the total project cost is $3,000.
- Normal business operation costs will not be funded.
To find out more on guidance notes for applicants click here.
How can I apply to the TVP?
If you're a Hong Kong-based business with over a year of records and not publicly registered you should be eligible. The application criteria of your project will be based on the following (full list):
- Relevance of the proposed project to the applicant’s business: prove how it will impact and improve the business.
- Reasonableness of the budget: where you be asked to pick the lowest of multiple bids or give reasoning for not doing so.
- Reasonableness of the implementation details: how realistic your timeline and plan is.
- Adverse record of consultants and/or service provider(s): documentation of all bidding service provides and the process.
Why HubSpot in Hong Kong?
When growing a business, it’s crucial that you monitor the performance of all your marketing, sales and customer support efforts, so there is a clear understanding of what’s working and what’s not. How else can you successfully plan future campaigns without concrete data?
In most small-medium sized companies the marketing process looks something like this: a marketing manager is tasked with managing email campaigns in one system, social media in another, online advertising in another, print ads elsewhere and then website development etc...
Often these marketing managers are not specialists at any one of these particular tasks, and it would be impossible to be; nobody has that much time or that much brain power. Even when hiring a marketing agency to assist, managing multiple systems (all which track data differently) can be a nightmare and finding real trends in data for reporting can be difficult, expensive and time-consuming. The current most popular method of reporting - multiple excel spreadsheets requires manual processing which is slow, not easily accessible and prone to human errors.
“HubSpot is usable in China without a VPN, making it a powerful tool for CRM, Sales and Marketing Management for Chinese companies.”
This is where systems like HubSpot come in. As an ‘all-in-one’ system you have access to everything under one portal that is simple and easy to use. Instead of running a MailChimp campaign and trying to track clicks against Google analytics, email campaigns are run within HubSpot, monitored by HubSpot and every interaction made by someone from that point is measured and analysed by the system. HubSpot's powerful Lead Management System also allows you to follow your prospects through their journey on your website and how they interact with your emails and content - which gives your marketing and sales team access to all the information they need to reach out to these prospects based on their problems or interests.
It would be impossible to go over all the benefits of HubSpot in one blog - but being able to measure and track everything within one system for marketing AND sales is incredibly useful and makes everyone’s lives a lot easier (we see it everyday!).
While a HubSpot Pro subscription will only cost around USD $800 a month, with Enterprise Growth Suite costing thousands each month and would usually require a few months to set up and onboard your team which can be time consuming and costly. This is where grants like the TVP can help to mitigate costs but covering up to 75% of the migration/set up and software costs.
Hong Kong: One country - multiple systems
The Hong Kong technology landscape is a unique blend of two systems: The West and China. While there are no real internet restrictions here (you may use Google and Facebook freely), many of the residents and people visiting the area will be using Chinese services such as Baidu or WeChat instead. Businesses looking to engage with their audiences online must learn about their ideal buyer personas and figure out which systems to focus on. Linking all these different platforms in different languages can be quite difficult, but with the right support and a platform like HubSpot using custom integrations... everything can be measured in one place.
Taking advantage of the TVP by implementing a system like HubSpot means what seemed like a daunting and expensive process is now affordable and a great opportunity. Being able to thoroughly track and have complete transparency over your entire marketing and sales funnels will revolutionise the way you do business and, most importantly, how your customers perceive you.