Intending to Sell in a New Market? Get Ready for Smart Money and Shalav programs!

Tirza Arav, Outsourced Country Manager (China); Operation and Marketing services in Chinese | Reading Time: 5 min.

Do you think you could have sold more in international markets if you had double the marketing budget?  With the right plan and method - I’m guessing your answer is Yes. In times like these, a governmental aid will clearly support your next move.  

If you own or work for an Israeli company, the Israeli Ministry of Economy has two main programs which could benefit you. The programs are intended to help exporters sell their products in international markets, while focusing on developing marketing capabilities in one target market. The programs, Shalav and Smart Money, address companies in different phases of their business. Here are the criteria for each:

The Shalav program provides funding for two years of 50% of the total marketing budget of the company -up to NIS 200,000. 

Smart Money program funds up to NIS 500,000 of the company’s marketing budget for 24 months. If you are targeting China, India or Japan, the program funds up to NIS 1 million for an even  longer -36 months, and  funds expenses related to marketing products, including Data aggregation; Training for export activity; Presenting products or services, including the establishment of commercial presentation facilities; Scouting for specific field consultants; web-based marketing and sales tools; establishing a marketing and distribution infrastructure; participation in expos and conferences and Insurance.

Companies that receive financial assistance in one of the programs pay royalties of 3% of their sales growth in the chosen target market, over a period of five years, up to the sum of the grant.

What should we do and how to do it right? Four Key Points

  1. The main thing you should do is make sure to prepare months ahead. Many of the companies decide to participate in the programs only when the bell rings at the last moment  and the official declaration is published. Needless to say, this is far too late. Even initial data aggregation needs time; understanding what to do and how to do it takes time as well. A good strategic plan is reasonable and backed up with accurate information (and will be evaluated accordingly). So, do your homework seriously. 
  2. Having enough time will enable you to visit the market yourself. Meet as many clients, distributors and consultants as you can. Don’t sell them anything, just do your research - questioning and trying to fully understand the purchase procedure, the decision makers and what they think of the product. If you don’t have the resources to approach the market yourself, try a video conference or any other method that enables you to engage directly with yourfield. Money programs give higher evaluations to  companies whose managers visited the target market themselves. 
  3. You can choose one target market. If it’s a new one for the company, invest in the product in order to make it fit the market: why do you think the customers will choose you and not the other existing solutions? If you are already active in this market, notice that Smart Money supports “new marketing activity”, which means you must clarify what you are going to do differently from now on. 
  4. After completing your submission the program auditor will visit your company; make sure the auditor gets all the information he needs through a clear presentation (PPT or otherwise). If you hired an advisor and he is present in the meeting, make sure he is not the only one talking – you need to be familiar with all the information written in the plan. This is a critical point since the auditor is the one who will present the company later in front of the committee, so his professional opinion is critical.  

Good luck!

Tirza Arav is a China specialist  and fluent Chinese speaker. Spent eight years in China during which she worked in a local office and set-up and managed an Israeli WFOE. Currently, she is providing consultation and hands-on services for companies who are in or wish to enter the Chinese market.  She also advises to companies applying to SHALAV and Smart money programs  

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