The Mail on Sunday’s groundbreaking advertising giveaway for small firms has been deluged, receiving more than 5,000 applications in just four days.
Our boost for struggling local firms, launched last week with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), was set up with £3 million of funding to help 1,000 firms bounce back from the lockdown.
But it has proved so popular that the owner of The Mail of Sunday, Daily Mail, MailOnline and This is Money – DMGT – is pumping another £2 million into the scheme, taking the total to £5 million to help 500 more businesses get back on their feet.
Fired up: Frances Bishop at her childrenswear store, urges shoppers to support their local small businesses
To avoid disappointment, we are giving small firms the rest of today to apply, with the scheme closing to applications at 10pm.
Businesses qualify if they have no more than 150 staff and a turnover of £6 million a year or less. All applications that meet the criteria (see below for more details) will be shortlisted, with firms then selected at random to receive advertising funds worth over £3,000 each.
Our advertising arm Mail Metro Media will help each successful firm design tailored adverts to run in The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Metro, the i newspaper and online at our hugely popular MailOnline, This is Money and Metro.co.uk websites.
The adverts will appear from next Sunday. Business owners can ask for their adverts to appear later if they wish, as long as it’s before September 30.
For example, a delay can be requested if the company would rather wait until lockdown rules are loosened enough to return to full operations.
This will really help, says Apprentice star
Former BBC Apprentice star Frances Bishop has said that many small firms are only just ‘holding it together’ and urges people to use local firms where possible in the coming weeks.
The independent retailer, who has had to temporarily close her four Pud Store childrenswear shops and furlough 12 of her 14 staff, said being a director of a small firm was ‘lonely’, but said firms should look for outside aid where available.
She praised The Mail on Sunday’s £5 million advertising boost for small firms, saying: ‘Something like this is a real help. I think it’s amazing. Being a small company director feels like you are on your own little raft and can be lonely.
It sounds dramatic, but there have been times I’ve sat in my car and cried.
‘As a director of a small business, everybody is looking to you for an answer: staff are upset; you are home-schooling; the bank is asking for a six-month forecast; you are negotiating with landlords or building a website to sell online; customers are asking why orders haven’t arrived and I’m explaining the problems Royal Mail is having.
‘There are people across the country holding it together because they have no other option. I’m rolling my sleeves up and battling on.’
The 29-year-old was inspired by wartime analogies, saying: ‘I read that Cadbury’s carried on marketing during the Second World War.
‘After the war its business boomed because it was familiar from the time of crisis. I do a video every day for my customers, telling them what is going on, how many orders we’re dealing with. People are now starting to recognise what value local businesses can bring in a time of crisis.’
Bishop said her online sales – at thepudstore.com – had ‘exploded’ fivefold and she had hired a new warehouse space to fulfil orders more efficiently rather than picking from her four closed stores.
The giveaway is us doing our bit to help the millions of small firms struggling to cope in the coronavirus crisis.
Many of them are family-run businesses that play a vital role in local communities. Small firms employ about 17 million people in Britain. DMGT’s giveaway has drawn praise from Ministers, including Rishi Sunak.
The Chancellor last week thanked the newspaper group for assisting firms that ‘are the backbone of our economy’ and said they would ‘be vital in helping us recover from the outbreak’.
A study by the FSB revealed the importance of aid packages. It found that one in three small firms that have temporarily shut during the lockdown may never reopen. Its survey of 5,000 companies found seven in ten have furloughed staff, and one in three are considering or have made redundancies.
Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: ‘The economy will not go from zero to a hundred overnight once we’re in the recovery phase.
‘So it’s vital small firms receive as much help as possible. That’s why The Mail on Sunday’s offer is a fantastic opportunity for our members as they get back on their feet. This move is set to have a big impact.’