Digital Marketing specialist and co-founder of SnappSales.
Elevator Pitch: Who is Karen Wessels?
Karen is the co-founder of SnappSales, a premium marketing agency in the B2B space. They help their clients find quality sales leads through inbound and outbound marketing both nationally and internationally.
When she left one corporate position for another, Karen was approached by a former client to work on their national marketing campaign. This opportunity served as the catalyst for her to start her own business.
Sales and Marketing for Small Businesses
When considering whether to employ either a sales or a marketing team, Karen calls it a “chicken and egg scenario”. You’re not going to grow your business without sales, but at the same time marketing is very important. Karen suggests that a small business starts with marketing as the foundation. Because many people “fear” sales to a certain extent, marketing can serve to fill the sales pipeline. The growth and success of any business is dependent on both sales and marketing.
Social Media Marketing
Social media offers the smaller business great reach within a limited budget. Before you start marketing consider whether your business is B2B or B2C. Facebook and Instagram are great for marketing products whereas Twitter and LinkedIn work better for B2B ventures. The advantage of social media is that it’s free, easily accessible and user-friendly.
LinkedIn as Marketing Platform
Karen understands LinkedIn quite well and the majority of their client base originates from that platform. Your profile is there to speak on your behalf. When creating your profile on LinkedIn, Karen suggests starting with a suitable business profile picture, not a picture of your company logo or your family. Use a professional image that portrays you in the best light. Consider your description – what are your skills and what are you passionate about? What could your company do to bring value to the person viewing your profile? Be as descriptive as possible when listing things on your profile. An insightful profile will be all the more engaging to the viewer and could lead to more connections.
Qualifications, Experience and Skills
Even your part-time varsity job, something as seemingly insignificant as bartending could highlight certain secondary skills. It all depends on how you word your experience. Some viewer may read through your profile in detail while others will merely skim over it; the onus rests on you to keep both types of people in mind when creating your profile.
You can randomly connect to people for the sake of connecting and to get your numbers up, or you can be smart about it and build connections more strategically. You can carefully consider the field your business specialises in and the kind of people you want to connect with – do they add value to your network? Like many aspects of marketing you need to spend time on this every day. Karen suggests you put aside 20 minutes per day to build new quality connections and engage with existing connections. It’s difficult to assign an ideal number of connections as it varies from one business to another.
Making Mistakes and Learning From Them
People neglect to add a suitable photograph to their profile. When you represent your company, people want to see what you look like. Another common mistake is having an incomplete profile with too little information. Karen strongly suggests you do not use the standard LinkedIn connection message but rather opt for a personal message.
Elevate your Profile
Besides making quality connections, make use of LinkedIn publications to air your view on topics and to share your knowledge. Aim for a publication per fortnight or even as frequent as once a week if you are able. This helps to establish you as a thought leader and yet another way to engage with your connections. Status updates and pictures have their place on LinkedIn, as long as it’s business-related. Keep in mind that it is not a social platform, but one for business interactions. If there is an article that pertains to your business, like, share or comment on it.
Tips and Secrets
If you see a post on LinkedIn that you would want to share sometime in the future, Karen suggests you like the post. When you are ready to post the article, go to your own profile and look for it under “current activities”. From there you can see all the posts and articles that you have liked and you are able to share it. A secret Karen shared with us is to put your business name next to your own name on your LinkedIn profile. This way when you comment on a post or share an article your business name also reaches your connections. This is great for brand awareness.
Often when a business is in financial dire straits the marketing budget is the first to be cut. Karen warns against this as there is then no way to get the word out to prospective clients. We need to shift our paradigm to grasp the importance of marketing to a business and sales go hand in hand with that. If you feel marketing is too time-consuming and you are able allocate a budget to it, outsource your marketing. When you’re comfortable enough with a marketing agency or consultant to generate leads for you, you are free to focus on growing the business, the operations or sales.