Pat Knauer - Small Business Marketing

How to Engage & Market as a Small Business with Pat Knauer

Pat Knauer is an author and coach focused on helping micro-businesses get more clients through ways like marketing strategies and content marketing. She is also a speaker, a trainer, and has authored two books ‘Success Begins in The Corner Office’ and ’45 Minutes Breakthroughs’.

In this episode, Pat talks about the mistakes that small businesses are making by involving third-party platforms instead of personally engaging and marketing to their audience. She also narrates her journey of how she ended up becoming passionate about helping small businesses bring revenue through their marketing strategies.

Listen in to learn some beneficial strategies you can utilize to actively engage and eventually market to your audience. Learn how to also seek help and not do everything alone when you’re struggling with your business.

“You can only really handle what you already know how to do and if you don’t know how to do something, get help.”-Pat Knauer [28:07]

What You Will Learn:

[1:09] The mistakes of building your business on third-party platforms like Facebook instead of networking in a way you can control.

[4:49] How to actively engage with people in your audience before you start marketing to them.

[6:34] How to take control and connect with people you’re networking with.

[8:23] Learning how to market for small business by constantly marketing to your prospects.

[12:28] Ways to let our audience know you’re thinking about them especially during hard times.

[14:46] She narrates her journey from accidentally landing in the business of helping small businesses to becoming passionate about it over the years.

[20:32] How to effectively manage your time as a small business owner who wants to generate revenue.

[21:42] The importance of having an automated system that helps send valuable information to new people you put in your system, simplifying your overall tasks.

[25:04] Learn to think of what you can do today to bring your business revenue rather than waiting for tomorrow or next year.

[27:18] Why you need to get help when you’re struggling as a business owner plus adding an effective system for the success of your business.

Relevant Links:


Pat Knauer Interview Transcript

Robert: Our next guest on the AIDtoNAV podcast is Pat Knauer. Pat is an author and coach focused on helping micro-businesses get more clients through marketing strategies, content marketing. She’s also a speaker and trainer. She’s the author of two books. “Success Begins in the Corner Office” and “45-Minute Breakthroughs: How I find 10K in 45 minutes for Small Businesses.” We’re going to talk about that topic and much more coming up.

Pat Knauer, welcome to the AIDtoNAV podcast. How are you doing today?

Pat: I am awesome. I am so excited and jazzed to be here.

Robert: Fantastic. Published author I went through some of that in the intro really focused on small business, micro-business. What’s the number one mistake in 2020, even pandemic aside that small and micro businesses are making?

Pat: The number one mistake they’re making is that they’re not networking. They’re not spending enough time getting out there and meeting people in their communities and in their target market. They’re instead trying to rely on doing things like online marketing, relying on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram thinking that’s going to be the way to get their message out there and they’re not doing it the right way. So, because of that, they’re actually doing their business harm when they could actually bring in a lot more business.

Robert: So, they’re going through these third party systems or going through systems that they don’t really control. They’re adding a level of complexity to their business because then they have to learn that system versus working on revenue. How difficult is it to make that relationship? Because it sounds like what you’re really talking about is a relationship-based business versus a transactional-based business. Am I wrong?

Pat: That is absolutely correct. So, here’s the thing when your business is small until you get to the point where you have 30, 40, 50 employees trying to rely on a third party foundational business platform, like Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or something like that is really, really difficult. Here’s a guideline. If you’re ever going to do a webinar or something or some kind of an online presentation, unless you have over 1,000 people in your database, it’s not even worth considering because the average conversion rate for 1,000 people is only 10 people. It’s a 1% conversion rate. So, if you’re counting on a third-party platform to build your business, you’re making a huge mistake because you can’t control it. The guideline here in the rule of thumb is never to build your business on somebody else’s platform because the minute that they start changing up the algorithms, your business can go straight down the tube and if you’re counting on it, on them keeping their algorithms consistent for your business. It’s not happening.

So, when you’re building a relationship type business, you are building up your own database, you’re building up your email list. So, you’re able to directly market to those people who know, like, and trust you. Here’s the thing every single person that you know out there knows at least 200 people. Actively in their phone right now they have 200 people are in their email list. So, for every person you touch, that’s 200 people. So, if you get 200 people in your list and that’s 40,000 people, you can be engaging with. It’s just amazing, 4,000 people. It’s just amazing how many people you could actually be engaging with without having to rely on anybody else’s platform.

Robert: So, let’s break this down into the pieces because you got music to my ears when we’re talking about a database because one of the four mistakes that we see small micro-businesses make is that they never plane. If you thinking of a boat, they never plane and never get up on plane for momentum and they never leave a wake. So, this is a lot of what you’re talking about is too. I’ve met someone I’ve developed the relationship. I’ve gotten their contact information. Now I need to store that somewhere. I need to have it anywhere from a spreadsheet all the way up to some sort of email marketing system on our website AIDtoNAV. We walk you through how to set up AWeber and we’re going to have other systems that you can use, but you would control the database. So, am I correct in what you’re talking about there is really having that system of record that goes in there? Then I’ll share with you a story of how this affected my life at one time.

Pat: That is exactly right. And here’s the key. You have to be actively engaging with those people who are in your list because the whole idea of networking is that you’re not there to connect with them, to get business from them, you’re there to get access to that list. So, if you’re communicating with them on a regular basis, and they’re seeing your name and they’re passing your information along, or you have conversations with them periodically, and I suggest everybody in your list, having a conversation with them at least once a quarter, or having somebody in your organization, having a conversation once a quarter, because you’ve got to stay top of mind. When you build out your business, so that you’ve got a really big, strong mailing list, that’s when you’re able to, you know, go, and do the more sophisticated things. But until then, don’t do it. Don’t spend your time, your money, your effort to do it and you know as you mentioned, it brings in a whole different level of complexity and learning how to actually market versus having a conversation are two very, very different things.

Robert: But I don’t want to spam them. I don’t want to be spamming. So, I’m not going to create a list because I don’t want to be a spammer. Without that conversation that you talked about without that initial connection, then yes, it’s spam. But if you’ve had that initial contact, you’re being of service, you’re adding value to go onto it. Pat, how many times have you gone to the networking event? During the typical networking event or happy hour, you’re going to get six or seven business cards and then you wait the next week and you don’t hear back from anybody that got your card while you’re following up with them.

Pat: It happens all the time and the whole idea behind gathering business cards is actually to have a conversation. So, when you rely on somebody else to get back to you, you’re handing the power over to them. It’s your responsibility. If you collect a business card, it’s your responsibility to communicate with them within 24 hours. Don’t wait three or four days because by then they will have forgotten about you and always make sure you have a picture on your business cards so people can make a connection between who you are and what you’re doing. But when you have that connection within that 24 hours and you set up a one-to-one conversation with them. The way I set up conversations with people is I set it up normally for an hour- 20 minutes to learn about their business, 20 minutes to learn about my business, and 20 minutes to figure out how we can collaborate or do business together.

Robert: Wow, now that’s…

Pat: In doing that there’s a meaningful conversation. It’s a connection and they don’t mind receiving information from on a regular basis.

Robert: So, this has elevated you in the participating Volusia County, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and I believe you’re Head of Education with that group is as well, correct?

Pat: Correct. not only education but also business development and I’m also a member of the DeLand Chamber of Commerce as well.

Robert: Yeah. So, she practices what she preaches from that standpoint. Go back into the database. You talked about that it should be a voice contact or at least reaching out once a quarter. How frequently are we touching or are we following up at other times? And let’s also define what we’re talking about with the touch, but how many more times are we in contact with them? We’re already up to 40 if we’re making the phone calls. How many more times?

Pat: So, here’s the thing for small businesses you have to market differently than a large company. You know, a large company like Toyota or Pepsi or Coca Cola. They’re going to throw hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising. A small business owner can’t compete with that. So, you get to have that one-on-one intimate conversation, build belly to belly and I know that people are resistant to it. You don’t want to make that phone call because you’re afraid they’re going to hang up on you. But if every time you’re having a great conversation with them, then they won’t mind. The other thing to consider is that you want to be sending out communications. So, of course, you can’t contact them once a week with a phone call. That would just be too much for you and too much for them.

So, sending out emails, the average person will not do business with you until the fifth to the 12th point of contact. So, if you are only touching base with them four times during the year, then they aren’t connecting with you often enough to really consider doing business with you. Here’s a really bad thing. Say that you meet them at a networking event, and then you have a one-on-one conversation with them, and you don’t connect with them again until the next quarter. By then you started putting a bug in their ear and the next person who communicates with them, who has a conversation or sends them an email has a higher likelihood of doing business with them because they’re picking up where you left off. So, for a small business, depending on what your capacity is, you’ve got to be communicating at least once a week, preferably twice a week.

For companies that have, you know, a really good marketing team or they’re really into the whole marketing thing. If you want to send something out every single day, you can, but it’s got to be valuable. It can’t be, hey, this is what my latest, what my latest offering is. People just won’t go for it. The rule of thumb is this for every three pieces of content that you send out to somebody you can make an offer. So, say that you’ve met somebody at a networking event. You’ve had that conversation with them to set up the phone call. You then had another phone call with them that’s the hour-long phone call. That’s three points of contact. Starting from there start sending an email once a week and by the end of the quarter you’re more likely to have done some business with them.

Robert: So, we’re sending out that email, we’re pacing out our requests. So, we are giving information, we’re giving information of value and then we’re doing a request back. As a rule of thumb, I like to also throw in there that it’s very easy for you to do themes. To do a theme over the course of the year. So, July would be independence month. You’re talking about the independence from if you don’t offer contracts. If you say you can cancel at any time, work with me because there’s a level of independence that’s involved with it. You can do that with the fall. You can do it around the holidays and touch all the bases of all the holidays that go into it. The start of the year, the refreshment. So, those are the things.

The other aspect right now is just reaching out and checking on folks, how are you doing? How are you holding in there? Can you believe what we’re going through? Just putting that type of invitation out there or conversation out there. People are wanting human connection right now. They’re listening to the podcast. Podcast listeners are going up, video views are going up, zoom use is up but they really want that connection. They want somebody to ask about how are you doing? How’s your family doing? How’s your mom doing that’s out in Washington State? How is she holding up because I saw that was a hotspot? That’s very valuable and you’re running for mayor of their mind. They don’t have a need now, but when they do have a need when something comes up and it breaks in their house, or they get this notification of something, are you going to be the next one that they call? That’s what you’re positioning yourself for.

Pat: Exactly and another rule of thumb is to do marketing seven days a week, a minimum of 30 minutes per day, and whether that is contacting people through social media to start building that up if you don’t have like a really strong social media following. But also, you can preschedule posts to be put out on your social media pages. You can, preschedule emails to go out on the weekend and when you decide that you’re going to start making these phone calls, these touch base calls with people, plan on doing two hours per day, five-minute phone calls. They don’t have to be long phone calls, they’re just quick to just check in on people. Just to let them know that you’re thinking about them and it just gives such weight to the relationship that you build with them.

Robert: So, your schedule is really blocked off that you’re not setting appointments during that time that you’re trying to reach out. Have you found one part of the day works better than others or is it just that you are consistent in doing it or both?

Pat: Consistency really matters, but quite frankly I tend to do them at the end of the day in the last two hours of my workday and their workday because by then they’re tired. They’ve used up really all their energy and getting that quick little phone call towards the end of the day. It says, hey, I was just thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing with all of this insanity that we’re dealing with. It gives them a mental break, but it also ends their day by lifting their spirit. You’ll be more likely remembered.

Robert: Very interesting. Interesting take on that. I’ve always done mine first thing in the morning and I’ve always kind of thought of it like tennis that I’ve served. It’s in their court for the rest of the day and I planted the seed for it to go through. Being consistent on it and I love your uplift that you have, really thinking of it as let’s end of the day on a high note and being able to connect. So, let’s talk about you’re a published author, your books that you have. How does someone engage with your services, your background? Maybe that’s what we need to do here for a little bit, talk about your background. How did you get into working with small and micro-sized businesses? What was that journey? What was that path like?

Pat: I got into this totally by accident. So, 19 years ago I made the decision to go to nursing school and I needed to be able to support my family while I was going to school. I had been working for a conference for a training company and they were teaching contractors, federal employees how to work with the private sector in a contracting capacity. I realized that there was kind of a gap between the contractors working with the governments and the governments work with the contractors. So, my business partner and husband, he and I developed a conference and training company to try to fill that gap. We launched our first event and we had over 100 people attend and as we were talking to them, we realized that they had a real gap in understanding number one, how to do business correctly, how to market their businesses, and how to write up things like an RFQ.

So, we decided to fill that gap by coaching and mentoring them in addition to running events. We ran 25 plus events a year and it was okay. We worked in all States around the country, primarily in the Washington DC area, because that’s where the federal government was. We also worked with state and local governments as well. Over the years, you know, that really took on a big portion of our business because we realized there was such a gap. In 2013 I closed the company, my husband had passed, and I decided to close the company, and to start working with other companies. It was 11 years that I’ve been working with IT companies and I was just done with IT. So, I started working with all different kinds of companies. I’ve worked with handymen, I’ve worked with attorneys, I’ve worked with boat captains. I’ve worked with pretty much any kind of a business you can possibly think of.

In 2017 I made the decision to focus more on the medical community and worked with the medical community for a while and quite frankly, just got bored with it. But most of these companies that I’ve worked with are the teeny, tiny companies. The companies that do have under 10 employees. Some would have like 12, 13, some up to 30, but they were small companies. Most of the businesses that I do work with and have been working for, for years have either usually have one to five employees. It’s really where the need is. They’ve gone out there. They started a business and doing a great job, providing the service and the products that the customers really need. But when it comes to knowing how to develop that business to become a million-dollar business and knowing how to market it in such a way that they bring in a consistent flow of clients without having to rely on referrals, because that’s just kind of a hit and miss thing and then converting them, increasing the amount of conversions.

Most people get enough referrals or get enough leads. The problem is they don’t convert enough into clients, into the paying customers that they need. So, they’re out there spending a zillion dollars trying to get these new leads and it’s not the leads that they need. They need to learn how to convert. They also need to know about pricing their products appropriately. It’s amazing to me how many businesses start with a product or service at a certain price and they never ever raise their prices. I mean 15, 20 years down the line they’re still charging the same as when they first started. So, their profit margins become way too low and if your profit margin is too low and then you decide to discount it, all, you wipe out your profit margin and then business owners wonder why they’re losing money. That’s what causes a lot of businesses to go under.

Robert: Talked about that income roller coaster. We use it as one of the challenges from the terms that we use with AIDtoNAV is that you have wind in your sales, s-a-l-e-s, and you’re so focused on servicing that you don’t know where the next piece of business is coming from. You don’t have conversions going on. You get done with that particular job or client and then all of a sudden it’s, oh my goodness I’m out of business. I have to restart again. So, going through that process. The quick little story that I was going to share with you is growing up, my father worked in sales. He worked with a trucking company, and I could always tell when it got towards the end of the month and the end of the quarter, and he was behind because he would send me out to the car and my job was…

He smoked and so he had matchbooks and he had written down names and phone numbers on matchbooks or business cards. He had me go to get them, collect them together and I knew what he was going to do the next day. He was going to actually work the phones or drop in on these folks because he knew he had whether it was a quoted hit or a sales target to hit. So, it was always the matchbook game and that was really his database versus having something where it was in a, back in the day, a Rolodex or a shoebox or something like that. It was, hey, go out to the car. I could always tell but yet so many small businesses. I love to see the service van. I don’t love to see it, but you see the service van that has all of the pieces of paper on the dashboard and if they just took a little bit of time, 20 minutes a day, or reached out and had a set block on that put it into a system, they would have more business than they know what to do with. They would be able to start bringing on help and they’d be able to charge more for those clients that they did shall we say, cherry-pick and want to work with that value their services.

Pat: Totally. One of the things that I recommend to my clients is the last two hours on a Friday afternoon is when they do all of that work. If they just focus those two hours.  Friday afternoons, a lot of people they’ve checked out on Friday. Try to sell anything on a Friday afternoon, if you’ve done it, you’ve kind of realized that by about two o’clock in the afternoon, people are pretty much done for the week. So, if you spend that time doing your bookkeeping, keep doing your accounting, filling up your CRM or your spreadsheet with the information for the week, and then make notes on Friday afternoon about what you need to do first thing on Monday morning. When you do that, when you start on Monday morning, you look at those notes and you already have a head start. If you have to spend Monday morning trying to figure out what to do next you’ve lost a couple of hours on that first Monday morning when you could actually generate business.

Robert: Yeah. Really you’re doing that. One of your books, “45-Minutes Breakthroughs”.  I’m looking through here, “How I find 10K in 45-minutes.” What would be one nugget out of that? Because we want to make sure that they get the whole book. But what would be one nugget out of it that we haven’t covered already?

Pat: Oh, goodness gracious. I think that probably one of the big nuggets in there is if you don’t have some kind of an automated campaign to send out materials to your database, that you’re really losing out. The great thing is called a drip campaign and the primary focus of it is that you create materials once and then whenever you put the person into that system, it starts giving that information on a regular pre-determined basis. It will save you time. It will save you money. It will save you energy. You do the work once, and it’s good forever. If you schedule out 52 weeks and you have it in the system, then you know that for you, you put somebody into that database. Do you know that for a year if you never talk to them again, which of course you’d need to, but if you never talk to them again, you know you’re going to be top of mind with them every single week for a year?

It’s so well worth the time and the effort and if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, jot a few notes down, contact somebody at Fiverr and have them actually develop it for you, develop this campaign. I’ve done this with my clients and really for less than about $300, they’ve gotten the entire year done. The blurbs that you put out there, the emails that you send, they don’t have to be long. They can be just a short paragraph, 100 words. It does not have to be a lot of information. It just has to provide some valuable content. That’s it and then make an offer at the end of each one, like to get this freebie or to do whatever. So, that’s a big nugget right there because I mean, let’s face it as a small business owner, you are really busy and sometimes you don’t have a lot of hours to be able to communicate with people. So, that’s a big nugget and quite frankly, the process in the book, if you do it on your own, if you go through those eight strategies that are in there 10,000 is nothing. Quite frankly, if you were to implement them all, you’d probably be doing 100,000 more.

Robert: From just what you already have or making that focus that over the next 12 months I’m going to be very purposeful. I’m going to be very intentional about getting the contact information, putting it in, and then having it on some sort of a system even if they’re just seeing your subject line. So, they saw that it came from you. That makes a connection. That makes an impression. Even if they’re seeing it in your signature line of the information that you’ve sent out. I know I’ve done this with coaching clients that I’ve had. Some of the coaching clients want to custom write everything that they’re doing and others that have used this in a real estate setting, used what the company had put out. The canned approach of what the company had put out and the person that was consistent even sending the canned company information, because it had their email, it had their branding that was on it. They outpaced the person who was still getting ready to get ready, to get ready, to send the first message. So, I see it time and time and time again. Pat, I know people can reach out to you. We’re going to have all of your links and information so people can do that. For your own personal business, for the remainder of 2020, or the next 12 months to be successful (blank) has to happen.

Pat: I think of every day as being the first day of the year.

Robert: Okay.

Pat: I don’t think about … We go from January to December because that’s what the IRS says. It has nothing to do with your business. Your business starts today, and every day starts the first day of the next year. So, there’s a little mind shift for you.

Robert: You bet.

Pat: So, I don’t think in terms of what’s going to happen between now and the end of the month and what’s going to happen between now and the end of the year although that is a nice measuring stick. I think about am I bringing in money today? What can I do to bring in revenue today? Because if you’re not making money every single day, your business is falling behind. So, what can you do today to bring in cash? I’ll send it to you for nothing. It’ll be an eBook for you, so you don’t even have to buy it.

Robert: So, just that making that contact, taking time to do the system, put a bracket around. So, say, okay, the month of July, I’m going to get my act together and it has to be a deadline that says, I’m going to get my act together. I’m going to read the book. I’m going to go through the eight chapters and the eight steps of it so that August 1st I’m really on this and not put it off to put it off, to put it off or wait until January 1st of next year. Sooner rather than later to have this especially as there is a bit of a downtime. There’s a bit of downtime in business for some. This is a great opportunity for them to evaluate and go through this.

Pat absolutely fantastic. You’re a great resource that we can send some of these micro-business owners to with their information to be able to do that hour consultation with you to get to know them, to get to know you, and then talk about exactly how are we going to work together. We’ve got one scheduled for ourselves even in addition to this. So, looking forward to diving in a little bit more and seeing a lot of consistency that’s on there. Anything else that we didn’t cover that you thought maybe we would, and you want to make sure that you bring up?

Pat: I do want to bring up that if you are struggling in any way, shape, or form, there is help out there for you. Business owners who don’t get help, because they’re either afraid of not knowing what they don’t know, or they think that they should know more than they do. Nobody knows more than they do right now. I mean even people at the very top levels of companies, the CEOs of the major corporations they all have business coaches. They all have people that are advisors. They all have people that will help them because no matter how high up the food chain you are, there’s always some more to learn and every time that you uncover a problem and you solve that problem, it creates a new problem. Nobody is equipped to get to that next level to handle that next problem because you’ve never encountered it before.

You can only really handle what you already know how to do and if you don’t know how to do something, get help, get help. The other piece is don’t piecemeal things together. Look for a system that will work for you. The best companies in the world, I don’t care how small or how big they are. The ones that do the most business and have the highest profit margins are companies that have systems. So, if you’re buying in this little product and that little product and this one and that one and this one and that one trying to piecemeal them all together, you are wasting a tremendous amount of time. Engage with a company that has got a system that will fill the needs that you’ve got because otherwise, again, you’re wasting so much time and so much money and things that may or may not serve you at all.

Robert: You’re playing business versus actually doing business and yes, you’re doing this because you didn’t want to work in the corporate world, or you didn’t want the j-o-b but yet you’re ending up just over broke by not taking the right actions and asking. It’s so important being there are resources that are out there. It may not always be in the traditional avenues that you’ve heard before. It’s not the SBA. They’re focused on much larger business. They’re looking at not handling the volume shall we say of the smaller business, because they only want to deal with three or four a week, not the masses that are here. There are professionals like Pat that are out there to work with you and there’s a passion about working with you as that solopreneur, as that micro business that has a dream.

We honestly get more excited when you accomplish your goals than we do when we accomplish our own goals. There’s something wired a little bit different between the heart and the brain that comes out when we see someone else succeed. So, it’s okay. Get your ego out of the way where you’re edging God out and allow the universe to provide and here’s resources for you.

So, Pat that’s absolutely fantastic information. I look forward to our talks and, and touching base with each other as we go through. For those of you that like this episode or the episodes that we have. If you’re seeing this on YouTube, go ahead, hit the like button. If you click on the bell, it’s going to subscribe you and let you know when we have new episodes that are coming up. We’re also on all of the major players from a technology standpoint. So, if you’re Apple, Android, whatever it is, you can take us on the go. Old Zig Ziglar talked about automobile university. You can learn as you go and there are some great nuggets that Pat has there for you. Pat, I appreciate you joining us. Until next time make it a great day.

Pat: Thank you too.


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