tv Your Business MSNBC April 25, 2015 2:30am-3:01am PDT
small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express business is here to help. that's why we're proud to present "your business" here on msnbc. hi everyone. i'm j.j. ramburg and welcome to "your business." the show dedicated to helping your small business grow. it can be really frustrating if you have a product that you know people will love if you can just get it in their hands. the owner of an orlando bookstore was in that exact position. he figured out a stealth way to get his comics in front of a whole new audience. >> are you ready for nerdy karaoke? >> it's friday karaoke night, and as always it's a packed
house. >> if you don't believe me, just watch. ♪ >> look at that. >> customers are belting out the latest hits, grabbing a beer, and buying comics. buying comics? yup, buying comics. this is the brainchild of aaron halland who opened the company, a comic shop in 2006. >> i saw the record store going out of business right here in this location and i wanted to put a comic bookstore here. >> comic shops have long suffered from the stereotypes that shows like "the big bang theory" and "the simpson's" have reinforced. aaron hopes to change the stigma. >> comic book stoors are a genre. saying i don't like comics is like saying i don't like books, i don't like music, i don't like tv. i realized there was a big stumbling block where comics are seen for children or for eccentric older people that
obsess over them. >> instead of selling limited editions in pristine condition, a comic shop stocks up and coming. >> this is new this is hip, these are modern. these are what comic books and artists are working on now and share the comic book of medium as entertainment, not as collectibles week in and week out. >> the goal to make comic book reading approachable for a whole new set of consumers. at the beginning it meant talking to anyone who would listen and even offering free comics to first-timers. >> we were basically just nonstop trying to get people in here. >> and that soon evolved into holding regular social events. aaron felt confident that if he could just get people to come in, he could connect them to a series that they'd love and they'd become repeat customers. >> with a comic book it's just you and the page so i wanted to do things that got people to
communally get together and enjoy comic books together. sometimes twice a month we'd have a party with a keg of free beer, a comic book artist or writer or something going on. with that we decided, well, why not have this every weekend, every day, where we can monetize having people hanging out here. >> an idea was planted for a more official hangout spot. >> there was a space available in this strip mall but it was kind of an odd shape. i made a joke saying we can make it a speak easy and call it the geek easy. i was off the cuff. yeah, we needed to do that. well we could have a bar make it a geek theme bar like a sports bar without the sports and have it pop culture. >> in 2006 the geek easy officially opened for business. it soon became headquarters for regular readers looking for a place to find their series make new friends. >> i have a social atmosphere where i can meet all these folks
i didn't think would ever talk to me before. we have this common ground. it immediately starts did you read the latest issue of batman? and then it just sprouts out from there. when are you going on stage? when is your next round? i love it. >> it brings in locals having a good time. >> it brings people into this comic shop that would maybe never step foot in a comic shop. they have to literally walk through the comic shop to get into the geek easy. having the geek easy has introduced people to comic books in a way that is comfortable and just inviting and just kind of like -- just chill. just i'm coming in for my reasons of hanging out with my friend and having a beer and i see this comic that i heard about or this character that i heard about from something else whether it's video game or movie, and i check it out. >> and they keep coming back often with friends in tow. >> when i talk about, you know
the geek easy i tend to say, hey, it's a great place to come on friday you should come with me. a lot of people are like oh, i'll give it a shot. they're like, oh my gosh this place is so awesome. why did you never bring me here before. >> the types of events that they host are as diverse as the crowds they attract. anything with a fan base is welcome. >> well, we have a stage and whatnot. why not have the local bands play. then it got to open mic, comedy nights and plays. i'm open to basically anything that people want to do in here that has fans and that people are nice and friendly and are at least interested in comics even in just a passive way. >> as a comic shop and the geek easy continue to expand and diversify their customer bases, aaron says the potential of where the business and the industry could go is to infinity and beyond! >> i've always said there's a
comic book for everyone, even the super hero stuff. marvel and d.c. doing more comics for women, more diversity, more voices as creators and i don't think that it's going to stop. i think it's just growing and growing and growing. that's where i want to see growth is not necessarily like expanding my empire but expanding the people that are enjoying comics. >> some of those speak easy patrons might very well end up needing the services of dr. jason burke. he founded a company called hangover heaven in las vegas. it saw a 40% increase in revenue just last year. the company expects to grow more this year with services in hotel rooms. >> las vegas, a typical saturday night. >> cheers! >> this is a ritual played out across the city day after day,
but partying this hard comes with consequences. >> i've got -- just kind of got a headache you know? little questionsyasiness. >> i've definitely got a hungover. >> a greasy breakfast, a trip back to the bar, but dr. jason burke says he's found one that works. >> i was in the recovery room treating patients for postoperative nausea vomiting postoperative disorientation and thought the same medications i'm using in the recovery room might work well for a hangover. tried it on a few volunteers. >> he's made a business called hangover heaven. the board certified anesthesiologist with a medical degree from the university of north carolina promises that in about 45 minutes he can treat almost 95% of all hangover symptoms. >> physicians, nurses paramedics firefighters have been using i.v. hydration for
decades to resolve hangovers. what i've done is take it to the next level by adding in the vitamins using the antinausea medicine and antiinflammatories to deal with a las vegas level hangover. >> for his business to grow dr. burke knew that not only did he have to cure a hangover but he also had to make it convenient so he renovated an old gospel tour bus into a mobile treatment facility and hit the strip. the hangover heaven bus will make stops to pick up people and treat them right on site. the company quickly found the demand for treatment was too much for just one bus to handle so they also opened a clinic nearby the strip and transport patients by shuttle bus. clients can also opt for in room treatments. >> as you're getting the i.v. your body starts feeling better and then once you get up it's like, wow. it does. i feel great. >> it was definitely worth it. >> i feel like i did when i got
off the plane to come to vegas. >> every patient is asked to post about their experiences on the internet building up an online reputation for the business. dr. burke also created the hangover research institute to gather scientific evidence to back his claims. >> we started collecting hangover scores as part of our quality control and it's to the point where i think it's necessary to publish some of that data. >> and they've expanded the business to attract the athletes and health conscious through their i.v. vitamin therapy line vita heaven. they can come before a big race or before going out the night and get an i.v. to help them stay hydrated and in the best condition. >> it's part of the expansion plan. hangover heaven works well in a tourist area but in a more professional place like say, new york boston vita heaven might be a better entity. >> for every evangelist who's had a pounding headache disappear, there's been someone
on the other side calling foul. >> there are a lot of people saying was it a really a medical condition? these people are pretty miserable. they need to feel better. >> even though they stay playful with their marketing, dr. burke is the first to stress that at the end of the day they take people's health seriously, that includes not just treating anyone who calls. >> this is a professional medical practice. we take a medical history, vital signs, informed consent. you can't get informed consent from somebody intoxicated on alcohol or some other drug. i don't want to do anything that's going to risk the business to treat one or two people who i'm not really certain they should be treated or not. we've had plenty of people call from the bar, wherever. i'm drunk, can you pick me up? you need to sleep it off. most of the people do sleep it off and call us four or five hours later and we take care of them. >> no doubt, to do it all over again. they're still in vegas, after all.
when it's handled correctly, public relations can help your small business capture lots of attention, but if you're reckless with the media, you're going to find yourself wishing you had set up a game plan before proceeding. here are five ways you can sharpen your pr courtesy of smart ceo.com. one, understand reporter's role. journalists value their job as independent observers. pitch with their goals in mind. two, don't go to the press too early. have your release reviewed by co-workers to make sure it's both newsworthy and that the information will benefit the editor's target audience of readers. three, develop long-term relationships. pr is a process, not an event. you have to be patient and willing to consistently deliver reader valuable messages that make your business an asset to the media. four be honest about bad news.
in a negative situation, a company's character and style will greatly influence how the press proceeds and writes about it. and, five use your top management. nothing helps gain coverage like making your ceo available for interviews. when you think about creating videos for your business, do not get overwhelmed with the idea of creating something perfect and expensive. there are so many things you can do with just your smartphone or your tablet and there are a lot of areas on your site or in social media or in your store where you can utilize video to help your company. >> hi i'm matt tomsha. you may have heard of me as the effective detective or seen some of my videos. i help business owners like you. >> so that's an example of one that's kind of leak a commercial. there are all kinds of things you can do. ruth sherman is president of ruth sherman associates, a strategic communications consulting firm that helps firms
develop compelling content. it's so good to see you, ruth. >> great to be with you j.j. >> i think people need to understand, it doesn't need to be perfect and beautiful, but it needs to be compelling. >> you know we always say that perfection is the enemy of getting it done right? >> yes. >> so we all have these video paraphernalia at our fingertips. we have the phones we have the smart phones we have ipads and tablets, we have computers. >> but you have to think, i need to be able to -- i need to want to watch this right? i can't take out my phone and start videoing things. it has to be something people want to see. >> it depends. what we were just watching was matt tomshow who is a coach. he helps people find out who their customers are and goes into the data and helps them to sell better stuff to their existing customers. >> in his particular case it makes sense to show him because what he is selling is himself. >> that's exactly right. >> let's look at a video you brought us where someone is using it in a retail store. >> sure. >> can you imagine that this
could become this? hi. i'm ann greenberg, founder of the underground chic a collection of stylish, eco friendly hand bags and, yes, they are made from recycled plastic bottles. >> what does she use that for? >> what ann uses that for is she is a manufacturer and designer of those eco friendly handbags. vegan leather. >> whoever sees that video? how does she get people to look at it? >> when she is at these shows she has it playing and she also has it on her website so it's super important if you're an entrepreneur to be able to shoot a video that shows your stuff. if you think about handbags it's very hard to get the feel of them just from photos. they're two dimensional, but a video enables her to show exactly what they're made of and talk a little bit about how valuable they'd be to somebody. >> i look at something like that and it's interesting, it tells
her story, but it didn't grab me in the kind of way that it would make me keep watching it. and so if i'm doing a deal with her, right, or i'm waiting for her at her booth i would probably sit around and watch that and then it's very compelling, right? >> absolutely. absolutely. the thing that you need to remember is that she is not out there speaking for example, so this is a way for people to get a feel for who she is and what she does and her personality. so it's about how do i relate to my customers? do they like me? >> let's look at one other video that you brought, someone from professional services. >> welcome. today i'm going to address a question so many ceos have asked me recently and that is what should a ceo be doing on the financial side of business? now this is a very good question because there are numerous functions and duties on the financial side. >> so what's the purpose of this video? how do you use it? >> what barbara's doing is she's doing a training video. she's giving information. now it's a very interesting
thing because training videos don't have to be long they can be five minutes each. that's what she did. this was one of three training videos that barbara shot because her job, she's a former partner in a big new york city law firm and finance partner. now what she does is she helps businesses get funded whether that's at a bank or angel investor which she also is or vc, so she's trying to get them -- >> giving them a little tease, here's content, this is what i do i'm giving this for free and now come in and hire me. >> correct. if you want to work with me. >> all right. ruth, thank you so much for coming in and bringing these examples, we really appreciate it. >> my pleasure j.j. thank you. online video is one tool entrepreneurs can use to boost their businesses. let's get more suggestions from our viewers on what online tools and apps they use to help run their small companies. >> we use snap seed. it's a digital editing app.
we use it to edit all of our photos before we post them to any digital platform. >> one website we use is shipping easy.com. we're an ecommerce business that ships using united states postal service, also ups and fed ex and we find that it's one click, we can print a shipping label, it talks to the back end of our store and it has saved us so much time. >> we use tax star and manage our online sales tax responsibilities. as online sellers, we collect sales tax from many jurisdictions, and it's difficult to keep track so tax jar to the rescue. they will track all our sales tax collected, provide us with reports and they will file all the reports for all the states that require it. >> i use the app zite. it takes all the blog articles and puts them all in place based on the interests that you plug
into it. for me it's a great place to find content outside of my area so i'm in craft and diy. i can look at craft and diy but i can also look at other interests. it will give me some really unique content that everybody that's in my sphere isn't already sharing. i can share that on social media, i can get inspired and i can keep up to date with news. >> one really wonderful app that i rely on i use it on my tablet, is hours tracker. it allows me to categorize all my different jobs i do for my different customers and keep track of the time i spend and i can go in and add details, what i did, which projects really customize it. i can tell my customers exactly what i did when i did it and how long it took. there's still more advice ahead to help your small business. we'll talk about the most important traits for new hires and how to determine if a customer just isn't a right fit for your business.
american express for travel and entertainment worldwide. just show them this - the american express card. don't leave home without it! and someday, i may even use it on the moon. it's a marvelous thing! oh! haha! so you can replace plane tickets, traveler's cheques, a lost card. really? that worked? american express' timeless safety and security are now available on apple pay. the next evolution of membership is here. today's "your biz selfie" comes from matt hampton of west memphis, arkansas. he's from elevate. we love getting these pictures
so please send us a selfie of you in your business. e-mail it to your firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @msnbcyourbiz and use #yourbizselfie. it's time to answer some of your business questions. let's get our board of directors in here to help us out. leor is the president of a consulting firm. he's also author of the new book "exceptionalize it." stop boring start exciting your customers, employees and yourself. and casandra is owner of overboots. i love how your book says excite yourself. >> absolutely. >> that's so important because a bunch of years in and your eyes start to roll back maybe and you need to keep that excitement. >> absolutely. >> let's get to the first question. it is about hiring. >> i have a question about
staffing. does one focus on skills or customer service? >> that's a great question. >> for me that's a great question. you can train a potato to become a carrot. to me customer becomes first. there's a story of an online bank in the u.k. they hired social workers and nurses. banking we can teach them. attitude, loving people caring for people wanting to help people you can't teach that. >> what do you think, casandra? >> i agree. i think it's so important to realize that both are very important. if you don't focus on customer service, respect your customers, keep them wanting to come back you're not going to have a business. so it's paramount to make sure that they're both equally important. >> got it. i mean, i think it's true also when we hire we hire for cultural fit. >> absolutely. >> that's -- >> and that's probably the most important. >> absolutely. you have to have a base of skills but you need to have a
good cultural fit and you need to be curious and especially as a small company that's growing, you need to be able to be flexible because the job you have today may not be the job you have in three months from now. >> your employee is your brand ambassador. you don't know when they're in front of the customer. i don't care if they're mopping the floor, they may be facing a customer that came late and the store is closed. they need to have the same attitude and values that you want to exude to your customers. as far as we concern, everyone is in the customer service business. >> okay. let's move onto the next question about your ideal client. >> just because a customer is paying doesn't always mean that they're the right customer so how do i pick the right customer for my business? >> good example. we have someone who comes on the show les mckeown who gave us a tip. at the end of the year rate them a, b, c. get rid of the c customers. they're probably taking a lot of
time and you're not making a lot of money off them. >> i think it's so important to stay keenly focused on what are the long-term goals of your business review your business plan and make sure you're always aware of where you want to be and be very focused on who your customers are. like you said list them rate them survey them. maybe it's getting on the phone and getting -- talking to them or doing a survey. figure out which customers are best serving those long-term goals of your business and then do more of you know the messaging, the marketing that attracted those best couples for you. >> it's hard to fire a customer though. >> oh, absolutely. >> you're growing a business. it's still known hand. >> it is. this is a critical piece here. you need to first come with the mentality that you understand not every customer is a good customer. we need to let go of those cliches, every customer is right. some customers are wrong. the questions is what are the definitions? couple of things. first, be wear of the coupon customers. some are coming for the
discount they don't appreciate your value proposition at full price. they will have values that are not profitable. some will ask you to do things that are not within your core competence or future growth. those type of customers, probably not going to be your long-term customers, you might as well send them to the competition. another area is what we call unforgiving customers, no matter what you are going to do, they're never going to be happy. you made a mistake, they will remember it for a long time. if they can't find a win-win environment, they belong somewhere else. you need to be concerned about what is the criteria? what will make them a good customer for you? the rule of thumb is it's not about the architecture it's not about top line it's about bottom line. are they profitable on their own, not as part of a pool of customers. that should guide every business owner. as much as it is money in our pocket, we cannot afford to lose money because they're dragging resources out the door. >> sometimes people who do not
bring us profit take up a lot of time. >> we need to be more sophisticated about what is the right customer. most business owners don't bother to sit down and say, this is my ideal customer. >> let's move onto the last one. it's a question about your social strategy. >> do you have a solution for the core issue of social media management? because you don't have necessarily as a business owner have time to manage it yourself and you need to automate it but the foundation of social media's success is really about relationship building. >> let's start with you because you deal with social media. >> yeah. i -- i'm actually a little 1k5ird of the word automate. i don't know exactly what he means by that but i would be weary of just automating it where you have no input. i think social media is the voice of your brand. >> i think by automate he simply means scheduling things right? you can schedule things. >> yeah that you know you can do, as long as it's authentic and it conveys the voice of your brand. and if time management is really
an issue, consider doing less platforms of social media. you know facebook has been really successful for us and it's -- sometimes i wonder if we should have just started with facebook from the beginning and focus only on that one because then you can really do it best. >> you can automate right? but then add to it during the day. >> so i do automate. i do automate but here's what i do. i dedicate a time in the month where i'm thinking about what do i want to tell to my audience? i'm trying to humanize it. it's the brand, but i'm trying to speak for myself build up -- i'll dedicate two hours a month, these are my core messages. this is what i want to say to them. i'm thinking about it. and then the timing becomes less relevant to me then my team can go automate it put it out there whenever it's out there but it's still my authentic voice. don't automate or outsource your authentic voice. make sure it's distribution that's automated but your own message, your own authentic
human voice remains the same. >> what tool do you use? >> i don't. >> that's your team? i should be calling someone on your team. you wroo it it down and they push it out. >> as a business owner i make sure that i personally you know, kind of focus on what is my message and humanize it. that's the key word for me. don't make it sound commercial. >> that's the interesting thing, too. a lot of people want to hire outside companies, interns, et cetera, to do it which is okay but it has to be your voice. don't automate the content. make sure you're behind that content creation or you know at least making sure that outside entity really knows your business as an insider. >> right. exactly. thanks, you guys. thanks so much for seeing you both. >> thank you. >> thanks for coming on and giving us your voice. thank you for joining us today. if you want to see any of our show again we put it on the website open forum.com/your business. we've added additional segments with more great tips on how to grow your business. you can follow us on twitter
it's @msnbcyourbiz and we are on facebook and instagram as well. next week what's your relationship like with your would be competition? we introduce you to one entrepreneur who believes collaborating is actually better than competing. >> even when we talk to friends or family about it they're like you work together with your competitor? and, yeah. i mean the answer is yes, we do. >> we'll tell you why you might want to give your competition a second look if you have things like customers and products in common. till then, i'm j.j. ramburg and remember, we make your business our business. american express for travel and entertainment worldwide. just show them this - the american express card. don't leave home without it! and someday, i may even use it on the moon. it's a marvelous thing! oh! haha! so you can replace plane tickets, traveler's cheques, a lost card.
really? that worked? american express' timeless safety and security are now available on apple pay. the next evolution of membership is here. i'm dara brown. breaking news to tell you about in nepal. a magnitude 7.9 earthquake has hid near kathmandu. at least 71 people have been killed. many are being treated for injuries at the main hospital. the 6.6 magnitude aftershock hit an hour after the national quake. they are warning people to stay outdoors to maintain calm because more aftershocks are feared. rescue crews are on the scene. this is an area densely populated with 2.5 million people with poorly constructed homes held on