Small Business Solutions - Bob Debbas
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Bob Debbas of We Are discusses his company's involvement in the SEMA 2008 show with Bob Debbas is an expert in marketing and has excellent advice for your business.


Ivy Hartman: Welcome to dot com's coverage of the SEMA Show 2008 in Las Vegas. I am Ivy Hartman and with me is Bob Debbas, CEO, We Are Logos dot com. Bob is a marketing expert, he is sharing some of his expertise and his time with us today. Thank you for being here. Bob Debbas: Nice meeting you. Ivy Hartman: I will talk a little bit about your background on marketing and your expertise. Bob Debbas: Well, first, my undergrad was in marketing and then I did an MBA in finance, then I taught seven years, I guess, around 2000 to 2007 at Notre Dame University, and now I am writing a couple of books about marketing as well as I am a Senior Foreign Correspondent for one of the largest marketing magazines outside of the United States, but I am based out of the states actually. Ivy Hartman: Interesting, so are you writing as a correspondent on the issues in the Unites States or you writing - Bob Debbas: No, on the trade shows that happen in the US. I interview authors. I interview CEOs of huge companies, etc. I have interviewed, for example, Seth Godin and I interviewed Robert Cialdini, different people from different walks of life. Ivy Hartman: What brought you to the SEMA show here in Las Vegas? Bob Debbas: I think the Auto industry and Auto part industry is huge and I also heard that it was one of the largest ten up, biggest shows in the US. Actually I think, if I am not wrong, it's the sixth largest show. And I am quite surprised at the numbers. I am very pleased actually that the numbers are there. And - Ivy Hartman: -- yeah for the Automotive industry. We are being a small business, a television company. We are always interested in the marketing aspects, some dos and don'ts as far as small business goes. So what are some of the most beneficial or marketing techniques that are most effective for a small business owner? Bob Debbas: Well small businesses don't have as much dollars to spend as corporations; I would say MNCs. MNCs, Multi National Companies tend to spend as much as they can afford, whereas small businesses can't afford that much. And therefore they have tighter budgets, and a small budget, for example, let's say $5000 or 10,000, if they don't track it, then and know what's the ROI on it, the Return On Investment, then the problem is that they might be wiped out with that. So the importance is to track every thing you do, and one thing that I advice small businesses to do is, for example, if you are gonna be doing a postcard campaign, and let's say in the Miami area, well, just put call mike, Miami call mike, so M-N-M. Or if you are gonna do at the next day in Georgia, then say call Gilly. And this way even though you don't have anybody in the office call Gilly or Mike, well, this way you know that it has been effective from that stage or from that market. Ivy Hartman: Interesting, I was gonna ask you about how do you track it, the marketing and that's one effective way to do it, really interesting. What are some techniques that are overlooked or is marketing one of those things that's overlooked in a small business? Bob Debbas: Well to be honest with you, marketing is the last thing that most companies think about because it's an expense. In reality, it should be thought of as an investment. I mean, let's think of some companies out there, I am gonna give you three or four, one yesterday, Elton John. I am giving you Elton John because he is performing here. It's called the Red Piano, his concert. Had he called it the black piano, do you think that it would have made any sense? Well, Red Piano, that's what Seth Godin calls the Purple cow. It's something unexpected, it's awesome, it's different. Ivy Hartman: What is expected from John -- Bob Debbas: -- from Sir Elton John, absolutely, absolutely, but unexpected from any other performer and that's the beauty of it. That's why he can pack 4300 people on a daily basis, in Vegas, 15 shows and they are all sold out. And he is coming three times at a cost $ 100 to 400. So it becomes an experiential marketing and we can talk about that one day, but so this is just one brand. I will take another brand, for example, Mac users. Mac users, although I am not a Mac user, but a lot of my employees are Mac users, Gung Ho. They are evangelists. They try to like convince you, that if you are not using a Mac, you are like a loser. Ivy Hartman: Yeah, it's like wait, you are losing. Bob Debbas: I am like, okay fine. So one of these days I am gonna become a Mac user. Another brand that I think has done an incredible job at branding itself is the Hogs or the Harley Davidson's basically. And that is another brand that has done an incredible job of having people reach out and get other people to ride motorcycles. At one point if you think about it, 10-15 years ago, Harley was in the run and today Harley Davidson has outperformed many other motorcycle companies because of its customer loyalty and that's so important, Customer loyalty, the lifetime value of the customer. Ivy Hartman: This is all part of the brand image? Bob Debbas: Absolutely, it's so important, what marketers talk about the integrated marketing communication because you see, unfortunately, many small businesses will have a business card that does not look - the logo on the business card does not look like the logo on their web site or they will have a, for example, a AOL address on their business card, etc, etc. All of this does not bode well for a company that is going to come and buy from them and so it's very important to watch everything and it's very important to dot the eyes all the time, to see the detail, detail is very important. Ivy Hartman: Which is interesting because all small business owners usually have an idea and they can may be really do know what they know in that industry really well but they may not know marketing really well. So is this something that needs to be outsourced? Bib Debbas: Well it doesn't have to be totally outsourced. You can do it in-house but you need to have experts in marketing helping you out and also you are absolutely correct, the reason being is that a lot of small businesses come, invent something, so they are inventors, so they are engineers, they come from an analytical background. Very few people have the luxury to have creative minds and at the same time product minds and if you do then you are a genius. I don't have an inventing mind. I have a creative mind. And so when a product developer comes, well you will bring, you will put on something, but it doesn't look phenomenal, it doesn't look awesome, and then in this day and age where there is a thousand drinks, you better do something that will wow the customer and say well this is what I want. Ivy Hartman: Well let's talk about wowing the customer at a trade show. So let's talk about trade show success, how can we help our small business viewers with that? Bob Debbas: I will give you an example of one of my clients which we just did, he is 16 years old. I mean, believe it or not, he is 16, I would email him and he is like - I am so - he emails me back and he tells me I am in class, I will call you in two hours. And he can't even talk on the phone, or his phone would be taken out. But he is a multi - I mean I can't disclose, but he does extremely, extremely well. So let's put it what we did for him. At a trade show, we did, [Indiscernible] branding if you would like. We did something totally different. Well he brought a cigar roller. A person who does cigars and he gave every person that once a cigar, on the spot with a cigar cutter and a lighter. Ivy Hartman: That's a fabulous gift. Bob Debbas: Absolutely and you know the line how long it was, like 60-70 in it, and people were coming, he ran out, by the fourth hour or fifth hour he ran out of cigars. Now his booth was blogged to death the next day. He got so much publicity at that trade show, it was called AV tech show, it just happened like two days ago, that he was thrilled. He booked two trade shows next. He expanded his booth twice and he wants to order three times more items from us now for his next show. And this is a sixteen year old and this is in a tight economy or what we call a depressed economy. But in reality if you know how to brand yourself, if you know how to niche yourself, if you have an idea, and you have a good product, it starts with a good product, then definitely, definitely you can make it. Ivy Hartman: Okay you had mentioned blogging, but how big or how much importance do social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter play a role in a small business marketing plan? Bob Debbas: Well it's -- I can't even stress how important that is. I am going to give you a political example, not because, I want to take sides. I want to take it from a business perspective. Obama had more than a million plus people on Twitter whereas John McCain had less than a 100,000. Again that says a lot about who is online. Second, Facebook, it's the Facebook generation, I call it Facebook generation, social media generation. We see that Obama had more than 7 million people. You have the Obama girl or whatever her name was and that was so viral, so viral. I received it at least 40-50 times. At least, you know and so how could I now watch the Obama girl and I just looked in and I am like, Okay, Obama girl, and then I passed it around to my friends. And again John McCain had less than 6-700,000 people on Facebook following him whereas Obama had 6-7 million. But this is the important thing, not from a political perspective. So what is it going to do to a business? How a business that is not doing anything on Twitter, that is not doing anything on Facebook, MySpace etcetera, is not capitalizing on Web 2.0 and that is the essence of the next, the future. Ivy Hartman: You are on a roll there, but it's important to know too so maybe your business needs to market to that generation or to those users or maybe there isn't always that possibility that, that's not who your end user is. So may be that's not as effective as - Bob Debbas: Absolutely, absolutely because you see it depends if your target audience - because it all comes back to target audience, if your target audience, especially if you are a B2C Company, Business to Consumer and your target audience is under 30-35, then definitely go for it. An dif it's 55-60 - but then again I am contradicting myself, my mom is on Facebook, but then she is a Dean of the University. I mean how is it possible that my mom is on Facebook and she is like, I mean she was the chairman of the university, I mean how is it possible that my mom is on Facebook and here I am saying I am on Facebook as well. So it's inter-generational Facebook. So we can say oh well you know what, it's not going to cater to users who are over 40 or its gonna only cater to 18 to 25. Ivy Hartman: So I guess that's would be where tracking comes into importance? Bob Debbas: Absolutely. Ivy Hartman: You are putting in - if you are arguing using those outlets then you want to make sure, we talk a lot about eco companies and effectively using that angle, consumers are looking for that eco friendly product or green marketing, would you care to speak about that? Bob Debbas: Oh! Absolutely, actually in my company because we saw that it's such an important aspect of marketing which we call green and also you could call it social marketing because its part of social causes as well, etcetera. We have brought about 400 new promotional items, if not more that are green, totally green, that are eco friendly. And a lot of companies are hiring us for - to give out promotional items that are totally eco-friendly products. And that's very important. Also from the environmental perspective, you have bio-degradable products, etcetera, all that is extremely important for the environment and for the future. And consumers these days and even business owners want to know if you as a company are taking care of the environment. If they are gonna spend their dollar they wanna know that their dollar is well spent and that it is an ethical company. Ivy Hartman: With the holidays coming up, can you give any advice, it' November, and you have any advice for last minute marketing for a small business owner and the retail industry or whatever for the holidays? Bob Debbas: I would say use postcards very well because that's cheap, it doesn't take much money, use postcards. As much as possible, use also the Internet. Try to go for local search because companies these days want to work with local companies sometimes. At the same time there is shipping problems, shipping costs, because of the fact that prices of oil too - they have gone down, but still as opposed to a year ago or a year and half ago, it's still way up. So some people like to work with you on a local basis. So be part of the chamber of commerce, very important, these chambers of commerce, be active in your community, give back, I mean it's such - its so important, we go back to the basics here. I mean companies need to, I urge every single, when I was a professor, I urged every single one of my students to give ten percent of his profits, one of these days when he has his own company to charity. It's so important to give back to charity especially on the holiday season, at a time when we have a depressed economy to try to help someone else. Ivy Hartman: And how does that help the business other than helping others in that field or that aspect? Bob Debbas: Again as you know, I personally when I am about to give money - I mean not give, when I am about to spend my dollar at a company, well I truly want to know if that company does give a percentage of it's sales to a charity. There are restaurants that, for example, give out their - as soon as they open, they give their first day's total revenue total charity. I think that's awesome. I think that's beautiful. And it goes to a charity within the neighborhood. So everybody knows about that restaurant. And it's a small thing, what's ten grand or five grand, but you know it's a blessing, its something nice and I personally think it's such a sweet thing to do. Ivy Hartman: And the community will give back in turn to that - Bob Debbas: Absolutely. Ivy Hartman: Bob Debbas with We Are Logos dot com with us on the Small Business Television, very informational, very important. Keep it on as SBTV dot com as we continue to bring you more news and information here for your small business.