tv Your Business MSNBC January 25, 2014 2:30am-3:01am PST
these california produce growers saw limited success with the fruits of their labor until they discovered that it's all about the brand. what they did to have their product stand out in the marketplace, coming up next on "your business." help. small businesses are revitalizing the economy, and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business," on msnbc.
hi there, everyone, i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." the minimum wage is an issue that is front and center right now and we'll likely be hearing even more about it as we get closer to the midterm elections. there's a democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over three years from the $7.25 it is now. some cities and states have already taken the matter into their own hands, raising the minimum wage in their areas. now we wanted to take a look at this debate from the perspective of small business owners. will raising the bar help or hurt small business? brian cohen says there is no question, the minimum wage is too low. he is the chairman of new york angels, which has invested over $53 million in more than 70 early-stage technology companies. and he's also author of the book "what every angel investor wants to know." and carol roth is here to take the other side saying we should keep things as they are. carol is a cnbc contributor, a
former investment banker, an entrepreneur and investor, and she's also a best-selling author. great to see both of you guys. >> you, too. >> you, too. >> so this is a complicated issue. let's start off by saying that but i want to give you each a chance to say why you think it's right. why you think it's wrong. brian, let's start with you. >> it isn't complicated. we love to incentivize people to do good. i don't think there's anybody in this room right now that would do more for less. and we've been asking people today to do more for less. service is the driven economy that everybody understands the u.s. is in. if people are going to provide better service, they better like the jobs they've got, and they better not be paid sub-poverty wages. >> got it. so we pay them more. people are happier. the economy is better. >> absolutely clear. >> okay, carol? >> so i think this debate isn't about what the appropriate wage is, it's about the legislation. at the end of the day, nobody owes anybody a job. and if you take a job, you have the opportunity to decide whether or not that is an appropriate wage for your skill. i have a huge problem with this for small business owners
because small business owners invest their own capital, and nobody is guaranteeing their wages. and we know small business owners sometimes take one, two, three or even longer in terms of years to even turn a profit. so now you're telling me as a small business owner that i all of a sudden owe you a certain amount of money and i've risked my own capital and i might not even be getting that. i don't think that that's fair and i think that this is going to hurt not only the jobs but entrepreneurship because the bar becomes higher. there is no exemption whatsoever. if you're a stay at home mom and you want to hire the mom down the street to help you start something up, there is no exemption for that. there is no saying that you know we're going to come up with this agreement, and decide amongst ourselves, between two parties, negotiate between two parties what makes sense for us to get this off the grid. so i am not advocating for any particular wage. i'm just saying leave it up to the parties at hand. >> got it. okay. and so then small businesses may not hire as many people. >> they may not hire as many people. they may not have the
opportunity to even start. because the risk to start a business, as you know, is tremendous. so now the bar becomes higher, because you know if you want to grow your next employee is going to be even more expensive. i think it's going to disincensivize people to start businesses, and i think for the low income people who are looking to get their foot in the door and get some skills and build a resume so that they can move up the ladder because that's in my opinion what an entry level job should be, a way to start out and then move along, it's going to make it harder because people are either going to try to replace them with technology or bring in somebody who has a higher set of skills. >> by your reasoning, lower is better, right? >> no. >> i don't know any one of those small businesses that is going to look towards the lowest amount of money they can pay somebody, right? that's your reasoning. >> it's not necessarily the reasoning. it's up to two parties. there are certain businesses that may have a model that say we need to hire people at a certain level that's higher and there may be business models that say that we need to hire somebody at a lower rate. making it dependent on the business model. as you know, every business is
completely different. what works for a fast food joint isn't going to work for a law firm. so we're leaving it up to the parties and leaving the government out of the equation as much as possible here because again at the end of the day nobody owes you a job. >> the free market system continues to be a big challenge. people think that if we just leave everything alone, business will figure it out. in the history of that, it's really been driving down the people who are most poverty stricken. they get lower wages and lower wages and lower wages. that's history. all the economics, by the way, about paying people more money, all the economics about poor people, by the way, getting more money, they put that money back into the system. >> but, brian -- >> economic policy institute, they said it will create $25 billion in more revenue which will have more people buying more products. but if you do it at a federal level, you know what happens. the entire system moves up. so it's not just the person who gets the minimum wage who gets more, it's the person who is just above that. if the guy's getting the minimum wage and that's up, i want up. the entire system increases in
terms of inflation, and the person at the end of the spectrum is still not able to sustain themselves. we need people to have better skills. we don't need to pay people more for having the same skills. we need to find ways to incentivize people to come into the system and to build up their skill level so that they can get better jobs. >> it's not a good argument. i think the federal government -- >> i think it's a fantastic argument. >> i don't think so. i think it's empty. i think that the federal government is supposed to protect us, right? don't you agree? >> no, i do not think the federal government is supposed to protect us. >> i think the federal government is supposed to protect us. >> are they protecting small business owners? are they guaranteeing small business owners income? >> i think the federal government -- >> -- some degree in not -- >> do you think the small business owners income should be guaranteed and by whom? >> i don't think it's an issue of guarantee, i think it's an issue of model. the issue of guarantee is a question of -- >> that's what we're doing. we're guaranteeing a minimum wage. >> you said model. i said a business model is a guarantee. >> are you going to guarantee a minimum wage -- >> an individual who works for a company shouldn't be below the
poverty line. you do. >> i absolutely don't. >> you think do -- >> we definitely have a philosophical argument about where the government should play a role. but i'm interested in the economic argument which you guys both touched on. so thank you very much for engaging in this debate with us. and we'll probably have you back to talk about this again, because this issue is not going to go away. thanks so much, you guys. i've been thinking a lot recently about branding. your branding is the thing that to the outside world distinguishes you from all of your competitors. look at the history of the word. it comes from branding cattle. which farmers did so that they knew theirs from their neighbors. well today's story isn't about cattle. it's about avocados and limes and some other fruits and vegetables. but it is still about farmers designating what's theirs. in this case for customers. these farmers learned that once you establish a brand, everything gets easier. it becomes a shortcut that lets your customers know exactly what
to expect. >> when i first came to work here we had a zero dollar marketing budget and i was put in charge of marketing. >> for jim shanley and his daughter megan producing top grade fruits and vegetables on their family farm has never been a problem. but, getting national name brand recognition for their produce, that's been mighty tough. >> marketing your products is never easy no matter how unique they are, or how wonderful the presentation is. >> my dad had to sit me down and say, there's not that money there. so think of another way. and as much as i despised him for it, i'm thankful for it now because it's opened my eyes to how many different ways you can grow about it. >> the shanleys grow small scale specialty crops on top of this hill in california. >> we grow avocados, finger
limes. we grow lemons which are packed at a generic packing house and go out that way. kiwis which we market under the sierra sweet kiwi brand. >> at first they put everything into creating individual brands for each product. they then distributed those branded products through independent retailers. like giovanni's fish market. gourmet restaurants like taco temple. and national chains like whole foods. >> it's almost hand to hand combat to get to all the places. >> since most people think avocados are pretty much all the same, the shanleys felt they had to shout out what makes their avocados so special. so they created the brand name morro bay to spotlight the unusual growing climate which gives their fruit its unique taste. >> in fact, an avocado is not an avocado. a bottle of wine is not a bottle of wine. there's a cabernet. there's a merlot. there's a chardonnay. and guess what?
we grow avocados in morro bay because they grow very slowly and produce a very, very rich creamy texture at the late end of the season. >> and the customers got it. >> this year we had customers in may asking when the morro bay avocados were going to come. >> jeff biddle is the pacific region buyer for whole foods. >> we're in such a different microclimate there's no book. >> he says the morro bay label launched the shanley's avocados into its own category. >> if all they wanted was an avocado, we had plain old avocados. they wanted morro bay. >> but avocados aren't the only product of their brand. shea also produce an exotic citrus fruit native to australia. >> when i discovered finger limes at a citrus variety exhibition i thought they were the coolest thing i'd ever seen and i just needed to plant some. and if you cut a finger lime open and squeeze it, out emerges spherical juice vesicles which explode with lemony lime flavor when your teeth crush it.
quite unlike a sensation you've experienced before. >> jim shanley and shanley farms turned me on to these things roughly about a year ago. it blows everybody's mind. nobody knows what they are. they're exceptional. >> when they can get a high end chef like adam pollard, owner of taco temple, to sample the limes, megan and jim say they know they'll easily make a sale. but getting the attention of the general public is not so easy. >> think about a consumer walking in to the produce department of a grocery store. they're not there to explore, typically. they're there to get dinner. >> that's why jim and megan put so much effort into creating a catchy name brand for their limes. >> we rebranded them citriburst to emphasize the flavor you would experience and the texture you would get. >> while morro bay avocados and citriburst limes were getting good traction, the shanley family found any time they would launch a new product they would have to create a whole new brand which then required a whole new meeting with store buyers to
introduce it. >> you are consuming the same amount of time as somebody has ten things to talk about, that might be of value to that particular person. so it's harder to get started. >> that is how the shanleys learned there is a lot more to branding than just naming and explaining a product. they discovered that if they put everything under one name, shanley farms, they could get a lot more bang for their buck. >> when jim and megan first came to me, i don't think they were branding themselves as shanley farms avocados. the concept was more morro bay. >> jeff was the one who helped me understand how important the shanley farms brand was going to be in our world that we were entering. >> i knew that they had more items in the pipeline. and so that shanley farms needed to be on everything. so i really encouraged them, you know, to think about that two or three years down the road. >> i was telling the right story about the products we were selling. but i never spent any time telling our story.
and after a meeting with jeff from whole foods, he helped me understand how important it was to put the shanley farms logo on our product line. >> through jeff's guidance jim and megan came to see that buyers and consumers would be more open to new and unfamiliar products, if they were presented as part of a larger shanley farms family of brands. much like ipad and ipad are part of the apple family of brands. >> the shanley farms brand is the umbrella that all the other brands sit under. if you see something with our farm's name on it. >> and it makes scheduling a meeting easier. >> my rate of return on phone calls has really gone up since we've been able to establish ourselves in the produce world, and build this brand of shanley farms. >> the brand of our supplier matters in that sense. because that's what the customers are looking for. >> i want to give you another example of a company that's done a really good job branding itself. man in kilts. when we reported on this window
washing company a few years ago, it only had two north american locations. they now have 11 franchises in nine locations and according to the franchise business review get high satisfaction ratings from the franchisees. all of this growth, because the piece of green plaid cloth. a window washer at work on a sunny afternoon. it's not an unusual sight. but in a kilt? >> we have a lot of fun with it. corporate policy, you got to wear something underneath. >> for nicholas brand it all started with a simple idea that took root in 2002. >> i decided on starting a window cleaning business. we're trying to come up with it as an idea. a name. and i met with a couple friends having a couple drinks, not drunk, and one of my buddies blurted out you should wear your kilt because you're scottish. and you know, at first we all had a laugh and then i thought, that's not a bad idea. people won't forget us. >> and that was how the window washing company men in kilts was born. wearing a kilt that his wife
made him, nicholas went door-to-door offering his window washing services. right away, his outfit was an attention grabber. now, you can see kilt-clad window washers and tartan vehicles at work in all the major cities in canada and seattle. theresa wood is one of nicholas' business partners, and was vice president of operations with 1-800-got-junk and during her time there she saw the company go from 40 franchises to 350. she sees the same growth potential for men in kilts. >> in canada, i was the first market i really looked at there's no national brand at all. and in the states there's some national brands but they're not offering the mix of services that we're offering. >> wherever they go, heads turn. and some of the onlookers become future customers. like debbie mcdonald, owner of a branch of the seattle coffee shop forza. >> they were in the neighborhood and i saw their truck and they actually came over to our business, we had just been open for about a week, and were letting us know about their services. and i gave them a try and they
were amazingly professional, and really flexible with my schedule. so it's been great. >> even though the company is quick to play up the humor of their brand, underneath the kilts, it's all about providing their customers with the best experience possible. >> the kilts are just a way to be remembered. stick out from the crowd. but, the real business model is providing world-class service. >> eleanor trainer is one of their customers. she uses their services for both her business, which gets properties ready to sell, and her own home. >> i heard about men in kilts, i saw their truck on the street, and was drawn to the no peeking, and the kilts. i started using the kilts in sort of an emergency situation. we had another vendor who was supposed to do the same work, and they didn't show up. so we called men in kilts and they came in and pinch-hit and did a great job, blew us away, so we started using them exclusively. >> but for as many people as the name attracted it also confused others. >> we find that people are saying, i see those guys in kilts all over the place. i see those trucks that are
tartan all over the place. when we ask people, what do those guys in kilts do? they say, that's a good question, i'm not sure. so our challenge has been making sure that we remind people that the services we offer. we have to basically get ahead of the kilt. >> today the company has seven franchises up and running and five in the pipeline. their goal, many, many, many more men in kilts washing windows. when we come back, innovator insight from zappos ceo tony shea. we'll tell you how to leverage social media sites linkedin and tumblr for your small business and teach you how to reach those customers who want nothing to do with social media. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple
american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. vision. i think it's really important to create a vision with meaning, that goes beyond just being number one, or making money. so, for zappos, for example, we went from the vision of being the number one seller in shoes to really being about the best company for customer service. and what we found was that when the vision had a lot more meaning that employees gravitated towards it and were a lot more enthusiastic and passionate about the company, and the customers could sense that.
>> let's catch up with what's hot in the world of entrepreneurship, with three things you need to know about small business this week. 2014 ended on a positive note for the nation's small businesses. the nfib's monthly optimism index was up 1.4 points in december, to 93.9. a majority of small business owners in the survey expected better economic conditions in the next six months, and were hopeful about increased revenue and profit. president obama has announced his nominee to become the permanent administrator of the small business administration. maria contreras-sweet founded and chairs the board of latino owned pro-america bank in los angeles, which provides capital to small and midsize businesses. that nomination now goes to the senate for confirmation. and small business website's new survey of 1100 small business owners asked who they got their best business advice from. top answer, 27% said another business owner. 20% said an industry expert or
business role model. you may already be posting videos on facebook. and twitter, but how about on linkedin and tumbler. one, mix in videos. add links as an attachment or post them into the status update box on linkedin. people who are used to your text based post will appreciate the change of pace. next, use attractive stills. three, give it a blurb. give a quick sentence or two that lets the viewer know what they're in store for. four, choose the right format, t upload material that fits in with the site's feel and look. keep it short and dynamic.
five, optimize videos. give each post a key word, rich description and tag it with words built into the search engine. >> it's time to answer some of your business questions. ted carcass is the chairman and ceo of cold-eze cough drops. great to see you. >> you too. >> our top five was about reaching customers through social media. here's a question about clients who don't use it. >> 40% of the companies here are trying to advertise online, twitter, facebook, our clients are not online. they're not searching for services to help them online. how do we get to our clients, to our potential clients leads to get us business? >> time machine back to 1996. >> his clients are hermits that do not go online.
i don't think you can have the excuse that your clients don't go online, even if they're not on social media. you still need to have the web presence. you need to be able to have an online presence so when somebody wants to look you up, there's some information. you can't abandon online all together. if you look at your existing client base, that's the best way to get new clients. how did you get the clients you have had? always start with what you have instead of looking for everything else. carol, i couldn't agree with you more. our product we sell in 40,000 stores around the country. less than 1% of sales are online. we would be ripped apart if we didn't have a presence. it's about credibility. it's not all about e-commerce
but credibility. you could have a pizzeria down the block, somebody will look it up, see the mailing address, telephone number. if you're not there, they're going somewhere else. >> but he shouldn't be spending time on social media if that's not where his customers are. the customers may not be there, if that's not where they're having those conversations i couldn't be spending my time there. go back to the things that have worked for me in the past. was it the referrals, trade shows? where are the places i've had success. using that existing client base to leverage do you know somebody who looks like you? how can i make it worth my while. >> and let's go on to the next question. it's about expanding your brand to get new clients. >> being a physical therapist, how can my company penetrate into new markets providing rehab
services to nursing homes and hospitals. medical health care, it's all about networking. where did i find my physical therapist? the surgeon who did the operation on me told me where to go. he has to network. go and introduce yourself. be aggressive. it doesn't have to be the doctor. it could be the office manager. just don't sit there and expect the business to come in. >> i have a great example from my father who has since passed on but he was an electrician and he said he would go into a business and woe offer his services for free for the day, and he said the end of the day if you don't like what i did, then don't pay me, and it takes the risk out of the equation so be willing to offer up your services on a limited basis to let these people test you out. their credibility is on the line as well and that takes the risk out of the equation for them. they can try you and it gets you
entrenched in a new position. once you use the networking to get in the door, use free as a lever, but remember you can't use free forever. you are just using it for a limited portion of time. >> okay, moving on to the next question. this is from albion. our clients are primarily charities and local businesses. how do he we take the next step and procure large corporations as clients? once again someone who wants to get into something new, get some new clients. >> i say look for an intermediary. sometimes getting into the corporations and the clients directly is really, really difficult. so is there somebody in an interim step that you can contact? for example, if you have -- this is, i believe, a t-shirt company. if it's a t-shirt company, go ahead and maybe talk to a planner at a hotel that does events that might procure t-shirts for events and say we're going to give you something for free, try it out, see you how you like it. and then you get the touch point of meeting a lot of different clients and then once you're in there as a client, then it gives you the opportunity to extend your work.
so sometimes it's not just about going and networking directly, it's finding out who can be that influencer, that connector, that intermediate person who can make that decision who might be easier to get to. >> we talked about being bold before, too, and being aggressive. >> sure. but just to put this in perspective, i'm a ceo and i receive e-mails and telephone calls every day and i consider the e-mails to be spam. i don't pay attention to them. however, through linkedin when people try to connect to mae, i often hesitate not to accept. there really is no reason not to. i like to build my connections. and through there if somebody sends a short message, not an e-mail blast but a short message introducing themselves to me and they have a good idea, they say something that catches my attention, i just might respond. one other way you can do it, to follow up on what carol said, is if you can network with somebody else in the organization, you don't have to go to the ceo,
connect with somebody, do business with somebody, and it can lead if you develop a reputation for yourself as credible and reliable. >> and if i can add into the linkedin thing, linkedin is great but you have to have some sort of a message, what's in it for me and why are we connect? some people say be my connection, and itch no idea what you are offering and who you are. don't make me jump through those hoops. if you have a reason, tell me what's in it for me and then we have that connection. >> you don't like e-mail but you like linkedin. someone else won't like linkedin but they'll like something else. should you try everything? >> you want to be aggressive. you have to develop a message. and the best way to develop a message is to talk to your target. know your target. know who you want to talk to. see what they respond to. develop and fine-tune your message and try it over and over again. >> yeah, and be willing to do it over and over again. don't stalk them outside their house. that's just creepy. >> what we take away from this, do not stalk people.
thank you for your advice. remember flyers, those pieces of papers advertising something before the internet takeover? well, obviously the flyer is not dead but there is a way to update your flyers. to learn more check out our website of the week. smore.com helps you create online flyers which you can then use in e-mails, share on social media and post on your website. the site helps you create the design for your flyer and then provides tools to both distribute it and analyze the success of your campaign. thanks so much for joining me today from branding to social media marketing. hope you took some notes. if you missed anything go to our website openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with a lot more information to help your business grow. you can also follow us on twitter. it's @msnbcyourbiz.
and please don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. next week there's a whole new industry getting ready to demilitarize drone technology. anytime you put powerful tools in the hands of regular people, they suddenly had will find uses for that technology we never thought of before. >> the sky is literally the limit for the entrepreneurs in this still evolving marketplace. i'm j.j. ramberg. we make your business our business. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small.
american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. let's put up on the map the great state of delaware, now south dakota, now montana, west virginia, put up vermont, wyoming, put up mississippi, new mexico and oklahoma. okay, that's nine states. nine very different states, right? diverse, fairly far flung. the smallest population among these nine states is wyoming, i believe, with about 575,000 people. largest population among these nine states i think is oklahoma with roughly 4 million people. one thing all of these very different nine american states have in common, one thing they all have in common is that they all have a state budget, a total state budget for everything the