Home Automation Podcast Episode #165: An Industry Q&A With Paul Bochner
In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Paul Bochner, CEO and Founder at Electronic Concepts shares social media strategies that have helped Electronic Concepts build their Instagram page to over 16,000 followers.
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Paul Bochner. Recorded live on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021, at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Paul Bochner
With nearly 20 years in the A/V industry, Paul got his start as a technician in 2000 before founding New York-based integration firm Electronic Concepts in 2004.
Today, Paul and his team focus on performance across all aspects of A/V and integration. They use their large social media presence of nearly 20,000 total followers to show off their solutions and newly renovated luxury design center.
Electronic Concepts is a member of CEDIA, HTSA, HTA and is a Savant Platinum Integrator, ambassador, and advisory council member.
- Paul's motorcycle racing hobby and his experience racing with Keanu Reeves
- How Paul's paid advertising strategy has helped raise visibility on their YouTube channel and Instagram page and bring in more sales
- Paul's selling strategy that appeals to client's emotions rather than focusing on product facts or stats
- Social media strategies that have helped Electronic Concepts build their Instagram page to over 16,000 followers
Ron: Hello. Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. My guest is Paul Bochner is CEO and founder of Electronic Concepts. They are a powerhouse integrator out of the Northeast, the New York, New Jersey marketplace. He might even go down to Connecticut and other parts of the Northeast. We'll have to ask him. And Paul is doing some really fun things out there in the world of marketing and video production and photography. He's an all-around super interesting dude. I know we're all excited to learn a lot more about Paul. Let's go ahead and let's bring him in. Paul, how are you, sir?
Paul: How's it going, Ron?
Ron: I am good. Where are you coming to us from?
Paul: I am in our new showroom just about 20 minutes outside of Manhattan. Twenty-five minutes outside of midtown in New Jersey, North Jersey. And my arm hurts too, Ron. I got my Pfizer one yesterday, so I am feeling your pain.
Ron: Did you have any side effects?
Paul: I was I pretty shot last night. I got really tired, and I wouldn't say weakly. I wasn't like flu weak. But about six hours later, my arm was definitely hurt. I leaned against the door frame a few minutes ago.
Ron: I'm a side sleeper, and I will rotate left to right through the night. And it was hurting enough to where I stayed on my right side. I didn't touch my left side, and my wife was the same. Her arm is super tender as well.
Paul: My mother and my sister, who had been vaccinated, called me and my little brother babies because we're complaining about it, and they're like, what are you talking about? I'm like, yeah, I rolled over in the middle of the night and was crying. I was unhappy.
Ron: Yeah. I would say my symptoms have been pretty mild. On Monday, when I had it that morning. By the end of the day, my voice felt like maybe it was more scrappy and dry than normal. And I did wake up Monday night, the middle of the night, with a pretty severe headache, about 3:00 a.m. But I would say Tuesday. I was feeling pretty normal. And today, I'd say I'm back to full speed.
Paul: Yeah, I feel OK today. And yes, I had my shot at like 12:30. So same time yesterday it's been about twenty-four hours. I'm still a little tired from it. I feel like I heard maybe some people. If you reacted to the first one, it could be that you might have been exposed previously. But I don't know. Who knows if that's true or not. Well, I'm just glad it's done with, like you said, time to start looking at more normalcy in the future.
Ron: Amen. Debbie says, "My vaccine in Broward took five minutes." Debbie, that's not even nice. It took me, I think, a total of five hours all in to get my vaccine.
Paul: Around twenty minutes for me. Twenty minutes I was in and out.
Ron: Wow. Was it by appointment?
Paul: Went right to CVS, got an appointment, walked in. There was nobody there, sat down, shot, waiting. They make you wait fifteen minutes, and I was gone.
Ron: OK, all right. Well, clearly, there are better ways than others to get your vaccine. We have Benjamin Davis out there. He said, "Strong shirt, Paul.".
Paul: My UK friends. Yeah. He's got a brand himself we're talking about for Ben. You got a smart, homey brand yourself, and then you can wear strong shirts so you could show it off.
Ron: Alright. You've got to hold the arm up. What do we see there? This is your company logo?
Paul: Our company logo. Yeah, I've had this for a bunch of years.
Ron: I guess there'll be no changing the company logo. You might change your name, but not the icon.
Paul: People have asked that. And honestly, even if something changed in the company, I would still feel so passionate about what I did from that point to this point that this would never this would not I'd never want it gone. Right. I mean, it's important to me, no matter what. My wife and I came up with a concept. She was a graphic designer, made the logo. It's not like I outsourced this to somebody, and they created something, and I just stuck it on myself. However, it doesn't take much for me to get a tattoo. This was my dog's name. We used to tell people this was my gang name, Tiller.
Ron: That's nice. That's your gang name. Your street name. Brandi here with One Firefly. She says, "Wait, Paul, you never told me you a tattoo!".
Paul: No, I'm usually wearing a hooded sweatshirt, so nobody sees that one.
Ron: That's that's funny. You did mention that you have a new design center 20 minutes out of Manhattan. I guess maybe just tell us at a high level a little bit about the business. What type of projects do you guys do? Do you do resi or commercial, maybe a little bit about the size of your business?
Paul: Sure, yeah. We're a small boutique company, is the way I like to put it. We're typically five to seven people. We do a couple of million dollars worth of work for those that track company size because I know many people like to like to think about that. 1000% high-end residential is what we go for besides the CI side. We also obviously have this experience center where we have hifi and other things. We focus on performance across the board, performance in our networking, and our audio and our video and our marketing structures. And in all these things, it's kind of something I like to preach a lot.
Ron: I definitely have a bunch of topics around everything. You just rattled off.
Paul: I teed that up for you.
Ron: You did. You teed up a lot. But I always love to start with your background, so take us back in time. When did these high-end speakers and electronics become a twinkle in your eye? How how did this all begin?
Paul: Yeah, I was always into audio, even as a young kid. Even at a young age, my father was one of those guys who picked up the first Sony BTP one or whatever. It was the first CD one million moons ago. He tried to explain why a CD was better than a cassette because we're the same age, Ron. We had cassettes.
Ron: That's right. I did. I wore my Paula Abdul cassette tape out, and I listen to those things so many times.
Paul: Yeah. He came home. He had no idea what the hell he was talking about, but he was convinced that he would explain why a CD was better. I was really into car audio. Right. I made my own speakers and things like that in my teens, not my career path. We were talking about it earlier. I was in corporate and commercial security. I was the guy, the hidden shoppers busting shoplifters in department stores, and then went into corporate security. I had just met a guy who was on my ice hockey team at the time. This was '97, '98. He was wiring homes, and he was into a home theater, and he was actually like being subbed out for a company called Talk of the Town video, which was in northern New Jersey. It was probably the only company at the time, really doing home theater and stuff. This is the late 90s. Right. Home theater was really popping at the time. I ended up going on a job with him on the weekend to help him pull wire and helped him finish the job.
Then once I saw what went into a home system versus burying your neck into a dashboard of a car or doing that, I was done or chasing shoplifters for eight dollars an hour in not-so-fun places. It just expanded for me from there. In '99, I think I started with talk of the town for a few years, and then I ended up in Electronic Environments at the city who was a much smaller company. But a great place I've worked, still stay in touch with the owner and many people there. When I registered my own business, it started from my basement to a small office in my tiny house to a storage unit to an office in this building on the other side.
Ron: What were your first projects? I'm looking at my notes here. It looks like you established in '04. What was a project you would do in '04?
Paul: We were still doing Prontos probably back in '04. MX remotes and just doing small whole-house audio systems with volume controls. Right. I wasn't really into high-level automation at that point. They were simple jobs. There was no Sonos at that point. People wanted audio, or they wanted TVs. A lot of what we did was I had access to Fujitsu TVs. I cut my teeth, making a lot of money on a big TV that was really expensive and being able to install it. From there, it turned into making the right contacts, finding people that had bigger projects. When I decided to focus on my own, I had a very clear path of the brands I wanted to work with. I needed to have Bowers. I needed to have Savant. There were a few others that I was like. These are the brands I need and want to focus on. And once we got to that point, then we fell into this retail space too, which was just purely by chance.
Talk of the Town Video went out of business, and consequently, at the same time, CSA Audio, who was a HiFi shop that was also within 20 minutes of where we were. Two really prominent stores went out, and we happened to be in a building. If you know Jersey, we're on Route 17. We're on the busiest highway connecting the two busiest highways that go into Manhattan. Primally located, it just kind of fell from there. It was a perfect time. I mean, it was hard work. I'm not going to say it was all luck, but a lot of it was just really great timing and being in the right place at the right time and being able to focus on going from a storage unit to going to the space that we have here, which I know you have some of our content. We'll be able to see the toys we have.
Ron: You guys clearly have some impressive gear on display. Before I dig down, I just want to at a high level. You've chosen this path. At least the optics are you've chosen this path of high performance to channel audio solutions. Is that what you primarily focus on, and you've done that by choice? Or do you also do the integration, and you'll do the occasional listening room? What's the typical way that clients are engaging you guys?
Paul: Yeah, it's a great question because I think many people don't know the answer to that. Many people know me and know my business and would not know how to answer that question. We are C.I. first. Right. I am a C.I. integrator. We're Savant Advisory Council, Savant Platinum. We do a lot of C.I. business. We're a very small company, one in part to how we're focused because I have an amazing team that works with me. The majority of my work is C.I., where the transition is that when I say performance, I'm pushing performance into our C.I. The hifi business, although we do have walk-in. We do have retail traffic for people that are specifically looking for a two-channel system or even maybe a mid-five system, or they're just shopping for speakers. That's a very small part of the business.
The majority of it is educating people on that, helping them guide it, and educating our C.I. customers into why they need performance. And it's not just two channels, and it's not just immersive gear. To me, that's performance, right. Having the right network is performance, landscape lighting. Any of the things that we're doing as integrators now, there's a way to do it. And then there's the performance way to do it. And we've chosen that we would rather do more the right way to say this, more quality projects or deliver a better quality product to fewer customers than just do more projects for more people that might be mediocre that I'm not happy with or that they're not happy with.
Ron: Did you always know that, or was that learned?
Paul: It was definitely learned. I definitely was firing an amount for a couple of years, just firing out, taking whatever I can. Where the switch happened for me was where manufacturers let us down. A subpar product or subpar service let us down. Realizing that I didn't have to do it that way. Right. It just didn't have to be the way that we did it. We were blessed that we didn't have to do it that way. But I see a lot of my friends and colleagues not attempting that. And I feel for them. I understand a company with 80 people might need to do a lot. You might have to do some things. You might have to restructure differently than a company with less than ten people. But I can say no. It comes down to saying, no, this is not the right thing. This is not what I would do. No, I don't want to do this. And figuring out what do we want to do as a team here? What kind of projects do we want to go after, and what's the point where we're going to say, yeah, maybe this isn't the right move for us?
Ron: I'm going to give a few shout-outs here. People who live chatting with us have Jesse Silva, who says, "Hello, my friends." What's up, Jesse? Hey, Jesse and Eddie Shapiro, our CEDIA board member, and a fantastic integrator out of the D.C. area, says, "Education is key. I like Paul's approach, fewer clients, better systems, and better projects.".
Paul: Yeah, I love that. Eric Thies just had an article. It's going around CE Pro, where he talked about you don't need more clients. You need more closes, right, or better closes. I think if you guys watching haven't read that piece, it's pretty fantastic, and it is certainly the way mind my mind tries to go. I don't want to grab everything that's out there. I want to be able to deliver the right kind of projects for the right people. That turns into referrals. It turns into a happy team. It turns into a happy portal. That's my goal for sure.
Ron: I think that's tremendous wisdom. It took me years to learn that as well. Here we have a situation. I was going over with my team this morning, and it was an example of just a bad project, bad customer, bad situation. And we'll get through it just fine. But it was an example to my team as a learning opportunity. I like to call them of all. All money is not the same. All clients are not the same. Better is better. And if we work with better and do better projects, everyone has more fun, and just everybody wins versus spinning wheels and wasting time with things that aren't terribly efficient.
Paul: Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. And you shouldn't call me a pain in the butt client while I'm on your show, Ron. I mean, it's not fair.
Ron: I would never do that, although I'd be really creative if I did that, and I managed to weave that in. That's funny. Liam says, Hey, Paul. He's naming brands. I think I need to pull this off.
Paul: He's a wise guy.
Ron: That's going to get us in trouble. Alright. I'm going to put a picture here up on the screen. Let's see if I can do this. There we go. Talking about performance, I have only recently learned, called me uninformed that you race motorcycles. And this is like a thing that you do this all over the world. Can you tell us about that?
Paul: Yeah. I say race because it's easier to understand. I'm not competitively racing, at least not now. But I do track days. I have a couple of motorcycles. I would not ride them on the street, especially not in North Jersey, because that's going to end badly. There are way too many people on the road that don't care.
Ron: What is a track day? Educate me. I don't know what that means.
Paul: Yeah. Let's say you go to a racetrack, whatever your local race track is, wherever you are, you're in California?
Ron: I'm down in Fort Lauderdale.
Paul: In Fort Lauderdale, Homestead might be the closest racetrack Homestead in Miami. You could show up. You could sign up and show up with one hundred other people. They might break into three groups of intermediate beginners, and you get track time. You get to race the track right with other people. You might get in the course of a day, you might get eight sessions of fifteen to twenty minutes of track time right where you get to go out, and I wouldn't call it racing, although everybody thinks it's a race, right? If you're out there with 20 people inherently, they just start racing each other, especially as you get to the more advanced groups. Right. Some of them do have mock races on them. But, yeah, you pay a couple of hundred bucks, you can go to a track. And not only just race, but we're all about education. Actually, get educated on how to do it properly, which is something that pre-COVID I was doing a lot of there's a track in upstate New York where I would help coach out and host events and have people come and train them safe, how to be safer and faster.
Ron: You would not brag about this, but I'm going to brag because you told me, and I think it's just really cool lightly. You've gone and done track days with Keanu Reeves. Mr. Matrix himself, Neo.
Paul: A few of them. Yeah. Just by pure chance. I have a really amazing friend that I've made over the years who's part of his group, and he owns a motorcycle company called Arch. They do track days, and they're traveling around when they can and when he can and get away and get on the track versus driving the streets of L.A., which I'm sure is pitiful, but yeah, completely blessed. I have done no work in my life to get to the point where I get to say, yes, I have done that, and I've been in Europe, and I've been in Australia to race and with some really amazing people that I don't deserve to be able to hang out with.
Ron: Is that an expensive hobby or not, so much like you get your bike, and it's not that bad? It sounds expensive.
Paul: It's all relative. If you're in the car world, it is much less expensive than being a car track guy. Because just tires alone and getting a car to a track, when I'm out of the country, I fly out, and I rent a bike I don't like, send my own stuff over and do it. Whether in New Jersey or Italy, a track day is not very different in price in terms of how much you're paying to be on track. It's just the getting there and the other things. My answer would be no. A few years ago, the experience I had specifically in Italy on a world-renowned racetrack is one of the most amazing racetracks globally, which was Mujello.
Ron: Is that where you are in this picture?
Paul: Yes, which is about an hour outside of Florence.
Ron: OK, how fast would you be going in this picture?
Paul: I mean, I'm going to turn there, so I don't know, anywhere from 40 to 90 miles an hour, probably in that in that image on that racetrack. You come out of the last turn, and you're probably at 110 exiting the turn on those bikes. Those were BMW S1000s. They're pretty fast bikes. You'd hit 187 by the end of the straightaway. It's a big open European racetrack. It's fantastic. It's making me sad that I'm not there now.
Ron: That sounds so terrifying.
Paul: It is. You try being my wife; she's got to deal with this.
Ron: That's great. Does she stay home when you go around the world to do track days, or did she come with you?
Paul: She would not watch me. She does not want to see me ride as she can barely watch videos of it. For some reason, she still likes me after twenty years. I can't really understand it, but she still does.
Ron: There's a pretty fantastic comment here. Kelly says, "Where do you stand with the Keanu Reeves is a mortal conspiracy theory? Do you have any inside information here?" No, but I will say this. Everything you see on the Internet about this man being the nicest human being in the world, every bit of that is absolutely true. As every bit of that is absolutely true. He is. If there's a line of people looking to get his autograph and he's two hours late for dinner with his friends, he's not going to leave until that line is done. That's the kind of person he is. He's just a nice guy. That part is true.
Paul: And I see somebody saying about Arch motorcycles that company they are amazing. They are works of art.
Ron: Yeah, I'm putting it up there now. Yeah, Carlos says, "Arch motorcycle is amazing." Do you know the owner of this company?
Paul: He's a part-owner. Another guy is an owner that is more the hands-on guy that's not out filming movies while he's running a company. But they're a premium product. Right. If you took a street cruiser like a Harley and made it put all these sport parts on it, and hand-built it, they're very expensive bikes. But they are unbelievable.
Ron: Alright. I'm gonna have a few more shout-outs here. Then I want to get into the juicy stuff here with all your marketing and videography projects. But I'm going to give Keith with HTSA a shout-out. He says, "Great to see you, Paul, in the podcast, another awesome new HTSA member. We are thrilled to have you on board. Interesting how many car motors people we have in our industry." Do you perceive that, that there's a lot of motorheads in the space?
Paul: Yeah. A lot of car guys in the industry. But I've come across a few motos, even industry adjacent. I knew a guy for 20 years doing shading in our industry and had no idea that we were both into moto until one day we bumped into each other at a track eight hours from our house. And it was like, "What are you doing here?" We're adrenaline junkies.
Ron: Alright. I want to take this now. You had mentioned to me that you had a hobby around photography. I'm going to ask if that hobby also included videography? But I know that your comfort around the camera has led to some really innovative marketing. I'm going to show my screen and show lots of fun stuff that you've been producing. But just if we could talk for a moment about photography, is this a hobby you picked up later in life? Or did you have this earlier?
Paul: Photography, I got into, I want to say, like ten years ago, maybe ten years ago, I've lost. I feel like I've lost so much time. What I think was three years ago was ten years ago. The space-time continuum is definitely whacked. I'd say about ten years ago. I got into it lightly. I started traveling more, started doing more of these moto events. And of course, then I had motorcycles and other cool things to take pictures of and. I've been doing that for a while, and then the video was new to me. I didn't really get into it until we were talking about Johnny Fritzie before. Right. Johnny is who helped us with our videos. Amazing guy, super artistic, also into photography. Once I saw what we could do on a higher level than my brain broke, my brain completely broke when it came to video, and I wasn't really going to go far down that rabbit hole. My wife forced the issue, as a birthday gift to me was like, "No, you're getting a camera. Go to the store. You have this new place; start playing with it." And like most things now, I'm obsessed with it. I haven't been doing a lot of it lately. But if you could see to my right.
Ron: I want you to grab that, actually. Can you grab the camera? Because I'm going to have you talk about what you've got. And your approach. What I'm going to show is one point I'm going to show your YouTube channel and your Instagram, but tell us, what do you have there in your hands? And then we'll get to what are you doing with it?
Paul: Yeah, this just looks like chaos, but this is a new Sony A7S3 for people into photography like I am. It's quite garbage as a photo camera, which was sad because I was hoping to be able to use use it for both. But as a 4KHDR video camera for the money, one of the best things I've seen, one of the best things you'll read about if you actually look at it, it's a really small camera. I just have it in one of these contour frames. This just makes it easier to mount stuff to and use it. But this camera will shoot 4K60 or 4K240, I think, or 120. You would never shoot that way because it's just too much. You're not going to upload to YouTube in that. Even our videos, which you've seen that look pretty great, are still down-converted to 1080P. But it's a pleasure. I could walk through my backyard with that thing and just like shoot some video and move around. I'm obsessive about it.
Paul: Alright. If I show a video here. For those on the podcast, you're going to have to jump over to the video. I'm going to show one of the videos that Electronic Concepts has up on their YouTube channel. What would be a good one? The main one that's up at the top, that's probably the best one. That's the showroom tour. The first one, the showroom tour, or the hifi video are the two best. But I think the showroom is cool. The hifi one has a funny throwback to the old Maxell commercial, guy blown away in the chair thing.
Ron: What I'm going to do here is to change my microphone so I can attempt to pick up the audio. Now you should hear me correct, Paul? Yeah, I'm going to rotate that mic. I'm going to play the video and what we see here is so maybe why don't you talk us through what we see just for the podcast listeners? What what's happening here?
Paul: Yes. We're in the HiFi room there. Then we came out. This is the main showroom floor. We're showing Savant daylight mode here with USAI fixtures, Geiger's shades back in the HiFi room, Magico and D'Agostino's, which are our favorites. This is the dedicated theater. Now, Reflectel, if you guys haven't seen these, a really cool mirror custom framed. More Savant goodies. This video makes me happy every time I see it.
Ron: There you go. I just switched my audio back, so that looked amazing. How did you think, and what did you do once you thought it? How did we start creating kick-butt videos to promote your business?
Paul: I've been thinking about it for a while, not at that level. I have just been thinking about our social media. Right. Doing lives and doing our stories on Instagram and that kind of thing and thinking like this is cool, but it's not. It's not as engaging, right? It's not professional enough where even if I was looking at it. I would be like sucked into it. The goal was to get sucked into it like it was a movie or your favorite TV show. I'm going to bring up Johnny's name; John Fritazi has done many videos for the industry. He's done a lot of stuff for Lutron, for other integrators, for other manufacturers. And he and I started talking. What I realized was we have the ability actually to get it out there. I figured we had the know-how and the audience to start putting content out there where we would actually get out there, not just share with our clients or share with architects and designers. Get it out there and get feedback from it.
Once we got into it, we realized we have the sexy space. We could do it. I know he could make this incredible video, or we could make this incredible video. In the HiFi video that you're showing now, we must have talked about that concept for like a year easily before we shot that. We had to come down to the idea of what's it going to cost? What are we going to show, and what's the marketing plan for it? The marketing plan was really on my end; Johnny had to put it together, making it awesome. Right. Which he succeeded. My mentality and I've spoken on a couple of other podcasts, things, and even clubhouse. If you guys are on Clubhouse, I know half my clubhouse family are in the audience watching now. Clubhouse has been a great place to talk about this with other people, especially like the UK guys. I would never talk to these guys. Now I have this format to talk to integrators worldwide about getting the vendors to help you. This is a very expensive thing to do. Those videos are really expensive, expensive in the sense that if you saw it in one dollar amount, you'd be like, "Wow, it's a lot of money to spend." But if you thought about what it could do for you, it's a tiny drop in the bucket, right? Ron, I'm speaking to the choir. It's like marketing dollars, right? We all look at it and go, "Oh, my God, how am I going to spend that much money?" What we did is once I had the plan, I started leveraging my social media with the manufacturers and saying, "Hey, I have more followers than you do. We want to make this video. We want to give you a piece of it. We want to show your products in it and some of them." Open arms, they were like, "Here, how much money do you want? We'll keep giving it to you, right? We're failing. We're not doing a great job at this." Some really weren't interested. There's one company that should have been all over it. And I'm not going to say any names. I'm just going to look at it and look back at it. It might be back there in that. Yeah, anyone that knows me knows what I'm talking about. But they wanted nothing to do with it. They wouldn't even respond to an email. It was like, "Hey, we're going to make this really amazing video of your stuff." Some companies care, and some companies do not care. The ones that cared open arms, we gave them a concept. We spoke about what the game plan was. We spoke about the deliverables, and they said, "When do you want the money, and where do we send it ?" Right. I'll say this about that. It's not as simple as it sounds. You have to be able to show what you're going to do with it and why it is worth it for that.
But being post-COVID and still COVID world, these companies haven't spent money on these things. They haven't gone to a trade show. They haven't used their marketing budgets because they haven't had a reason to do so. Yes, it's expensive. It's going to be expensive to make it. It's going to be expensive to get it out there. But there are ways to get support for this. But what you need to do is have a plan. And I see so many people doing this without a plan. It's like, hey, we got the content, we've got an idea. We filmed it. And then they shoot it out on an email blast. And that's the end of it, right? It just sits somewhere that I don't find to be a good investment for anyone.
Ron: Just to get a little bit into the weeds here on YouTube. But I'm going to jump to different platforms through our conversation. For example, in terms of YouTube, I see a couple of videos that have 136,000 views. Your Electronic Concepts, design center video, your hifi experience video has 103,000 views. These are pretty impressive numbers. I'll just say for integrators or people in our space. These are really legit numbers. Is this all organic reach out there on YouTube, or is, is there any paid promotion strategies on YouTube?
Paul: Definitely paid strategies in there. Some of them are paid, and some of them like some of it's organic. I can't tell you what the split is in between what's organic, but 1000% are paid targeted campaigns. Let's use the experience center as an example. That video has been, I think, on Instagram. It probably has 80,000 views, almost 80,000 on Instagram as well. I'd say probably 30,000 of those were organic, and then the rest were also targeted. Here's a good example of something that I see as a failure in the marketing place and how we did it. And I'm not saying that I'm the gospel or that I'm right about this, but I could have just said, "Hey, put this video everywhere, Instagram, put it everywhere Facebook." I probably would have a million views by now on that video. It does me no good to do that. It doesn't do the business any good. Having a video out there actually would get annoying because then we start getting trolls that will make comments on our videos just to make comments. Both those videos were targeted to only the tri-state area. Only northern New Jersey, Manhattan, Westchester, Connecticut. They were targeted at people with special interests.
We really dug down to where the video would be played and how it would be played. I can say we have 136,000 views and probably the majority of them. They're all within forty-five minutes to an hour of our physical location, which was the goal. Right. Why do I want people in Utah to see my videos? I don't necessarily want to go there. I don't just want followers. I don't just want likes. I want conversions. Right. I want someone to walk in the store and say, "Hey, I saw your videos. I wanted to find out more about X, or hey, I saw your video, and I just wanted to see the place", which happens a lot. We have people walking in, calling the store, saying, I saw the videos. When can I come in for a demo, or can you show me or talk to me about home automation? If we start tracking that and those turn into projects, I guarantee you any of those projects wiped out everything I spent on both videos, everything I spent on the marketing, and probably put some money in the company's pocket at the end of that.
Ron: I'm asking the magic question, and I'm going to be super high level. I'm up here at fifty thousand feet. Do you think that the money you spent on marketing has delivered a return on investment?
Paul: Yeah, for sure. Just the leads that we've gotten, you're talking about the videos, right?
Ron: This magical category in your PNL is called marketing as a cost of doing business. You fund that category in some way. Do you feel if you look back at the last 12 months or 24 months that that investment has delivered a return to your business?
"We're in the New York metro market. If I threw a rock right now, it probably would hit four other integrators passing the store on the highway. And they're all friends. A lot of us are friends, and we're not really competing."
Paul: Yeah, without question. We're in the New York metro market. If I threw a rock right now, it probably would hit four other integrators passing the store on the highway. And they're all friends. A lot of us are friends, and we're not really competing. Right. We're not bidding against each other. But if somebody goes on Google, they're going to see me and twenty-five other people in this area. Ron, you know as well, like I am all about SEM. I would love to organically be a guy. I want to be the guy who shows up in this area because we stand out between our store and some other things. If we're at the top of that list and somebody goes, oh, look, there are these five other people, or there's this place that has a place where I can go in and tangibly get a taste of some of these things and see a theater, and we're going to win. We're going to win every time. We're going to be the ones that get the first call.
Ron: One of your friendly competitors just commented, Michael Restrepo. He says, "Working together."
Paul: Yeah, another part of what we've done here is we've made a space, a design center where other integrators can use our space to help sell different products, maybe products that they couldn't get or experiences that they couldn't sell. And I'm open to that. We're not like, "Hey, don't come in my store." Anyone is welcome here. And if we can help sell a better product for someone, why wouldn't we do that? That just elevates the game in the whole area. It makes it easier for us to sell a better product if we're all selling a better product. Right. The product that's down here being offered by 50 people and the product up here by 3, the customers don't want this. I don't care what you think. They don't want this. You're just not telling them about this. Maybe they end up here. But if you don't tell them about this and this, they don't know how to get there. You're not going to buy a car without power windows.
Ron: I personally experienced this just in November, December, January, February, my wife and I were in the process of we'd decided for the first time in our life. We're going to put a pool behind our house. We were interviewing all these different pool design companies, and we interviewed, of course, maybe about eight companies. It was terribly fascinating how some of them self restricted the scope, finishes, characteristics of the design because they made assumptions around what they thought we would buy or thought we could afford or thought we might be interested in. And other pool designers showed us the whole landscape. They said, "Here's the spectrum. Understand, if you go do this, here's what it means." We didn't buy the most expensive, we didn't buy the cheapest, but we landed somewhere that really comfortably felt right in terms of the features and benefits of that product. And I could see, though, how some of those firms were only showcasing a small spectrum of all the options and self-limiting itself.
"You're not ripping somebody off by offering them a better product."
Paul: Very self-limiting, and I'm like a broken record with this statement. I say it a lot, and a lot of my colleagues say it a lot. The old you're selling with your wallet, not theirs. That's factual. You're not ripping somebody off by offering them a better product. You're actually hurting them. We see a lot of people do that because they're afraid, which I respect. If you don't have sales training or you're not comfortable doing that. But the clients want to see it. I always use car analogies because it's easy for everyone. If you consider a speaker for one hundred dollars or a speaker for five hundred dollars and you make the comparison of the car without the power windows in the car with the power windows, you're going to pick the power windows every time for that cost difference. And your clients are going to do the same thing. But yeah, it's very self-limiting to go in at the bottom without discussing the top. If you went in higher and you can't back a client down, a good example. If one of the pool guys came and showed you a pool that was one hundred thousand dollars over your budget, you weren't going to run away. You were going to say, "Hey, you know, I don't think I want to spend this, but I'm a customer right about here." And if you're not comfortable with that, you shouldn't be doing sales. Right? Everyone's heard this statement. I want the best speakers money could buy. Someone's walked in or in a meeting. I want the best speakers money can buy. Well, at the guy down the street, that might be a thousand dollars. In here, that could be two hundred thousand dollars. I'll come back to education always. That's about educating your customer and helping them understand what the differences are and saying, "Hey, I know this may not be what you're looking for, but we offer this."
"Let me show you what is possible and then fit you in where it matches your expectations and your ability to spend."
Ron: Let me show you what is possible and then fit you in where it matches your expectations and your ability to spend.
Paul: No one is going to be upset by that. Right. Yeah, it's funny. It's the don't sell with your wallet sell with theirs. You have no idea what's in their wallet. I'm spoiled. I've seen this because the hi-fi world is funny. Many of the guys who are buying really reference level systems, most of them, their systems probably cost more than their homes do. If you don't understand that they're going to walk out the door, you might look at them and think like there's no way this guy could afford X, but it's irrelevant. They might save for twenty years every paycheck so that they can have that system, that speaker, that turntable. It's prepared me for how I look at the rest of the industry, too. You've got to offer that. Some customers will go to the most expensive guy just because they want to tell their friends they spent the most money. If you win that job, then give them the best product you can get for the money. You didn't somehow screw them over by doing that. They're giving you the opportunity to wow them. Don't run away.
Ron: What's the way, Paul, that this belief, which I'm entirely on board for everything you've just said about showing giving your clients options, not thinking with your own wallet, what are ways that that's translated and your approach to C.I. into the integrated system in the home? I see how it's very objectively obvious to me. At least you can show the client a one thousand to two hundred thousand dollars spread on a two-channel system. Do some of those beliefs translate into the way that you approach whole-home integrated systems?
Paul: Yeah, it kind of has to. I feel like it has to. You never know what experience that customers had previously or what trim level they might have had previously. You really have to understand. You have to ask questions. Right. This is my story of how I got into this industry. I did corporate security after I did regular shoplifters thing. And when I did that, I had to take training. It was called Wicklander and Zawadski. It's like the same training four years that they gave the FBI and the CIA for interrogation. I'm not saying take this training but look at it. Look at neurolinguistics; your eyes move this way, you recall your thinking. Those tools that I got in a completely different industry helped me to navigate sales meetings. This is something that I just went down a deep, dark hole of. This is a really crazy way to have gotten it. But if you're not listening to a customer and you're not reading the visual cues, then you can't do this. It's impossible to do this right. If you're not looking in someone's face and you're talking about a two hundred thousand dollar speaker and their eyes got wide, or their eyes didn't get wide, or they turned away, or they change the subject. If you're not reading those signs or trying to interpret those signs, then you'll never be able to do it right. You might not be able to back yourself out of that corner if they were like, what the hell are you doing? Trying to tell me this? It takes a lot, and I'm not the quintessential sales guy. I don't actually really can't stand sales, guys.
Ron: Sales is a dirty word, right?
Paul: Yeah. I did an interview, I think I was with Bob Archer, and we talked about this, like the art of the sales pitch. I'm like, listen, just let them talk and read what they're saying. Don't just listen to their words. You have to look at their body language. You have to look at their face. That's in anything you're selling. I don't care if it's C.I. I don't care if it's shades. It's anything that we do in this industry. If you're paying attention and can interpret the body language and the emotions, and in their facial expressions, you'll get a lot of what you need just from that alone. So it does translate, but I think you need tools to do that, you know, whether it's organic for you and you've just been doing a lot of guys built that way. They've just been doing it. I weirdly got mine. When someone talks to me, I'm constantly looking at where their eyes are going. Zoom has made this a lot more difficult to get a sense of where people's heads are at. Just listen. Too many sales guys talk, and they're already thinking about the next thing. They're not actually listening to the content that a customer is giving them. And then you're done. You've lost it. You can't even go to like, hey, let me show you the cool room back here.
Ron: Yeah. Jeremy, over at Level3, 's posted a comment. He says, "Listen, with all your senses, not just your ears."
Paul: It's a great statement. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Using your eyes is more important than your ears almost in these sales things. Especially if you're trying to figure out where they sit in, are they going to spend this much? It's a lot about body language and facial expression.
Ron: Yeah, it's funny. Now with VID, it's hip for all of us, everyone tuning in, all of us in this industry, to be behind the camera and to turn our cameras on for meetings. And I was turning my camera on before 2020. I was coaching my team to turn their camera on before 2020 because not only as you've communicated, can you read the other person, but if you believe that so much communication is nonverbal, then you can deliver so much messaging nonverbally.
Paul: Yeah, absolutely.
"At One Firefly, we were company-wide for internal meetings having no audio-only internal meetings, always camera on. We need to see each other. We need to communicate because so much is happening with the hands, the eyes, the facial expressions."
Ron: At One Firefly, we were company-wide for internal meetings having no audio-only internal meetings, always camera on. We need to see each other. We need to communicate because so much is happening with the hands, the eyes, the facial expressions. Yeah, it's all genius.
Paul: It turns into emotion. Right. I'm someone who says this a lot. And I hate saying it because it sounds corny, but it's a fact. We choose our systems and sell in the higher stratosphere when it comes to selling performance by emotion. I'm selling products based on my emotional response to them. Those Magico speakers and those Dagostino amps are back there because of all the things I listen to at the time in that price range. I felt the most emotionally attached to it. Now, what does that mean when I explain it to a customer? It means that I'm naturally giving them my feelings genuinely to them. They understand in seconds that I'm passionate about these products. I'm not just selling them a box. So many people on Earth, you're just selling boxes. Here's a box. I don't want to sell that way. Some customers want that. They don't want to know anything about the project.
Just get it done. But a lot of them and the ones that are willing to spend big money for experiences. Right. Stereo experience, immersive cinema experience, those things need to be communicated by you in a way that is not that is genuine. Or that you have the knowledge and the expertise and the emotional attachment to that stuff to help them make their decision. Kris Gamble from the UK says, "Who is the sales Jedi ?".
Paul: Yeah. Thank you, Kris. That's great. I have no sales experience. I really don't, other than my own personal experience, the way that I've done it, and I'm learning every day. I learned from jedis that have been in the industry, mainly like some of the sales reps that have been around that have done it the wrong way or have seen it done the wrong way for so many years. I asked those guys, "How do you sell this? How have you done it? Like I said, if you sell by emotion, you can't fail. They may not buy, but you didn't fail. If they didn't buy, you at least put a plant in somebody's head that, "Wow, that guy really loves that stuff. I wonder if I'll love it. You know, if I can hear it somewhere I have the money. Maybe I'll do it one day.".
Ron: Jesse Silva says, "Never sell products with your pocketbook, it risks leaving money on the table, and you might be cutting your client short of the experience and performance they want."
Paul: Absolutely. Yeah. What if you sell your guy, like, the thousand dollar option, and then he goes to his best friend's house next weekend, and that guy has the fifty thousand dollar option, and he comes back to you and says, what the hell, man? Why didn't you show me that? Fail!
Ron: Lots of great comments out there. Thank you, everyone, that's tuning in live here. It's a pretty dynamic chat feed, so it's awesome.
Paul: I'm trying to keep up with it.
Ron: It's pretty active, but I'm mindful of time. I actually do want to get into some other topics here, and we risk running long. I'm going to scoot us along here a little bit. You, Paul, have a superset of dynamic social channels, and I'm going to, in fact, give you a shout-out because I'm here. I'm showing on the screen for those that are listening. I'm showing the Instagram page for Electronic Concepts, and they have 16.2k followers. Paul, I asked you before we went live. Did you do a paid strategy to get this, or are these all legit organic followers? This is all unpaid. There are no bots here. This is real.
Paul: No bots. We do promotions every so often for certain products, but no nonpaid paid followers. You can always tell when it's paid. Right. If someone's got fifteen thousand followers and their pictures have five likes, that's it's not organic. And again, why would I want that? I want conversions. That is what you should strive for with your business pages is conversions.
Ron: You are doing a lot. Before I lead you, just tell us how you think about your Instagram page and how you do your daily, weekly, monthly with your Instagram page to drive your business forward?
Paul: Oh, God. It changes weekly for me. It depends on time. I am the owner of Electronic Concepts, and I'm trying to manage my social media. But that's because I'm a control freak, right? I'm not suggesting that everyone do that. I just saw Brandi say, "Quality followers versus quantity." That's exactly right. I don't think I spend enough time doing it. And if you ask my wife, she would certainly argue the opposite of that because most of my social media gets done on the weekend. I'll take stuff on jobs if I'm out there. But when I don't, I have to catch up on a Saturday or Sunday. Instagram, for me, is my favorite. Instagram, I think, has become the right place to be for branding if you're going to have a photo-driven campaign. YouTube and we were on the HTSA thing; Ron and I had asked you about a video because I was curious if other people were doing YouTube. After all, there are not many guys in the C.I. space. Many guys do unboxing and product demos and things like that, which I'm not interested in. We are a retail space.
Ron: You're not selling boxes.
Paul: We're not selling boxes. The kind of stuff we're selling you have to experience. You have to come in for it. And I have nothing against those guys. I watch a lot of those videos because I'm personally interested. But I'm a tech geek. I'm not the typical end-user. I'm curious. I would love to see YouTube's just so much damn work, like making the videos is so much work. That's a newer thing for us. You'll see, like, I have a couple of videos that have one hundred thousand plus views, and then I got a few that have like nothing. Right, me just tooling around in the showroom. But as far as it goes on Instagram, I'm constantly looking at the metrics. I'm posting content. I'm going back, posting content, going back. I'm looking at where the followers are coming from. I'm looking at what did someone react? Did we get more reactions because we had this product or this type of install, and then I'm taking notes on that? I rinse and repeat, take advantage of when you get a, like, many likes on something, trying to repeat it. And I don't try to blast too much content out there. For me, in our experience, we'll lose more followers if we overdo it with content. Stories are one thing. If you want to do a story every 10 minutes and put stories out there, I think that's fine.
Ron: Do you do stories? Is that a technique that you're practicing yet?
Paul: I do. We have a bunch. Every once in a while, I'll do a story for a project and then save that story as a project so you can kind of see start to finish. I think, for the industry, they care about it. I think some end users, some clients want to see that start to finish thing. I think stories are cool. I do. I think you could put a bunch of pieces together and have this whole thing that you can go back to and save on your home page. I like it a lot. Lives, I think, are where we get most of the love, believe it or not. And I don't get to do that enough. But doing a live in the showroom or if we're on the job and going over a few things, we've seen a lot of views. You can't even promote a live. I don't think you can until you've saved it. And those are getting thousands of views over a week, two weeks, three weeks of just us playing around. Ron, you were just in the new Guide's page. That's something I think we're going to start playing with.
Ron: I don't even know what that is, I'm admitting publicly what is Guides? That's the first time I see it.
Paul: Instagram. I think they did this more for the art communities where people are showing. I've seen it more in our communities. This is how you create a painting, and they're doing step one. Us as integrators, we could be using this and be like, this is how you put in a speaker. This is how we started this project. You can scoop a bunch of things together and save it as a guide. This is how to set up a USA Lighting with an app and make it a guide. It's really a story, but you can break it into different pieces. It's interesting; I haven't focused on it as long.
Ron: How long has that been out?
Paul: Maybe a month or two, I think maybe a little longer.
Ron: What many people don't realize, at least from my experience, is like they call it Facebook or Instagram, or LinkedIn. But what they don't realize is that within Instagram, there are like five or six different channels. There are your posts. There's your TV. There are lives, these are your stories, there are your guides, there are so many different elements. There's a lot to going deep into a given platform. I keep getting bounced out. Clearly don't know what I'm doing here, but I'm back.
Paul: Instagram on the computer is tough.
Ron: It is tough. But this is impressive. If you're out there listening and you haven't checked out Electronic Concepts on Instagram, This is legit, people. This is these posts getting a thousand plus likes or engagements. There are very few channels in the world in our industry getting this level of engagement. I'm always about putting out best practice, and there's just really smart, thoughtful, critical thinking going into the type of content on this page. I commend you.
Paul: Appreciate it. Yeah. And if anyone ever has questions, I'm not worried about the sauce. Giving away the source. It could take you ten years to build a page like this. If you want to build it overnight, then you're going to get paid bots, and you're going to do it. But to build this organically, it's time-consuming. But if anybody ever has questions on this stuff. Yeah, really don't hesitate. I'm happy to give you at least what I've learned, how I've done it, where I've gone with it, and I follow everyone. Right. If I'm not following your company out there and you're listening to this, please send me a message because I want to like I love supporting the Instagram integrator community. I have a lot of friends all over; Jesse Silva was here. We were probably going to Savant summits together, but we started chatting on Instagram because I saw his page; he saw mine. And then you get chatting, and you build relationships from that, and you could support each other. I think it's really useful.
Ron: Yeah. Jesse's been on this show, and he talked about winning jobs off of Instagram, people seeing his content, sending private messages leading to projects. It's real. How do you think about Facebook? How do you think about Facebook for your business?
Paul: I used to spend more time worrying about it when you could get reviews on Facebook. Right. Then, once the review situation changed, like any post on Instagram, I hit the button and Instagram to share it to Facebook. We do get engagements from Facebook, will get messages from potential end-users. But it's tough. Without the review things, Instagram is so much easier.
Ron: You can get reviews, but it's a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Paul: Yeah, I'm not interested in that. You and I had this conversation, I think, in an Azione thing. Years ago, we were fighting for Facebook reviews. I think at the time; we had like 40 Facebook reviews. We were killing it on Facebook as far as integrators went. Right when we were having that convo, you were like, "Hey, you know, they changed that?" I'm done.
Ron: For those that don't know exactly what I'm talking about, I'll describe it. I'll just describe it. Facebook used to give you allow for your business to receive one to five stars. You could be, on average, four-point five stars out of five based on 50 reviews. Interestingly, if someone searched for your business in Google, those Facebook reviews, the quantitative score would actually populate generally on page one of the search.
Paul: We were killing it then.
Ron: Then you were killing it because you were on top of the game driving those reviews. In August, I want to say, of either '18 or '19, Facebook changed, and they did away with the scoring. You only can do thumbs up or thumbs down on your reviews. Thus all of those new reviews from 2018 to the present do not show up in your Google searches. And it's terrible, especially for all of our businesses that have active review profiles on Facebook. It was a sad day.
Paul: It was bad. I'd say around that time, though, I think I started not caring as much about what we did with Facebook. Again, everything I go to Instagram shares to Facebook, the only platform I'm inactive on really is like I never have a page for Twitter, but we could just never get into Twitter. I don't feel like it was the right thing. I feel like it was the right space for us. We joked about Tik Tok. I have a Tik Tok page, but I use it solely for testing content to see what stuff gets likes and what stuff doesn't. And then I can then post that stuff on Instagram because I think Tik Tok is an interesting place that I'm not so sure yet is for us.
Ron: Maybe one last question about social, and then we'll closeout. Do you do anything on LinkedIn?
Paul: I do, yeah. But I didn't for the longest time, and I would say about a year, or two years ago, I finally started posting more stuff on like the company's Instagram, the company's LinkedIn page. It's a different audience, right. Really. That's just we're sharing, or we're giving love to the manufacturers, or we're just sharing with our colleagues what we're doing. It's different. It's more fun. I don't really have an agenda. I feel like when I do it on LinkedIn, that's more like, hey, guys, enjoy this or let me know what you think than it is trying to make a conversion. Right. Although there are potential clients out there following us on LinkedIn, it wouldn't be my intention. I don't think it hurts. But if you're like most of us fighting for time and looking to do social posts, gain followers, gain business, and create conversions, I don't know how worthwhile the LinkedIn side of it is. I just don't know.
Ron: What's your outlook, Paul, for 2021? How's business going to be for you?
Paul: We're crazy. We went crazy a couple of months into COVID; things got busy, we got super busy. A lot of our work is in New York City. That stalled for a while. But it's back; projects are coming in again. We're buried. I'll say that we're pretty buried. And as everyone else is dealing with, the supply chain is a disaster. It doesn't really matter how busy you are if you can't get the product; it's going to slow us down at some point. But, yeah, I'm feeling good, really feeling good, I think. I'm doubling down on our marketing at this point because we're already doing good. If something changes, I want to be ahead of whatever happens once restrictions lift and people start getting back to normal. My goal is to be if you search, we need to be the guys. You need to see our showroom video or our pictures wherever you go in this area. Which is, I'm sure, going to piss off a lot of people. But they're not my problem.
Ron: Well, Paul, you are a thought leader and an innovator, and it's been a pleasure to interview you here for our audience and learn more about the way you think and operate your business for those that are listening or watching. They want to learn more about you. What do you recommend? Where do you want to direct them?
Paul: Yeah, Instagram is good if you want to send me a message on Instagram. Anyone can hit me up on LinkedIn; that's probably the best place. If you're an integrator or other and you want to connect, I would say LinkedIn, Paul Bochner, you'll find it pretty easily there.
Ron: OK, we'll put those links down in the comments, and we'll also put the information over on the show page on the One Firefly website. Paul, it was a pleasure having you on the show, sir, for 165. Thanks for joining us.
Paul: Yeah. Thanks so much. Thanks so much, Ron. I really appreciate it. And you know, I appreciate the nice words. I didn't build a submarine and race it, so I have a lot to learn.
Ron: You listen, that's cool. That's cool. I appreciate that.
Paul: That was a great episode.
Ron: Thank you so much, Paul. Be well, sir.
Industry veteran Paul Bochner got his start as a technician over twenty years ago before founding Electronic Concepts in 2004. Electronic Concepts is a member of CEDIA, HTSA, HTA and is a Savant Platinum Integrator, ambassador, and advisory council member. They use their large social media presence of nearly 20,000 total followers to show off their solutions and newly renovated luxury design center.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly become the leading marketing firm specializing in integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team works hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution Mercury Pro.
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