254 Mail-Right Show: Robert Newman Interview Jonathan Denwood
Johnathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right Show, this is episode 254. It’s going to be internal discussion between me and great cohost Robert Newman. Basically, I’m going to be interviewed by Robert and you’re going) to find out more about me, shock and horror about why I started Mail-Right, what it offers and also some more info about my background. I can’t say I’m totally looking forward to it, but it’s got to be done. Robert’s put me in the corner, the swine, but there we go. Robert, what do you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers? We’ve had quite a few new people join, listening to the show recently, Robert, which is great news, isn’t it?
Robert: Yes, very much so. So, my name is Robert Newman. I am a 13-year veteran of the real estate marketing industry. I’m a lifetime veteran of sales marketing in general, and I’ve been publishing a website called inboundrem.com, which is intended to fill the void for somebody who actually has a lot of experience and teach you the people that are listening to the show about digital marketing, not just marketing, not real estate marketing, but digital marketing specifically.
Johnathan: That’s great. And I’m the founder of Mail-Right. It’s an inclusive platform that has a really easy to use CRM, but the main thing is we get you quality leads and how we do that utilizing in the power of Facebook, we run… we produce and run Facebook campaigns for you, we generate leads that go into our CRM, you are texts with those leads and then you can contact them and then you can turn them into actual customers. That sounds fantastic and it is. Want to find out more about Mail-Right? Go to the Mail-Right website, you can book a free consultation with me, we can discuss if Mail-Right is the right platform for you. And please do take advantage of that. I’m always happy to talk to agents. So over to you, Robert, over to the interrogation.
Robert: So, there’s going to be a little bit of history here, John, I’m going to do a preamble, I’m going to do a warm up. So, for everybody who’s listening to the show, this is about my hundredth or so episode that I’ve been doing with John and I’d never done a podcast before. Actually, an old partner of John that used to do the podcast with he found me on a real estate blogging site called active rain. And I was asked to be a guest on the show and that was my first exposure. That’s the first time I ever met John and this should be about two years ago, maybe, maybe a little bit more even. And over the years that I’ve been doing the podcast, I’ve developed a deep respect for John’s diligence and his pursuit of what is actually quite complicated, which is building a piece of technology within the real estate space.
So, we’ve learned a lot from each other, I’ve learned a lot from John and that led me to say that I wanted to talk a little bit more about John’s history and background because it doesn’t get discussed a lot on the show and the audience is growing and I’m having a lot of you who are reaching out to me because I already have a very large platform that gets a lot of real estate exposure, talking to me about the show. And I realized that constantly people are referencing my co-host is this English guy that I talked to on the show, which is a little unfair because John has… he may not have started in the real estate industry as I did, but he absolutely has made his home there. And he’s…
Johnathan: Well I do think I understand the [inaudible [04:10], I’m a bit like you. You haven’t been an active real estate agent and I haven’t, and we both make that totally clear, but I think hopefully you would agree with this. I know that you understand the industry from top to bottom and I think now with your help and with doing the podcast, I have a pretty good understanding of the industry from top to bottom. Would you agree with that?
Robert: Yeah, no, absolutely. I would agree with that. And so, fish tailing off that, John, here’s what the audience may not know. So, John, I reference it and John references it often, this is not actually his first technology venture. He has another one in place which is called WP- Tonic. And WP- Tonic is very different. It’s a very different business. He has a business that is focused on learning management systems and WordPress, and he builds websites for people doing education, which that business is actually been real hot lately from what John has been telling me, because as we all were forced to go and work from home and change our habits, of course, many, many, many people are going, gee, maybe now is the time that I put XYZ course online and try to sell my expertise digitally. And John is really, really good at that. The WP- Tonic show has a huge audience.
Johnathan: Well, I wouldn’t say huge, it’s got about double the Mail-Right audience, but I’ve got to say the Mail-Right audience has been consistently going up over the past few months.
Robert: Excellent. Well, let me market you man. Huge. It’s huge. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s doubles our show, it’s huge because it’s twice as big. So, it’s was fine. I’m going to say huge. I’m going to stick with that. [Cross-talk [05:58].
Johnathan: I’ve been doing it for six years though.
Robert: Tom Ferry yet, but we’re getting there. We’ll get there. I’m actually…
Johnathan: We regularly outperform Tom Ferry.
Johnathan: Don’t realize that? We get twice the audience than he does.
Robert: I did not realize that.
Johnathan: [06:17] Inaudible]
Robert: That makes me unbelievably happy. Alright. So, having said that that’s a huge wind up. So, for all of those folks that are listening, who is this John guy? Who is this English guy that I do this show with? What’s his history? What’s his background? So, John let’s talk a moment about how did you get into being a like a web-based entrepreneur in the first place? Like, like it doesn’t matter whether it’s WP-Tonic or Mail- Right. Like how did you get into that?
Johnathan: Well, basically, I wanted… I got into retailing in the U.K and I started my first business and I run it for almost over 20 years and I started it when I was 23. My father was a guarantor of a commercial loan, which I didn’t appreciate the risk he was taking. I was only 23, I was still living at home. I think the other thing you’ve got to understand is that I have dyslexia and I’m reasonably open about that. I’ve got moderate to severe dyslexia and I’m a reasonably bright guy, I think you would agree with that, I know you’re a bright guy, Robert. And most of my friends are pretty bright people, they are doers, and that’s what I like about the real estate industry, there’s a lot of doers in it. But I didn’t do fantastic at school because the condition, and to some extent, it’s still not fully understood even now, but the situation in America and Britain is a, a lot better than when I was at school in the sixties and seventies, right?
Johnathan: So I left school with no qualification at all, and I don’t think it actually matters really, unless you’re going to become a physicist or a doctor or some, a lawyer, a real high level professional and it did bother because it was a bit of a chip on my shoulder. So, I started my first retail business and I grew that, it was actually in dry cleaning, and I grew that to where I had a work force of full-time and part-time people of about 50 people. And we had a turnover of about… I’m going to roughly put this into dollars of about $6 million…
Johnathan: And the profit margin it changed, but there was a period where the profit, the gross profit was about 40%. So, I’m just giving you, dry cleaning at a certain time was highly profitable.
Johnathan: It’s was actually one of the most profitable businesses that I… a lot of hard work though, and also being it in retail, you do learn about customer care and being consistent about quality and service.
Johnathan: Because you soon learn about how to implement systems, that doesn’t mean that your every week you’re dealing with very unhappy people, which still happens occasionally, but for the amount of clientele that we were dealing with on a weekly to monthly basis was quite minor really, in less than 1%.
Johnathan: But you’ve got to have systems. And if you don’t have systems, you soon get overwhelmed. But then I married an American lady. She was living in London, she come over, she was working for a U.S bank and we met and I married her. And I was thinking of selling the business anyway because I was a little bit burnt out. And also, I could see that on a couple of my best retail units, that the landlords were going to really increase the rents to ridiculous figures, I could see on the writing that they were planning to do that.
And you can…the thing is, you can only sell a business when it’s profitable. When it becomes less profitable, it’s much harder to sell. So, I could see that, not that we were going to lose clientele, but my cost base was going to get much higher and the gross profitability of the business was going to be drastically reduced. And I was going to have to expand the business, which I really didn’t want to do or find some way of reducing costs. And I kept my costs under pretty tight control. So, I could see… I wouldn’t say I could see the writing on the wall, but I could see that the profitability of the business was going to be affected.
Johnathan: So, my wife wanted to move back to America and I agreed to it, not solely because she wanted to, but also, I could see that it might be the best time to sell the business.
Johnathan: That selling a business is almost as bad as trying to build a business listeners and viewers. It took almost 18 months to sell the business. When you’re in a more profitable business, the actual is a bit like being in the luxury real estate business. There’s a lot less people that can actually buy a $3 million, $4 million house. It’s a bit like when you’ve got a business, that’s doing a fair bit of turnover, there’s less people available to actually buy it and you get a lot of tire kickers and I didn’t want to sell finance because I wanted to go to America. So in the end, I sold it to a manager of mine who had a couple of family members who helped financed the purchase and I had to discount my purchase price quite considerably to get a cash buyer, somebody who was prepared to buy for cash where I didn’t have self-finance. Is that making sense, Robert?
Robert: Yeah, no. I’m with you.
Robert: So, you found somebody who buy it in cash, it was somebody that worked for the business and now finally, after 18 months and a long, long journey, you were ready to move to the beautiful United States.
Johnathan: With my wife. And in the meantime, I had gone to university as a mature student full time, but I was still running my business and I had done that before I met my wife. And in Britain, the university course is only for three years, not four years and I just wanted to go to university as a personal challenge and also deal with the way that I’d been treated as a child through my dyslexia, because I hadn’t been like sexually assaulted or any of the terrible things you hear that…
Robert: Boy, you just got dark real fast.
Johnathan: That’s dark stuff but I had been verbally abused by teachers and on a couple occasions I’ve been hit by teachers…
Johnathan: Just because I had dyslexia.
Johnathan: [Inaudible [14:33]
Robert: I said, okay, that’s terrible, but okay.
Johnathan: But compared to other people’s stories you’ve got to keep it in perspective, but I did have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about it, which is understandable, isn’t it, Robert?
Robert: Yeah, no, very much so.
Johnathan: Even though I had been in financial terms a lot more successful than a lot of people. So, I decided to go to university and I was interested in the web.
Johnathan: We’re talking about 96, 1996, 1997. I got my first… I had computers for a while.
Robert: 23 years ago, for those who are counting like me.
Johnathan: And the internet had just been introduced to Britain. You had modem, very slow modem, very slow computers and this course was the only… it was the second only course in Britain, but it was… the university was about a mile away from my main business, walking distance. And it was the only second course in the London area that dealt with what was called multimedia. At that time, it was called multimedia. The burning of CD ROMs, building courses or training on CD ROMs are now the new web and I was fascinated by it and always been interested in technology. So, I thought, why not do the course? And that time in Britain, you could do a course totally free.
Johnathan: There was no charge.
Robert: Yeah, okay.
Johnathan: Alright, which has changed a bit. It’s still a lot cheaper to go to university in Britain then America folks, even now, but they are charging around $15,000 per year now to go to university. So, it’s got expensive, which is a lot more than free. So, I think we close to our break actually. So, we’re going to go for a break and you’re going to hear more about me. You probably heard too much already, but I will be back soon with more about my background folks.
We’re coming back, you’ve been hearing about a long-winded journey, but there we go. So, I did this university degree in three years at the same time and really the internet, nobody knew what they were really doing and certainly my instructors at the university had no clue what they were doing but I got into flash. Now, flash was a technology made by a company called Macro Media. And they also did a tool called Director and also, they had a web building tool called Dreamweaver and they were all very, very popular and they were in direct competition to Adobe. And Director you use to publish CD ROMs and Dreamweaver used to utilize that to build websites and they had a couple other products as well, but they were in direct competition to Adobe. And they had this product called Flash, which you could use to make games, intros to websites.
You used to have this intro and the rest of the website used to be loaded in the background. This is all in the distant past now where we’re looking at 5G in video on demand. Well, most of the internet was really dog slow when I got involved in it and I became a flash developer and I did some freelance work after my degree, just as a kind of… I didn’t actually have to actually do it for the financial reason, but I wanted to keep my hand in it because he seemed a bit of a waste of time on doing a degree and not keeping your skills up to date. And then basically, the iPhone kind of killed off Flash because when the iPhone was introduced you couldn’t play Flash on it. Steve Job’s had a consistent history with Adobe and he had a hatred, a personal hatred of Adobe and you couldn’t run Flash on the iPhone.
So, it died a bit of a death, but at the same time we sold the business and I moved to America and I became… I took a year off and then I became a kind of freelance web developer for some agencies. That’s how I first started doing some work in America Robert.
Robert: Okay, so you get to American, you’re doing some freelance work. Now that takes us probably what? To the early 2000s?
Johnathan: I moved to America a fantastic time to move, Robert. I moved to America about the middle 2006.
Robert: Okay. [Cross-talk [20:52].
Johnathan: So, I took a year off and I’ve moved, but I moved with a fair whack of money. Not as much as I’d hoped for because like I say, to get a cash buyer, had to discount, I had to change how much I was prepared to take for my business. I had to be a little bit more realistic about the price.
Johnathan: But I had a substantial amount of money, but also, we were facing the worst recession in American history, weren’t we?
Robert: Right. So, you’re here, the real estate market collapses and you’ve got this…
Johnathan: And I thought, what did my wife persuaded to walk into?
Robert: And you’ve got this skill set in web so I’m sure that you did some more freelance work, but actually let’s visit on that for a second. So, you’re here, it’s 2006, 2007 and you’re making like, when you do decide to work again, you’re working in freelance, like Flash development, right?
Johnathan: That had died because of the iPhone, I’d moved on to general website development and around 2012, I’d taken a year off, let’s say 2008 and then I was just kind of using Dreamweaver and coding sites and then around 2012, I was introduce… I thought there must be a better way than this. There were some platforms like Joomla and Joomla and there were some others and then somebody said, why don’t you look at this thing called WordPress? And I said, well, that’s just a blogging platform. No, no, no, no, no it’s maturity now. So I started…I was introduced to WordPress around 2012 and I was getting some web work, but you’ve got to understand that I was having to live off my savings as well quite a bit because I was just working for local agencies and the recession in Reno… before the recession Reno and Northern Nevada had pit like Florida was the epicenter of the building boom in North America, there was army of contractors here, building houses everywhere. And funny enough in a six-month period, they all lost their jobs and there was whole areas half built, Robert. Whole areas half built, and they were just left like that way for five years, Robert.
Robert: Okay. So, you’re here, you’re now in Reno, you’re doing some web development work, you’re living off your savings because you have to supplement your income. When does WP-Tonic come into the picture?
Johnathan: Well, I started out around 2014, 2015. Unfortunately, like a lot of people because of the stresses of the recession and other factors, unfortunately my marriage broke up and that costs me a hell of a lot of money. I still had a bit left in savings, but I was still having to subsidize because I just wasn’t getting enough web work locally and I thought Einstein’s said once that the real sign of madness is doing the same thing and thinking you’re going to get a different result.
Johnathan: And I’m very strong willed, but it became obvious to me that trying to get local work in Reno, wasn’t going to pan out for me, even if the situation because the recession had been terrible in Northern Nevada. So, I decided… and then I did a job which was around building a membership site and using a learning management system and it was a really fantastic project. somehow the client had been recommended to me. They were based in New York though and we were using Skype at the time to communicate and Google Hangouts, but the project still went really well. And I thought to myself, why don’t instead of trying to get local clients, why don’t you just go into Pacific vertical and try and get clients in that area? And that’s how I changed the whole emphasis of the business around learning management system. And that was around 2014, 2015.
Robert: Okay. So, for those of you who are listening, I personally follow the WP-Tonic podcast, it’s fun. Oftentimes they wrangle two or three guests simultaneously so some of their zoom calls podcasts are actually three, four…
Johnathan: Well, we have two shows. We have a guest show where we having which… because I did two and then we have the round table show. And so, I’m doing free podcast, which really is one too Many. But I really, really enjoy the round table show and that’s when we get myself and I get a panel of WordPress junkies as I call them, and it’s just a round table discussion of the latest WordPress stories and internet stories. And really, I just do it because I enjoy doing it where the Interview Show and the Male-Right Show is more business focused, the reason why I do it, Robert.
Robert: Okay. So, for those that don’t know, and you know, we always talk about marketing on the show, and here’s what my most valuable. Have I really gotten that many clients off doing the Mail-Right podcasts with John? No, not really. It’s something, when I first agreed to be a post on the show, I agreed to be the cohost because I was already driving business through SEO and inbound marketing which I talk about excessively and I have a huge stream of business coming from that direction. So, I wasn’t really even looking at this as a way to do business. I did however, find a shocking and amazing thing that the show has delivered to me. John, who does the outreach for the show has managed to get a staggeringly large number of real heavy duty movers and shakers inside the real estate marketing industry because the funny thing is the second you start telling somebody, I have a podcast it’s kind of funny because they kind of take it the same way that they would take going on a TV show.
And we had the CEO of IDX Broker on the other day, we had this Chief Marketing Officer of Boom, and there’s no way, by the way, for those people that even with my pedigree inside the real estate industry, I would not be able to get those guys on the telephone if you gave me a million bucks, John got them on the show with a single email. So, for those… and then once they’re on the show, I’ve discovered that I’ve learned even more about the industry that I’ve called home for so long. And I have found the show to be an amazing repertoire of information for me. Like we came across a guy by the name of Ricky Carl with another find of Jonathan’s who is a coach that trains people and now I follow him religiously on his social channels, just because he has a very different approach.
He’s a good guy, he’s making a lot of money in real estate and he’s keeping a lot of other people how to do it. I didn’t even know he existed before the podcast and now I’ve got him and I’ve got all these people that I’ve met that are doing different things inside the real estate industry that I didn’t even think of because I’m an inbound marketer and the podcast showed me all of that. So, I feel like I’m a much deeper resource inside my own industry. And I guess what I’m saying here is, and I’m not trying to detract from John’s story, but he uses podcasting to market his other business. And one of the things I’ve enjoyed about his WP-Tonic Round Table, the show that he just mentioned is that if you want to learn something about WordPress, from what he’s calling one thing, I’m going to call them WordPress Geeks, but you use WordPress and you discover hey, it has its complexities.
But finding out how other people have addressed those complexities, and their solutions and how they use WordPress, it’s kind of fun. Like if you’re in technology, it’s kind of fun. John obviously has a good time with it, I’ve had a good time listening to the show. So, podcasting can bring a lot of value to you, both as a professional and if I understood correctly, if I’ve always understood you correctly, the podcast, your WP-Tonic podcast actually does drive a lot of business for WP-Tonic. Is that correct? Or was that just me making an assumption?
Johnathan: It doesn’t actually, I think he builds credos.
Johnathan: I think it builds credos and it builds relationships that have been very, very useful for me. Right. But the problem is I’ve not been as focused as Mail-Right. We’re going to have to wrap up the podcast part of the show, hopefully Robert’s got 15 minutes left so we can continue discussion.
Robert: Yeah, I’ve got 10 mins.
Johnathan: And I’m going to tell you about why I started Mail-Right. And there’s a bit of a long way, but we’re going to keep it to 15 minutes bonus.
Robert: 10, 10, John 10. I’ve got 10.
Johnathan: 10. You got 10 minutes. So, join us for the bonus content, which you’ll be able to see on the Mail-Right YouTube channel or on the Mail-Right website where you’ll be back next week. We’ve got fabulous guests next week. Well, no, actually we haven’t. We got an internal show next week, but we’re going to be talking about video equipment, what you need, if you want to do better video then using your iPhone and I’ll be delving into the subject in great detail. So hopefully it’s going to be more interesting than my background. We’ll see you soon folks.