Robert Newman is the founder of Inbound Real Estate Marketing and Newmansbuzz. He helps companies like AT&T, Sprint, Ciplex, and imFORZA grow their revenue.
He has owned four previous companies in the following industries:
- desktop printer consumables
- discount travel
- house cleaning
- small business development
He has a cadre of past clients that include movie stars, fortune 100 companies, and generally cool people.
The Story of Robert
I was born in Newport Beach, California on July 13th, 1970. My mother was single and young, 17 to be exact. Raised by my grandmother for the first few years of my life my mother eventually reclaimed me and I lived in Thousand Oaks, Santa Monica, Agoura Hills and Culver City all before the age of 16.
My parents slowly built up careers, my father going from electronics retail salesperson to one of the original developer’s that worked on the code for the first ATM’s.
My mother, a bright and loving personality gravitated towards management and before her passing from cancer in 1987 had managed to develop a reputation for managing coders.
Consequently, as my family’s success grew so did our family home. The early passing of my mother hit me hard. I dropped out of high school and left home at 17. The next two years would see me run through countless forgettable jobs and trade school before ending up homeless. I had isolated myself from family and friends determined to run from anything that reminded me of my mother.
“Two Ways to Make Money in the US.”
My parents were young and for most of the formative years there was a steady stream of new friends, parties and late nights spent playing various games. Thier friends tended to be what I like to refer to as “fuzzy logic” types. Very smart, idealistic middle management types. Or artists.
There were a couple of exceptions and from my earliest memories I gravitated to the few entrepreneurs in the family circle. Two notable examples….by grandmother on my fathers side and a man who would eventually be my “step” grandfather. The latter was extraordinarily impactful. He had tried and failed as a business owner seven times finally succeeding on his eighth attempt, retiring a very successful man. He was as old school as they came building up a reputation in the metals manufacturing business knocking on every single door personally and building treating each relationship like they were family. When he passed literally thousands of people showed up to pay their respects.
Before he was gone though he had managed to make a HUGE impression on me. Once when I asked for some guidance on success and making money he said the following
“ Kid, if you have nothing, come from nothing and want more there are only two surefire ways to get it here in the US. Either go into sales or own your own business.”
My conversion to Sales Evangelist.
1988 found me homeless and, fortunately, a girl I barely knew took pity and allowed me to crash in her garage. I was desperate for a job as the reality of living on the streets had hit home hard. I had seen an ad saying that if accepted I could get PAID to goto school. That sounded brilliant and a few weeks later I was studying to be a locksmith. But the promised money was slow in coming and I was eating on what others threw away. So once again the search for a job continued. At the time, you couldn’t open the classifieds without seeing pages full of phone sales jobs. Notorious for hiring anyone that could read I finally succumbed and applied at a company selling AT&T security systems.
I hated selling over the phone and consequently I was asked to leave two short weeks after arriving. Problem was I NEEDED that job. In a way, I had never needed anything before in my life. I literally got down on hands and knees and begged the manager for my position. He agreed to a short extension.
I changed my life in the following days. I showed up 6 hours before my shift and started setting appointments without pay. I went home at night and kept repeating to myself, I LOVE the phone I LOVE the phone. And surprisingly I started to see some results. My work ethic was noticed by the owner of the business. The manager of the telemarketing department started to hand me some additional responsibilities. I was working twice as hard for half as much, after all. I also showed up every day which was pretty rare.
Then I was introduced to my first sales textbook. Tom Hopkins “how to master the art of selling”. Once I understood that sales were for most a learned skill I fell in love. I left the pieces of commonly accepted sales knowledge I didn’t like such as a blatant conversation steering tactics. Kept the pieces that worked for me such as persuasion through storytelling. Asking questions and making sure the person or persons you are speaking to really, really needs what you are selling made all the difference in how I felt about a career in sales.
With that shift in my mindset, I proceeded to apply my new sales education. Not only did my performance increase but the performance of those around me did as well. Job security was now mine. The next few years would see me working day and night six to seven days a week.
Rock Star Status leads to questionable decisions
I was only 19 and I had worked my way up to being the assistant general manager of the company I had almost been fired from a year earlier. In the rare moments I wasn’t working I would note the difference in the lives of my friends vs my own. They noticed it too and I was approached by an acquaintance who was currently working for a carpet cleaning company called ZBest. He figured with my sales skills and his knowledge of the highly profitable business model Zbest was following we could make a killing.
So I quit my hard won position to sell carpet cleaning and eventually house cleaning services door to door. Couple of problems. I hated cleaning carpets and houses. Also, the business model sucked. It basically used high-pressure sales tactics to take someone who would let you into their house to clean carpet for $20.00 and convince them to pay you $300 for various additions to the service. This was the 80’s and that was fairly decent money.
Six months later I tried to go back to what I love selling stuff over the phone. I opened a discount travel brokerage. I would get “vouchers” for travel to destinations foreign and exotic and sell them over the telephone to people who had expressed interest in travel via magazine surveys.
I picked up these vouchers for a few dollars if I bought them in bulk and sold them for $3-800 dollars a piece. I was ambitious and willing to work 16 hours a day. I started with a small handful of vouchers calling from my apartment selling to my list of house and carpet cleaning clients. Within 90 days, I had moved the business out of the apartment and had 30 people selling for me working in three separate 4-hour shifts starting at 6am and ending at 9pm.
Couple of problems here too. I was 20 and hadn’t taken a vacation since I was 11 years old. I had seen language on these vouchers that referred to “blackout dates” the language inferred this would be on holidays or other high travel times of the year. It was the 80’s and apparently “black out” was the code for whatever day you request. I had sold these vouchers to friends, family and employee’s. Apparently they weren’t worth the paper they were written on.
As quick as it opened the travel business was closed. And for the moment my appetite for entrepreneurship sated.
It would be 20 years before I took a big gamble on owning my own business again. In the meantime I would work my way up the sales and operations ladder not only selling directly but running teams and eventually divisions and entire sales operations for the following companies:
- The Design People
The biggest change in my career would happen in 2007. That’s the year I transitioned from running one of the largest call center operations in the country to starting as a junior sales executive at a local web development company.
What can I say? I had my internet awakening far later than most. It came around the time I was a director for a major media company. I was running seven call centers at the time. The call center I worked from had over three hundred people. We had direct sales and customer service. Both departments generated revenue by selling media products.
Our direct sales in a year could reach as high as thirteen million dollars. About 15-20% of that would come back in returns. At the end of the last quarter of 2007, I’m at the corporate office to review yearly numbers with other department heads. For the first time, there is a new “department head” at the table. He had never been included in past years because his department was three people. This year his team exceeded 2 million in sales with a sub 3% return rate. This department was, of course, the digital marketing department selling the same media products my team was except via the web. I guess someone had finally decided (wisely) they deserved a spot at the table.
I could see the writing on the wall. Sure enough, less than 6 months later the order came down to close up shop in the states. The call center work would be relocated to the Philippines.
I would also relocate but instead of the Philippines I would re-engineer my career in the fire of the emerging digital revolution. Specifically focusing on SEO that magic set of skills apparently needed to deliver traffic to a website.
The rest, as they say, is history. I was mesmerized by the internet. It literally changed the way we shop for products. I was also exposed to the difficulties of actually providing good service. In the meantime in my role as junior account executive, then account executive , then senior account executive and finally vice president of sales for three of Los Angeles’s top digital marketing companies also exposed me to almost every type of client. From small business owners with the great idea’s to movie stars, the last seven years have given me the chance to do two things.
- Develop world class contacts that do amazing and inexpensive work in every aspect of digital marketing.
- Work with an endless list of clients. From doctors to political candidates I have built websites and run marketing campaigns for hundreds of clients.
Newmansbuzz is my marketing agency. I have other online companies, but this one is the only one that bears my name. When my friends and family need help digital marketing solutions this is the agency that provides it with me leading the charge.