Episode 324: Using WordPress as a Lead Generation Tool With Spencer Forman

Show Summary

Rob Cairns talks to Spencer Forman about using WordPress as a lead generation tool.

Show Highlights:

  1. Why WordPress.
  2. Why you do not want to only use rented land for lead generation.
  3. The benefits of WordPress.
  4. The WordPress community.

Show Notes

Hi Rob Cairns here. And today I’m here with my guest, Spencer Foreman. How are you today, Spencer?

Good morning. We had a chance to catch up before and we switched to stream yard today.

Yeah, it’s catching up. Is always a good thing. You know, we. It’s funny. We were saying you and I have been in the WordPress space so much. Our pass keep. And we’ve never actually chatted. So this is like amazing.

It is great to meet you. And I was just up in your neck of the woods on my sabbatical there for a couple of days. Spring break with my son, so.

Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m glad you came up and had a had a great time. So before we jump in, one of the questions I was that like to ask is people’s WordPress origin stories. So how you got into WordPress could you share?

Please sure I have made it very public. I had previously always been an entrepreneur and several of my various businesses led me to be beyond being a trial lawyer. I got into real estate at the boom stage in the early 90s of Chicago, and I did that for about 25 years, got married. Started having kids. I have three sons, but I ended up getting divorced and getting custody. Sons to raise at a time when the real estate market in the late 2000s to 2010 took a pause. At the same time. I had a love for aviation, So what had happened was I had some time on my hands and I was stuck at home in a good way, raising my very young children. So I started going online and I found out there was early. Social networking.


Systems before Facebook and YouTube, one of which was called lying. It was funded by the billionaire Marc Andreessen, who’s also a fellow University of Illinois alum. And they just said build anything you want for any reason and you can use our platform. And I was naturally affiliated with the idea of, oh, I could take some videos or photography from these little micro. The trikes I flew share it with others and I did it and along the way I met a Google engineer who was also interested in that stuff and he said I’d like to work with you and build something about this site. And one thing led to another. To cut to the chase, we. Built up a. Network of 10s of thousands. Well, it was about 12,500 people on the Ning network because he was able to develop chotchkie’s little solutions for people that weren’t being built by Ning. And I’m a natural marketer, entrepreneur. So I was like ohh hot dogs. Let’s sell them at. The stadium. And it became a little notorious for us because we had such success that ultimately Ningbo attorneys and investors shut us down because they were making no money and we were making 10s of thousands of. So that led to an English company wanting to get our IP and information about how this works. So they hired us on a contract for a couple of years, but ultimately that ended because Facebook took over the space. And what I ended up saying was like, what’s the alternative to keep going? And it was at the early days of WordPress where I found they had. Now I’m pals with the like John James Jacoby, but it was BB press and then Boom Gorgas had buddy pro. And so I was like, oh, maybe we can make something of this. So I packed up my bags and I was still stuck at home being a, you know, working from home. WordPress filled the bill because this open source meant that I could actually deliver something, and this is still obviously true today that people could never have taken away from them by a platform. And so flash forward merely 17 years. And overnight success with WordPress. Like all of us.

Right. Yeah, I’m where I’m, you know, it’s easy in this community to be critical, but, and we know many of us are at times. But where would we all be without WordPress? Right. And and I say the same thing, you know. It’s funny. I I mark it now and I probably spent half my time marketing, but it was WordPress that got me started and I I think back to when I looked at WordPress like 14 years ago and I looked at this other site called Squarespace and I yeah. And then somebody said to me and my whole reason for starting a website. Richland wasn’t even for clients. It was. I was. I was tired of family calling me and asking me simple tech questions so they could click on the button and go find answers to. So I built out my first website so that my family would stop asking me questions and I just post links and say go here, go here and then I was like the family. Photographer cause I’m the digital guy in my family, so every time we have an event, all the video or. Pictures go through me. Like you know, you know how that is.

I mean what’s what’s interesting, we share cause we’re we’re peers. I’m 56 and you’re in the same range. I won’t reveal your. Age. But we’re we’re pure.

Thanks this year.

Is that I think we’re we benefit. As Gen. Xers, that’s part of the business thing that I think is now another new opportunity from being at that stage. When the first of many, many, many things that are now taken for granted came online, and so as I mentioned, I had been. A A photographer, a a personal photographer. All those years of black, you know, black and white. Darkroom photography, then manual color photography and so forth. And so when you had one foot in the world of like pre industrial age and then you go through the industrial part and then you go to the computer part and now we’re in the automated part, I think we have a better sense of like. How amazing everything is instead of, let’s say, our kids generation, where there may be a little jaded by, of course everything is automated and I think that serves us well for the audience that we serve WordPress. For all of the hiccups and the the the side tracking that we’ve had to do to get where we’re at, it’s really incredible when you compare it to, for example. Imagine it was 1995 and Microsoft Windows was open source like what might have been versus it being commercialized. You know where the desktop had 8000 icons being, you know, like a flea market. We’re facing those problems in open source now, but unlike closed source, we can actually whine and complain and. Do stuff about it. Which is where I feel we both have a A strength.

Yeah, I I would agree with you and. I said this in the pre show when we were talking about, I’ll say publicly. One of the reasons I moved to Gutenberg, which is as Brian Gardner’s going to modern WordPress for the new way of doing things, is because of you and you did a talk about I guess it’s a year and a half, two years ago now about Cadence and extended. Wife and I had already bought a cadence lifetime license at that point and I gotta thank you. You gave me the push to get with the times and say let’s get going here and I got going. So for that, I gotta say. Thanks Spencer very much.

Yeah, it’s funny, by the way. I want to mention Brian, Brian’s a. Fellow Chicagoan and he works with. WP engine now and he’s working on some new things, but I want to say like this is nothing to do with Brian, but since he’s. Leading the charge. The and and I’ll mention extend the file too, cause minier Kamal developed that and Chris Luke Burke and his partner were involved and still are. With that I met them. In san. Diego sometimes. You have a group of people in an open source community and you have a fork in the road moment where you say I do not agree to go down that. And we were mentioning that in regards to some CRM solutions and otherwise. So what I feel. Happened at the time because you mentioned I had talked about and I did extend to Phi and there was a helper plug-in me near had been given the ability to sell again and he runs the Gutenberg hub still which is terrific. But I don’t agree at all with full site editing. I think it should stop and be removed completely. It’s complete and utter distraction that confuses the hell out of mere mortals. And since the Gutenberg blocks and Gutenberg patterns and the pattern library and things that cadence does natively like the Cloud library are so logical. Having full site editing where there’s an entire layer that acts differently than the front layer but is still built with blocks is mind numbingly stupid and I say it with no hesitation that it’s it’s taking what’s finally become clear and making it 10 times more confusing again and the whole thing that there’s themes that are blocked. Full site editor block based versus normal. Classic nonsense. Second part I no longer use extend to fire or any other modifications because finally. Again, Ben Rittner and his team finally have gotten the tools, along with the native tools inside of many of the default Gutenberg blocks to just control things like styling. And I found that one of the downsides of using extendibility at the moment. Was they jammed it full of stuff that wasn’t expected, both in the code as well as in the back end, and I’m trying to find this pure essence of WordPress plugins that are features only so that the stack that one has is a teeny dinner that I’ve spoken about forever. I think that is achievable today with. A classic theme like Cadence, Cadence blocks. Maybe you need a few other helpers and a few plugins. You have got essentially WordPress as a service.

No, I agree with you. And it’s funny when you say you’re not using extended fify anymore. Guess what? I’m not either. So there you go. I moved away from it some time ago because reality is cadence does it all? And Ben and his team have done such a good job and he for reference just wrote a post recently about why Cadence. What, Sir? Full site editing ready and where that whole ecosystem was. So Ben’s been very transparent with his community and I think we’re lucky to have him. He’s a he’s a brilliant developer as far as.

I’m concerned. Yeah, I heard his talk when he spoke about that. I was in the hot tub at the time. Chilling out. And I was like going. Yes, yes, because. You know anyone who’s in the trenches understands that, and this is on the front page of WP. Launchy. I have two. Types of problems that I’ve solved for 17 years. Right Frankenstein. Monster or Shiny ball syndrome? Frankenstein monster is how we got to this party because he just had to use whatever he had to. Do and. Like the townspeople eventually had to kill whatever you built, but the shiny Ball syndrome must end because we’re in a consolidation mode now for many years. But as far as the tool set. Each of those consolidated branches, which tend to have a hosting company at the base of them. Are are vying for? Look, we’ve got a system and by the way that includes Divvies got their own cloud element. There’s got their own cloud, but if you look at any of the hosting companies, they’re all just trying to stack up a bunch of stuff that says for a certain amount per month, you get whatever. I agree with. That model, but I feel like independently we can have our own stack. It is the. He doesn’t matter what host you’re on, this is the. This is the TV dinner to use because it gets rid of all of the shiny ball problems. You don’t need five plugins where one would do the job or thing.

I agree with you and and frankly, I’d rather have my own stack because I’ve got clients because of the type of. Industries therein. I cannot get them on quote normal. Hosting, I have a couple of clients in the adult industry, legal I should say, and that is a issue beyond none that violates the terms of service of every host. So what I end up having to do is do something like spin up a vulture server or something like that where I’ve got. Control and if I’m locked into hosting company stack I don’t have that flexibility. So 100% agree on that one.

Right. I mean it’s interesting because. I have conversations with many of the hosts trying to build strategic relationships or otherwise, and some of them are very responsive, tend to be that the smaller ones are more responsive. But I would say a colleague, a pal of mine, Jason Cohen at WB engine, he’s very candid. I’ve been outspoken and said stop cashing the hell out of all the customers because you’re selling something that isn’t legitimately what it’s supposed to be. It’s something from 10 years ago, or actually 2010 when I first met him. That was needed to manage the WordPress hosting back when everybody was on at best WHM or C panel, but now you’re just treating everybody like kids on a school bus and you won’t let them have dynamic websites with custom checkout or sales pages unless they beg you to uncashed them. And I’m saying that’s nonsense versus going to a cloud ways and spinning up a digital ocean or vulture thing where you. Have full control. And I think that’s the kind of layer that is also needing attention today because the customers that come to me 9 out of 10 clients. Have some really messed up problem with their hosting that doesn’t need to be because the host, the hosting company business was a series of. Let’s pay out $125 for a referral for a $5 a month client and we’ll get the money back in three years, the people. Will never leave, but that’s just.

You know I’m. I’m laughing. I’m laughing at you, Spencer, because I just spent the morning before going to this record of moving somebody who’s having problems with the host. I won’t name. Who it is because I’m gonna be a nice guy today. But you know, and I’m moving him to A to a vulture server to get him out of there so. Like because the performance was just. Dying and what we gotta do is Hostess. Hey, guys, stop selling these stupid two and three dollar plants, please. Please, please just stop because you’re brainwashing these businesses saying ohh I can host a website for $30 year. No you can’t. Like don’t do that to us.

I mean, you know. Considering the cost of everything else. There was an old joke about it, but you know, like it’s it’s incredible. It’s amazing, but the people still have this penny wise dollar, foolish problem where they think I’m running a business. And I said, what are you selling? Ohh, my thing is $150. A month and they have clients. And then they. Get somehow conditioned into thinking that hosting that’s more than $6 a month is expensive and like. You should be spending $50. A month minimum on your hosting. Yeah, just full stop. Now there’s other places to save money now, you know, like off the rack, but just discussing it like with the. For EMS, so because of my deep affiliation with WP Fusion and Jack Arturo and the fact that that’s at the core of many of the automations that are part of a normal Business Today, there might be 55 CRM’s. Well, let’s, let’s name names HubSpot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, the granddaddy’s, the goat multiple offenders. On the level of taking advantage of people because, yeah, hub in particular, a billion dollar company sells a $17,000 a year service contract to a customer. That needs a $9090.00 a year plug in like fluency RM, and they do it unabashedly with no guilt, because that’s how they do it. And that’s a problem as well, because people don’t understand how necessary marketing automation is. But it should be part of the stack of WordPress, not like an accessory. That you have to. You know, sell blood to pay. For at the same time, if you don’t have it, you’re at a deep disadvantage with everything else that you can do with your user journey.


So I mean these. Are just part of the growing pains of going from what was to what is. I always joke about it, but I do recall when the early sell carriers and I, you know, I used to have the the Motorola click phones when I was in construction. They used to sell. Text messaging for $0.25 per message $0.25 what a bargain. I could do 4 text messages for a dollar.

I move. I mean, you’d be.

Left out of town right now. If you did that, but that’s what happens. And by the way, to Jason’s credit back to WP engine. He’s the most straightforward guy around, so he’s not pretending that the situation doesn’t exist. But one of the things that he explained to me, which is logical, they’re so big and so profitable that if if something doesn’t move the needle in the 10s of millions of dollars. They could give a shot? That’s the problem, isn’t it? That’s why I say I don’t feel like the solution that I’m going to be offering. Anybody’s gonna come from that? Level of a company. It’s like telling, you know, GoDaddy to do something. Whatever. It’s gonna come from the company that has 40,000 or 100,000 or maybe 250,000 to 1,000,000. WordPress potential users because they’re hungry for what can differentiate us. In a world of gorillas and elephants in the room.

You know, ohh I agree. With you and it’s funny. You talk about the CRM conversation and you mentioned infusion soft, a lot of people call it confusion soft and I was sharing with you off the you know before we went to record, I did a lot of my. Marketing training at one time to a gentleman by the name of Paul. Toby Adrian, Tobey’s father. He ran a company called training Business Bros. He was the number one infusion soft reseller in Canada at one time believe. They’re not, but the one thing Paul taught was his system. He didn’t just teach mechanics. Like here’s how to do stuff in in infusion soft. They taught the system so the beauty of learning that system is you can actually take that system and apply it to any CRM and that’s it. People need to stop learning. Ohh I push A to do this, I push B to do this and I push C to apply this tag learn what is A tag for. How do you apply it? How to set up a proper automation system and then at the end of the day it? Doesn’t really matter what you use does.

That’s again because we talked about this. The thing that is a Gen. X or and being an entrepreneur since I was ten years old, my first gig was renting magazines to other kids at my All Boys camp. You can put the two and two together on that one. But I $600.00 later, I called to my father. Uh, your son has been renting magazines to the campers and counter, so we took his money and my dad’s like, what? Only. 600 but the point was, from that point forward, I knew solving the pain points that people had charging money. That was my lifelong dream. I realized what entrepreneurship was, but today. In a world of constantly evolving technology, having had the foot in the door before the industrial revolution and during the computer revolution and so forth, it means that I see. I don’t care what it is that the technology is. I’m a curious cat. I’m a curious kid. As long as I can. Keep up with it. My generation and older at least, will constantly be begging. Can you please just do this for us? Can you please explain it to us? And that’s the thing. Having a 12 year old through 22 year old sons. I have three of them. They use different tools. They have different mindsets. They don’t, you know, Dad tells his old stories. I remember when well, they never had to bother with the idea of coming home from school by themselves on a bus. And there’s two TV channels at best with maybe 1 show they have unlimited everything all the time. But for our generation, people want like a human connection, and I think that’s the take away. WordPress. Thankfully, even with all of its faults, is open source. So going back to that Microsoft reference. Like, imagine we had Microsoft Windows 95 open source. What the world might have been like. Well, we have WordPress open source 2023 and now in a world of AI and everything else, the game has just been leveled again. And so this whole generation of of potential customers and clients exist. They’re not gonna learn this.

But now?

It’s true.

We’re in our position, might be interested to learn it and now we can deliver the latest and the greatest without necessarily having 15 people to do the labor.

And you’ve mentioned the word AI. So let’s go then. We were talking before and I so think AI, it’s not a job killer like everybody says. Ohh, AI jobs are gonna disappear. What happened with the printing press we to build to make books. We get book jobs all over the place and. I’ll say it I’m all in with ChatGPT and I’m all in with Bertha dot AI for a long time I use birthday and WordPress sites for me for clients every day all day. What’s your take on AI Spencer?

Where do I see AI fitting in please? Yeah, I I mean, I feel like you just touched right on the center of the. Button it’s. I’m gonna point the finger. I I was on another show that I’m frequently, you know, the WP tonic and we have Rand Fishkin on and Rand was well known. Now he does spark Toro, but this is my point. He’s well known for being the SEO expert for so many years, right? And I have always been. An antagonist in situations where I feel. There’s a a gorilla. Taking advantage and Google with all their various nonsense leading through AMP and to the latest. Selling people this delusion that somehow you must please us, and we’re constantly going to change the algorithm and constantly change your mind and you know, bow to our altar of what we tell you, because otherwise you won’t survive. And I’m in a. World of like or. You can just build relationships with people 1:00 to 1:00 and they can refer you other human beings, and you can have 5-10, a hundred 1000 people who get to know you and then you never have to worry about that ever again, right? It’s a different business. So now that AI is shaking that up. The take away is that entire middleware layer of doing everything to please Google for SEO or doing everything to build a website to please them. It’s irrelevant because those of us who’ve been playing with AI realize. Holy crap, like I can get the immediate information I need both for my purpose for building, but also to deliver to my clients and my clients can get it directly from this thing that’s going to speak to them instead of them having to go through a page that is like a sandwich with ADS at the top, ads at the bottom, ads on the side, 3 little game things. In the middle and by the way I. I don’t. I promised never to say the name, but like that brings up good actors, bad actors and WordPress. WordPress consolidating. There’s certain people that I would like to say are. Acting as bad actors and they have taken advantage of the goodwill of everyone else like I was in Canada and I mentioned how amazing it is. They’re so polite. The number one thing besides hockey people respect. The queue you gotta respect the line well in. WordPress there’s there’s. One company that runs the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory that essentially takes advantage of SEO and Black Hat and gaming the system as well as relationships and WordPress. And I find it very disturbing to me, to the point where I have to keep mentioning it because everybody knows that. Everybody says it, but the person in charge of it acts as if he’s not doing it, or that it’s not happening. And I feel that that’s such a bad thing to happen in an open source community. Cause we’re sort of all on a. So what AI is going to? Two is going to make a lot of this irrelevant because when people need the thing they need, they don’t. Care what it’s made from. They just want the solution right? Like I’m hungry. I want a sandwich. I don’t care where you buy the bread and the meat and the as long as it tastes good. That’s what I want. So if you can find your customers, if you can deliver solutions and you can do it without hiring. 20 people are using 20 different plugins from various companies that are pumping their SEO. Awesome, because that was the final destination that I think all of us wanted to be at. Just like nobody builds an iPhone from scratch. You just buy one and you you load the apps on it that work the way.

You want so true. I I just had a client that wanted an e-mail sequence and I built the entire e-mail sequence out of the AI. All the texts out of AI everything I wrote. And and. If and if my client heard that they say but and I said, but you’re paying me for expertise to make your business succeed so. The fact that I’m using tools doesn’t make my agency any lesser. It means I know what to do to get the job done right.

I think because I can relate back to when I first started professionally, I was an attorney, I was doing trial work and that was when we had those libraries of big books from Martindale, Hubble and. No computers. Believe it or not, computers came in maybe around 9293, then fax machines around 90. 394 and and nowadays the comparatives like I remember. The days where you. Had a secretary, you would dictate to. They had like a a pad. They would write it and then type it on a manual typer and mail it. Many people don’t know what that is, and it was seven days to send and seven days till you had to respond, right? And everything was like phone calls and long. Term in between. Now my friends who still practice. It’s like under text messages a minute. They gotta respond to. AI is gonna blow that whole business up. Well, similarly. The thing that people need is the expertise of somebody to give them advice, to give them a solution, to tell them it’s OK, the tools that the person used uses are irrelevant, just like in the lobbyist is an attorney better today because they have a computer that gives them an answer or because they looked it up in a. Book no, but. There are some parts of being a lawyer that are going to be now commoditized, that anybody can type in a I I’m getting a I don’t know, I have a dispute over my automobile with my blankety blank. What’s the solution and the computer can talk to you like. A lawyer, in fact. I play in a dad’s band and one of my friends who the two of these guys are also. He sells insurance to people, but he’s an attorney and he was disbelieving cause he’s been living in a vacuum. Didn’t know what I was. So we had our practice. I showed him on the screen. I said this is coming for you, dude. And you either gonna adopt it or not. So at first he was freaked out because, like, wow, it could give the best answers that he could give. And then I said or you can use it as your tool, and here’s a way you can use it to like, here’s a marketing e-mail. You can use that helps you, right. So you have to be. Not a Luddite. And not trying to destroy the looms that are going to make stuff. Instead you go. I’m gonna go in the business of making better stuff and marketing better to people who want stuff made from my automated looms. And that’s the take away and we’re impressed. The same thing. I feel like WordPress is a service WordPress not in the word of whatever you’re selling will become important because, let’s be honest, does any customer ever care that it’s made with WordPress? I doubt.

Not relevant. No, no, no. And I agree with you. I mean it it, it’s so funny and people have been evolving with tools and I think that’s what makes people like yourself and myself successful is we like technology, we live in technology and we’re on the edge of technology. And you know, I’m not always right on the edge, but I’m pretty close. And that’s that makes my my life a lot better. I’ve always said one reasons why I’ve worked in tech before, and I got into marketing. I did all this was because I like the changing game all the time. Like I’ve watched you know, it’s funny. I look at even things like personal computers I can remember. Or get a load of this buying hard drives and for 520 make hard drives. We were paying when it first started in healthcare we were paying $1000 and then we were paying $1000 for a whole computer in that corner over there. I’ve got an original Visicalc box. There’s a name from the blast. In the past.

I mean we we both have our. I’m sure I I. Had to do a little spring cleaning once but. I I’m like a hoarder of old technology, right? And so I, especially my Macintosh stuff, but like one of the things I’ve got which I don’t know what to do with. I have a metal box that’s like like crate because it’s so heavy, filled with every hard drive of every computer I ever had because I didn’t know how to properly dispose and I was thinking about, well, don’t want this data. Get in the wrong hands or whatever, so I’ve got a box, maybe 50 hard drives. You know, the real big old IDE hard drives with. Big platters and stuff, not an S. And yeah, it’s it’s, you know, it’s like it’s a gimmick. It’s like my dad’s trading cards from the 1950s or something. It’s like a a legacy of where we were, but. Anyway, when it comes to like the the world’s colliding, I think from a business standpoint. My customers are end users and most of them are entrepreneur level small business a few. But the majority of the people that I teach are fellow entrepreneurs, slash agency owners or people who are trying to figure out how to align. The human nature of marketing with the tool set, and I think that’s where the nature of my being very I like to use that metaphor. The kids in the Emperor’s new clothes story like I don’t waste any energy or time with anybody who is not interested in knowing this is the right answer and the right answer changes. As as we’ve discussed, but today this is the right answer today. Don’t hook your horse and wagon to the back of a gas powered car to the back. Your Tesla just move to the Tesla and put all the other stuff in a metal box, and someday you’ll look at it like I do my. Old hard drives and think, oh, that was fun.

Yeah, I agree with you. One of the things you wanted to talk about was why WordPress inside it has the best marketing system. How come?

You mean in terms of the them selling or us selling stuff that’s built on WordPress?

Us selling stuff that’s built on WordPress.

I think it’s the take away from that origin story, so. Is a. Is a guy from Chicago, and again I visited Toronto. There’s a similar practicality as an entrepreneur. You open up a hot dog stand and this is back in the day where they had a thing called freemium. You sell hot dogs the first day or you go out of business, right? If nobody’s buying your hot dogs, you shouldn’t be in the hot dog business. Silicon Valley had this? Ohh I’ll borrow $1,000,000 from my uncle and give hot dogs away for free until I have enough people that maybe someday I’ll sell them something. That’s doesn’t make any sense to me, right? That’s like going out with a million people and hoping that you’ll meet somebody but not understanding who you. Want to be? With so in the world of marketing with WordPress. The problem is solved of somebody being able to take your entire business away from you, because whether it be Twitter or whether it be Facebook or whether it be YouTube or any of the other SAS based solutions today, including by the way, the CRM, if you’re and you indicated like you have a few clients that are on the periphery of like things that are. Businesses, people you know don’t want to have on their networks. If you are building your business on somebody elses SAS solution. You are every moment of every day at risk of losing everything. And so when we did this name thing, the take away, which was awesome for us, not good for our customers, is Ning punitively came in and just shut down 12,500 customers of ours like they just shut their networks down. It was like Elon Musk. But 2008 version of it, right? It was a little microcosm. So WordPress solves the problem, because everything you own is in a box that can be cloned every hour. And if you have a bad host, who? Has a bad. Day CFU. I’m leaving and you go to another host and you just move it over in six min. And the difference between SaaS platforms and SaaS CRMS and everything in a box is the lesson I learned and my clients learned a long time ago. You can’t take data from a proprietary platform with the rest API and move it somewhere else, cause there’s nowhere else to go but WordPress. The whole thing is in a box. You see, like it’s such an obvious concept. So when I market to people that extends to the relationship, when I teach marketing. I say you know what the best thing you can sell to people is is the promise. That they can give you the boot. And say bye bye because the second they realize that you don’t own and control them and you’re actually giving them their freedom, that makes you their lifelong friend.

You call me?

And I think that’s the bottom line for all of this is it. WordPress allows you to invent anything. The framework, the Lego blocks. The tools are all there as long as you don’t make. It too complicated by. Shiny Ball syndrome or put Frankenstein monsters of old and new together. And now that box you can clone and sell to your customers and your customers can. Get either a temporary or permanent relationship with you, but they don’t have to feel like you’ve locked them into your gilded cage because at the end of the day, like back to our whole point of this, what are you and I selling? What are most people selling a relationship with a human being who wants? To pay you to. Do stuff they don’t want to do or. Learn how to do. That’s it. And if in the future we’re just nameless, faceless talking heads with robot avatars, it’s gonna be the same business.

No, I agree. I agree so much with that conversation, because yours truly, if you haven’t noticed, then most of the listeners of my show know I have a love hate relationship with that Zuckerberg company, big one. So for 2 1/2 years, I cannot post anything on my business domain on that. Platform called Facebook. This is going on because some wonderful competitor decided to mark my post as spam and say. I didn’t meet community standards. What do I post on Facebook? I post the odd picture. I comment in the odd group. And then I post my podcast. So to get around the game I’ve had to go to the posting my podcast host companies link, not the link to the blog post on WordPress because my domain is banned and this is point and check why you should never depend on a SAS platform because they can shut. Be down. I had another client who was running. An Instagram store and he was making $25,000 Canadian a day and Instagram pulled the plug because they. Felt like it.

They’ve got their lives.

And I had. Been telling him for months he needed to go to woo commerce. I needed to go to work and then I got a phone call saying how long does it take to get me to work? How well?

But let’s relate that back to the thing we were discussing a moment ago, which is important. Google as the middle layer guru between yourself and your relationships, you see the AI and the other search tools. You know, it might be Bing. It might be something else. The point is there’ll be all these independent things talking to each other. Let’s not kid ourselves. Everybody’s able now to create their own private AI search engine of their own content, and then it’ll all talk to each other. I mean, just use use your head. You can see it coming. Point is. That when I don’t know with this neural network, connects in a more deep level without the intermediary layer. It’s no different than like when payphones went away and landlines went away and everybody could just talk on cellular and you had GPS data and now all my kids know where everybody is all the time, right? You can’t hide well when you’re when you’re making stuff. You’re kidding yourself thinking like putting it on a shelf of some sass intermediary layer is necessary. It’s not, and it’s returning us back to the remember the good old days. And Uncle Spence told you that having your own website was a good thing? Yeah, because you can’t have it taken away, but through whatever AI connections you want, you can plug it into the rest of the ecosystem. And the neural network. But but now you’re not at someone’s disposal that ohh. We just don’t like the way that you put your headline title. And so we’re gonna make you disappear. No, because your content is going to be known by all of the bots and all the AI. And I’m not saying I haven’t figured out, none of us do this. You know, humanity could end tomorrow with some kind of Terminator scenario, but as long as they’re breathing human beings. You best spend your time acting like it’s 1970 and putting Flyers on the windshields of cars, and to have human relationships because the humans are the only thing that won’t be taken away, because as long as we’re still running the planet, we’re the ones that are getting the benefit of whatever you’re solving for pain or delivering for pleasure. And everything between. Human A and human B is just whatever you know. It’s the the the the tool of the day.

It’s funny, I was teaching with a marketing class on Wednesday. A good friend of mine out in BC brought me into his class remotely, and one of the things I said was if you’re going to play in the SAS sandbox, so that’s the Twitters, the Facebooks, the Instagrams, your number one goal marketing is to get them. Out of those SaaS platforms and launch your website or onto a phone call because you need to start to build real human relationships. Yeah, because.

For sure.

People buy two things. The people they trust and the people they want to work with. Very simple.

One of the layers that’s a business opportunity at the moment, bringing you back to our conversation about page builders. I love the fact you know from 2006 to 2011 to 14, it was all manual. I taught through my business with first Web designer, one WTV how to make HTML, CSS, PHP sites is very quaint, you know, with here’s. Your knife. I. Was like Bob Ross. Just let’s carve out. Let’s carve out a dev. Then the page builders like divvy and elementary started to kick in and it shifted to there. But the point is that along the way, all those legacies, like my little hard. Drive box. The the business layer opportunity that exists now is transitioning people from version one or version two of WordPress stuff because most of my clients now have product market fit and they’re being held back because some well intended. But Frankenstein building quote developer on WordPress put together this. Oh my God, I cannot believe somebody did this. Hide the Easter egg inside of a box in a box in a box, in a box, in a box, in a box thing. And like all of their effort, is trying to find where this crazy person, they don’t know anymore. Has has buried. Stuff and I. Say or. You just accept cars are electric today, so you you just park the car, park the horse, park the wagon. Let’s just take the content and put it in a modern clean stack in a box you own and control. Because now you’ll be bulletproof. When the robots take over, whereas you’re going to be left holding yourself in your hand otherwise. Because you’ll never know where anything is, and you’ll never get anybody to be able to fix it. Time and so that’s where we’re at now, in my opinion. We’re at a, a, a clean up, a transitional layer like with the iPhone. There were so many different phones when I was in the real estate development business. You remember Nokia and Trio and BlackBerry and flip phones and this now everybody just has a rectangle, maybe one of three types and that’s it. Everybody had to throw all that other stuff.

It’s either an iPhone, a Google Pixel phone, or a Samsung phone pretty well.

That’s it.

Yeah, they’re all the same metaphor, right? It’s like nobody’s flipping, and Nokia has screwed themselves and BlackBerry screwed themselves. Everybody screwed themselves because they underestimated. How much easier and better it is when you get rid of all of the stuff that was a legacy that’s now in your way and you don’t need and I think that’s the lesson for those who are either customers on WordPress or thinking of moving to WordPress. One get off of SAS for anything that you don’t need to be on, so you 2 own a box you own a control 3 have the box with. The limited stack of feature plugins that aren’t acting as platforms and aren’t being marketed and sold by nefarious behavior to trick you into stuff with like phone home. Nonsense and have somebody who helps you on a relationship level that you trust but doesn’t require you to be locked into their gilded cage on the hosting or. Other level because. That will prepare you or your business, or this will prepare you as an agency to deliver whatever is coming in the future at, like, OK, here’s the foundation. And I can do. Anything I want. Now on top of. But and I don’t have to start over and.

And I would add to that list, one more thing is make sure in this day and age you have some system in place to lock it down, to update it to do all of that stuff, because if you don’t, you’re gonna end up in trouble. I was having a conversation in January with Cassie Zen. We both done well. And I said that caffeine January I declare 2023 as the year of the vulnerability. I did right away the first week of January coming out of the whole LastPass SAS tobacco that happened right before Christmas. And she looked at me and said I’m not so sure. And then three weeks later, I got a an e-mail that yes. And I mean, and we all know every day we turn around, it’s somebody else. It’s Motorola. One day it’s a hospital in Canada. The next day, it’s the government, the next day, and it goes on. And you know, I always say to people, have you, have you bothered to check that little restore button that you’ve got? And I’m like ohh no, it’s there. And I said no, no, no, no no. Check it before you actually need to use it. That would be a good proactiveness, right?

I mean, interestingly. The AI and the other things, in addition to this other part. So imagine you got the old version of stuff that’s built by somebody you don’t know where all your Easter eggs are hidden and buried and whatever. That leaves lots of nooks and crannies for bad behavior, but the bad behavior as of late relates also to your Facebook story. It’s an impersonation strategy. So for example on Facebook you’ve got a a regular person or a business who puts up obviously public facing data about themselves. What happens now is cause human beings don’t bother reading the URL haven’t for a long time somebody just comes along, takes all of your stuff and posts a new profile, a new business profile, but the URL is something just slightly different. It’s a phishing scheme. And what they do is. They now automate this, it’s. Just the AI just generates all this stuff, so it’s an endless stream of impersonation in addition to the fact that they connect to phone numbers and things where there’s an AI talking like a human being and asking questions. So our boomer level parents above forget it. Like they just need to check out and not even try to keep up with this. Our generation has enough experience to say we can offer common sense here, but everything below. It like this is the first time they’ve been around this like we’ve seen scams in the past when they were done in a more manual level, but this is going to take things to a different level. So if you’re not prepared, and I agree with your premise, with the addition of tight security in a cleaned up modern framework that you own and control, because that the restore button absolutely what you’re saying is what I say. Have hourly backups. Because while I was in Toronto, one of my customers on WP engine actually got hacked through some other plug-in, blah blah blah. And I said you’re hacked. I could see what’s going on. It’s redirecting. All that was necessary rolling back an hour. Colin Sakori they put on the the, you know, filters and the flags to keep an eye out. And that’s it. Because it’s gonna happen. It’s not when it’s just if and if you don’t know what’s involved and you’re not running a site like a modern dynamic membership site where you have hourly backups and not don’t get me. Started on like what? Whatever staging servers and staging sites used to be. That’s BS you can’t do a staging site with a dynamic membership site because all your Members are changing every minute. Here you have to just have one site that’s constantly being backed.

Are you? Yeah, that’s a Segway. And yeah, you gotta look at what the risk is. Some sites. Don’t need that. Really backups? It depends on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. No, no question. Where do you see what press going down the road, Spencer? Put you on the subway.

I anticipate this as. Well, I mean, I anticipate this is the year because the consolidation and I’m trying to play, I’m trying to land my own plane in this. And it’s funny because I just go, I mean, notorious for. I’m just an opportunist. But like the winds change and I fly in a different direction. When I thought I was flying in One Direction, it’s consistent. WordPress as a service or WordPress as a solution is where it’s going to be. There will be a time when nobody will know or care about WordPress as a Home Depot to go get stuff. It will just simply be you get a stack of stuff that underneath it is basically open source, hopefully still and. It’s just a flavor based upon who the relationship is that you started with, whether it’s a hosting company or an agency or whatever, people are just gonna essentially have. A stack of stuff like buying, like buying a phone, it doesn’t matter anymore which platform you’re on. They’re essentially kind of the same and you just need to use it for your business. And then there’s going to be the necessary layer of both. You said security and you’re going to have the necessary layer of marketing automation because leaving that out is nonsense in today’s world. And that’s it. So I see it as like. Moving from the Home Depot open for people to wander around to the, you know, wholesalers come inside here only. But most of the products have been like divided out into this company that company, the other company who are all selling a final solution that’s concierge delivered to a person and you’re going to see at the agency. Level and the the support level similarly. Nobody should kid themselves to think that there’s a valuable business of just writing manual blog posts anymore, or for doing SEO research or keyword or even creating artwork. Even for my graphically amazingly talented friends, I’ve been turning them on to what’s available because, like, the idea of grinding away with Photoshop. And something that a person like me can go to Canva and press a button to do. You’re wasting your time. Nobody’s going to pay for. Yeah, just like nobody’s going to hand paint. Well, like I have, like, some prints on the wall and stuff. Nobody’s gonna hand paint stuff when you can have, like, a printed thing that looks like it was hand painted. That cost a dollar that’s full size on your wall. Deliver it overnight. Like I’m not gonna spend $5000 to have that hand painted anymore, right? I might have in the old days. But craftsmanship is moved to the layer of relation. So that’s where I think everybody needs to focus their attention on WordPress. What do you want to build that solves? Who’s paying and how do you get their attention to build a relationship rather than just trying to scam them or get them to buy it once and don’t lock people in the stuff and? You know, like the rest of the stuff I I’m an outspoken critic, I have no vested interest in picking fights or starting wars with people. But I feel like. All of us have an obligation as human beings in this world to use the golden rule, and I think those people who short-term make money at the expense of being disingenuous or dishonest or locking people in, OK, if that’s the business you want but live with yourself because at the end of the day, you can’t hide from anybody anymore. And I feel like that’s one of the gifts that my grandfather gave to me is to say, like your reputation is impeccable when you’re a child. Leave this planet with it intact, even if you’re outspoken, be outspoken based on facts and being good to people. And and that’s where we’re at, because humanity is all that. We’re gonna have left I.

I really agree with you. And we spend a lot of time today talking about relationships. And one of the best books. That I’ve read. Is a book called The Human Connection. It’s written by a guy by name of Cody Bateman and those who don’t know Cody. He’s the founder of Send out cards. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Cody in person several times through mutual friends and colleagues and and and he talks about that about relationships. And I think what people need to realize in our game. We need to spend more time on those relationships sometimes and less time on the technology and you know. I think you did that you probably served your business 10 times better than spending all days in the tech stock.

Yeah, agreed. I mean, at the end of the day, we’ll see where it goes, but I think this is the year the the coin flips because. I’m not going to say like to get people geeked out, nobody’s going to do this, but I’ve been playing around with my development stuff and you know, there’s major plugins out there that have lots of complex features. I’ve started to do as a fun experiment just to see what I can do. My pal Jack Arturo has been doing the same with like, let’s see what we can just code using AI to help us that our little utility plugins and I have a five or six on my WP launch club. I wrote one yesterday. I woke up in the morning with an idea cause the client wanted to use something that would have required, let’s say restrict content Pro which is not a plugin that we normally need to use because they wanted one feature just to be able to like have somebody join an existing site with lots of content but not access all the old content. And that one feature would have required the one plugin plus three add-ons and all. That load and like uh. So I just. Wrote it as a utility, but the point the take away is like we’re reaching the stage where I’ve seen this being done, like I won’t even have to touch the keyboard. Just say I wanna plug in that does this and then it it spits it out and. You’re done well. And reach that. Stage the human beings are not going. To be under. The hood of the car, like as a guy who used to fix and rebuild cars as a kid. I I changed my oil never and I check my oil never. And there’s a computer thing that I hook up to my car and that’s it. Like the computer is taking over all of the mundane stuff, and I think that’s where we’re going, where we won’t even be necessarily looking at screens. You and I wear glasses. Many of us will have augmented reality in our glasses. And yeah, you know, hearing aids, ear pieces and just interact with the world like we’re talking to people, but it’s also deeper. And so yeah, it’s exciting and bright. Thing, but that’s what I think is we’re at the Today, this is the transition. This is where this is where in, I don’t know, in the Terminator movie, this is where. It became online. Because, like Google has already gotten caught. With its pants down. And you know, Matt Mueller is a great kid and everything else what he did brought us to this place. But there’s no way anybody can delude themselves into thinking that automatic is doing anything in the best interest for all the rest of us, they’re doing their own thing, cause they’ve got investors, they’ve got a financial motive, and those other players will do fine for themselves by getting people locked into their silos with other games they want to play good or bad. But for the agencies and the independent entrepreneurs and the final business owners. Get yourself a box. Own IT, control it. Have somebody that’s willing if. Not you to. Be finger on the pulse of what’s happening because all your competitors are going to be doing the. Him now.

That’s true. You mentioned a whole plug-in thing. Share with your story. I don’t know if you know when the last passed abacco happened, there was a guy who used ChatGPT to write a plugin to export his stuff out of, or a module to export the stuff out of. The LastPass and imported into Bitwarden and it did 99.9% of the work. Form the only thing he had to change was a couple of UI changes that he had to do manually and it was all done and worked successfully and it’s been used all over the place and it’s even made several security podcasts. So there you go so.

I mean it’s I, I I I’m fascinated. It’s almost overwhelming because there’s so many things like that distract me to go look at what they’re doing. It’s an industry, right, but we’ve also seen a trend and I just have like when it’s left, I’m. Gonna have to hard stop is that. We’ve seen a trend with lots of people on LinkedIn or or Facebook or Twitter. Aside from all the. Noise, who are are? Talking the business of relationships, right? So you know, building an audience, building a relationship business is not relying upon SEO. It’s not relying on an army of people. It’s having some very simple. Very small focal point that you can solve for people, whether it’s 1510, a hundred, a couple 100, that’s often all that you need because. Because that’s what it’s about. It’s like, how many friends do you need in your social circle to be satisfied? Not a lot, but you can live a whole life with five really great friends and in the business sense, if you’re doing something to be that expert, well, you know I used to do that professionally. I’m somebody’s attorney for life. I’m somebody’s real estate developer. Whatever. That’s what it could be versus what Google and the listen. The 90s were awesome, but they tech giants became the rage as the intermediary like messiahs. But now we’re seeing that’s no longer necessary. And as they go away, it’s like everything falls back down to, like, people with people. And you just have to be somebody who knows a little bit more than your neighbor and your neighbors like, look, you know, I’d rather you do that and I’ll give you my thing. Like camp owner or a massage therapist or a doctor. I’ll trade you my thing. Like in the good old days where the Barber traded with the blacksmith. Welcome to the New world.

That’s true. Spencer this conversation’s been amazing. Thanks for joining me today. Really appreciate it.

Yeah, I’m glad we got to finally talk in.

Person and we got to have some more of these because I always enjoy your enthusiasm and listening to you and learning from you and sharing what you’ve shared. So we I appreciate what you give to the Community and that for me it’s a biggie. If somebody wants to get ahold of. Your house the best way.

Well, interestingly enough, I did put together my spencerforeman.com hub. So it’s Forman and that’s my social handle for everything. Spencer Foreman, my main business is that are outlined there as well as all the media. I have my consulting at wplauncherfi.com, the software I write for sales funnels for word. WooCommerce is at launch. Closed and then I have my catchall that used to be 1 WTV stuff. It’s now called WP Launch Club where all my fun like cool stuff I’m building and doing and chotchkie’s and stuff are available, including training, which I feel like I’m going to get back into because you know, I’ve been doing mostly one-on-one consulting at various levels starting with a free. All but there does seem to be this conversation we just had of. Returning to, here’s the stuff today that you need to know, and rather than having a phone call and saying it 800 times over again, I’ll just put it in the form of a an inexpensive course or something you can consume. And that’s like a workshop, but that’s been working really well. So Spencer pharma.com is the hub of all of it, and I’m excited for this year. You know, I think it’s. To me. I started the year. Understanding what was going to change, but the things that have happened since January have been declaratory to me that I am right where it needs to be because the number of people who came out of the woodwork literally after the turn of the year, it was remarkable to me. It was like everybody suddenly realized, like holy cow. Something is different now and I think for those of us who are excited and curious, it’s gonna be a fun year.

Thanks again, Spencer, you have yourself an amazing day, my friend.


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