Marketer Rich Gorman Inspires Young Entrepreneurs With Amazing Success Story
When Rich Gorman entered the direct response marketing world in his early twenties, many ad agencies still looked upon the digital space with timid skepticism. Print was alive and well. Social networks had not yet been conceived. And the high speed internet connections that would eventually allow websites to stream video as quickly as the cable providers were still in their infancies. So what possible advantage could agencies gain by allocating ad spend to the digital space? To Gorman, the answer was simple: The advantage of being the first big fish in the small pond.
Today, we all know that online advertising is nothing to scoff at. Innovations in development and display allow advertisers to customize each and every impression. Intelligent analytics provide tracking capabilities that can prove campaign success with absolute certainty. And for less than a fraction of the cost of ads placed in traditional media, digital marketers can promise massive returns for their clients’ investments.
But this is a gift of hindsight. When a young Rich Gorman first began speculating about the potential of online advertising, his older and more experienced colleagues quickly dismissed his ideas as those of a naïve graduate’s. Sure, digital media deserved some attention, but it would never come close to rivaling print or television.
Time and time again, Gorman’s supervisors canned his ideas and opted for the “tried and true” strategies, despite the fact that these strategies had already begun their slow decent into obsolescence. But rather than surrendering his philosophy and carrying on with the status quo, Gorman took another approach.
Frustrated with his colleague’s lack of foresight, Rich Gorman said to hell with it and started following his instincts. In true entrepreneurial spirit, he quit his job, took what little money he had saved, and started his own company out of a friend’s garage.
Admittedly, the concept of this first business was far from original; profits hinged on selling wholesale beauty and health products, pretty much the same principle already used by established giants like Mary-Kay and Avon. However, Gorman’s faith in online advertising gave his company an advantage that his more well-rooted competitors lacked. Within less than a year, sales began to soar. And all advertising was exclusively done online.
Although direct response remained Gorman’s area of expertise, the young entrepreneur did not limit himself or his business to one technique. His first online advertising initiatives relied on a combination of display ads and search engine optimization, both still in their earliest stages. Once the business began to really take off, Rich even experimented with more traditional advertising, though the trial was short lived.
“In 2004 I placed a full color ad in Redbook.” Rich Gorman wrote on his Direct Response blog in April of 2011. “It cost us $110,000 and totally flopped. Had I spent $110,000 with a trusted CPA network, we would have received a guaranteed profit.”
Losing over $100,000 has to sting, but Gorman viewed it as evidence to further cement his faith in online advertising. At that point, the fact that online advertising budgets would eventually surpass traditional advertising budgets became quite obvious to Gorman. And he was right.
In August of 2013, The Wall Street Journal published a story about how Proctor and Gamble, the largest advertiser in the country, recently allocated over 35 percent of its marketing budget to digital media. The move came on the heels of an eMarketer report that found consumers would spend more time with digital media than they would with television in 2013 – 2014. Leading industry experts claim this year will mark the first year of this trend, which is only expected to grow.
According to the WSJ, “P&G chief executive A.G. Lafley said the consumer products giant’s digital spending on things like online ads and social media ranges from 25% to 35% of its marketing budget and is currently near the top of that range in the U.S., its biggest market.” The Journal claims that such figures “highlight the threat to traditional advertising media like print.”
As noted by a spokesperson for Proctor and Gamble, “The bottom line is we need and want to be where the consumer is, and increasingly that is online and mobile.”
P&G is far from the only company that has increased its online advertising budget. Digital marketing spend has increased at astronomical rates over the past 15 years, with little signs of slowing down. In fact, some of the most recent statistics show a 15 percent rise to $31.6 billion in U.S. digital advertising revenues in 2012, with Q4 revenues topping $10 billion for the first time.
With statistics like these, it’s fairly safe to say that Rich Gorman made the right choice when he decided to go out on his own. However, internet marketing is not the small pond that it once was, and competition continues to grow. But that does not mean that success is out of reach for those who are willing to work hard enough to attain it.
What Rich Gorman’s Story Teaches Young Entrepreneurs
It may seem easy to assume that the main character of this piece had advantages the rest of us do not possess, but this simply isn’t true. On his Direct Response blog, Rich Gorman constantly reminds readers that he is nothing special; the man refers to himself as a ‘C’ student; he admits that he knew little about the technology that built his empire when he started his journey toward success; and to top it all off, he was completely and utterly broke by the time his first business launched.
So what is it that caused him to skyrocket into dotcom millionaire-dom?
By looking at his blog, you’d think that Rich Gorman never sleeps. And you might be right. Gorman attributes much of his success to 18 hour work days and his obliviousness to the definition of the word ‘weekend.’
This type of ambition does not come naturally. It takes discipline and sacrifice. And as ridiculous as it may sound, these two things represent the biggest obstacles in any entrepreneur’s road to success.
Think back to 2011 and the height of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and you’ll remember how the talking heads spun at 1,000 MPH as they bashed the Millennial’s sense of entitlement. As much as I hate to agree with conservatives’ opinions, some of these commentators maintained fairly reasonable arguments. While I’m of the personal belief that greed, among several other things, remains the main culprit behind the Great Recession, I found it difficult to side with protesters who thought their Art History B.A.s qualified them for six figure salaries (in finance and engineering, no less). But what does this example have to do with entrepreneurship? Simple: You can’t expect anyone to give you something that doesn’t exist. You have to invent it. And then you have to own it.
When you look at the career trajectories of very successful people, you begin to notice that Rich Gorman’s story is anything but unique. Like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, all of his success started with nothing more than an idea and a relentless desire to execute said idea.
I suppose that’s all it takes…
Jeff Adams is a freelance journalist from Philadelphia. He typically covers stories about politics, the environment, and technology. Follow him on Google+ for more stories.
The American dream lives on! I especially agree with the need to "invent...then own" something these days to ensure ultimate success. Rich continues to do this in each endeavor he embraces.
"all of his success started with nothing more than an idea and a relentless desire to execute said idea." Truly inspiring Rich!
Wow! It is so inspiring to see how non-stop drive and determination can help you achieve your goals.
It's good to see Rich getting out there and teaching what he has to offer. As a personal friend of Rich I know he has the passion and business know how to get things done! Keep on killing it Rich!