Here are 11 Businesspeople who figured out how to make their advertising profitable and became millionaires – as a result.
They didn’t get money from Wall Street, grow through innovation, or have an amazing sales team.
Instead, they fueled their business growth with great marketing.
Marketing wasn’t the one key to their success. But, it fueled their success.
So, let’s go thru the list.
1. John Morgan.
Net Worth: $500 Million+. If you’re in Florida, you’ve definitely heard of him.
And, he’s the real deal. In a world where most attorneys don’t run any ads on Facebook, his firm, Morgan & Morgan is running hundreds of ads on Facebook. I just looked at their ads in the Facebook Ads Library.
Here’s one of his Billboard Ads:
Yes, it’s provocative! But, John Morgan didn’t get to where he’s at being mealy-mouthed.
Business Lesson: If you can find an advertising message that works, then you can scale.
Getting traction in a highly competitive business like Personal Injury Law is tough. But, you can’t run as many ads as them unless you’ve got a marketing message that works.
It appears that Morgan cares more about winning than looking good. There’s a news article that alleges that some of the people in his marketing department complained about the “Size Matters” Advertisement. They were let go in a “restructuring.”
2. Charran Sing.
He’s the founder of Select Quote, a $1.5 Billion Company.
Select Quote is a marketer of Life Insurance. I still remember the first time I heard their life insurance ads on the radio. They were very direct and sold Life Insurance by showing how inexpensive it was for an average person to get insured.
The ads said something like: “If you’re a healthy man in your 30s who doesn’t smoke, then you can get life insurance for less than 10 bucks a month.”
I heard the simple, direct commercials for years and never bought life insurance. But, after a friend of mine died without Life Insurance and left behind 5 kids, I quickly bought life insurance. I shopped a few different companies and ended up going with Select Quote because they had the most competitive rate and terms.
But, they never would have gotten the opportunity to quote my business if they hadn’t run those great radio ads.
Today, Select Quote is a publicly owned company with a Market Cap of $1.5 Billion. I don’t know how much of the company Sing owns, or what his net worth is. But, their advertising helped build a $1.5 Billion Company.
Here’s a screenshot of one of their TV Ads.
As you can see, they’re selling Life Insurance based on affordability. This is much different from all the other insurance companies that tell you how great they are. (As a consumer, none of that matters to me. I know Insurance Companies have money to pay claims. Duh!)
By the way, it currently only costs me $1.04 per day to have a $1.2 Million Policy in place. That’s cheap!
Business Lesson: One good marketing message can be worth billions.
It’s shocking that a huge industry like insurance doesn’t have great marketing. If you can find a better way to market their product, then you can build a great company.
3. Ron Sholes.
He appears to be a millionaire, but I don’t know his net worth. I’m fascinated by the advertising that Personal Injury Attorneys use. It’s a highly competitive business, and they all try to outdo each other.
And you have to spend a lot because many people simply hire the attorney who runs the most ads.
But, a local attorney found a way to beat the big law firms without running more ads.
His name is Ron Sholes, and he’s in Jacksonville, Florida – which is where I live.
How’d he do it?
He capitalized on a “tough guy”, Veteran image in a town filled with military veterans. Jacksonville is one of the biggest military towns in the country and his ads appealed to them.
And, he was able to get business – even though he wasn’t the biggest firm in town, and didn’t run the most ads.
Here’s one of his Billboard Ads:
As you can see, he’s rolling up his sleeves, ready to go fight the insurance companies. I gotta admit, it’s more inspiring than some of the other Personal Injury Attorneys.
If I ever need a Personal Injury Attorney, he’d be the first guy I’d call. I’d sure shop around, but at least he’d get the call!
Business Lesson: When you’re competing against a huge company that can outspend you on marketing, then you have to show why you’re different.
Ron Sholes figured out how to do that! It’s working. He’s managed to compete against two other huge law firms here in the Jacksonville, Florida area, and win business.
4. Tomas Revesz.
He co-founded Everquote, a $400 Million Company. I don’t know exactly what they do, but the best description is that they are an Insurance Lead Generation Company. It sounds like they either work as an Insurance Agent, sell leads to Insurance Companies, or get paid whenever one of their leads buys a policy.
Today, they are a publicly owned company with a Market Cap of $432 Million. I don’t know how much of the company Revesz, or what his net worth is. But, their advertising helped build a $400 Million Company.
Here’s one of their online Ads.
You’ve probably seen it.
It’s definitely an interesting hook and believable too! It must have worked because I saw it for years across different websites. They stopped running that ad because of a controversy. But, the new ads must be working, because their revenue is still growing.
Business Lesson: Tap into existing news stories or movements.
The whole “disruption” thing has been big for the last 20 years. Craigslist disrupted the newspapers. Netflix disrupted Blockbuster. Uber disrupted Taxis. Etc. This company found a great marketing message by taking that big story and turning it into an ad.
5. Matt Coffin
Matt is the founder of LowerMyBills.com, a company that was sold to Experian for $330 Million. They are a Lead Generation Company for the Mortgage Industry. They generate leads and sell them off to lenders.
A good lead can be worth hundreds of dollars, so lead generation alone can be a lucrative business. It appears they didn’t have anything proprietary – except for a bunch of crazy ads and the lead distribution platform.
Here are a couple of their ads:
I’m sure you probably recognize them. The best ad had this witch walking across a building. She constantly looked like she was falling over and so you had to look. It created this endless drama where your brain was asking “Is this witch going to fall off the building and die or not?” What a crazy ad!
Business Lesson: Ugly, embarrassing marketing can be hugely effective and profitable.
Most of us would be embarrassed to run ads like these. But, the guy who started this company got so rich that it appears he lived in an $18 Million House in the Hamptons.
However, today most ad platforms are trying to ban ugly ads like these. The trrick is to find you’re going to want to make the ads look prettier, and more professional – because most ad platforms don’t want ugly ads like these.
Vistaprint’s parent company, Cimpress, has a Stock Market Cap of $2 Billion. But, it started small and grew quickly because they had one great offer that scaled thru advertising and word of mouth.
That offer was 250 “Free” Business Cards, and it built a $2 Billion Dollar Business. Here’s what Robert Keane said about it in an interview:
“We marketed directly to small businesses. Someone in the company came up with the idea of free business cards. In 1999 there was a lot of buzz around viral marketing. We knew that if we could get enough volume, our costs would plummet and it would not be that expensive to give cards away.
That became a runaway success. At the time, full-color business cards were selling online for $85 and $200-$300 at traditional printers. We gave them away free with a $5 shipping and handling fee. That offer was so successful in getting people to try us that it became an acquisition engine that drove our business. Our business model got to scale very quickly.”
This offer worked on me! I’ve used Vistaprint several times because they advertised an offer for 250 “Free” Business Cards. Every time I ordered them, I ended up buying 500 business cards, having them printed double-sided, and paying for faster shipping. Before I knew it, my “Free” Business Cards turned into a $50 order.
And, it’s worked on others. I saw a magician at the Farmers Market. When I asked him about doing a show at a party, he picked up his box of business cards – still in the Vistaprint Box – and gave me a card.
I asked him why he chose Vistaprint and he said it was because of the 250 Free Business Cards.
Here is one of their ads:
Business Lesson: Your Offer and Sales Funnel matter!
This is a perfect example of how a Trip Wire and properly sequenced Sales Funnel – combined with great marketing can build a great company. If you’re in a “boring” business, a Trip Wire like this can set you apart from everyone else and enable you to dominate in the marketing space.
7. Keller Williams.
Estimated Worth: $1.4 Billion+ – according to Inman News. He is the founder of the Real Estate Company, Keller Williams. Gary built the largest real estate company because he offered a great product.
But, what really put them on the map is when he published a book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.
It got the attention of tens of thousands of Realtors and many of them joined his company. Their growth skyrocketed after the book was published.
Yes, a book is not traditional “marketing.” But, it’s marketing because it spread the word about Keller Williams better than any advertising Keller Williams could have bought. And helped him become substantially wealthier.
8. The Ticket Clinic.
Another Law Firm. Yep. Lawyers spend a ton of money on advertising. And since I love marketing, I notice all of it. They have 29 offices in Florida and 2 in Georgia.
It appears the founder recently sold his home in Miami for $29 Million. So, they’re doing pretty well. They show up at the top of Google PPC Ads and are running more Facebook Ads than anyone else. So, their marketing engine is dialed in well.
Here’s one of their ads:
Business Lesson: There’s a lot of money to be made in “ugly” niches.
Thousands of Attorneys try to compete with the huge Personal Injury Law Firms. And 99% of them don’t grow a large law firm. Or, they go into other competitive legal niches such as Divorce (Ugh!) or Criminal Defense.
Meanwhile, the Ticket Clinic is making bank on an ugly legal niche. I noticed the same thing in my prior career. But, that’s another story for another day. So, if you’re struggling to stand out in a hyper-competitive niche, then consider moving into a less competitive niche.
9. Guthy Renker.
Guthy-Renker is a Direct-Response Marketing Company with over $1 Billion a year in Revenue. They started in Infomercials and moved into other products.
Today they market a number of personal beauty and skincare products. Their biggest brand, Proactiv, brings in about $1 Billion a year in revenue. They got success by finding good products, creating great infomercials to sell them, and then running the business.
Here is one of their ads.
Business Lesson: There is a lot of money to be made in Consumer Products.
But, it’s a tough business. You have to find the right, unique product, create a Sales Funnel that works, create ads that convert, etc. And then you have to run the business, manage revenues, invest in inventory, etc. It’s not for the faint of heart.
10. Beach Body.
The Beachbody Company has a Stock Market Cap of $832 Million. They’ve grown a large business in the fitness industry, selling different Home Fitness Products.
They started with Infomercials and had some viral wins. I remember when everyone was doing P90X – before Crossfit became a big deal. It seems like they make good money, but you can tell that it’s a roller coaster.
Their stock was worth over $3 Billion in January 2021, and has dropped about 75% since then! This is not a business I would want to get into. But, they have made a lot of money doing it.
Business Lesson: Avoid the one-time Consumer Products Business unless you really love it.
I don’t know a lot about Beach Body. But, I’ve been around long enough to tell that they are being killed by one-time sales and churn.
Compare them to Guthy Renker (Case Study #8.) I’ll bet the churn for Beaty Products is nothing compared to the churn that Beachbody struggles with.
P90X was big 15 years ago. It’s dead now. Meanwhile, Proactiv was launched in 1995 and its sales have steadily increased over time. If my kids were struggling with Acne, I’d be willing to spend a lot of money to reduce it, and would probably spend it for years. Acne doesn’t really go away until you’re in your 20s.
Another example is an Anti-Balding Product I buy. I started using it about 5 years ago and my hair loss stopped. I spend about $400 a year on it. And, because it appears to be working, I’ll probably use it until I die. So, the churn on me is nothing compared to the churn Beach Body gets on a P90X Customer.
11. Cordell & Cordell.
Details coming soon.
So, that wraps up the case studies. If you know of any more, then send them to me and I’ll add them to this list.
Want to join this list? Then schedule a Free Marketing Consultation with me:
I’ll discuss your ads, emails, funnels, tracking, and all the other aspects of your business that drive sales.
The Million Dollar Ad Guy
About the Author
Ben Curry specializes in helping marketers get more sales from their Facebook™ and Instagram™ Ads WITHOUT increasing costs.
He has created many high-converting Facebook™ Ads that brought in six figures in revenue. A few have brought in over a million dollars in sales each. Many are still running today.
In addition, he has personally managed over $2 Million in ad spend on Facebook. His ad management strategies have generated more sales – while lowering Customer Acquisition Costs – at the same time.