Congrats, You Too Can Be a Gazillionaire!

Back in the late ’80s I started a publishing company that worked with Realtors to help sell its properties. My goal was to get my publication into prospects’ hands before they bought a home from another real estate firm who wasn’t one of my advertisers. To accomplish this, I came up with a ridiculously high-tech method of reaching potential buyers: I “bulk-dropped” my publication in every supermarket, restaurant and bank that would let me.

And it worked. My company prospered. My clients sold houses. I spent a lot of time teaching my clients how to track their responses on such technological devices as “tick sheets,” where you place a tick mark on the sheet whenever a response came in.

For a time, this was fun. But bulk-drop distribution isn’t the best way to reach prospects. So I racked my 20-something-year-old brain for a better method, but came up empty.

By 1991, I’d had enough. Luckily, one of my former employers was interested in buying the company, so I sold it. “Good riddance,” I said, even though the new owner offered me a standing opportunity to come back to run things.

Come 1993, I had my first proper job in direct marketing and went to New York University for its direct marketing certificate curriculum. A visitor came into my class one night and started talking about this thing called the Internet and its marketing arm, the World Wide Web — with something called a graphical interface. It’s coming, he said, and we entered into this whole speculative, theoretical conversation about direct marketing in the future.

A year later, a girl I was dating showed me the Internet. I asked her, “Where’s the three w’s?” She directed me to From what I remember, Yahoo! was a mishmash of totally unrelated links. I was more interested in learning how to instant message people who wanted to do cyber-things that I won’t mention here and laughing with my date over this.

So why the trip down memory lane? Simple! I had every tool necessary to take my publishing company to levels beyond my wildest dreams literally at my fingertips. Some days I look back and think, “If I’d only gotten the concept of the Internet and its vast search capabilities, I could’ve married real estate listings, search and Web sites together.” And become a gazillionaire in the process. In 1993, I could’ve gone back to my former company and made this a reality. If only I’d understood the Internet’s potential!

What’s amazing to me is how the Internet and search have changed everything in such a short time.

I also wonder these days what exactly I’m missing right now, much like I missed in the past. Where’s the next big profit center going to be? The next multimillion dollar idea? Are you thinking? Me too!


Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at or you can post a comment here or e-mail him at

Other ways to reach Jim: Phone:561-302-1719.

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5 thoughts on “Congrats, You Too Can Be a Gazillionaire!

  1. Bob Schneider says:

    Opportunities still abound on the Internet. Many Gazillionaires have yet to hatch. The key is getting enough of the ‘right’ traffic to your site. Obviously, the clearest path to that goal is to rank on top of Google for all of your desired keywords and keyword phrases (let’s just refer to both as ‘keywords’). btw, my online marketing experience pre-dates the Internet – no Al Gore jokes, please… Anyhow, I am going to give you my FREE tip of the day on Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The density of your desired keywords (the ones you have tagged) ranks no higher than 1.68% of the ~4800 words on your blog. That phrase happened to be “direct marketing”. All other keywords were less than 1%. To be even given any consideration of a favorable rank in the search engines, you’d need that phrase to be somewhere around 5% of the total text. Google and the rest favor germane content. Keep in mind that this improvement alone will probably not get you into Google’s Top 100 search engine results pages (aka SERPs) for “direct marketing”. They index ~180,000,000 pages with that phrase. Among other things, you may wish to focus upon phrases that are more attainable and more specific about your specialties. Such ‘long-tailed’ phrases might read something like this: “direct marketing consultant” or “direct marketing blog” and you will face far less competition than just “direct marketing”.

    If you’d like some insight on how Google reads your blog, drop me an email at I’ll give you the report I ran that includes info about the keyword density for your entire blog, search volume competition and a CPC pricing estimate to advertise on Google.

    Having better SEO may not make you a Gazillionaire, but at least more of the “right” people will be able to read the valuable information you post in this blog.

  2. Deana says:

    Jim – I discovered your blog through one of my groups on LinkedIn and really enjoy the information here. I learned the most about marketing while working part time as a Realtor. Unfortunately I started in 2002 and put my license in escrow in 2007 – the worst 5 years in real estate in Michigan! Bad timing. Now, after 12 years at GM, I’m in the job search mode also at the worst time in US history. You have given me some ideas that will help escalate my hopes. As for the next “big profit center” – I think the “green” arena is just getting started but haven’t a clue how to jump in. Good timing – any ideas?

  3. Jim Gilbert says:

    Deana, there are some groups on linkedin that are focused on the green arena. Do a group search for them, introduce yourself and let people know what your talents are.

    Thanks for your comment.


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