The Jim & Travis StoryHow It all Got Started
Five Foot High Marketing Guy
The Big Idea Guy
August, 1995. Location: University of Central Florida. Band camp. We were both college students, and at that very moment, we were sweltering. We looked at each other, wondering, “Why did we sign up for this?”
It didn’t take too long sweating in the sun before we made a pact to never do that again.
THE END OF BAND CAMP AND THE BEGINNING OF BIG IDEAS
We’re both from middle-class families. Our parents busted their tails for everything they had. We had average lifestyles, but knew we were destined for greatness.
We always talked about success and what “hitting it big” would mean for us. We believed that on the other side of the pearly gates of higher education lie the land of milk and honey… and million dollar paychecks. Boy, were we ever wrong.
HOW COMPLEX EQUATIONS LED US TO MARKETING
Jim was a pre-med major studying to be an optometrist, and Travis was trying his luck at an engineering degree.
Then it hit us—CALCULUS!
It kicked both our butts and sent us reeling for new majors. We needed to find something else to study, something that didn’t require complex equations.
Being naturally creative and a little offbeat, advertising seemed like an obvious choice. It came naturally and, to be honest…it was easy.
Later that first year, Travis’ parents moved away, leaving him behind in Orlando to finish college. Man, was he poor. He couldn’t even pay attention. He had no cash and no place to live!
He couldn’t hold a job either. You see, Travis has a nonconformist attitude and unconventional thoughts about the way business should work. That, in conjunction with an insatiable need to make sure the establishment knew he was right, made him a hard sell for most companies employing part-time college students. It was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
At the time, Jim was sharing a two-bedroom apartment with three other people, figuring he could save on rent and expenses. What’s one more? So we set Travis up in the dining room of the apartment. We had five people living in 1,100 square feet. College life was tough. We had no money, no amenities and an apartment full of chaos.
We wanted more, and we wanted it FAST.
THE SO-CALLED EXPERTS ARE FULL OF IT
We worked hard to finish college as fast as quickly as possible. Then we entered “the real world” of advertising and marketing. Or at least we thought.
We both interned at radio stations our final year in college. Travis became the copy-king at the station he interned for. All the sales people would come to him to have their ads written because he was the most creative person in the building.
Jim created a seven-page, non-traditional resume with an advertorial as a cover letter. Everyone told him that his resume was a joke and that he’d never get a job—resumes are only supposed to be one page, according to the know-it-alls at the college! But before he even graduated, that seven-page resume landed him a job as the assistant to the Vice President at a Direct Response Advertising Agency.
After graduation, Travis began selling for the radio station he was interning for. Later, Jim recruited Travis to his agency and rescued him from the world of radio sales, but not before he gained some highly valuable skills in direct selling.
DEGREES DON’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE YOU MONEY
One night we met for a few beers and faced the reality that our studies in college had not prepared us for real the real world of marketing and moneymaking.
We had a come-to-Jesus moment right there. We realized we’d spent several years diligently studying a subject only to finish and find out we had learned nothing that was useable in the real, down-and-dirty world of sell-something-or-die marketing
Plus, we had gotten ourselves tens of thousands of dollars in debt. We learned the hard way that a bachelor’s degree alone wasn’t going to cut it.
But we still didn’t have our fill. While working at the agency, we decided to go to graduate school. We thought this might give us a better handle on what was real and what was fiction.
$25,000+ dollars and two years later we each gained another framed diploma but we still hadn’t found the secret to success.
But we kept trying and kept stumbling—struggling to make something happen.
HOW A TWIST OF FATE GAVE US A MILLION DOLLAR IDEA
One day, as fate would have it, we were assigned a list of accounts that nobody else in the agency wanted—they were hazing the new guys, punishing us—or so they thought.
In fact, all of the accounts were car dealers, and they all sold the same brand of car, which happened to be perceived as the worst car in America! Nobody wanted these jalopies.
“How can you sell the worst car in America?” We pondered. And, “Who would ever want to buy the worst car in America?” These questions plagued us for months as we stared at the walls dreaming up new reasons for people to buy these cars and new ways for our clients to sell them. In our darkest moments, we wondered, “Why are we stuck with these accounts?”
THEN IT HAPPENED… ALL AT ONCE. EUREKA!
Some time later, after lurking around in a dusty closet one day, we discovered garbage bags filled up with cassette tapes. These cassette tapes held recordings of old car ads. We spent weeks listening to these old ads and comparing them to sales logs. With patience and persistence we were able to identify common traits. We were able to determine why winning ads were winners and why losing ads were losers. Ultimately we came up with a formula that worked… and man, did it ever work.
Success started slowly, but rapidly gained steam as other dealers across the country witnessed the success our clients were having. As we took on more accounts, our list of success stories got longer and longer.
We poured ourselves into our work, plunging deeper and deeper, constantly striving to better understand the essence of the formula, the message, the media, the offer and the target.
We identified patterns of continued successes and repeated failures, and we were able to increase the frequency of success while nearly eliminating failure.
WE’D CREATED A SYSTEM, A MONSTER, A MACHINE. WE WERE CRANKING OUT NEW MILLIONAIRES MONTH AFTER MONTH.
We helped one dealer in Ohio transform a starving group of salesmen working in a little, burnt-out Chinese restaurant into a million dollar per month business—selling more vehicles than anyone in their region.
We helped another dealer in a small, dusty central Texas town resurrect his ailing business and go from selling just four cars a month to mega-success virtually overnight.
This formula continued cranking out millionaires across the country, converting middle-class used car dealers with failing new car franchises into near-celebrities within the industry. From small towns to big cities, our system was killing it.
We continued like this for several years. We had finally found what it took to make advertising work.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE WHOLE THING
Our ideas started outgrowing our cage. The agency started rejecting our more innovative ideas. They wanted status quo while we were trying to get to the next level.
Not to mention, were making everyone around us rich. Well, everyone, that is, but us. We wanted more.
But there was a glitch in the system. The success formula was very expensive. It required a very large investment. Without a big commitment and a big risk, it failed almost every time.
We had automated the process for the businesses with big dollars to spend, but what about companies that didn’t have a lot of money to invest in marketing?
We wanted to find a way to help smaller businesses be successful. Businesses and entrepreneurs like our parents—the ones that really needed help and didn’t know where to turn.
FINALLY, WE’D HAD ENOUGH! WE BLEW THE HATCH AND WE DID IT FOR YOU
Enough was enough. We had a mission and a dream, and we had to go for it. It was scary, but in early 2004 we walked right out the door, leaving a long list of shocked clients and our two secure, six-figure paychecks behind.
We set out to solve the problems of small business owners and entrepreneurs… all by ourselves.
Our quest was to take our knowledge and fuse it with the secrets of high-impact, high-ROI marketing systems. This was how small businesses would be able to earn HUGE profits without huge budgets and tons marketing waste.
We became masters of the art. Then we went back and merged all of this new, powerful information with the explosive strategies we pioneered at the old agency.
What emerged was a complete system for any business that creates a steady stream of high-quality customers.
We called this system Gravitational Marketing® because it harnessed the natural pulling power that every business has and amplified it to create a field of energy that attracts exactly the right group of prospects and customers without wasting tons of money.
It positions you as the first choice in your market, so customers seek you out instead of you having to chase them.
Gravitational Marketing® allows you to naturally attract customers and prospects who eagerly want to do business with you, who will gladly spend more with you even when your competition is cheaper and who stick with you for life and refer like crazy.
Ultimately, Gravitational Marketing® makes your business and your life ESP—Enjoyable, Simple and Prosperous®.
WEDDINGS, $200 DOLLARS AND THE HARSH REALITY
Yes, we learned a lot while working our cushy, six-figure executive jobs at a hundred million dollar ad agency. But when we jumped ship to start our own company and live our dream, it wasn’t all a bed of roses.
We left the security of our jobs and made the leap to entrepreneurship, but we didn’t have a stash of high-paying clients to bankroll our new endeavor.
We did the honorable thing and made a pact with one another not to “borrow” clients from our previous employer and not to enter the market as a competing agency. By the way, that’s how most people do it in the agency business, and it would have been the easy way to get started quickly. But we took the long way.
Here’s what happened next: we went down to the bank and opened our business checking account. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we each wrote a check for $100 out of our personal accounts and started the company on that meager investment. The bank had a $30 fee, so we were already losing money. We bought a speakerphone and used an old laptop computer we received as part of our Master’s program
To make matters worse, we both had plans in full swing to get married that year and had honeymoons booked in advance. Our soon-to-be-wives thought we were crazy! They agreed to marry successful businessmen with comfortable incomes! Now they were getting hitched to jobless, bootstrappers with a wild-eyed dream and only $200 bucks in the bank.
THINGS DIDN’T GO EXACTLY AS PLANNED AND THEN… IT’S A GIRL!
Our first product launch didn’t take off like we anticipated, and we foolishly ended up scrapping the project and trying something else and something else and something else. Ultimately we found ourselves helping local businesses make their marketing more successful. But the model was bad. We signed up too many clients and didn’t have enough time to deliver the services we sold. So then we’d take time off from selling to work on delivering. By the time we were done with all the work, it was time to sign up more clients. The cycle kept repeating itself and we were getting exhausted!
What happened next was unimaginable. Travis found out he was going to have a baby and not long after, Jim found out his wife was pregnant, too! Two babies, no business and a mountain of obstacles. What were we thinking?
This is the point when most people would throw in the towel. We didn’t. We reset. We had to do something—and fast. We wanted our wives to be stay-at-home-moms (what a joke that was at the time!) So, we set a new goal and went to work.
HOW A FRANK CONVERSATION OVER A TURKEY WRAP MADE OUR BUSINESS AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS AND DRAMATICALLY CHANGED OUR LIVES FOREVER
Fate was on our side and the Law Of Attraction was at work on the day we decided to go to a marketing seminar in Atlanta, Georgia.
The seminar was free, which was good because we couldn’t afford to spend much money. We drove up and stayed at a friend’s house to cut expenses as much as possible.
When we went to Atlanta, we knew we had a lot to offer. We knew we had the skills, tools, knowledge and work ethic to be ultra successful and make millions of dollars (maybe billions if we played our cards right). But we weren’t able to leverage our talents. We couldn’t figure out how to stop trading time for dollars and take the big leap from ordinary to extraordinary.
Then, it hit us. We looked at each other and said, “How can we expect to make big money and be really successful if we don’t have anything to leverage but our time?”
We realized we had to create products and systems to share our knowledge and ideas with others and to leverage our expertise rather than our time. We needed ways to help more people and do it faster.
The next month was a blur. We returned home with a renewed excitement. What we accomplished in the next six weeks was just shy of amazing.
HOW TWO MEN AND A MICROPHONE REVITALIZED THEIR BUSINESS
In early 2006 we took everything we knew, outlined our entire system, and hit the record button. We set out to tell others all we’d learned from our experiences. We revealed what we’d discovered about high-impact, high-ROI marketing and how any business can use these strategies, tools, techniques to achieve overwhelming success… FAST.
We wrote a short book. Then we started publishing articles in national trade magazines. We consulted for the national association. We wrote and submitted press releases and got free press in local newspapers and national online publications. Everything exploded, and we made more money in one month than we’d made the entire year before by selling an 18-hour audio training program to used car dealerships. We’d invested the time and energy to create the product once but were able to sell it multiple times. This allowed us to focus all our efforts and marketing, promotion and sales, and the results were staggering.
The next few years were a blur! In 2008 we were invited by a big New York publisher to write a full-length book teaching others about Gravitational Marketing®. That book, Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers, went on to become an Amazon bestseller and is now published in multiple languages around the world.
In 2009 we decided to transition from being “two men in a room” to running a “real business.” We hired our first employee and went back to selling services in addition to training programs. Slowly but surely we expanded our offerings and our staff. We managed to avoid the pitfalls of our earlier moments and made sure to only get involved in high-leverage activities.
The rest of the story is less dramatic. In the years following we’ve been intensely focused of growing and optimizing our core business, which today is a full-service advertising agency. We currently employee more than 40 talented professionals, work with more than 150 clients, and spend our time leading and mentoring our team. Well, we still make time for coming up with crazy marketing ideas!
Our mission is to inspire and encourage people and companies, through creativity, to think differently, to be better, to achieve more than they ever thought possible by breaking norms and making life and business ESP—Enjoyable, Simple & Prosperous®.
We’re each married, each with two young children, and we live in sunny Orlando, Florida. We’re available to speak to select audiences and occasionally accept private consulting arrangements. Contact us if you’re interested.