For the past 17 years, Jesse Willms has been down in the trenches, gathering and analyzing data, building his business models, and perfecting the art of digital marketing one day at a time.
In this time, Willms has established himself as a dedicated business professional and one one of the world’s most sought-after marketing minds after proving time and time again that he can deliver immense value in almost any setting.
Amazingly, Jesse’s companies have earned well over $500m dollars in sales throughout his short career. An impressive feat for someone who dropped out of school, wouldn’t you say?
And before you think it, he wasn’t just a one hit wonder. In fact, quite the opposite. Willms founded 22 multi-million-dollar companies in the health and wellness industry alone, and that’s not taking into account any of his current ventures. To say he has the Midas touch in marketing would be somewhat of an understatement.
But where did it all begin for the Canadian entrepreneur?
Throughout his early teenage life, Willms was fascinated with the business world. He spent most of his free time reading biographies of famous investors, which is where his desire for entrepreneurship began.
Rather than leave his old books gathering dust on the shelf, Jesse took it upon himself to put the lessons he learned into practice, opting to sell them instead. Before long, he caught the digital marketing bug and began to make a considerable income from his efforts.
From here, things started to get a little more serious. At the tender age of 16, he took the skills he learned from selling books and quit school to create a new business reselling computer software. His business plan was simple – negotiate with international vendors to secure the product at a discounted price and resell it at a markup.
In just one short year of marketing the software through platforms like Amazon Marketplace and Google AdWords, he pulled in more than $40 million in sales, an incredible achievement for someone so young.
But, he wasn’t finished yet.
You’d think that most teenagers would be pretty happy with their achievements so far. Come to think of it; people have retired with less. However, Jesse didn’t stop there.
Between 2007 and 2011, he turned his attention to the health and wellness industry, where he promoted products such as diet teas, acai berries, teeth whitening products, and so on. If you frequented the internet during these years, there’s a strong chance you bumped into one of his PPC campaigns at some point.
Despite starting over a dozen different companies, Willms strategized unique marketing campaigns for each of them. Even though this was an enormous undertaking, it proved to be a wise business decision, as it paid dividends in a relatively short period. His company, Terra Marketing Group, generated over half a billion dollars in revenue.
Although it wasn’t all plain sailing.
By his own admission, Willms made his fair share of errors that cost his businesses a substantial amount of money. One such mistake was placing too much trust into affiliates who used shady tactics to make money off the back of his products.
“Affiliates would often make false claims in their marketing campaigns before bringing users to our site. These claims would often be in the form of fake news sites, or sometimes even claiming Dr. Oz or Oprah endorsed the product. Affiliates would also sometimes steal credit cards and then purchase on our site. They greatly hurt our reputation.”
In addition to this, and quite understandably so, as Jesse’s businesses grew, it became increasingly difficult for him to engage with customers and respond to feedback, both positive and negative. This led to a disconnect between him and his customers, which inevitably led to issues.
In a moment of reflection, Willms shares how he would have done things differently if he had the chance again.
“One of my big mistakes was not listening to our customers enough and putting them first. My advice to my younger self is to take care of the customer first, make a great product, and the profits will follow. Take every complaint seriously and make adjustments when needed, and constantly work to improve our product.”
These days, Willms runs several car history websites, including VehicleHistory.com, where he developed a unique business model designed to make it easier for car owners to find out the history of their used cars through a single, intuitive platform.
His sites engage with more than 3 million monthly visitors. Learning from his past mistakes, Willms prioritizes top-notch customer service for each of his customers.
“At the end of the day, we are working for our customers. Our decision-making stems from listening to their feedback and fulfilling their needs. By providing top-notch customer service, we can ensure our customers are satisfied and continue to generate a healthy revenue stream,” says Willms.
So how does Willms plan to stay ahead of the competition and ensure he stays on top of the digital marketing game?
“With the business landscape continually evolving, there are a few things I do to try and stay ahead of the curve. Firstly, as an online company, we are very flexible. We can internalize and adapt to changes quickly, which gives us an advantage over more rigid business models. By maximizing new opportunities, we avoid getting ‘stuck in our old ways’ and losing market share.
Moreover, I am a firm believer in investing in self-development. When people stop learning and assume they know everything they need to know about their industry, that’s when things start going downhill. I am an avid reader of business and self-improvement books.
Taking advice from someone who has already embraced a path similar to yours can offer excellent guidance. I also attend industry events, which have shifted online because of COVID-19, as they allow me to stay up to date on current events and network with other professionals in my field.
Finally, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of your competition and where they may be going. By keeping tabs on them, it helps motivate me to continue innovating and uncovering new opportunities,” says Willms.
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