- White-Label Solutions
We achieved a 200% increase in our client’s website traffic in 16 months. Learn Morex
In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser hosted Mark Wright, CEO of Climb Online, and an award-winning digital marketing specialist who is renowned for his success in winning BBC’s The Apprentice in 2014. Mark talked about his time on The Apprentice and how it influenced his career. Watch now to learn the secrets of his success and the guidance he has to share.
Get into digital marketing because it’s the best industry. If you’re on the fence and you’re thinking about it, do it because there aren’t enough digital marketers in the world.
Well, Matt, what an introduction. We should just stop now because I don’t know if I can follow that up, but thank you so much for having me.
High school is not my environment and I’m not trying to say the Richard Branson, or Bill Gates story of my struggle at school and now look where I am. I couldn’t learn from someone who stood in front of me speaking to me. So, I really struggled in school. I didn’t know I was dyslexic till I completed school. And my question was always to the teacher who was standing up there speaking how is this going to work for me later in life? How does this affect my life? I’m a very practical person. When I sat in school listening to, you know, Pythagoras’ theorem, my question was always, how can I make money from this? So, it wasn’t after school that the dots started connecting.
So, my dad owns a car dealership in Dublin, Australia, and my mom was a hairdresser, so they owned small businesses. And, you know, speaking a bit before the show, my parents owned a Mazda dealership. Oh, wow. Not to break up those calls, I grew up around the small business, you know, questions at the table, how are we going to pay the rent? The wages? How do we get more sales? These were all questions I was a kid hearing at the table when I was a young boy.
Well, you know, I think children learn so much, not from what they hear their parents say, but from what they see their parents do. And my parents, both my mom, and dad had incredible work ethics. They worked seven days, 12 to 15 hours a day. I mean, I didn’t see my dad growing up a lot, not because he wasn’t there. It was because he was always working and the things I learned from him were how to handle pressure. He can handle so much stress, so much incredible work ethic, and risk-taking. Both my parents were risk takers, their stories of founding their own businesses taking out bank loans, going into overdrafts, and selling their belongings to buy their first businesses. So, what was instilled in me is if you want to start a business, if you want to be successful, you have to put it all on the line. At some point, you have to be able to handle pressure and you’ve got to be able to work hard. I think those are all things that I’ve embodied in my business journey.
Well, I’ll make a very long story incredibly short.
I failed at school and did terribly, but I wanted to own my own business. So, I want to be my own businessman, but I have no qualifications, no school, and nothing like this. Couldn’t get into university because I didn’t get the grades at school. So, I went online and looked at what was the shortest qualification I could do to open my own business. And lo and behold, you could do a personal training course in six weeks online. So, I went to an online personal training course, became a personal trainer, and opened my own personal training studio in Brisbane, Australia. So, I started training one of the richest men in Australia just by pure luck. I started training this really rich man, and I said to him, how do I get rich? And he said the people that are super successful in business are in sales or marketing. So, he’s like, you need to get one of those two areas if you want to be successful and rich. And I was like, right. So, I went to work at the college where I got my personal training certificate. A super cool platform where you can upload any curriculum because Australia is such a vast country, people used to drive back in the day, 6-7 hours to go to school in Australia. Well, when the internet came out and you could study online, it was revolutionary. So, I started working at the Personal Training College, but they weren’t getting any sales. The first month I worked and I got $2,000 in sales I said to the owner, this is an amazing course, but we need more people to sign up. I said, what are you doing in marketing? And he said, well, we’re in the Yellow Pages and I don’t know in Canada but there is this thing in Australia. Yellow Pages. I don’t know if you know about it.
It’s like four yellow pages. But back in the day, it was a big book and basically, it said, you’ve got to get on Google. Everyone looks online, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He said I don’t know anything about that and I said, well, I’ll teach myself how to do it. Can I do it for the college? Anyway, I got the website ranking number one on Google for the word personal training course. And in two months we went from $2,000 in sales to $240,000 just from getting that one keyword number. And I learned a really important lesson. Ask for equity in someone’s business before you make it successful. So, got to the website, number one and that’s where I was like, well, I’m really good at this digital marketing stuff. That’s when I decided I knew what I was going to do for my career, but just before that I was like, Right, I’m going to go backpacking and do the customary Australian thing.
Yes, So I did the walkabout and I just ended up in London where I ran out of money after two years of backpacking, living in London, working hours, and living in a hostel. I went online, googled digital marketing agencies and I literally walked to digital marketing agencies and handed in my CV. Because I kind of knew I’d discovered how to get people number one on Google. This is going back a long time by the way. So, I just handed in my CV and I got a job selling Google AdWords. Back when Google AdWords was like fire. I used to show people and they’d go like, wow, and That’s how I ended up just at the end of my walkabout.
Well, like most entrepreneurs, I started working at other digital marketing agencies and I kept getting in trouble. I wasn’t enjoying it because like most entrepreneurs, I work for someone and I felt like I could do it better. I was working at one of the biggest digital marketing agencies in the UK and the campaigns were garbage like they were poor performing, there wasn’t enough attention to detail. I felt the customers were getting ripped off, I didn’t like the way they were treating the staff, and I didn’t like the way I was trading or charging the customers. So, I was like I want to do this for myself because I can do it way better. But because I’m from Australia, not from the UK, banks wouldn’t let me get a business loan and start a company because I was a foreigner.
So, I get an untraditional funding route and go on a TV show and The Apprentice gets a bit of a crazy name because of obviously Donald Trump and the Americans. Yeah, but in the UK, the BBC is a very respected TV channel and station, and Lord Sugar is one of the richest, most well-known business people in the UK. So, it’s got a very highbrow, super good reputation. I went to the tryouts for The Apprentice with 75,000 other people and I got through each layer of the tryouts until on Series ten, I got on to the TV program and I was pitching digital marketing to 11 million people watching the show and to the boss of the show who’s 70 plus years old. I understood quite quickly that algorithms, analytics, and all of these words were just going over everyone’s head. So, I had to break that. So, I went ahead and said “When you look on Google, I’m the guy that gets websites at the top” and he was like, I’ve got it.
Reality TV programs are tough and they are vicious. I learned a lot about myself, I learned how much pressure and stress I was able to handle for the first period of time, and it was how much you can do in a day. I mean, we were coming up creating businesses in 24 hours that didn’t exist, getting a product, and selling it sometimes for thousands and millions of pounds. And we’re doing it all in 12-24 hours and when you’re under pressure. And we had to learn different things, one day we’d be making a candle. So, we’re learning everything you can about candles. The next day, we’d fly to America, and we built a billboard in Times Square. It was really, really good and I loved every second of it. But it was interesting because when I went on The Apprentice, I had 80 followers on Twitter, a very popular young man I was with 80 followers. When I came out of The Apprentice, I had 150,000 new followers. I was going down the street and I was like, you know, 50-60 selfies a day, autographs, all of this new stuff. That was a different experience. And keeping my feet on the ground, because not only I’ve never owned a business before, I’m now a business owner, my business partner, Lord Sugar. I’ve got an investment of £250,000, about 400, $500,000 and I’m famous, quote unquote. So, there were lots of different sorts of metrics there to sort of deal with at once.
It completely changed my life. I was living in a house with a share house with 11 people, and I was completely flat-broke. Within one year, my agency was turning over £2 million. Fastest growing agency in the UK, and third fastest-growing startup business in the UK and I went from sort of really broke to making a lot of money personally just because of my profile, and my agency’s success. I realized I’m very good at what I do, I love what I do. But the profile that the television got of me and my account is called Climb Online. 11 million people watched the final episode of Made for an hour saying Climb online, climb on. The day I opened the agency, we got 4000 leads.
As you know, in the digital marketing sector getting one lead is difficult.
It was actually like a dream. I’d only seen Lord Sugar on the TV, I’d only ever seen The Apprentice on TV and to be sitting there in real life in the boardroom and he says, you’re going to be my business partner. I didn’t know what was happening because everything was happening so quickly and you don’t realize the impact it’s going to have on your life or your business or your family. My life has been completely different from that moment to today. It’s like living two different lives. My life before that in my life now.
It depends on what type of person you are.
The fame element is really interesting because you get super famous when the program comes out and it’s successful. Then the next series comes out, the year after you and your time is gone. It comes and goes like unbelievably quickly. So, what I’m really fortuitous about was that I won, which really helps. The other candidates also become famous, you’re getting selfies and all of that, that’s really fun and interesting. I won and I got a business and I was focused on my business in my craft of digital marketing. So, that really helped me and I’m fortunate for that. I would recommend it for people who are really serious about business, that really need investment. Would I go on a TV show where you just get airtime and there’s no sort of prize at the end? I don’t think so. I think it’s a mask that eats your face and you need to be really careful about your ambition.
Incredible. I didn’t understand the power of a mentor or the power of having a network with someone of that stature. It definitely opens many doors could open, particularly in the digital marketing space. Having a mentor and a business partner that can ring up massive Fortune 500 companies and get you a meeting in that boardroom, that’s really powerful.
He’s been able to connect me with some of the top two or three companies in the country. He has always been like, we should do your marketing, here’s my friend Rolex company or X, Y, Z company that is just so big. I remember I signed up for Groupon. It was like our third customer.
And that was an introduction. You know, you’re signing up these levels of customers by introduction. I’m getting a referral from my business partner, who’s a billionaire, and super famous. So, you get that buying in that trust with the customer and I’ve learned a lot from him about business, about how to employ the right people, how to train staff, how to manage the business behind the agency, the finances, the legal element, and all of the stuff that comes with running a good business. He’s been able to coach me on that.
Mentor or a coach, without that you will never make it to the top level. You’ll never make it. That person should be someone that you look up to, that inspires you, and has been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.
So the goals in business books are called Thinking Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Everyone must have probably heard of that. Andrew Carnegie, commissioned Napoleon Hill to do that. There’s one of the first well-documented mentee-mentor relations. Every successful person I’ve ever met in business has a mentor. They have found that person either through LinkedIn, speaking events, networking events, or seeing a show or something of them online. And normally, on their first approach, I was lucky because my mentor came through a very unconditional route. You will come across your mentor either on LinkedIn or see a video of them or whatever it might be and your job is done on that first approach, they’re probably going to ignore you say no, whatever. Offer them value, show them how you can assist in their business, offer your expertise for free, show them, offer them, and almost pester them. You need to make them believe and know that you’re going to change and help their business or help their life in some way. And don’t give up because I know the person who I mentor for the last eight years, who’s my second in charge now of my business. He used to call me about three or four times a day for about seven weeks, till the point where I said, if I don’t hire this person, I’m going to get a restraining order. And on Christmas Eve I just did it, to see if he would take the interview, which he did. And he’s now the managing director of my company.
Be open to people. Since I found out I’m dyslexic, I have communicated about that. I’ve been very public about my problem. Some people are really embarrassed but some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world are dyslexic.
Yes, Richard Branson, Professor Lord Sugar, my business partner.
Yeah, my good friend, Grant Cardone, talks about how we all get described with all of these different tastes, and what you’ve got to do is not make any excuses for it. And I’ve ended up understanding in my business, what am I good at. I’m good at creative thinking and I’m not one of the people who write work and are able to understand what I’m good at and bad at. I think I spent a long time trying to conceal that stuff and hide it and pretend I was really good at all that stuff when actually it wasn’t my bag. So, I think just understanding it, getting help when necessary, and having people around you who support your weaknesses.
I look at it as the reason for my success, I look at it positively. Because imagine if I didn’t have this, would I be as creative and as a big thinker as I would? Maybe I’d be more bogged down in the details or how would my life be different? I’m sure Franzen’s happy look at the success he’s created and I’m sure he looks at his dyslexia as a blessing. And one of my good friends, the guy that just told me that he’s been diagnosed with type one diabetes, and he went through a real phase of like, why me, how does this change, I am going to die early, all of this stuff. And now he’s like, what a blessing because I know how my brain thinks. I might be the man to cure type one diabetes.
Because he thinks he’s the type of analytical, creative person that’s now going to be able to solve it. I think we’re given these things in life to create the things that we do and to help others eventually.
Look, we’re so lucky in the world we live in today. There’s grace, we’re available, there are glasses and all sorts of things you can get there to help. I’m lucky where I’m there or thereabouts, I can kind of get through with the systems. There are a lot of great coaches that you can get now, but really on your severity and what you do for a living as well.
Well, first of all, get into digital marketing because it’s the best industry. If you’re on the fence and you’re thinking about it, do it. Because there are not enough digital marketers in the world. We have a shortage in our industry. We have a shortage of good people who are really passionate about certain subjects of digital marketing. It’s very well paid if you’re good at what you do. The industry and the conditions are fantastic and I think it’s a career for life because there are so many great tools, and technologies that are advancing that you’re never bored every single day in digital marketing, its life is a day where you feel stupid because you’re learning so much. And every time I try out new software, new tools, or new technology, I just get so excited because when I started getting a website to the top of Google was the pinnacle. And now that’s just the basics of connecting it through to a whole campaign. So, I’d say my advice would be, one, to get into it, and two, to start with one area of digital marketing. Do not go for the whole box and dice because everyone says they’re a digital marketing expert. It took me seven years, I would say, to properly get good at Google ads. Seven years and I want to say I’m an expert now and I’ve been doing this for 11 years. So, start with one area and master it.
Yeah, but I mean that’s also the number one issue that I see with people coming into the industry, that sort of ads and then doing an Amazon page and they’re doing TikTok and Pinterest and SEO and that kind of saying that they’re an SEO expert, but they’re not. I think that’s also what gives us a bad name because people, businesses, and people work with these individuals before they’re ready or they’ve mastered one area and say, I’ve tried digital marketing, it doesn’t work. Well, they haven’t tried digital marketing with an expert. If you do digital marketing with me or with yourself, Matt, you’ll understand what digital marketing is quite quickly. I would say work for someone who’s an expert in the field. Learn as much as you can from them. Specialize in one specific area and always be learning, reading blogs constantly, staying up to date with what’s happening in the sector, and getting to conferences and getting around people who really know their stuff.
I’ll tell you what, it can’t hurt. But here’s what I do in all my interviews. I love people who when I say, you know, can you do this? And they tell me, you know what, Mark? I’m not an expert in that area. I specialize in SEO, for example. That makes me super excited, that honesty about where they specialized. I sat down with a candidate that’s looking to work in my agency. They might have been to the Digital Marketing Institute or have this or this or this, which is all right, it teaches you the fundamentals. But then I say, okay, let’s build a campaign. And that is really where the rubber hits the road because we give you an exam and we make you build a campaign. I’ve seen people with no certifications build the most granular, detailed, spot-on campaign. And I’ve seen people’s qualifications that you can’t jump over, not log into the system. So, you know why and what you’ve done before you get to me whether, you know, I’m a proponent of going onto YouTube and building a campaign where you watch a YouTube video. That’s how I learn myself, I don’t know if you’ve been to college, you’ve got a degree from Harvard or you’ve been to the Digital Marketing Institute. All I care about is what is the level of detail and performance you’re going to provide my customers.
You can have certification even if you’ve not been in the industry for two years. The digital marketing industry in two years is a different industry.
That’s what worries me when I go on to an agency’s website and they do everything. Because I’m really concerned. Maybe super big agencies have specialists employed, I get that. But it is all agency and they do everything. You’ve probably got a one or two or three-man band who are kind of making it up on the spot or using Upwork to outsource the work. So, I really need that detail because I want to work with the best that I can work with. Any digital marketing campaign is either a lack of knowledge or a lack of spending, and I’ll find either quite quickly.
To be great at digital marketing is being able to have that deep understanding, particularly of one channel like we talked about the T, you know, having a varied knowledge across the board, having a deep understanding of one or two particular channels. And then the real key is being able to communicate it simplistically to a business owner, to a marketing manager, to whoever it is. I’ve sat in boardrooms where I speak about SEO or PPC and they look like I’m speaking Cantonese.
Do you know what, it changes with every single customer. The way to be successful in this game is to treat every single customer differently. If you use one size or you’ll have no customers or you have a specific type of customer. When I sit down with a business, I listen really intently to all the metrics that are important to them. So, they might say, for example, it might be if you’re e-com, it’s going to be sales you know, specific to their products that make the highest margin. If it’s an offline business, it’s going to lead to how much the phone takes to ring phone calls, whatever. So, it’s understanding who you’re working for, what’s important to them, and then dialing the language back to their level of understanding, because this is where they’ll have a digital marketing manager, they’ll have a consultant in-house whose knowledge is extreme. So, you can speak to them in a detailed way. Then you’ll start on where you’re speaking to the business owner, and then knowledge is going to be very basic. Their KPIs are going to be sales, you know, their return on marketing, spending, whatever it’s going to be. And you’re going to speak to the marketing manager, you’re going to be speaking about specific details within the campaign. And I think that’s where people get it wrong, is if you confuse the business owner who’s paying the invoices. With too much digital marketing spend. They’re just going to think you’re pulling the wool over their eyes and it’s knowing when to turn it on or turn it off. So, certain people in certain businesses and if you master that, your retention improves tenfold.
I’m going to tell you. Amazing story. Going back three or four years I signed up for a whopping big campaign, a multi-channel international campaign running in the UK, North America, Dubai, Africa, and Australia. Huge campaign, PPC, million pounds spent plus amounts. It was flying around the world doing really well, but doing really poorly in Africa and we’re like, what’s going on anyway on the leaves when the leads come through? It says on the top of the leads when the sales rep gets it SEO lead, PPC lead. Their mark from the CRM as they come through newspapers, radio, etc. Anyway, when PPC first started, before I was the agency running it, the PPC leads were terrible. They got a massive sales force, 100 people sales force there, and then they changed marketing companies to me. But the leads were still coming through with radio, PPC, SEO, etc. Anyway, we had an idea what if we just modeled the names up on the leads that the sales representatives were getting? So PPC, we changed to radio, we moved the radio to PPC, so the sales floor didn’t know that this was a PPC lead they were getting. Anyway, the PPC lead conversions were terrible. We changed it to radio, which was traditionally their highest-converting lead form. All of a sudden, they started converting the PPC leads at the same rate as the radio ones just by changing the name on the top of the lead. And it blew my mind because I always felt like the mindset of the salesperson has so much to do with the conversion of the lead, and they just had a better attitude when they were thinking that we were using a radio lead. And it was a huge lesson for me about sales teams and making, how you label things, etc. But that was a great example of, you know, they just thought that digital marketing leads were bad, so they were throwing them in the bin, not getting back to them, not following up, not giving them the right mindset as they would a radio advertising lead and it really changed me from that day forward.
If you walk into any sales floor in this country. The sales team will generally have a consensus about certainly lead channels, these ones are good, and these ones are bad. Now that came from somewhere. Normally their manager or team leader, they don’t even know why they’re saying it, but they think a certain lead is a bad or good lead. But every lead that walks in front of you, whether it’s in a showroom, whether it comes through the CRM, whether it rings your phone, every lead is important and should start in the back of your mind, as this could be my biggest customer ever and I need to treat it that way.
On the Apprentice, I sold nine hot tubs to one man. I don’t know who needs nine Hot Tubs, but I did that.
Digital marketing has changed my life and I’ve seen it change more businesses and more lives than I can even tell you. I’ve seen when you get one keyword or one creative or one website perfect it changes a company and this stuff is so powerful. I’m so glad that people like yourself are getting the message out there and getting experts together
I appreciate what you guys do and I just encourage everyone to join our industry.
If you just look for Mark Wright on any platform, I am a blue tick, verified, across different platforms. If you find me, my company’s Climb Online and we’d love to talk to any businesses or any people interested in our space.
Thank you for having me.
Buy 1, Get 1 Premium Backlink FREE!