Late last year, the nation was gripped by the final stretch of the 10th anniversary series of The Apprentice. The BBC show captured the imagination like few other series of The Apprentice have in the past decade. The early episodes were highlighted by laugh-inducing incompetence, as well dressed businessmen and women became unstuck by simple logic and common sense. The dead wood was eventually cut loose, and a few diamonds appeared. The final two, thankfully, represented the best two candidates – aspiring fashion manufacturer Bianca Miller, and digital marketing manager Mark Wright.
Mark Wright walked out the eventual winner, successfully pitching his online marketing business, Climb Online. Apprentice head honcho, Lord Alan Sugar, felt he could make a lot of money from the idea, which set its stall out to be an online marketing company focussed on helping small or growing businesses break into the online world. This ranges from complete online novices, to self employed tradesmen, and to local businesses trying to compete in their immediate area.
Obviously, we here at Bootcamp know a thing or two about the business Climb Online intend to go into. In fact, it’s the exact business we have been operating in for years! So while we can’t disagree with Lord Sugar’s decision to go into business with Mark, and make him his Apprentice (though they aren’t really Apprentices anymore, but we guess the title “The Business Partner” isn’t as catchy), we did notice a few problems with the winning business plan.
The Market is Crowded
The ever increasing reliance on the internet means that the need for online marketing is going to grow at a similar pace. But the concept is hardly a new one. Ever since the advent of Google and other search engines, there have been people doing all they can to get to the number one search result. Google isn’t interested in helping other companies rank higher – they are an advertising company selling AdWords. They are concerned with getting their users the best result, as that would mean more people using their search engines and clicking on the Google AdWords ads. Google’s constant algorithm updates mean that Internet marketing companies are becoming more necessary, as they have unique insights into how to influence Google’s results.
So Climb Online is going to be wading into battle with literally thousands of other companies, all aiming to be at the top of the Google search when people are searching for keywords related to their business. Having been featured on a TV show is likely to help the company crack into the market easier, but it will be as much of a battle for them as it is for everyone else. Climb Online also doesn’t offer anything too innovative. Taking the personal route, as we do here, is a good approach, but it is nothing unique (an advantage fellow finalist Bianca had with her skin tone tights). This situation isn’t helped by another fact. . .
The Man in charge
We are going to be relying on events that happened on a “reality” TV show here, but bare with us. During the course of the show, Mark managed a team once. He lost. He also had the worst overall record of any candidate, being on the losing team in seven of the ten tasks. Hardly a stellar record. It was also revealed that, while he claimed to be a internet marketing manager at his previous firm, he had written “Sales Manager” on his CV. He undoubtedly knows what he is talking about, but he didn’t come across like somebody likely to revolutionise the sector.
Similarly, he only joined Twitter in December 2014, whilst the series was airing. This may not seem like a big deal, but social media is a major factor in the success of any media marketing or SEO campaign. The best way to learn about it is to get involved with it. He may have knowledge of how Twitter works, but if he hasn’t personally engaged with it, it could represent a big hole in his knowledge base. Knowing the mechanics is one thing – knowing how best to utilise it is another.
Problems of Scale
Climb Online’s mission statement was to be a personalised media marketing company for small to medium sized businesses. On paper, it’s a great concept. Small businesses will need more hands on help than corporations who have years of online experience under their belts, and getting it from the same person each time will help greatly. But problems arise from the scale of the operation.
This is all working on the presumption that Lord Sugar wouldn’t invest £250,000 into a business if he expects it to be small-scale. We’re also presuming that the targeted small businesses will be charged a smaller fee than usual. With that in mind, that means the company has to sign up a lot of small businesses in order to make ends meet. If all of these clients are promised a project manager, Climb Online will either have to hire a lot of them (increasing overheads, thus increasing charges), or assign each project manager to a big number of clients, somewhat lessening the “personal” feel. If one manager is juggling 10+ clients, he may not be able to perform to the peak of his skills.
Climb Online domain name
A smaller concern, but one to mention nonetheless. If you search for “Climb Online” right now, you’ll find that Mark’s website (currently under construction) isn’t the top result. In fact, the top result, climbonline.co.uk, is a rock climbing website in the North East of England. climbonline.com is also taken. This has led to Mark’s current site needing a hyphen climb-online.co.uk This is hardly the ideal start, though once the website is live it should be fairly easy to rank high on Google (in the UK at least).
With all this said, obviously the business has legs. Lord Sugar is no moron – he clearly saw potential in the idea, and the growing number of businesses in the sector shows that there is money to be made if the business model works. Unfortunately, there are already more than enough businesses that allow you to “Climb Online” already, including us here at Bootcamp Media!
Maybe he should have gone with the tights. Do you agree Nick?
And if it did indeed spark your imagination, and made you aspire to “Climb Online”, fortunately you don’t have to wait for Mark Wright and Lord Sugar to get their business up and running. We here at Bootcamp Media can already offer the service pitched on The Apprentice! We have proven time and again that we can help establish businesses online, whether they have a pre-existing online presence or not. The scale of our business also means that you will be liaising with the same people every time you get in touch. So why not “Climb Online” right now? Call 0121 630 2350 for a 100% free consultation!
Image credits –
Connected Earth – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Earthlights_dmsp.jpg
Mark Wright Profile – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/galleries/p02851ww
ClimbOnline – http://www.climbonline.co.uk/
Climb-Online – http://www.climb-online.co.uk/
Nick Hewer GIF – http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03143/Nick_Hewer_3143387a.gif