On Sunday Mark Wright won the 2014 version of the Apprentice with this business proposal “Climb Online”. Almost immediately the online marketing and search marketing community specifically was set on fire with cries of “this will never work”.

Immediately it became apparent there were some holes in Wright’s understanding of SEO and from an online marketing perspective choosing a brand for your company without checking to see the domain is available would suggest some naivety on Wright’s part (but more about that later!). All that being said, I suspect he’s in with a chance of making this business more than successful.

The first thing to say is Wright can obviously sell, if he gets in front of people I’m sure he’ll be able to build up the confidence that’s needed to sell seo. The second is he can hire online marketers to help him develop strategies; there will be plenty of ambitious people out there willing to work for peanuts for the chance to work closely in the Sugar Empire. The third thing is, and probably more importantly, Lord Sugar’s business empire must spend enough on online marketing to keep a small to medium sized agency gainfully employed.

Fortunately variants of the hyphenated domain name have been bought by Amsvest Ltd , which must be Sugar’s vehicle to make investments generally. It’s a shame because hyphenated domains are harder to make work, anyone who has been in this game long enough will remember the proliferation of multiple hyphenated domains that Google had to get rid of – working in their favour will be the brand signals generated from all the people that already know about it (lucky devil)!

Interestingly, if you look at when the domain was registered, you’ll see it was in June, at the start of the process – which suggests some of The Apprentice is even more staged than we suspected and the brand wasn’t chosen a few days before the end of the process:

Climb Online

It’s also a little bit disappointing that Wright allowed a lot of the brand-able spaces out there to get snapped up after the final – if it were me I’d have spent the few days in the lead up the programme going live registering virtually every social profile I could to make sure I control the brand space.

Although he’s undoubtedly good, Wright is still a little green in some very obvious places but he’s sharp enough to round those edges off quicky. I’m confident that between him and Sugar and a few good SEOs and developers in the background, they’ll be able to make some good come out of this, and probably something big!

And then there’s the question of Writhon Ditigal – it seems Mark Wright registered the company Wrighton Digital, buying the domain http://wrightondigital.co.uk/ sometime in August. It could just be a case of Wright wanting to get on with things, or it could be a cover story, or it could be that this is the actual company that’s going to be going out there. I suppose we’ll see what happens on that front!

This is more PR for the SEO industry, and although at first many people are worried this could be bad publicity for the industry, I think it’s probably going to be provide a good deal more understanding of what search is in the public, which can only be a good thing.

Good luck Mark Wright, I hope Climb Online works well for you and hopefully we’ll have chance to catch up at some of the digital marketing events in 2015.


  1. Nice roundup, Simon.
    To be honest, we had a bit of a laugh at some of the fundamental cock-ups Wright made with regards to domain and social profile registering (http://www.browsermedia.co.uk/2014/12/22/alan-sugar-gets-it-wrong/) and the more updates I read, the more I think that both he and Alan Sugar are in over their heads. You’re right though, they won’t have to go it alone. I expect that because this is already a ‘high profile’ business, thanks to coverage from The Apprentice, that they’ll have their choice if industry experts to employ.
    The fact of the matter is, though, that Wright comes across as a nice guy – and that counts for a lot when you’re selling. This is going to be an interesting one to keep your eye on!

  2. Totally agree, wanted to hear the business plan to understand his understanding of our industry. Have no doubt that Mark could sell rice to the Chinese and should have no problems wining a few clients to get the business going, but how dose it scale? Shame they were not in place to take advantage of all that media and search traffic the show delivered, what a missed opportunity, but how the hell would he have been able to service all the leads it could have brought in for him with no team in place to service the business and as you rightly point out its very hard to find and retain the right people due to the lack of talent and expertise available in the market, nice blog Joe!


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