Internet Marketing Expertise Since 1998
The Attwood Digital website only went live in 2012, but our internet marketing story goes way back to 1998.
Mark Attwood was, back then, a stand-up comic and theatre company owner. He had just been commissioned for a 15 minute slot on Granada TV for a short comedy film following a stint as presenter of the Arts programme on Granada using his character, John E. Blagg (who also had a regular column in the Big Issue at the time).
Mark’s girlfriend at the time complained one day that she was paying for all the meals they went out for and that he should start pulling his weight more financially. This seemed like a fair point, so whilst waiting for the post production on the film that was going to make his fortune (it didn’t), he decided to go out and get a job.
That afternoon, he went to a job agency in Manchester and got a job the very same day in a creative marketing agency in Salford as a sales executive.
That agency had a little room, almost a sweat shop, full of web designers do some amazing things on the then infant internet.
Mark found himself more interested in what they were doing than what he was doing, which was selling domain names for £200 a pop!
Fast forward to 1999 and Mark had made the top 100 UK websites list in Internet Magazine for his first website, a discount internet travel site called Whoopydo.com (Lastminute.com was at no.60!).
He narrowly missed the dotcom bubble (which was a blessing in disguise), and went on to form his own promotional marketing agency at Fireball Media Ltd.
Whilst there he pioneered the development of many online vouchers for his clients, which included many high street banks, building societies, shops and brands such as RBS, Panasonic, Iceland to name but a few.
The internet was a burning passion for Mark as he watched Yahoo get superseded by the rise of Google, even though his partner at the time thought there was no future in the net.
Cut to 2003 and Mark found himself sat round the dinner table of his future wife. His future-father-in-law (although he didn’t know it at the time), who owned a waste transfer station in darkest Gorton said, in broad Mancunian: “’ere, you know marketing. Come and market my skips”.
Mark was initially confused, not really knowing what a skip was, but soon got excited as he realized there was bugger all online for skip hire companies worth talking about.
He came up with the idea of creating an easyjet for skips, and so Topskips.com was born.
Full of enthusiasm he spouted things like “a proper brand… easy online ordering… answering the phone in two rings… credit card payments… branded skips” and so on.
His father in law thought he was mad: “Who the hell is going to pay online up front for a skip? This is a cash business!”
Despite the skepticism, the project somehow got off the ground.
At 3pm on the day of launch, Topskips.com got it’s very first online order from Lynette Heywood in Rochdale.
Mark was so excited at this historical event, he sent Lynette a bunch of flowers.
The development of Topskips.com took a back burner whilst Mark was busy with his marketing agency and burgeoning family until, one fateful day in 2005, his father-in-law walked through the door in tears. He was retiring, and doing so was leaving two of his daughters, including Mark’s now wife, out of a job which was upsetting him greatly.
Mark greeted these tears with typically bombastic enthusiasm: “Great – now we can make Topskips.com national!”
Until then, Topskips.com had been a local business, generating orders for his father-in-laws business in Manchester. Mark had long thought the model had potential to go national, and now was the time to try the idea out.
Pretty soon he sold out of his agency and went full steam ahead creating innovation after innovation online (at least in the skip hire industry).
He started business blogging in 2005 (which very few people were doing back then), created geographic long tail landing pages (which nobody was doing), used Google checkout and Paypal for ordering skips (unheard of), started producing online video (which still pays dividends seven years later), was an early adopter of Twitter and Facebook (FB even sent him a T-shirt for getting the highest CTR for an ad they had ever seen in 2008).
The business grew extremely fast (too fast, in fact, but that’s another story), and evolved into what is now PAL Hire – a national hire company that delights its customers with its USP of being a one-stop hire shop with a single point of invoicing and never runs out of kit. Take a look at palhire.co.uk
It was in 2008, whilst at a business conference in San Diego, that Mark first realized his experience was in demand. Almost all of the other 17 delegates were begging him to help with their businesses online.
Already running a business, and not wanting to go back to building an agency at the time, Mark decided to start teaching others what he knew. In the first two months of starting his internet marketing seminars, he created over £60,000 in fees, getting paid over £10,000 a day to share what he knew.
He went on to develop businesses in ecommerce, including a website dedicated to selling goalkeeper equipment (thegoalkeeperco.com) and publishing, including a magazine for the skip hire industry (skiphiremagazine.co.uk) and a magazine for goalkeepers (goalkeepermagazine.com).
Then, as the recession began in late 2008, disaster struck. Most of Topskips non-domestic clients were construction companies, and they started dropping like flies, leaving an enormous hole in cash flow.
Combined with a £257,000 theft, Mark, along with his business partners at the time, was forced to calling in the administrators, despite achieving an annual turnover of £7 million and employing over 100 people, in February 2009.
It was a dark time, but within 6 weeks Mark had pulled off a six-figure investment from one of the country’s wealthiest people to take the business forward.
Since 2009, the PAL Hire business has established itself as one of the UK’s leading hire companies and in 2012, Mark decided to hand over the reigns to focus on developing his already successful digital marketing agency work.
So, £30 million later, a Crains 40 under 40 business award, numerous appearances on BBC Radio 2 (Jeremy Vine and Chris Evans) and The Daily Telegraph, this has culminated in the establishment of Attwood Digital – an online marketing agency dedicated to providing businesses with the benefits of Mark’s expertise and all the hard-won experience he has gained in the business trenches.
Some of the team Mark has built, like ops manager Steve Wild (who started working with Mark at Fireball Media in 2001) have been with him for a long time: the rest have been hand-picked based on pure talent, and trained in Mark’s methods of achieving maximum cash online in minimum time.
Attwood Digital is not your run-of–the-mill agency. Although we do work with some of the biggest companies in the UK, we are also known for providing free information, advice and services for start-ups and struggling businesses. Our doors are open to all that genuinely want to improve their income online.
Don’t just take our word for it, meet some of the people that have benefited from working with us to see what they have to say.
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