WHEN optician Mark Bowden first encountered the internet he did not need glasses to see what the potential could be.
But it was in the early days before Google and while he was interested in the possibilities of the web he had to concentrate on running the family optician business.
Little did he know that the advent of the worldwide web would lead to him creating a huge business selling prescription glasses on the internet and later to becoming an internet marketing guru with his own web TV show.
Bolton-born Mr Bowden said: “My grandfather and father were opticians so there was never any doubt that I was going to be an optician and I joined the family business in Farnworth in 1980.
“When the likes of Specsavers and TV ads appeared offering cheap prescription eyeware it made things very tough.
“I then became aware of the internet on a stag do in France where all the businessmen were talking about email and I didn’t really know much about it.
“I decided there and then to go away and learn all about it and it became my passion to learn everything I could about the internet.”
The success of a young student in setting up a website selling cheap glasses spurred him on to set up his own website which he operated from his second optician’s shop on Chorley Old Road. He later closed the Farnworth branch to concentrate his businesses on one site.
With the help of technical expert John Stringer he set up a web company called spex4less.com in 2004 selling cheaper than normal prescription glasses but only sold five pairs in the first month.
To boost business he used his credit card to fund a trip to America where he learnt more about all aspects of the web and how he could use the internet to improve sales.
He became knowledgeable about search engine optimisation (SEO) and other internet marketing skills and within a four year period from 2004-8 he had increased his company’s sales to almost £4 million before selling it.
Mr Bowden is now in his third career, having set up marketingtipsuk.com, working as a marketing consultant teaching entrepreneurs how to boost their business by making the most of internet sales marketing techniques.
He has proved the worth of internet marketing by helping his wife set up a second-hand saddle business which now sells used saddles to customers all over the world via its website saddles direct.co.uk.
Mr Bowden said: “It was a lot of work running the glasses site and now I can concentrate on running Bowden’s Opticians on Chorley Old Road and teaching businessmen around the world how to improve their websites to improve sales.”
He uses his weekly web TV show on www.theinternet marketingshow.com to impart nuggets of web wisdom and also teaches people one to one over the internet on how to get more out of their businesses.
He has also started teaching groups of businessmen at Blackburn College about the value of internet marketing and would like to do more master classes on the subject.
He added: “In what are very tough times three of my clients have reported that they have had their busiest month ever.”