Brand Marketing

Smart Domain Acquisition Strategy & Global Branding

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When you see this logo, do you think soccer.tv, football.tv, futbol.tv, calcio.tv?   Perhaps this sport goes by another name in your country, and you would use an IDN to find the site. Regardless of what you call the sport depicted in the logo, Michael Schneider has it covered because of his smart domain strategy. Michael acquired nearly every single worldwide language variation of the word. The branding is unique, and he doesn’t have to worry about losing visitors due to language differences.
By doing what Michael did with his portfolio of related domain names, he can have wonderfully unique branding that many others couldn’t match.   Had Michael just registered one or two versions of the term, it’s likely he would have lost visitors who entered a different term into their browser box.
Other companies have also done what Michael is doing with their brands. Playboy, Apple, and the NBA have   spent billions of dollars branding their logos and imaging, and they are able to use an icon to signify the domain name.   Michael has spent 7 figures acquiring his soccer/football related domain names, but the logo clearly shows what users will find when they enter their familiar keyword with .tv.
Just imagine you are watching a game..they can then freeze/pause on the ball…just add a www. to the left of the ball, a .TV to the right of it and you just ‘spoke’ to the whole world during the game with what carries most sentiment – the ball.
I think this is a smart domain acquisition and global branding strategy.

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I know it’s a holiday weekend, but I think everyone needs to take a few minutes to read Ron Jackson’s interview of Rick Schwartz. In the domain space, Rick has been something like a soothsayer, and when he speaks, I listen. While we don’t all own the same quality domain names as Rick, the things he is saying does affect all domain investors.

If or when Google decides to pull the plug and PPC as we know it drastically changes, there is going to be a lot of tumult in the industry. While quickly and efficiently monetizing domain names will be difficult and domain values will be impacted, domain owners need to keep the following things in mind:

  • Businesses who want to be online need a domain name
  • Advertisers will still want to advertise on relevant domain names
  • People will continue typing-in domain names looking for products or services
  • Easy to remember and relevant domain names are the most desired
  • Consumers typically have certain web browsing patterns, and many type in their keyword and .com as a starting point

The point is that while making easy money from domain names won’t be possible, there are still going to be plenty of opportunities in the domain space. Some people will have to sell more than they have in the past in order to maintain the same revenue levels, so some deals may be had.  I recommend buying domain names that would make sense to be developed. Just because a domain name did well parked, doesn’t mean that it would be good to develop.

I still believe the greatest ongoing revenue generating opportunity is selling advertising space directly to advertisers on developed websites. I believe websites are the newspapers of decades ago. Websites get the eyeballs that newspapers once received, and advertisers want to reach them. Motivated consumers are untapped leads that businesses would like to acquire.

I also believe that as companies continue to migrate their business online, more will get it, and more will want (or even need) the domain name that describes their business or industry. Generic and category defining domain names are rare, and they hold considerable value. Selling domain names to end users that get it will be the driving force behind the future growth of domain values.

Changing times call for changing strategies.  Those who adapt and adopt will survive, and those who sit back will not. Who knows when all of this will happen, but I think it’s important to be prepared for the worst. Read Rick’s interview and judge for yourself.

Domain Hall of Shame: Cuil.com

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This has to be one of the poorest naming/branding moves I’ve seen in a while. Cuil.com just launched, and apparently the term “cuil” is suppose to be pronounced “cool.” This big news is currently being covered on the homepage of CNN. My buddy Thunayan (who never sells his company’s domain names) already has a search engine on Cool.com.   Seriously, what were they thinking?   This doesn’t pass the radio/tv test.

Forwarding Traffic to an End User to Sell a Domain Name

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I haven’t done this before, so it’s purely speculation, but if I wanted to sell a high-traffic category killer domain name to a large company, I might voluntarily forward the traffic to the company’s main website for a month to prove its worth. If I owned (and wanted to sell) a name like Tools.com, I might consider forwarding the traffic from that name to Craftsman.com (toolmaker owned by Sears).   Assuming traffic to the name was strong, I wouldn’t even have to tell them I was doing it, as they would see a spike in their traffic, and their web analytics would tell them it was coming from Tools.com. Since they are a manufacturer and distributor (via forward to Sears.com), they would have the highest profit margin on tools, and a converted lead would be worth the most to them.
After seeing the Craftsman website and their redirect to Sears to make a purchase, I can tell the web marketing team at Sears must be fairly strong. Knowing this, I would imagine that they would be very intrigued if they saw a large unexpected spike in sales, and they would attempt to track why this spike occurred. I am sure they would be happily surprised to see Tools.com forwarding to them (at no cost), and they would then be disappointed when the test was abruptly ended. Armed with the data from the test, they might be willing to make a strong offer for Tools.com, since they would certainly have the data to justify a purchase.
Oftentimes, buying a category killer domain name means making a huge purchase without any hard data on the domain name. A buyer may be able to determine approximate traffic details, but they wouldn’t be able to get a great sense of who is visiting a domain name without actually having the data from the site, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to give a fair estimate on the traffic conversion. This makes it difficult for companies to spend hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars on category killer domain names. If they had the data, they may be more inclined to make an offer – or perhaps the domain name isn’t worth as much as we think it’s worth.
Boiled down, the value of a domain name is determined by the value it can bring to a company. Most companies doing business online use ROI (return on investment) calculations to determine how much to spend on a marketing campaign or expense. If we give these companies the opportunity to see what they are missing by not owning a category killer domain name, they might actually realize just how important a domain name is to their brand, and how valuable it could be in a competitor’s hand.
Again, I have no experience with this, but I would imagine it would be worth foregoing a month of PPC to do this test. Also it would be important to consult with a domain attorney (like Brett Lewis or John Berryhill) to ensure you are not putting your name at risk by potentially confusing consumers with the forward – obviously should be done before you start your campaign.

Generating Revenue While Building Your Brand

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Although I haven’t set a merchandise shop up for Lowell.com yet, I’ve heard that these shops can be a nice source of passive revenue, and they help build brand recognition. David Castello emailed me to let me know about a large hat sale that was made via the Nashville.com merchandise shop.
While CCIN netted a couple hundred dollars from the order of 55 hats, the greater benefit is that there will be a bunch of people receiving hats with their logo, and hopefully some of them will actually be worn by those who receive the hat! While many entrepreneurs pay big bucks for various branded tsotchkes to give away, having a shop allows people to actually brand your site for you! CafePress offers an easy to use and operate white label shop, and I plan to set mine up in the next couple of weeks.
This is one reason why having a fun logo is important to set your brand apart from other websites.

The Only Good News…

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The only good news about the 2008 Super Bowl is that my fraternity brother (Ruben Ortiz) starred in the Taco Bell commercial. Oh… and the Red Sox are still World Series Champions.

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