Brand Marketing

Twitter Call to Action from Best Buy

Best Buy TwelpforceI saw my first television commercial with a Twitter call to action in lieu of a phone number or corporate website. Best Buy had a commercial on National Geographic where they had the url Twitter.com/twelpforce across the screen for the length of the commercial. As a direct marketer, I don’t really like this idea for a few reasons:

1) Unless they have a special deal with Twitter, they can’t track the results (how many people visited the page)
2) They are building Twitter’s brand, not Best Buy’s brand
3) It’s difficult to remember the url, and if a visitor typos it, they get a Twitter error message, not a Best Buy 404
4) Not everyone knows Twitter – presumably much less than people who know Best Buy
5) Many people that know Twitter don’t use it
6) Could lead to a very short and annoying user experience if visitor is not familiar with Twitter

IMO, if Best Buy wants to encourage people to visit or befriend its Twitter account, they could have sent people to Best Buy’s website with a backslash for Twitter. They could explain why people should use Twitter and why they should follow Best Buy on Twitter. For people who don’t use Twitter, this would be a nice lesson about what Twitter is and a real world example of the power of Twitter.

With this call to action, if someone who is unfamiliar with Twitter visits the site, they might leave unsatisfied, whereas if they visited the Best Buy website, they could at least navigate to other Best Buy pages. The irony of the situation is that Best Buy has a call to action on its Twelpforce page, encouraging Twitter visitors to visit BestBuy.com/Twelpforce – ironic, no?

At least had they sent people to the Best Buy website initially, they could track the number of people who typed it in when the commercial aired and could further track the customer experience on their site. By sending the visitors directly to Twitter, they can’t track the visitors or the return on their investment.

Header Banner Now Available

Six One Five DesignHave you ever seen a note like this on a web designer’s website? This was just the note that my designer added to his site yesterday as a result of an abundance of business (we should all be so lucky!). In light of this good news for SixOneFive, the banner spot in my header is now available for a monthly lease (commitment may be required).

If your company is interested in reaching domain investors, Internet entrepreneurs, web developers, and other Internet media professionals – in arguably the most visible location on my blog – please drop me a note. The banner isn’t “cheap” but it is a cost effective way to reach potential customers and clients.

The banner will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Here’s what Mike from SixOneFive (who previously had the banner) had to say about advertising on Elliot’s Blog:

This banner is responsible for over 60% of my past and current workload.   Not only did it lead to projects, but it also resulted in long-term clientele, which is hard to come by these days.   I actually had to create a “Booked” graphic specifically for traffic from Elliot’s Blog!

Domain Names are Undervalued Because…

I think domain names are considerably undervalued when compared to other business asset classes. Most companies would rather spend money investing in a quality piece of land rather than a category defining domain name.

As a domain investor, I would rather own the domain name Candles.com than buy a piece of land where I can build the biggest and best candle store. No matter how great this candle store is and where it’s located, it still can’t reach 1/100th of the people a domain name like Candles.com can reach.

I believe domain names are undervalued for a few reasons:

Many business owners still don’t understand how the Internet works. You could give many business owners the best category defining domain name, but they would have no idea what to do with it or how to build a website. There is also still a tremendous amount of disparity in web development. I could put out a bid on a fully interactive website and you can bet I would get bids ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for the exact same quote. If a business owner doesn’t know how to approach this, it’s easier to focus on what is tried and true.

Many people would prefer to build their own unique brand than to spend an extraordinary amount of money on a generic domain name. In marketing classes, people are taught to differentiate themselves via their brand, and if they name their company XYZ Swimming Pools, business owners seem to want to stick with their brand. Perhaps it’s ego or lack of knowledge about direct navigation traffic and web conversion.

Although there are at least a couple of easy ways to finance a domain name acquisition (Domain Capital or DigiLoan), I imagine it would be tough to convince a bank to give a large loan to finance a domain purchase. It’s easier to take out money to expand a small business in a local community than it would be to buy a domain name to enhance a company’s presence online.

There is no MLS-like system that can give consistently accurate domain values. Even similar domain names can have hugely different values, and there is no way to get an appraisal that is totally accurate. You can’t expect someone to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a domain name when he has no idea if the domain name is worth the price.

What do you think?

Interesting Branding Decision by Citrix

GoToMeetingOne of the most useful online meeting websites is GoToMeeting.com, which offers a wide variety of online conferencing services. During the past year, I’ve been hearing more about the company, and I have participated on a few conferences using their services. In 2003, Citrix acquired ExpertCity, Inc (GoToMeeting’s founding company) for a reported $225 million in cash and stock.

Recently, I noticed a television campaign for GoToMeeting, although most of the time I am not paying attention to the screen. It’s fairly easy to remember the company name, but there is no guarantee that someone who hasn’t used the service will remember the brand name when they are looking to set up a web conference. Someone could also accidentally type in “2” instead of “to” or do some other typo.

In my opinion, the absolute best domain name for a meeting service is clearly Meeting.com. It’s the industry defining term and it’s simple to remember. Sometime towards the end of 2006, ExpertCity/Citrix acquired Meeting.com, and the domain name currently resolves to the GoToMeeting website. If someone types in Meeting.com, they will get to the GoToMeeting website.

This begs the question, is Citrix making a branding mistake by using GoToMeeting.com when they already own Meeting.com?

Morgan Stanley & Smith Barney Not MSSB.com

Morgan Stanley Smith BarneyOne of the pieces of fallout of the US economic situation was the merger of Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney, two of the largest investment and financial management firms in the world. The new company dubbed Morgan Stanley Smith Barney began notifying customers of the name change earlier this month via USPS, and the letters were written on Morgan Stanley Smith Barney letterhead, although there is no url cited in the top or bottom of the letter.

The renamed organization does own the long MorganStanleySmithBarney.com domain name, but that’s a pain in the ass to type in and not typo. Clients can still log into their accounts by using MorganStanley.com or SmithBarney.com as they did before, but I would imagine something will change once the rollout has been completed to help with brand cohesiveness and recognition.

Although the domain name MSSB.com was registered and owned well before the merger, MSSB has done itself a major disservice by not acquiring the domain name already. Since the merger came together quickly and was announced quickly to help stem consumer concern, they didn’t have time to negotiate to buy a domain name during this period of time. However, in the months following, they have had plenty of time to acquire it as well as the resources.

The owner has one obvious buyer, and MSSB has an obvious motivation to get a deal done. Let’s hope both parties realize this and work out something beneficial. Every day that the new company operates, the domain name becomes more valuable.

Both companies do seem to understand the value of short domain names, with Morgan Stanley owning MS.com, and Smith Barney owning SSB.com (short for Salomon Smith Barney), although SSB.com doesn’t resolve any longer for some reason.

She’s a Bonehead!

I apologize in advance because I can’t use the specific brand or domain name in this story, but I wanted to share a funny story with you about how some brand managers just don’t take domain names as seriously as they should.

After the party at the GeoDomain Expo, I went out to drinks with some friends at a Jazz restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego (which is a very cool area if you’ve never been). As we were wrapping up our drinks on the patio, a lady came over to the table and started talking to us, and my friend asked if she was attending the conference. She said she wasn’t, and that she worked for “XYZ Company,” which we all know is the the leading brand in the “ABC industry.”

Ironically, my friend happens to own the ABC industry’s category defining domain name, and he mentioned it to her. She was excited about that, and she said that she was a Marketing Manager for the company and they should definitely discuss how they can work together. As luck would have it, she just changed her purse and didn’t have business cards, but she wanted to give my friend her contact information.

My friend said that sounded great and we waited outside on the patio for a few minutes when she went in to the restaurant. After a couple of minutes, I went in and saw the woman dancing by the piano, clearly not even thinking about that category defining domain name that was just mentioned to her. This was a bonehead move and one that could cost them dearly, because it’s without a doubt the best category domain name in her industry.

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