THE DOMAIN NAME AND YOU
A domain name, in its simplest form, is an Internet Web site address that is unique to you and your company — just like your home address is unique to you, allowing the postal service to deliver your mail. The domain name system was created for the benefit of humans (thanks marketers!) because there is already in place a fully functioning system that computers love. It’s called an IP, or Internet Protocol address, and it takes the form of four series of numbers separated by periods (ex: 215.55.258.145). The problem is the IP address wouldn’t be easy to remember or fit into a mind-numbing jingle. We compensated by coming up with a redundant naming system to add to our worry, bring more challenge to our marketing muscles and extra competition to a world full of tough competitors! We are often our own worst enemy.
Many businesses register a domain name (URL) even though their Web sites are still off in the distance. That’s a good thing because the process of domain name selection is a highly competitive crapshoot with seemingly many other business owners sharing your same exact brilliant ideas for the perfect domain name to stand out on the Internet. To this day, exorbitant prices are paid for certain high-profile, but often untested, domain names. Known as “virtual real estate,” some sites have hit astonishing prices at auction like Sex.com, $12M; Fund.com, $10.0M; Porn.com, $9.5M; Business.com, $7.5M; Beer.com, $7.0M; and CreditCards.com, $2.75M. Just last month the owner of America.com brought his much-hyped digital slice of Park Avenue to auction and in a possible reflection of our nation’s own doleful state, America.com failed to meet its reserve and topped out at just $1.7 million — far short of the owner’s expectations. It was taken off the table.
There are now hundreds of companies authorized to sell and register URL’s with the big boys. It’s a simple and inexpensive process with annual costs usually less than $20. Depending on your needs, it’s often a smart investment to retain more than one potential domain name. Checking in frequently with a large registrar like Network Solutions is a critical habit to adopt; rules are in constant motion and naming opportunities lean toward those who monitor changes and are fleet of finger. Special Purpose Extensions, the two and three letter identifiers (examples: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .tv, etc.) found after the core of the domain name, now number close to 20. This does not include the many extra extensions that exist to identify individual countries. The bottom line? Companies now have more choices and stand a far better chance of landing some version of their first choice in domain names. A real world example: If you were revitalizing your business name and brand from C & T Fabrication Company to Perfect Counters LLC, you could claim any of the following URLs as your own (availability, as always, is subject to rapid change): perfectcounters.com (the .com extension is still your first and best choice), perfectcounters.net, perfectcounters.us, perfectcounters.biz, perfectcounters.tv, perfectcounters.info, perfectcounters.us.com.
NAME YOUR REWARD
Allow me to stress that I am not “pro name change.” However, it is safe to say that I’m “anti sacred cow.” If large, multinational businesses can successfully change their names, then why can’t a 10-person shop servicing central Minnesota? If you have compelling reasons to justify a change, including the possibility that you just didn’t give your company name or your domain name enough careful thought, then make the change as soon as possible. If done right, it will be worth the aggravation and any associated risk you encounter because you will have a far sturdier foundation to anchor your business dreams upon. The name of your business is your first identity, representing your essence and your reason for being. The best names elevate you and even help negate competition — especially if you incorporate as “We’re Better Than That Jackass in North Haverbrook Surfacing Company.” Terrific names actually shine; they stand up from every conceivable angle and they lend themselves to the total cumulative impact that your company brings to market. They are meaningful within the time they exist (they are right for the moment), but when composed with forethought they still have a practical shelf life. General Motors and International Business Machines both have corporate names that no longer feed the brand the way shareholders would like, but after 100 years of service, it’s hard to complain. Perhaps in 50 years we will smirk at the names Google and Yahoo! as ineffectual artifacts from a bygone business era.
The fact is, as a newborn baby you didn’t get to pick your own name or even consult on the choice. This is the word that the entire world associates with you, for all time, and you had no input! With the exception of your own children, your pets and possibly that imaginary, invisible childhood friend that made Mom cry while she waited for you to finish up with Dr. Frederick at your weekly appointment, this is your big chance to immortalize your business dream with one singular magnificent name. The best domain and business names can create an actual profit premium for your products and services. If your current name isn’t cutting it with the market you know you should own, then make it right. If your current name doesn’t make you feel proud or impassioned or maybe just a little bit fanatical, you might just deserve something better. Think hard about it.
A rose by any other name might not smell as sweet or kick off the same revenue. Don’t saddle your organization with the burden of a less-than-best name or Web address. An improved name is low-cost improvement on a vast scale!
About the author: Chris Traynor, SPHR, Surface Fabrication magazine’s senior business columnist, is the director and knowledge scout for Whip-Smart Management Consulting, Wayne, N.J. (www.whip-smart.com), and has 25 years of experience in the solid surface industry as a consultant to fabricators, distributors, manufacturers and associated firms. He can be reached at email@example.com.