Everywhere you go you see advertisements
for web sites containing domain names. As many as 70% of ads placed in
major publications now include a URL. It can be a wonderful way to
increase the effectiveness of advertising dollars, if people remember how
to visit your site. The right domain name will immediately bring a
business to mind. It's an example of branding, associating a particular
business with a specific name. A great domain name stays in people's
minds, and makes them think of that particular business whenever they see
Branding begins with choosing a domain name that relates to a
business. This is extremely important. Getty paid millions to acquire
Art.com. Everybody remembers those cute TV commercials with the puppet
from Pets.com. Those two companies spent a small fortune, either in
purchasing a name or running commercials to get their target audience to
associate their names with the products they offer. That's powerful
Obviously, the first choice of domain names is the business name. The
problem is domain names are being registered at the rate of
approximately 25,000 a day, and every common word in the English
language is already taken. Most common business names are already taken.
However, one can still come up with a great name -- just be creative.
Keep the choices as simple and short as possible, avoiding hyphens
and underscores. If a number is to be included in the name, register the
same name with that number spelled out as well. If the name is commonly
misspelled, register the misspelling as well as the correct spelling.
One can have as many domain names resolve to the same web site as one
wants, and it will minimize the chances of someone not being able to
find your web site when they type in the incorrect name. Names that
begin with letters at the beginning of the alphabet will have an
advantage in some search directories, like Yahoo, but not in others.
Another part of the branding process is the experience people have
while browsing a web site. There should have a consistent look to the
site, with contact information no more than a single click away. The
site should be easy to navigate, with quick loading pages and easy to
find content. Otherwise, viewers won't stay around long, let alone
Building a great site is only the beginning. To be successful, one
must constantly promote a web site. The site name should appear
prominently within all advertisements. It can be displayed on a
sign that sits over the cash register or on the wall in a business. It
can be part of the return address on a business envelope. The object is
to train customers to think of your business as a web site name besides
a storefront. This is branding.
Put content on the web site that will bring frequent and repeat
traffic. Try to make the web site a resource for people who are
interested in your products. If you sell old books, you might create a
tips page about the care and storage of books. You might also start a
forum about a subject related to your business.
Here's a good example: I currently have a web site to sell a line of
my Teddy Bear photographs, www.BermanBears.com.
As a way to channel traffic to my web site, I've created a
page as a resource for the Teddy Bear community. This links page
contains links and descriptions to 700 other Teddy Bear sites.
Another way to promote the web site might be to create online
coupons, available as pages customers can print out and present upon
purchasing. Be sure to have a form for people to submit names and e-mail
addresses, so they can be quickly and inexpensively contacted about
sales and special promotions.
The online world is growing at an incredible pace. There are
constantly new business opportunities on the web. New businesses are
factoring the cost of a web site into their start-up capital, knowing
the return for a web site will outlast the return on any other form of
advertising. Do not be afraid to jump in.