Do you own your own name? 10 People who do.

I don’t own the dot com version of my name, or any variation.  I do own MikeSullivan.org thanks to someone dropping it.  I was able to pick it up in a domain auction a couple years ago.  I’ve always told my friends and family that owning their name is important, even if they can’t see it right now.  In fact, as my friends were beginning to raise families, I urged them to register the names of their children.

I missed the opportunity to own the dot com version of my name, and it will likely cost me a pretty penny if I ever want to acquire it.  That said, I’ve talked to some folks who own and actively use their names about why it’s important.  So don’t listen to me, read what they have to say.

 

Owning the dot com version of my name / business has been most helpful for ranking (SEO) and branding. When I first bought the domain over four years ago, I didn’t know what I would end up using it for, but I wanted to secure it in case someone else had the same name as I. Eventually, a few years later, I ended up starting my own company, so it was very helpful to have the dot com version of my name.

– Jared Banz, JaredBanz.com

 

I originally purchased ‘demofish.com’. The idea was to train people on how to give great technology product demos. But I quickly found that my name was fairly well known in my industry, while demofish caused some confusion out there. So I purchased my name and used that instead. The result? A huge uptick in warm leads, especially from social media; contacts began sending me Facebook and Twitter messages with inquiries about training engagements. Very glad that I was able to snag my name. It has been most valuable to the health of my business.

– Matt Gambino, MattGambino.com

 

I struggled with using my own name as my domain because it felt rather conceited and arrogant.  But as the owner of 2 businesses, a published author, a radio host and the owner of about 50 domains…I was noticing myself struggling to identify where different groups or customers should go to “find” me (My book titles, My business names, My blog, My Radio show?).

– Tara Kennedy-Kline, TaraKennedyKline.com

 

Owning my name as a dot com makes it super easy for people to find me – and more importantly: remember me. My matching email clearly defines ME as a brand and it also adds a level of professionalism that helps me stand out from the millions using generic email accounts such as hotmail.

– Lee Chambers , LeeChambers.com

 

In today’s competitive marketplace, name recognition is essential for creating a brand. People know what they need and you want them to associate that quality with you. As a motivational speaker, I use my name to associate  that quality and value with me and my name, something that is unique to me and me alone.

– Gavan Ingham, GavinIngham.com

 

I was geeky before it was cool, and registered my name as a domain when I was 14 years old. (I’m now 25.) While I did it to show off in IT lessons, it’s proved a wise investment for adult life – not least when job hunting. My applications came from a professional looking email address, not Hotmail or AOL. If my prospective employer wanted to learn more about me and searched for my name on Google, I was the top result (in the UK, at least). I now work for an SEO agency, fifty6, and appreciate how good a decision buying my own domain was for search rankings. I’ve even bought my less tech-savvy sister her name as a domain – she’ll thank me, one day!

Chris Philpot, ChrisPhilpot.co.uk

 

Using my first and last name as my domain for my professional website has made my marketing easier in many ways. If prospects I meet at networking events know my name, they are more likely able to find me easier once they get back to their computers. I believe that I’ve received more traffic to my website because people are likely to use a professional’s full name to find them in search engines. And even though there are many new qualifier for domain names, .COM remains the first one people think of first. I have been approached by other professionals with my name, asking me to consider selling it. It is valuable Internet real estate so I will keep it and pass it on to my son when I’m gone.

-Bill Corbet, BillCorbett.com

 

The benefit to using my name as my website address has a lot to do with branding. I run an architecture firm that focuses on creative design. So with that, I have to sell myself and my unique philosophy of architecture. I am not selling plans, I am selling ideas and knowledge. What I want to convey is that when a client hires me to design their project, they are getting me personally and not a group of interns or employees. It is that personal attention that makes what I do different from what a larger architecture firm does.

-Ryan Thewes, RyanThewes.com

 

When I first started the blog, I was essentially a one-man consulting firm so it was more of an effort in self promotion – throw my thoughts on eCommerce and Big Data out there and when prospective clients were researching these topics (or researching me), they would find the site and have some insight into how I operate. That’s how I ended up getting involved in the TV products space to begin with, which ultimately lead to an offer to take the reins on AsSeenOnTV.com.

-Ron Rule, RonRule.com

my business is based on trust and the relationship I have with my clients and my name is part of the foundation of that relationship.  In other words, my name is an integral part of my business’ brand identity.  (I am particularly blessed to have a memorable last name)!  Having my first and last name as my domain name serves many important functions, including solidifying my brand identity.  Equally importantly, it makes it very easy for people to find me doing a web search.

-Lori Lustberg, LoriLustberg.com

Staying on Track

Robert Savage, CEO of Track.com agreed to talk to me about the company’s keyword domain name. Prior to serving at Track.com, he served as Managing Director of FX Macro Sales at Goldman Sachs, where he published widely-read and insightful research focused on the foreign exchange markets and the macroeconomic environment. As well as twenty-three years at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Savage worked as the head of New York Foreign Exchange trading for Lehman Brothers and as a Director of Proprietary Trading at Bank of America Securities.

Track Research is part of Thoughtful Research LLC founded in 2009. Track Research is a top-down macro market research team with of the moment trading ideas and commentary.

 

Mike: Can you tell me how you came to own the domain Track.com?

Robert: Track.com is actually leased with an option to buy. This made sense from the start given the expense of a new 5 letter URL. Auctions for domain names vary and Track.com has seen many unsolicited offers over the last 4 years – the highest was $250,000. Right now the payments for the lease are reasonable in the context of the start up business. My arrangement to lease came from the VC that helped start the business with me – how he got the name is another story – one I am not privy to.

 

Mike: Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what exactly Track.com does for it’s customers?

Robert: Track.com is a place where wall street analysts can reach out and connect to their clients when they are between jobs or are starting out. We provide world class daily market coverage for $1200 a year. There are 4000 independent consultants doing investment research – this site is one venue for them to share a bit of their wisdom and search for new clients. The independent research business is tough – most have 20 clients and go out of business in 5 years because they can’t spend the time finding new clients. Track.com helps solve some of this problem. We provide institutional quality macro global insights to clients around the world. The clients are hedge fund managers, money managers, family offices and individual investors.

 

Mike: Why did you decide that owning a short, generic, keyword domain was important for your business? How has that proved to be true?

Robert: The problem of branding starts with people remembering your name. Track is one of those short and easy to remember yet neutral words. There are many others out their but not all are as simple. I spent much time looking at savvy.com but when I found out it formerly was a porn site that made the decision to go elsewhere easy. We also own thougtfulresearch.com trackresearch.com and a few other URLs – but the 5 letter one is simple and easy.

 

Mike: What type of traffic numbers do you see on a monthly basis?

Robert: We have a wall up for content – and that makes some of the traffic story a bit different – but we get 25,000 or more visits a month – we started in 2010 with about 5,000

 

Mike: With a name like Track.com, do you find some traffic outside of your target audience? I imagine you might get some type-in traffic from those looking for horse track or race track information.

Robert: The track.com name comes up with music and track and field more than with bettors or drug users. The traffic that is misplaced usually bounces immediately – and that is how we look at our branding success or failure. We find that we have a lot of people using the site and staying on it to read content – which is another way of measuring the success of a URL – time spent on the site and the number of pages visited.

 

Mike: What other types of online marking do you use in addition to your premium domain name?

Robert: The best way to market is to network. We use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to push our business. We have found that connecting all of these to the site helps drive traffic and trials.

 

Mike: What are your words of wisdom for those looking for a domain name for their business?

Robert: Sometimes we try to think too much about a name. There is one key requirement being unique – and then marketing around that name. I think flipping for another name or rebranding isn’t something easy but if the price is right you have to consider it. Either you are in the business of owning domain names or you are in a business that uses them to help market and expand your ideas. I am clearly in the latter camp. Track.com has been a good tool but it isn’t the only way to find success in a start-up.

Keyword Domains – Testimonials

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A while back, I posted some quotes from keyword domain owners that created a business on their domain names.  I decided to recapture those quotes along with some new ones.  They all come from interviews I have done in the past and I will continue to add to them in the future.  I’ve saved them off in their own page to be used as a reference for anyone that might be looking to buy or sell a keyword name and want reassurance of the power of a domain name.

Are you a keyword domain owner?  I’d be happy to add your quote as well.

Need Holiday Gift Ideas? This Domain Might Be Your Answer

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CustomSong.com is a new service that makes custom music attainable for everyone. Basically, how it works is that you share the details, your feelings and fun memories about a special event or person and they will turn it into an original song.

I’m sure you have experienced those times where it is impossible to find a gift that has staying power and really means something for the big milestone events in life like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and more. A Custom Song is the perfect way to say ‘I love you’ on Mother’s Day, ‘We are meant to be together forever’ on a wedding day, or even ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done’ to a grandparent on their birthday. A custom song changes the meaning of a personal and custom gift.

Mike: Where did the idea for CustomSong.com come about?

Heather:  I love music and the way it can hold memories of a special moment or person in my life. You know the way a certain song can remind you of your first date? Or of the day you graduated from high school? I always wished that I could have a soundtrack that was unique to me. One day it hit me that I COULD have my own soundtrack and that really anyone can with personalized music!

Thus CustomSong.com was born, a website showcasing talented musicians that allows customers to choose an artist who will create an original song for their big events and loved ones.

Mike: Tell me how you came to own the domain name. Were you the first to register it or did you purchase it from a third party?

Heather:  I purchased the domain name from a third party. Our service is something fairly new to the market and I wanted to have an obvious domain name that tells customers exactly what we do.

I checked out this domain and there was another person using it for what appeared to be a music lessons site. I had attempted to contact the owner to ask if they would be interested in selling the domain. Although I never heard directly back from the registered owner, the domain coincidentally appeared on a domain auction a short while later. After a few rounds of negotiation, CustomSong.com was mine and ready to be the future home of custom music services.
Mike: Explain why a generic keyword name is important to your business? Why not a brandable name?

Heather: Our business offers a highly creative product, so a fun and creative name would have been great but we felt we needed customers to be able to easily find us. When customers think of the perfect anniversary gift or are trying to find the right song for the first dance at their wedding, they are probably not thinking about a custom song. It is important for us to brand the concept of a custom song as much as branding our business.

Mike: How well are the artists able to capture the story or message of a complete stranger? Do you have a link to a favorite that we could share?

Heather: The process for selecting the artists we work with is quite rigorous. Our artists are talented songwriters, musicians and friendly, reliable people. Even though we know how great the artists are, I am still always inspired and in awe of how they can turn personal stories, funny memories and personality traits into a catchy, emotional and memorable song.

One of our favorites is “Daddy’s Little Girl” by artist Dean Palya. It’s a song one of our customers had created for her father daughter wedding dance. If you listen to the words he pulls ultra-specific memories that the customer provided while still making a song that everyone at the wedding could relate to. We got chills the first time we heard this one! You can listen to this song and some others here.

Mike: You have a creative business. Are you doing anything creative to promote it? What means are you using to promote your business online?

Heather:  Absolutely. Being creative with our marketing is a must since we have to let people know we are here as an option for the ultimate personal gift or to add that special touch to life’s big moments. We have been testing a variety of creative online and offline marketing campaigns.

One of our most notable campaign efforts was creating a custom song for a nationally syndicated radio show. We are fans of their show and had noticed that they will sometimes mention small creative businesses. They have one segment that they run about once a week and so we wrote a custom song about the segment. They loved it so much, they played it on air and talked about our business. It got even better when later in the show they said many of their listeners loved the song and requested they post it online. We were able to maximize the results through social media.

Mike: What is your vision of the company 5 years from now?

Heather:  We aim to make custom music attainable to everyone. We plan to evolve CustomSong.com to meet the style and voice of all kinds of individuals by growing our artist selection and expanding into new music genres and languages.

Meet Me at NamesCon

NamesCon will be a great place for networking for other domain industry professionals.  Great events always seem to happen when I am overbooked.  I’m currently shuffling a few things on my schedule so I can attend.  I really don’t want to miss this.

If you have a website and plan to be at NamesCon, you can let everyone know.  They have just made their banners available to all.  I particularly like the “Meet Me at NamesCon” or “Meet Us at NamesCon” banners for announcing to others that you will be their.  I plan to meet up with as many people as I can.  If you plan to go, drop me a comment or an email and we’ll connect in Vegas.

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