I originally contacted Mike Faith to talk about Headphones.com. I soon found out that he was the plural owner of another domain that I had interviewed the singular owner weeks prior. So we shifted focus to Headsets.com.
Sullivan: Can you give a little background on your business?
Faith: We’ve been in business since 1997, and we now have 55 employees, mostly in San Francisco, and a handful in our Nashville location – bi-coastal is good for shipping and phone coverage. We actually started with no website, we did everything over the phone and through direct mail. The website came later when we did a deal to lease-to-own the headsets.com domain.
Sullivan: Has has owning the domain Headsets.com impacted your business?
Faith: The Headsets.com domain has been the smartest thing we ever did, I think. It gives us credibility as a market leader, it’s an easy domain for people to remember, and ranks well in search engines. We’ve also added other domains to our collection over the years – headphones.com in the US, and headsets and headphones.co.uk, although we haven’t capitalized on the UK ones, and are still deciding whether to open a business there or offer the domains for sale. We’ve also experimented with micro-site domains, the latest of which is OfficeRunner.com, which sells the leading office headset, the OfficeRunner.
Sullivan: I actually interviewed one of your competitors some time back, the owner of Headset.com (singular) and I believe you know each other. Which domain do you think is the more valuable asset and why?
Faith: What a great question. The plural is always better. But frankly, I’d like to have both, and Jonathan, who is the owner, is a smart guy. One day we’ll do a deal together, it’s just a question of in which decade it takes place.
Sullivan: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?
Faith: Yes, we currently receive about 18K visitors per week on our main headsets.com site.
Sullivan: Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow (google ads, seo, banners on other sites, etc.?)
Faith: We were early on with Google adwords, and that drives a lot of business for us, as do our natural search engine rankings. We’ve worked on banner ads frequently over the years, and have still yet to find the winning formula there – but we may be getting closer. Stand by for more news on this one.
Sullivan: Did you purchase the names from someone else that owned it? If so, what was the process you went through? Will you share what you paid for the names?
Faith: Most of our domains came through deals with other people. Headsets.com was a 10 year lease-to-own, while headphones.com was a straight purchase. And potentially the most long-term value one for us, OfficeRunner.com, was an outright purchase with royalties going forward. We’ve found a little creativity can go a long way in making a deal work for both parties.
Sullivan: Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name? Advice?
Faith: I always try and avoid advice, in case I’m wrong, but my experience has been that having a domain name that ranks well in SEO is far more valuable than most people realize. Let’s say OfficeRunner cost $1MM, just for example. With the cost of money at say, 5%, that’s only $50K a year, or $1K a week, or $200 per business day. If you’re going to run a serious business, then what’s $200 a day to have the domain that will work hard for you with thousands of visitors. There’s a good chance we’ll part with headphones.com, which is more of a consumer domain than what we like to work with. To the right party, who can truly monetize it, the domain is worth the huge amount, if they discount the cost of money and potential sales over the years to come.
Sullivan: What have your customers said about your keyword domain?
Faith: Our Customers love that it’s easy to remember. We also have 1-800-HEADSETS, as well as several other 800 numbers in the headsets industry. Immensely valuable to own the pair, the domain and the number.
Sullivan: Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point? Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?
Faith: Headsets.com – no. Headphones.com – if the deal was right, maybe. Same with the UK domains.
Sullivan: Any other information you’d like to share?
Faith: I think not, you’ve been very thorough, and I hope your business does well. I’d imagine you’re going to rank well with all this great domain talk.