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We Need a Focused, Cooperative Strategy for Marketing New gTLDs

This essay discusses recent findings on the difficulty of overcoming decision bias, and it argues that this factor, when combined with a diverse and fragmented demand for new gTLDs, makes a focused marketing strategy crucial to the success of the program. In addition, success requires cooperation among registries and resellers when it comes to sales and marketing. Impulse buying aside, a product’s sales are driven by the product’s utility, which is why some professionals believe that the main objective of marketing is to create awareness of a product’s utility. If people find the product useful, they will pay the right price. Hence, when businesses don’t register new gTLDs, it can mean one of three things: the businesses aren’t aware of the gTLDs’ existence, they don’t understand the things’ utility/benefits, or the price is too high to be cost-effective. In this essay I will focus on the first two, as I have discussed pricing issues here and here.

Changing the minds of intelligent people is rarely easy, and it may be especially difficult in the case of business managers and how they see the true utility of new gTLDs. In their book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Harvard professor Mahzarin R. Banaji and University of Virginia professor Brian Nosek analyze feelings and preferences that are hidden in our mind. They find that we might not be able to overcome our conscious biases even if we recognize them. (You can take their Implicit Association Test online). Wharton professor Adam Grant and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discussed the theme in their New York Times article “When Talking about Bias Backfires.”

Instead of targeting every unaware business and trying to change the minds of others regarding the new gTLDs’ utility, I propose a targeted and focused marketing audience. Start by focusing on undecided managers and those who are not aware of the new domains; then expand to a broader audience. One such audience is start-ups. They can be reached with booths at tech conferences, ads on online tech sites, and use of traditional marketing venues in high-tech hubs such as Silicon Valley.

As I have noted in a prior post, registries should promote new gTLDs mainly as labels, while focusing on new neutral gTLDs such as .web, .global, and legacy .com for branding. Two strategies can increase the chances of the success of the gTLD program. First, the neutral gTLD registries might have to change their marketing strategy to compete with .com. Second, we need independent multi-gTLD resellers to emerge, and/or registries to join marketing and sales efforts. Such arrangements will push the most viable branding and labeling new gTLDs that, in turn, provide realistic demand information as to which are nonviable gTLDs, reduce individual registries’ marketing costs, and put added pressure on all gTLD registries to do more good.

Nevertheless, there will always be those businesses that prefer to use new gTLDs as brands. That is fine too.

In conclusion, we need a focused cooperative industry-wide marketing strategy for gTLDs.

By Alex Tajirian, CEO at DomainMart

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Hi Alex,As always an interesting point of Christopher Hofman Laursen  –  Apr 13, 2015 8:40 AM

Hi Alex,

As always an interesting point of view. I have always seen start-ups as the ones to adopt these new gTLDs. they were also the driver for e.g. .io or .ly.
Price doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor. The driver is definitely utility, where current road blocks are customer awareness, universal acceptance and some serious alternatives to the given TLD.
To sell to the start-up community is a matter of co-operation among registries, as we saw recently in Vegas where DotClub and Punto2012 teamed up.It would be obvious for Donuts, DotClub and Uniregistry to share a booth at future start-up events.

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