Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a global marketing strategy consulting firm whose clients range from early stage start-up to Fortune 500 companies including Colgate, Virgin and The New York Times Company. She was formerly VP Marketing at Zipcar and VP Marketing at Inc.com before the company was sold to Bertelsmann. Prior to that she held the title of SVP Marketing and was a key member of the IPO team at Launch Media, an Internet start-up that went public in early 1999 and was later sold to Yahoo.
BusinessInterviews: As a marketing professional, what advice to you have when selecting domain names for businesses?
Paige: First of all you have to set your naming criteria and decide what is important to you. Do you want a short name (max of 8 characters for example)? Real word or made up word? Front of the alphabet? Playful or serious? There are lots of naming options but you only get to pick a handful or so of criteria so what is important to you? Once the criteria are set then you start the creative exploratory process and begin generating names. We typically take our clients through exercises to generate hundreds of possible names then filter them based on the criteria they set. Once you get it down to a short list you should test it with your target audience not your friends and family then, of course, check to see if you can get the URL you want.
BusinessInterviews: How important is a domain name in the overall marketing strategy for a company or product?
Paige: Your URL is a key part of the brand so you need a domain name that your target audience can spell correctly and remember. That is how you are found and if they cannot find you, you do not exist. If you think people will be hearing more about you than seeing your name in print then make sure it is spelled the way it sounds. If it is easy to misspell then buy all versions and redirect them to your site so your competitors do not take advantage. You have to get creative since most names are taken. We always prefer .com for companies but you may have to make some adjustments. Getting the name and URL right the first time is really important because it is very expensive if you have to rebrand. Good luck!