Editorial: More About Names.

By Len Monheit

Continuing last week’s editorial theme (in case you missed last week’s editorial) and the significance of names to describe the sector, company, brand or even impact, it is important to realize that these issues impact the Internet significantly. Companies frequently do not reconsider their Internet strategy and programs, and may not even let the Internet contribute to company positioning or repositioning.

At risk of repeating myself, it is imperative that a corporate and brand Internet presence work hand in hand with other marketing and business processes. For this reason, I am baffled by companies that take great pains to reposition themselves in print, at shows and in overall image, only to neglect the Internet as a communications vehicle, whether it is a website, a newsletter, on-line directories and databases or advertising.

Some recent observations:

  • No domain name on company business cards even though one exists

Although we realize that not everyone uses the Internet as a primary means of locating information, going from a business card or an announcement of interest directly to a website is more and more a standard behavior. If your website address isn’t prominently displayed on all your materials, at the very least, you lose an excellent engagement opportunity with new and existing clients. At the worst, you’ve wasted your time and investment because you have no follow-up mechanism for potential clients to take on their own and must rely on your internal sales follow up to develop the relationship.

  • Many companies have taken great pains to develop industry communications strategy with announcements and releases but the most recent release on the website dates from three years ago. In some cases there are no announcements or news releases on the site despite the fact that they have been issued and are relevant.

Combining this with a site that is obviously dated is a major deterrent from potential clients who may come across your organization. The Internet landscape is littered with carcasses of dead companies and navigating the Web can be difficult. When faced with a decision between two companies, one with an obviously current and maintained site and the other with stale material, which would you choose?

  • Some companies are stuck with a non-obvious and non-promoted domain name and URL.

Here I must comment that it is increasingly more difficult to acquire meaningful and short domain names, especially those with the most valuable ‘.com’ domain extension. The other extensions, ‘biz’, ‘.us’, ‘.ca’ and others will never have the overall business credibility of ‘.com’. The number of companies though, that invest money and significant resources in developing a brand but neglecting to secure the brand domain name (even if they don’t develop it) is quite high. The realization that viewers will often try logical domain names in an effort to locate company or product information before going to browsers hasn’t sunk in. And if you’re not going to develop a satellite brand site to support your corporate site or to work hand in hand with it, then at the very least secure the domain name and ‘point it’ to your product page. And if you don’t have an obvious domain name, it’s even more important for you to use search engines wisely and get identity for your domain.

Realizing that shorter is definitely better, a general strategy is to capture the shortest possible name that is identifiable or can be made identifiable through integrated strategies.

  • Metatags

The overall significance of metatags, page titles and descriptions may not be as important as it once was with other strategies and factors contributing to search engine success. As naming conventions, descriptions, industry sectors and key distinctions evolve over time, it is critical to ensure that your metatags and other site elements reflect the changes.

So the obvious answer to “what’s in a name” is really up to you. If you don’t consider some of these issues, you’ve really diminished the value of the name.

Closely related are two other key concepts.

  • Incorporate Internet issues into your planning programs.
  • Revisit your Internet strategy at least twice per year. It does not take or cost much to analyze direction and align your Internet program with this direction--names and all.
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