“Grab Life By The Throttle!” I love this ad’s catchphrase. It projects a great message to the company’s market, but also to anyone who wants to “get somewhere” in life. (Inside tip to keep reading): The company that owns this motto also knows how to make money from a geo-generic domain.
The long-tailed version of my alternate topic heading is: “Wow! Some local companies really understand the value of owning a generic domain name!”. I’m making an exclamation because of my amazement on seeing two TV commercials by local companies advertising generic domain names for their websites that were not their company’s name! WHOA!
After years of watching hundreds of national commercials by Madison Avenue Ad Agencies (MAAA) who sell their clients down the “tube” by buying and promoting ridiculous domain names to match the ad agency’s campaign instead of their clients’ prodserv™, my vision of domain investment was finally delivered just a few weeks ago when I saw these two local TV commercials.
After seeing the commercials, and hearing the announcer repeat each company’s names repeatedly, I was flabbergasted to see generic domains listed as their websites! The name of the company wasn’t the domain name being presented in the commercial! Momma, call out the Marines cuz we’re gonna take over the suburbs!
The company featuring the killer slogan in the picture above is Bob Lanphere Motorcycles, who promotes the domain name “BeavertonMotorcycles.com” in all of their traditional advertising for their store, including local TV. Beaverton is a mid-sized bedroom community just west of Portland, Oregon. Ironically, Lanphere’s motorcycle store is located in a different city, Tigard, a small town just south of Beaverton!
I talked to Greg Gabriel, the obviously astute internet sales manager for Bob Lanphere Motorcycles, who candidly gave me, what I believe, specific information that has never been reported before by anyone in the domain industry:
Small business traffic results from a generic domain name being successfully backbranded™ by the company.
All domainers want to know the traffic stats of Baby.com, the most famous backbranded domain owned by Johnson & Johnson, but we’ll never get our hands on that information. However, what about smaller companies and their success with domains? To hear positive, financial ROI marketing results from backbranding™ a geo-specific generic domain name pushes the enduser demographic wide open for the domain industry. In other words, without a doubt, good generic domain names make money for their companies if they’re marketed correctly.
“Our general manager, Jerry Lenz, decided to purchase the domain in February of 2005,” said Gabriel, when I asked him who bought the domain BeavertonMotorcycles.com. “We purchased the .com and .net sites together.”
According to Gabriel, the idea came up at a marketing meeting. “Due to the ever-growing number of lines (name products) we were carrying; Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, etc., we felt our website domain needed to be trimmed down and more memorable.”
Really? Is this a domainer’s dream come true? A company that looked at their website domain and understood that clear, short-as-possible, generic domains are imperative for marketing their prodserv™ online? So domainers aren’t crazy! We’re just a bunch of expert but renegade branding and marketing freelancers swirling around waiting in the New Media Marketing ether for companies to reel us in!
Then Gabriel said something that was quite profound in wrapping up any domainer’s philosophy for selling to endusers: “Our founder Bob Lanphere, Sr.’s philosophy has always been: Tell them who you are, where you are, and what you sell. This translated into Beavertonmotorcycles.com.“
Am I wearing ruby slippers? Is the Wizard of Oz hiding behind my office curtain? Did I just get this field-plowing, maximum harvest extravaganza marketing anecdote from an internet sales manager at a motorcycle dealership? Yep. A very fine example of common sense, linear logical thinking about internet “location importance”, and a marketing team who made the right choice for their company.
Gabriel stated that they registered their domains for 10 years. This is a smart investment step for companies wanting to really “own their competition™”, because I doubt the other motorcycle dealers in the Beaverton area are going to get that domain. Ever. Too bad for them. They’ll never get Bob Lanphere’s typein traffic, because Bob owns his competition online.
Gabriel said he started analyzing their website’s traffic stats monthly. This is where the meat is, folks:
-4,100 direct navigation visits a month with 37% of visitors being new
-120,000 visits YTD with 24% coming from direct navigation
-Their dealership staff and a lot of their customers refer to “Bob Lanphere Motorcycles” as “Beaverton Motorcycles” although that’s not the company’s name, and Bob’s store is in another city.
What is significant about this information? Lots. Analyze it, and see how it projects to marketing any business using a geo-specific or generic domain name. They only bought this domain name three years ago.
How about the fact that their stats show almost a fourth (24%) of their web uniques are from typeins on the domain? That could be from promoting the domain name in their commercials, but coupled with the fact that the store is being backbranded with a totally different domain name that “secures” their demographic area, this domain purchase was a killer marketing move. The domain could sell to another motorcycle dealership in the Portland area for $100,000 and be worth every penny. (I hope Bob Lanphere is listening so he can consider that if he ever decides to sell his dealership!) Imagine what BeavertonMotorcycles.com will be worth after seven more years of promotion.
On to our second story: In 1998, a savvy businessman by the name of Dave Judkins hired a company called “CitySearch” (yes, “that” CitySearch) to build out his furniture company’s website. His two stores, “Oak Furniture Warehouse”, (OFW) were located in the Portland, Oregon area, and he wanted to represent them on the growing new advertising medium, the Internet. The internet was getting its legs then, but few companies saw the power of domain names as appreciable marketing assets. However, Citysearch presented OFW a different domain name, “Oakonline.com” as a part of OFW’s marketing package, because the domain was shorter and easier to remember, and CitySearch offered to point the domain to OFW’s website.
Judkins was concerned that promoting a domain name such as “OakOnline.com” in his advertising wouldn’t be smart unless he actually owned the domain. (A smart thinker, like many domainers) His company spent tens of thousands of dollars in advertising every year, and Judkins didn’t like the idea that Citysearch would own a domain name brand that his company was building. So he asked to buy the domain Oakonline.com from Citysearch.
CitySearch asked for the outrageous price of $150 (remember, this was 1998), which was double the registration fee for the domain back then. Judkins’ original thoughts were that CitySearch was asking for “a lot of money” for a “simple name on the internet”. It appeared to Judkins at the time that Citysearch might be attempting to add additional costs to his account, but he liked the domain, it was shorter than “oakfurniturewarehouse.com,” so Judkins purchased OakOnline.com.
Within two years, the domain name Oakonline.com became an integral part of Oak Furniture Warehouse’s online advertising.
“Our stores get so much business from this domain name, that one time when our website was down due to some server problems, both our stores’ sales dipped so drastically we realized how important the domain name and website were to our sales,” Judkins said.
I decided to tell Judkins my professional appraisal value of OakOnline.com. When I said “between $50,000 – $75,000″, he went quiet for a few moments and then responded, “no kidding?”
No kidding, Dave.
When Dorothy wore her ruby red slippers throughout the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, she never realized the magic of those slippers. All she had to do was click her heels three times and say:
“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
MORAL: Getting good generic domain names can be the ruby red slippers bringing customers to your “home” page.
Ruby Slippers photo: Phillip Samuels Collection
“Grab Life By The Throttle” owned by Bob Lanphere Motorcycles
“Own Your Competition™” -trademark of Successclick
“Prodserv™” -trademark of Successclick
“Backbranding™” -trademark of Successclick