Quit Blaming The End Users It Is A Domain Industry Problem

I read a post at DomainingTips.com a couple nights back and although the post was good a couple of the comments really tells me why the domain industry has a problem. Unfortunately a couple comments say more than it would seem since the same theme is heard over and over again. I am sure my comments here will frustrate some but for those that can start to think about where domain names fit in the world to the typical small business owner and the level of education that has happened at the small business level about domain names then maybe instead of frustration people can quit saying that small business owners are stupid and start to realize they have a business to run and it is our job as an industry to educate them.

I am getting EXTREMELY tired of hearing about how small business owners should of just bought X name for large dollars. First off, realize right now that the majority of potential end user sales are small businesses that do not have a 20K marketing budget sitting there to buy a domain name. So quit saying they should just buy it. Why didn’t you buy domain.com to start your domaining business on, should you not of bought that to start domaining? Of course not so get over yourself and realize that these people have other expenses and employees.

I understand the value of domain names but guess what, they do not, yet. Do you sit there studying the proper BBQ techniques at night, well you must be stupid because you do not know how to run a BBQ restaurant. Guess what you are not stupid, you just are not focused on that industry. My point here is that quit saying the small business owner should just get it. It is OUR BUSINESS TO EDUCATE THEM!!!!

Why is it so hard for people to understand this? We as domainers need to step out of our inward thinking industry and realize what it takes to educate the end user about the value. They have a business to run focused on their strengths. If our business is domains shouldn’t it be our job to educate the people about why they are important.

Well, and I am proud of this and am not afraid to say it, I educate people on domain names everyday, at Localtek we do more than just sell ads. We help our customers understand what it takes to go online. We do not sit behind our computer screens waiting for the customer to educate themselves.

We are also very proud that we are out doing seminars to teach the value, even though the small business owner may not be able to afford his one word generic domain that does not mean he is stupid, once again get over yourself. Most users, once they have been educated will purchase if they can, they may have to buy a lesser domain than the 50K domain many domainers say they should be buying when their revenue may only be 60K a year but at least the education can help them make the right decision.

After speaking to a few people this week about the state of our outreach to end users and the number of true end users at conferences I would say that we have failed ourselves as an industry. Do not get me wrong, there are brokers making cold calls all day who are working hard, but calling to sell a name is much different than the outreach that should of began long ago.

I have never heard of a domain industry group actually attending any conventions that target business owners, instead we focus on our inward focused conferences. Isn’t it time the money started going towards creating an organization that focused on having booths at small business conferences to help educate. Or is there a reason we do not do that? If this has happened I sure have not witnessed it. And I am not talking about an independent company, I am talking about a group of industry leaders coming together to promote the industry as a whole to those who are our true customers. It takes money to do this. At some point this will need to happen, the benefits could far outweigh the cost.

Do we not see that the majority of time spent in this little domaining industry is spent finding new ways to sell to ourselves?

I wonder if it isn’t our industry being afraid that if the businesses learn a little they maybe able to do a bit of keyword research and do an end around to get another quality name because another related two word generic may be available? Are we afraid education may hurt in the end but we like to act everyday like we want the users to know the value but are really afraid to teach them because then why do they need us?

So, what are you doing to educate rather than belittling the small businesses out there. Start thinking about what you can do to help educate rather than knocking those who do not live in this little domain world every day.

By the way, if this post made you mad or you liked it read Different Circumstances require Different Paths in case you missed it.

And one last note, there are a couple people I would like to point out that are doing a great job focusing on end users rather than other domainers, those people are Aron Meystedt (if you have not seen the Dupont Registry ad that XF.com purchased with their own money to promote this industry you are missing out). And Kevin Jackson at Ebusinessdomains.com is also focused on end users as well.

The small businesses and large businesses of the world are ran by very smart people, it is not their fault we have not helped them understand the value of our assets.

49 Comments

  1. Great Post Bruce, I see this all the time when I try and explain Domains to other people and possible endusers. Many people just expect the end user to get domains and want to buy their name but it has to make sense for them and their business. I do my best to explain why the domain will help and enduser and I try and be fair with my pricing.

    But it is time for some of the older or new people in the industry to take charge and get out their and promote domains. Heck, I’ll go out with anyone and promote domains with someone.

  2. Bruce:
    Well said, when I am talking to a client about a web site I always try to explain it in jargon that they will understand. I have found that when it comes to IT people, we can confuse the heck out of outsiders. That’s where the money is in my opinion. If we explain it to them in language they understand then I find we can go far.

    Brian

  3. @Teendomainer – You are right , it is time for people to understand that every business has their own focus, every industry has some sort of outreach and marketing to their target market. Us, nope not at all, I spoke to a few people before I posted just to make sure I was not missing some organization that has actually proactively educated people in an organized manner. Not a thing.

    The leadership of the industry needs to step up and make this happen. I can honestly say I have never seen an industry that continues to focus only between the individual companies themselves but never on marketing to the actual people that are their customers. Just weird…

  4. Bruce, you are correct. The average business person needs to be educated, but what I discovered over the years was that it was usually their webmaster who was the problem. Most of these webmaster are pure techies and don’t have a clue about marketing, but business owers still give them way too much say in an arena that can make or break down. In their mind, any domain name can work with enough SEO and content. By and large, they worship at the foot of the altar of the Google God while failing to realize that a great domain name is also a brand – and that the right brand/domain name can deliver unlimited marketing dividends for years to come.

  5. Great post Bruce. I have been saying for years, domain name conferences are at the wrong venues to sell domains as are the forums. That is only in the domain owner’s best interest if he/she may not renew the domain. Real Estate domains should be advertised in Real Estate publications and conferences. Medical domains should be promoted at Med Schools to future doctors- etc.

  6. Shhhh….you’re giving away the best kept secret of domaining: there is no spoon!

    There is so much fluff and bologna that all the homeless around lake Eola would eat for days.

    So keep it on the down low – after this rant is over, that is. The clock is ticking and it’s time for the small business to rise up through real education – not shrimp and martini parties.

  7. Well said Bruce….I agree that it is our job to educate the end users about the value and power of good domain names. I have actually started a Domaining Special Interest Group in Long Island, NY and while many of the attendees LOVE the content and info I provide, there are consistently shocked that I do it for free and devote so much time to helping others….but that’s what it;s all about; isn’t it??

    This is mainly the rationale of why I am building http://www.AllInternetIdeas.com in a nutshell, I want to bridge the gap between the domain name industry and end-users…the domaining industry is too incestuous and not enough smart business owners and entrepreneurs know about domains and their power which is why I want to get the word out!

    I am also 90% done with my second book…my first book entitled: Search Engine Optimization – Plain & Simple explains SEO in plain english and too the point – no fluff (at least that’s what the reviews at Amazon.com say….)While I haven’t finalized the title, I am leaning towards Domain Buying 101 (and yes I list your blog in my book!)

    So let’s band together and jump on our virtual soapboxes (or twitter) and spread the word…..

  8. @Brian Freed – You are correct, we actually spent quite sometime crafting our presentations to be end user friendly. Luckily we have a mix of people around that come from small businesses which helps us craft the value story in a way that is understandable. We must think like the end user to understand that they need to be educated on.

  9. @David Castello – You are correct about the tech focused folks, and in most small businesses they do not even have that. The trick is to get the techies to understand that a name must be remembered and for the mom and pop shops they must understand that they must have a presence in the first place, and to do it right from the beginning. I have witnessed some horrendous domains recently. We spend time helping guide them back to the right path.

  10. @Stu – You are correct, although it is not feasible to hit them all as an individual company my goal has been to work with business leaders in the various regions I am in. This way I can speak to reasonably large groups and help them understand the value. From their it is a matter of explaining on a niche industry basis how they should select their name and that a third party may have it that they need to purchase from. Someone out there I know has bought a name based on that, someone should pay me a brokerage commission:)

  11. @Acro – Hmmm, wondering if I should have Shrimp and Martinis at my next seminar….

  12. @AndrewHazen – A) Congrats on the book B) Kudos on starting a special interest group to help, that is where it all starts and C) Wow, thanks for a mention in the new book:)

  13. Without end users this industry is a bottomless pit of recycled domains… I buy it from you to sell it to him so he can sell it to his cousin…. Common!!!

    It didn’t take me long at all to realize that to sell domains I would have to educate my buyer about what exactly they we’re buying. Let’s go a step further. Educate sales people to go out and educate business owners, to get your sales done. After all, one guy can only reach so many. Right? So pump up that sales force. I’ve done it and the results have far out exceeded my expectations.

    You are so right Bruce. About most of it. The one thing that I have to disagree is that the old guys should be a part of a movement that comes to abolish the kind of business policies they helped build. I don’t think they want to “get it”. They know about it, But why give away the “secret” that made them rich. In their shoes I might do the same thing. Kick back and watch it come in… These people don’t see it the same way you and I do. There is a lot of new blood in the industry though. Things WILL change, just because that’s the nature of business. And business owners.

    Until everyone outside the domain industry realizes the true value of domains as a tool to enhance the way business is conducted online, we might as well keep kicking the ball around between each other, comparing domains and bragging about the latest sales.
    It’s time for an industry revolution!!
    Keep it up Bruce. I’m with you.
    dnwired.com is coming out to educate a business owner near you! ( sorry… I had to plug it in..:-)

  14. @Ze – no worries on the plug and great comment. And about the salesforce, we have feet on the street so I am with you for sure!

    About the current industry leaders, you are correct, there is a bit of a vested interest in making sure things stay status quo, to be honest that is part of what inspired this post, the comments on the other blog just pulled it all together.

    There are some very good people in the old guard that I think would be on board but there is a piece of the old guard I think would only help kicking and screaming.

    I know of a few people starting to make a push in the same direction we are talking here. The ball is starting to roll and we just need to make sure that the industry starts working together to keep the momentum going.

  15. Bruce,

    Great article. I think there are a lot of people reaching out to end-users but probably the most interesting content lately in this industry is from the new blood or newly re-inspired domainers.

    Many of the newbies are really taking a great approach of looking at buying domains for a business plan whereas old school it has been more of a collector approach. This “collector” approach has worked well since we were in a phase where someone had to buy these valuable assets and many did. However, very few have made any kind of serious go at development when you look at the numbers. I think the Castello’s are one of the few who have thrived at both investment and development. On the flipside, there also many teams in this industry and many many developers are kicking ass every day and selling sites to endusers – these are the stories most domaining blogs never hear or see

    End users can come in many sources – take Quinstreet for example – these guys buy LOTS of websites but not domain names so one of the biggest end users is a company in our industry yet many people only heard of a couple weeks ago when they bought insure.com although they have been buying sites from developers for eons.

    Small business and external end-users will buy traditional media in a heartbeat but the industry (or someone) should really create a marketing presentation about the value of domains compared to traditional media. For those not familiar with just some of the outrageous costs of traditional media I wrote a post here a long time ago -

    http://www.newfoundnames.com/domain-sales/billboards-and-end-users/

    Getting users to understand the value of domains is not that hard but I think approaching them with a comparable media cost approach is far better than how some domainers sell the dream assuming the client understands everything. Part of my issue with the domaining side of this world has always been the car salesman approach to buying domains versus an educated anaylsis of how a $10,000 purchase of a domain could add value to a small business. End users are not speculators so for the most part you have to show them why a domain is worth value other than it sounds catchy.

    This problem will exist for some time to come but it is interesting to see people like yourself discuss this topic more and more every day. You are 100% right when you say quit blaming the industry.

  16. @Alan – Wow, great comment, that could of been a post in itself:)

    You hit the nail on the head, marketing collateral needs to be created, etc. After writing the post and sharing some comments with people on Twitter and email I have a bit of a plan. Look for more details soon.

    Domainers do try to sell the dream to these businesses, yet most domainers (sorry to offend those that this hits the nail on the head with) do not put much thought into the actual percentage of the marketing budget they are asking a business to give up. It is one thing selling something to a big business but there are a bunch more small businesses that make up the majority of potential customers, their budgets to not allow for 10K purchases when their overall marketing budget was 4K.

    I am the first to admit that it is impossible to hit every small business but some sort of a plan for marketing to the general crowd is a start. Instead of so many inward focused conferences and organizations it really is time for a new organization to exist, something that is focused on the next phase of domaining which is taking it from selling to each other and more on an awareness campaign to end users.

    Great to have you commenting Alan!

  17. The flip side is domainers need to stop thinking all their names are worth 25k or some big amount. Most end users are going to be small businesses that even 1k would seem outrageous. They could spend $25k on adwords and get 100,000 visitors. I’ve had domainers quote me $25k for names that get prolly 10 type-ins per month.

  18. @Tim Davids – Yep, a post I have planned as well:)

  19. Bruce,

    I think it’s only fair to also include Chef Patrick’s name in all of this. I’m not sure if you saw some of his recent posts, but he went to be a keynote speaker to teach everyday people about domain names and the industry.

    And you may say, well, everyday people, those aren’t big companies with a lot of money. Well in essence, everyday people walking up and down the streets that you and I do are the ones who have big ideas. Most have ideas they don’t know how to implement. And when they learn something about domaining, they soon become end-users because they are looking for a domain to develop their ideas.

    I know what I’m saying might be a little confusing and a little far fetched, but it’s something to keep in mind ;)

  20. Great post.
    Good to see other’s stepping up.

    glad there are like-minded professionals eager to move this industry forward and not just sit back on past successes.

    Great post.

    Aron

  21. @Aron – Thanks for the support, as someone who is fighting he good fight it is good to have your comment here!

    @DNUnderground – I have given Patrick kudos in past posts on the topic of getting out and making it happen, I am all for him and VERY happy he is out there, personality goes along way when promoting:)

    As a matter of fact he actually has a copy of my seminar presentation:) He is also fighting the good fight but he is speaking to a different crowd than I am talking about so that is why he was not mentioned.

    Also I think you may of missed my point, I did say we should be focused on the small business owners, not just the big corporations.

    There are many more small businesses than large corporations, in other words the addressable market is much larger.

    Also, what I want to make clear here is that I am not talking about getting in front of tech crowds, etc I am talking about small, non tech, businesses. Chambers of Commerce, etc.

  22. Bruce,

    Okay, sorry, I misinterpreted it a little, and completely understand where your coming from.

    It’s funny you say this all because I was just in Jewel Osco (a really big midwest grocery chain) and they have a few plasma screens both at the register and around the stores. There was a message on one of the plasma screens looking for advertisers to advertise on the screen. And now I’m in contact with a rep from there, potentially to promote one of my new ideas (the one that I’ve been talking about with you). With lots of small business owners, especially in an area like mine (mainly very upper class community), I was thinking it would be a good place to target. I’d be reaching out to a lot of small business owners, most of which are not “techy” businesses.

  23. Very good post Bruce and your making me think this evening. The past few days I been brainstorming a few things and how to reach end users and noticed teen domainer mention something in mailing out end user letters vs just your basic email.

    I’m going be doing some experiments on things and educate them through letters and advantages of keywords in domain names, adwords expense, the importance of branding.

    While I may not be thinking big networking and public speaking engagements at my end, I do plan to interact with the chamber.

    Thanks Bruce and your always making me think on things.

    J

  24. Bruce,

    A quick suggestion for domainers reaching out to educate business owners (an activity that I engage in frequently and have advocated that other domainers do for years now BTW).

    Take the fear and high cost out of domain name ownership by offering a co-development solution.

    Instead of xxxxx.xx take xxxx.xx and a revenue share.

    For the record one of the quote unquote Old timers has set the standard for this activity recently. Don’t write em off just yet LOL

    Youth and enthusiasm are great but age and wisdom are invaluable!

  25. Hi Bruce,

    Scott has the right idea for combining both a great domain name for online recognition (like upsetting the domain industry by building out a .me domain!). I think getting something in return for a “lower price point” on your domain sale to a small company is very smart. I have done this several times this year, and now I have backlinks from some dedicated business owners and website builders coming to my http://www.successclick.com blog.

    You can ask for something simple like an in perpetuity backlink on all webpages on the buyer’s website, or maybe for maybe on a heavy duty domain, like RS’s candy.com equity in the site. Sometimes, working out a domain deal with contractors and even privately owned retailers who need better domain names, where you get discounts on products and services (prodservs).

    Small businesses need a memorably online domain. It doesn’t have to be a dotcom if they are spending a decent budget for promotion on their website. Your thoughts about getting small businesses into domain buying are financially sound, but every company has to have an ad/marketing budget. What would they spend that budget on, if it wasn’t a killer domain name that set them apart from their competitors?

    Any smart small biz owner can start a business, but they won’t succeed without advertising. So the question is, proportioning their ad budget towards “workable” solutions. I say a good domain name is not only a workable solution, but also a long lasting investment for the small business.

    Hope I’m on topic here!

    Good article, lots of great responses!

  26. End users come one domain and one project at a time.

    As for David’s point about the webmaster., that is exactly it and it will not change anytime soon. We are oil and water now and we will be oil and water 15 years from now as we were oil and water 15 years ago.

    At the end of the day it is about “Evolution” which takes time and manpower. Anyone that points to somebody else for doing the job that they should be doing is on the wrong track. Each one of us is one person, one domainer and our responsibility is doing all we can. Each of us. Every day. That is the way and then at some point it all comes together. But each of us must do it each and every day. There are no “Others” to do that work. Look in the mirror. Whoever you see on the other side, is the one that needs to pick up a shovel. You can’t rush progress. You just got to keep on keepin’ on and every one in a while there will be a break thru.

    Anyone that sees some other reflection in the mirror, have a long ways to go as they are about 180 degrees off the mark.

    Part of that job is not trading and supporting trademarked domains. So each time a newbie comes with a list of these domains, which is about 90%, then they need to be told in no uncertain terms that we don’t do that, trade in it or engage in it. So we can work hard to educate, but make no mistake, these folks are pulling it down as fast as you can build it. Faster in many cases. So sometimes it’s good to clean out the litter box if you don’t want people to think what you deal in stinks.

    Sorry, but they come one end user and one need at a time. They do this for many many years. Then at some point in time there will be an avalanche. The avalanche comes in different stages as it attracts more and more interest. Interest is created by success. So when you can point to HUNDREDS of category killing domain names that ALSO are the leader in that space, that is when this happens. It’s like Jello, it is just water and then all of a sudden like magic, it thickens.

    The other avenue is “Celebrity” use of domains as well as TV. We are on that doorstep. It was an evolution that takes 20 years no matter how you want to slice it. That is it. That has been it for a very long time. That is just how long it is going to take to cook this bird.

    The path we are on are littered with the carcasses of folks that failed because they did not recognize the timeline. They work at their short sighted pace and get frustrated, surprised, overwhelmed and all the rest.

    The only folks that don’t laugh at the 20 year plan, are the ones that understand how long it takes to change human nature. How BIG this snowball really is. How long term this is. This is a marathon, not a sprint. However many domainers are sprinters. Almost all the newbies are sprinters. That is okay. You need to sprint to get started, then you must realize this is a marathon. This is a caravan over the wilderness. This is a time consuming and in many cases clear cutting of a new road. Trailblazing. It does not magically become an Interstate highway. The only way what you suggest can happen is when ALL hands are on deck. Each of us an ambassador representing something bigger than ourselves.

  27. —>Rick, first off thanks for commenting, whether we agree on all the points you are making below or not having you talking about the topic is great, I am heading out actually right now to talk to an end user but wanted to take a few minutes to respond before I head out:

    —->Ricks comment is in its full below with my comments inserted, read to the bottom, the very bottom statement is key and hits it spot on.

    End users come one domain and one project at a time.

    —-> There is no way to argue that but I will say that without question, in my years of working in the technology field (since 1995, may not be 30 years, but it really was the inception of what drives us to today in the online world) I have never see nan industry not find a way to get their message to a larger audience.

    As for David’s point about the webmaster., that is exactly it and it will not change anytime soon. We are oil and water now and we will be oil and water 15 years from now as we were oil and water 15 years ago.

    —-> Agreed on the webmaster comment 100 percent, I have a call with the webmaster at a financial institution this week because he misleads the marketing folks around him who do get it. Oil and water is SPOT ON.
    —> That said, my comment is more related to businesses that do not even necessarily have an IT guy, the majority of businesses that are available for selling domain names are not large corporations or even mid sized businesses with full IT teams.

    At the end of the day it is about “Evolution” which takes time and manpower. Anyone that points to somebody else for doing the job that they should be doing is on the wrong track. Each one of us is one person, one domainer and our responsibility is doing all we can. Each of us. Every day. That is the way and then at some point it all comes together. But each of us must do it each and every day. There are no “Others” to do that work. Look in the mirror. Whoever you see on the other side, is the one that needs to pick up a shovel. You can’t rush progress. You just got to keep on keepin’ on and every one in a while there will be a break thru.

    —-> I am thinking you are talking about domainers in general need to look around and get out there and make it happen. That sir, I can agree with wholeheartedly since I have done posts before about get out there and make it happen…. Myself, well I am with them everyday, and do at least one seminar a week to groups of businesses, not large corporations, but the medium and small business leaders. I cannot hit them all but the work is being done.
    —> My point is though, and I cannot see how this can possibly be argued, that there needs to be an industry group that helps with PR and marketing at various targeted events that businesses attend, at least in large metro areas. Non tech targeted small business journals are another good point.

    Anyone that sees some other reflection in the mirror, have a long ways to go as they are about 180 degrees off the mark.

    —> That may be one we disagree on, my schedule is all I need to show on that one, seminars with business leaders, etc, etc. Sure the topic is not only domains, but a portion of it is and that is at least a step in the right direction.

    Part of that job is not trading and supporting trademarked domains. So each time a newbie comes with a list of these domains, which is about 90%, then they need to be told in no uncertain terms that we don’t do that, trade in it or engage in it. So we can work hard to educate, but make no mistake, these folks are pulling it down as fast as you can build it. Faster in many cases. So sometimes it’s good to clean out the litter box if you don’t want people to think what you deal in stinks.

    —-> Agreed.

    Sorry, but they come one end user and one need at a time. They do this for many many years. Then at some point in time there will be an avalanche. The avalanche comes in different stages as it attracts more and more interest. Interest is created by success. So when you can point to HUNDREDS of category killing domain names that ALSO are the leader in that space, that is when this happens. It’s like Jello, it is just water and then all of a sudden like magic, it thickens.

    —-> End user sales happen one at a time, but this is where we diverge pretty quickly, one thing I respect about you Rick is that you are big on wanting people to be motivated to get out there and this is what I see missing from this comment. As an industry we need to have someone leading the charge to get the message out. I am talking a bigger picture issue than selling one domain.
    —-> One thing that may be missed in all of this is the problem that many new domainers tend to state that the end users are “stupid” yet never taking the time to do anything to educate the value. That is the biggest frustration here. How can we possibly belittle the business owners when in fact we as an industry have never done anything on a large scale to help them understand the value of our product.

    The other avenue is “Celebrity” use of domains as well as TV. We are on that doorstep. It was an evolution that takes 20 years no matter how you want to slice it. That is it. That has been it for a very long time. That is just how long it is going to take to cook this bird.

    The path we are on are littered with the carcasses of folks that failed because they did not recognize the timeline. They work at their short sighted pace and get frustrated, surprised, overwhelmed and all the rest.

    —-> Hopefully you are not thinking that I think this happens fast, but I do think that it only makes sense to do something to help the industry as a whole. The business owners are never going to wake up and without prodding decide they want to learn about the value of domain names. This stuff takes time no doubt but we will never get there without starting.

    The only folks that don’t laugh at the 20 year plan, are the ones that understand how long it takes to change human nature. How BIG this snowball really is. How long term this is. This is a marathon, not a sprint. However many domainers are sprinters. Almost all the newbies are sprinters. That is okay. You need to sprint to get started, then you must realize this is a marathon. This is a caravan over the wilderness. This is a time consuming and in many cases clear cutting of a new road. Trailblazing. It does not magically become an Interstate highway.

    —-> My concern is that we will never start the marathon. Ran one last year and it is a very interesting experience because you start the race knowing you have to pace, we had a team to make it through it, set goals, and paced ourselves and we all made it together within a few minutes of each other. A marathon is a very valid analogy here.

    The only way what you suggest can happen is when ALL hands are on deck. Each of us an ambassador representing something bigger than ourselves.

    ———-> Rick, AGREED ONE HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT. And that sir is exactly my point, if anyone can take any single point out of all these comments and my post that right there is it………….

  28. Excellent post Bruce, it is something I have said to people around me for a long time.
    I think first people need to have a lower price point for their names that are only average names. If you regged a name for $8 or caught a drop for $60 and resell for $400 to $800 that’s a nice business. Instead people ask for outrageous prices with comparable names around for reg fee.

    Or you get someone selling a name wholesale on a forum, they want $10, get an email and assume the person has big money and sends back domain for sale for $5000. You just wanted $10 why not try to sell for $200 ?

    I understand what you are saying about this from an industry group, but IMO will not work for a number of reasons.

    1) Jealousy and ego between domainers
    2) Who decides which names are going to be marketed at an industry sponsored event ?

    Those would be my top two. There are probably more. I think you need to find like minded people to work with, and you will be fine. To have a whole industry that really does not agree on alot would be too hard.

    The business needs more transparency, and needs to improve its image in some circles. I have been in meeting with start ups where the CEO actually used the phrase “Fuck Domainers” When someone asked, “Should I make a 5 figure offer for the domain ********.com ?” A lot of start ups have the ego if it works it will be their name on the company. So there is a lot of education needed.

    There are some small businesses that don’t care and do get it, they just believe either their name is their brand, or they will not pay someone more than what they paid for the name.

    Alan I thought your post was excellent, and Andrew the book sounds cool may have to get the SEO book.

    Is the seminar material available through email Bruce ? Thank you

  29. George Pickering /

    As someone who got hammered by his company’s board for investing in domains (a board that included the former CEO of Network Solutions and the curent Senior VP of Biz Dev for Verisign)….you need to do education to both large and small businesses.

  30. @everything.tv

    Thanks for the comment, great stuff.

    And you are right, it has to be done by like minded individuals. And there are some out there that I have spoke to recently. It is a big picture issue and something that is not solved fast, the first step is to get people going down the path.

    As far as the seminar materials, shoot me an email through my contact form.

  31. @George – What irony there huh:)

    Yes, although I focus on small business alot here, in reality an domain industry push would have to be targeted at educating businesses as a whole.

  32. George Pickering /

    The problem is most domainers don’t have a platform to reach a large cross section of small businesses.

  33. @George – You are correct, and basically that is 50 percent of the point of the post (the other half was domainers acting like businesses should just buy because the domainer said do).

    But not having a platform is what I think an industry group that is focused on promotion of the industry and values as a whole could fix. There are groups like this for other industries that focus on something bigger than the individuals in the industry, in otherwords, the leaders come together to find way to promote the industry and move it forward.

    That is what we have not had happen yet.

    Little people like me cannot get it done:)

  34. Bruce,

    “Little people like me cannot get it done:) ”

    I know you were joking here but its one word I would never use to describe anybody with an idea. The fact that you are starting or re-introducing yet another discussion on this and getting as many comments as you are seperates you from from the little people of this world – if you want to use that as a word to define people.

    In fact, many times the “big players” in an industry will never do anything because of an already comfortable position, an archaic view of the industry, time commitments which overlap with their projects and many more reasons.

    I’ve seen many people start from scratch and were once thought of as “little people” yet they ended up achieving far more than they could ever imagine and many times there were 5 or 10 years late getting into a sector. Often the “industry leaders” though they were nuts or discounted them for “not understanding the industry” yet time after time people prove these people wrong.

    The power is consulting the right minds who think alike (and understand they may not all be the well known names of the industry since everybody has their own agenda) and developing a plan.

    There is enough love in this thread alone to make something happen.

    I’m all for the little people :-)

  35. @Alan – You said it perfectly, so I can only add one word:) Thanks!

  36. Wow! Bruce you hit the nail on the head with this post!

    Firstly, thanks for the mention.

    Some domainers actually need more education about the potential of domains (where branding is concerned) than end-users. There are 2 mindsets here: those that look at domains with a view to monetize them in a wholesale fashion through domain parking, and those that look at domains from a web development/business point of view.

    The problem here in the domain industry is that the most of the “leaders” are from the domain parking mindset. Domains are truly assets. But because of the disconnect that domainers have with the real business world, and lack of intimate knowledge about the costs associated with proper web development, branding, marketing and advertisement, domainers have failed miserably in marketing domains to the wider world.

    People ask $50,000 for a domain name that is worth less than $500. We think we are successful only when we sell a domain name for top dollars.

    If we look at the niche, and subsequently what the business would need to do in order to develop the domain into a successful and profitable ebusiness, then we would realise that our pricing strategies are severely flawed. Why spend $500,000 on a category killer domain name, and then have nothing left to develop the domain name and market and grow the brand?

    As for end-users, a domain name is useless unless it is developed and branded properly. Achieving that will be a costly affair in terms of money and time.

    So, whereas we need to educate end users, we also need to educate some of these domainers as well. If we get the pricing wrong, we will end up successfully educating the end-users, only for them to understand the power of domains, and then choose to hand-register less valuable domains.

    Now here is the unpopular statement: This domain industry owes its success greatly to the Greater Fool Theory (check wikipedia to see what that theory means).

    Anyway, Bruce you are doing a fantastic job. It is great to finally have a blogger with your mindset in the domain industry. When I blog about these things people think I’m a mad man. All we can do is just to keep on preaching.

    Great post!!

  37. @Kevin – Thanks much, I think there are more of us out there than people would like to admit. And it is possible to be successful with a different viewpoint as well. Thanks for the support.

    Man, your comment should of been a guest post:)

  38. I will agree with you whole-heartedly that the frequent “moron” name calling and embarrassing statements slung at various conferences hasn’t been the greatest marketing campaign.

    I think a historical context is important in this discussion though. Historically the domainers that you are talking about here . . .the old guard if you will. . . have had no need to sell their domains. For years these guys were operating in a land-grab mode and some are just content sitting on their domains and “letting it ride”.

    Historically prime domains and even mid-tier names have received hundreds of inquiries. Some domainers who have had domains for +10 years are so sick of the inquiries that they stopped responding to emails and hide with whois privacy. Historically these guys weren’t sellers. The domains were popular (inquiries) so they kept them. The domains were earning so they kept them.

    In the context on NOW , larger holders are shifting focus, ppc is declining and demand is waning in some segments. Now these guys have begun to put domains up for sale. They’re joining in the game at a later date. These guys were never flippers or reaching out to end-users and they had no intentions of doing so. I also doubt many of these guys would waste their energy on $500 sales at the volume and level they were operating. Now they seem to be retooling for that process.

    There was no “educating of the buyers” done because this really wasn’t their business. Sure as Rick points out they have occasion to do 1 on 1 talks with a buyer and teach them. They didn’t have sales guys or the desire/need for that though and spinning all these plates as well as answering hundreds of emails a daily likely is overwhelming. Think about the domainer with anywhere between 50k and 500k domains and how many emails he gets a day asking “is this name for sale” when he’s busy doing what he does to build his business. Most of these guys weren’t pushing domains to the masses or see a need for that either.

    One last thing, I have a big problem with people saying domains are worth less than what some may be asking for them. Why would anyone in this business who wants to promote the SALES of domains say that someone else’s domains are worth less and throw insults in this way . . . wait a sec are we insulting our own kind now ? Aren’t you shooting yourself in the foot here? If you are trying to sell domains as valuable why are you saying the other guys domains aren’t ?

    Also, if the other guy is priced high and ridiculous and you are priced “right” doesn’t that fair well for you to be the right priced guy? So who cares. . . unless you are just sour grapes because you want to buy those domains ;)

    Dont get me wrong, I go through lists every day and see things that appear to be garbage priced high too. I also see names every week on Dnjournal that leave me scratching my head. HOWEVER, I don’t know what’s behind that name. I don’t know what that name earns. I don’t know how many people have emailed that domain owner trying to buy the name. I don’t know what the business may have been that sold it or even that bought it. I don’t know either of their business plans. Maybe it’s for a multi-million dollar as campaign. Who knows . . . What’s important to realize, it’s not my place. . . or anyones. 2cents.

  39. @Bruce – Great discussion thread!

    @Alan – Couldn’t have said it better myself – so I won’t!

    I’ve found that some small businesses are often very receptive to the idea of low-mid 4 figure domain purchases. Good hunting there! That’s where I’ve had some small successes selling to end users. It’s not real hard to make 50-100x on these deals sometimes! You just need to grow a pair, and get used to an occasional pissed of NO!

    But these types of names need to be generic, meaningful, and have at least of trickle of traffic. That’s part of the pitch, and along with a short list of reasons why, this type of pitch does work! Not every domain is the ultimate 6 figure deal!

    Most domainers are scared of picking up the phone to chase these buyers though! My favorite story in this regard is the 2 word generic name that I picked up on a drop, and sold a few months later with one phone call for over 50x! Good for me, and good for them!

    So get off your butts, and send those great generic names out to the people that would benefit from having them. They’re not that hard to find! Happy Hunting!

  40. GOOD GOD!

    This article and thread of comments is probably my vote for the “Best of the Year”. That’s just based alone on Adam Strong’s (Atom da Bomb) incredible and happily verbose (you beat me, Atom!) comment. What a valuable piece of information coming from one the top experts in this industry. He said it the way it NEEDED to be said. There is no better truth to this industry than what Atom commented on, and his candor blew my mind.

    So many other fantastic comments here, I’m totally stoked on seeing the genuine interest and focus on making the domain industry something more than what it “used to be”. We’re growing, and growing fast. I predict serious interest growing from end users and domain values increasing during mid 2010. That’s because I just read about 15 amazingly informative and innovative viewpoints in this one thread.

    Job well done, Bruce.

  41. Bruce you nailed it. You have said what many have been thinking, but have not stepped to the microphone.

    Like every other industry that is young, relatively small and growing, the domain industry will go through its natural maturation cycles. I.E. from that of infant, then toddler, to child, adolescent and finally a mature adult mainstream industry. This industry is maturing very much like the space that Morgan Linton and myself are involved in (my day job), the residential custom integration marketplace ($12B), which is a subset of the consumer electronics industry ($150B).

    As David Castello articulated, the webmaster and those that allocate the budget for the business site can be unfortunate impediments to the purchase of a great domain for a business who desperately needs it to identify itself as the expert in their field with instant credibility. Unfortunately, the webmasters are too busy promoting their value of design and SEO skills as their core revenue stream and only view the costs of a domain as a competitive or undervalued expense. Thus the business owner does too. In essence, the webmaster/designer/agency stakeholder, finances and perception of the value of a domain eliminate a potential sale.

    This is eerily similar and reminiscent to the residential custom integration industry arch nemesis, the interior designer. For years, they viewed us as competing for their clients dollars rather than working with us to integrate electronics seamlessly into the home. It was only until demand was created via the homeowner through stakeholders such as architects, real estate agents, mainstream press and trade associations that the interior designer did an about face and now must embrace our integrators. Why? Because without embracing us, homeowners would still purchase the equipment, only now the interior designer had to contend with the equipment in their designs. Now interior designers see working with integrators as a value add. I believe it is very possible to lure the web design firms and agencies and other stakeholders both large and small to our side, but several significant events must occur.

    IMO, if three or four of the following elements could come together, the domaining industry would begin a major mainstream breakout from its adolescence stage to a mature adult business model. Both understood by all businesses outside our industry and in demand by all.

    First, the creation of an media or trade organization with a distinct message that is committed to educating and marketing domains directly to the final customer (business owners) through stakeholders.

    Second, this message is taken to key stakeholders in various verticals that become champions for the inherent value of domains. This would include trade associations, consultants, bloggers, the trade press and yes web designers/agencies. For example, just imagine if web designers became resellers of these domain assets. After all, they are the ones who see these business opportunities each and every day, one at a time!

    Third, the avenue and salespeople. There are about 75 of the largest trade shows in the US that comprise 80% of the economy. For instance, in January we have the CES Show http://www.cesweb.com and in September Cedia http://www.cedia.org. At best estimate the CES space would consist of over 200,000 businesses! Think of the sales potential of just audio, video and technology domains alone. If anyone is sitting on some gems reach out to me, as domains applicable to vertical markets have significant value to this relevant audience.

    Lastly, rather than selling the domain names outright, lease to own, financing contracts or creative revenue partnerships that allow small businesses to afford the x,xxx, xx,xxx and above domain names in addition to their website development costs and other operating expenses, would provide provide the ROI that every business is concerned about.

    Bruce, your blog is becoming a favorite of many of us, as your approach is from a logical and sound business perspective, while not being afraid to question the norm. This was a breakout post for you.

    I too applaud Aaron Meystedt effort. Imagine an organization of professionals singing a uniform message!

    I live in St. Louis, as well, if you ever want to have lunch let me know. In the meantime, keep up the great work!

    Best.

    Earl

  42. @ Adam,

    “One last thing, I have a big problem with people saying domains are worth less than what some may be asking for them. Why would anyone in this business who wants to promote the SALES of domains say that someone else’s domains are worth less and throw insults in this way . . . wait a sec are we insulting our own kind now ?”

    I don’t know if your comments are in response to mine, but for the record, no one is insulting anyone here. Domainers always get outraged when people tell them that their domains are not worth as much as they think, whether you tell them directly or indirectly.

    I think I made myself clear. If your domain name is really worth $500, what is that you have to gain in demanding $500,000?

    Secondly, don’t you think it will be detrimental to the domain industry if people go “bothering” end-users with low quality domains with over the top high prices?

    When domains are sold for high prices it benefits the domain industry as it legitimizes the domain aftermarket. Now, I am a domain seller, and operate a domain marketplace. A lot of people will become suspicious when I start arguing for domains to be priced lower. I will present an extended case in a guest post here at BruceMarler.com. However, do you think that it is any coincidence that BuyDomains.com dominate (quantity) the DNJournal domain sales report week after week?

    And here is something that may get people thinking, or simply piss them off…

    For those obviously crappy domains that sell for ridiculously high prices… has it ever crossed your mind that somehow people are using the domain industry to launder money? The domain industry is still off the radar for law enforcement. There are hardly any rules. And, as we saw with the Snapgate/Halvarez scandal, we are still in the Wild West… Now think about that.

  43. Wow, great comments still coming in, even if someone does not agree with all the sentiment in this post everyone would have to agree on the fact discussion on the topic is a great thing. Thanks everyone for the comments, very much.

    @Earl – I would love to do lunch sometime, as anyone that has sat down with me knows as much as we all live in this online world I still believe in sitting down with people and networking. Shoot me a message through my contact form and lets connect.

  44. @kevin there’s no outrage. I read all the comments and the one about pricing stuck in my mind as I wrapped up my post. It’s not just you that has said this before so apologies if it sounds like I was picking on you. I talked to Chef about this awhile ago after he made an off hand comment on one of his videos about the sale price of a domain being ridiculous. It’s something that when I see it being said really sticks with me. I still believe that domains often sell for reason that we may never know or seem strange so really no one has the right to criticize anyone else on their prices. High pricing corrects itself over time, the names expire or the owner lowers prices , or he just keeps them (as the earn and he really doesnt NEED to sell as is the case with “old guard”)

    As to your comments:
    “I think I made myself clear. If your domain name is really worth $500, what is that you have to gain in demanding $500,000?”

    If you are referring to the “old guard” most aren’t “demanding” anything. As I said before, historically these domainers were not sellers and many still aren’t. If you want something of theirs you’d have to pay up. You can tell them that you think the domains are worth less, but they are really the only one who can determine that pricing right ?

    Who is determining this $500 value in this particular instance? What would anyone know about a domain that they don’t own other than some vague assumptions and what they perceive the value to be ? Of course I’ll save the whole discussion about pricing vs value .

    “Secondly, don’t you think it will be detrimental to the domain industry if people go “bothering” end-users with low quality domains with over the top high prices?”

    Who is this person that is going out and bothering people? It’s not the same guys that Bruce is referring to in this post as the “old guard”. We seem to be bouncing around on the discussion of “overpricing” here but that’s ok. I guess if you are talking about newbies who go around selling newly regged names for high prices, I’m not sure I see the detriment. Sure they annoy people and can give domainers a bad name but in every business there’s hucksters and cons looking to make a buck that eventually sully the reputation of others in the space (think of the lawyers or doctors as examples) . I’m not saying these guys shouldn’t be corrected if possible but the market will also correct this issue. I know a few guys who started in the space by going down the wrong path and have made that correction. If they don’t sell domains, they go away (soon be replaced by the next new guy looking for the quick buck) . There’s plenty of education on the forums that will help them see these errors and lots of experienced domainers participating there. It’s eventually up to them to adapt and learn or fail and go away. I really do look forward to your guest post on this topic though so I can see it through your eyes

    “However, do you think that it is any coincidence that BuyDomains.com dominate (quantity) the DNJournal domain sales report week after week?”

    Coincidence. Nope. They are built for this. Buydomains has been operating this model for well over 10+ years, they have a massive inventory, a dedicated sales force, outbound marketing efforts, advertising expenditures, etc etc. Their model is to move names fast, so no I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they sell lots of domains.

    Another player, Sedo, moves nearly the nearly the same dollar amount every week as buydomains and they hold little inventory of their own . .. interestingly in this case the names are actually priced by the domain owners. So overall the same amount of sales in dollars happens every week by the “long tail” group of domainers as happens at buydomains overall. I’m not impressed if the quantity BD move is greater if their $ is the same. I’m impressed by the bottom line numbers.

    As I tried to explain earlier above, the “old guard” referenced in this post has never operated under either of these models though. Selling one-offs now and then is not the same as operating a business with an intention of selling thousands of domains.. Some domainers are retooling to have a similar model and I think they have prices that reflect those models.

    “For those obviously crappy domains that sell for ridiculously high prices… has it ever crossed your mind that somehow people are using the domain industry to launder money? The domain industry is still off the radar for law enforcement. There are hardly any rules. And, as we saw with the Snapgate/Halvarez scandal, we are still in the Wild West… Now think about that.”

    Sure, it’s also crossed my mind that Rick Schwartz is an alien and Frank Schilling is really a CIA operative. Bruce Marler of course is obviously a communist since he is promoting and using .ME domains. Come on, that’s a pretty bold thing to just throw out there in the wind. Unless you have something substantial to point at and back it up I think this sort of conjecturing is dangerous for all involved and anyone reading this.

    As someone who has participated in the aftermarket in various facets I look forward to moving the aftermarket forward. I just thought it was equally important to know where it’s been and what’s been done and not to necessarily cast stones at others who have had no reason/desire to be involved in the development or acceleration of an aftermarket.

  45. @stephen yea i know i took over your powers of verbosity. We’ve switcherooed.

  46. @Adam,
    I didn’t interpret it that Bruce was specifically targeting the “old guard”. I was referring to the entire industry as a whole in my comments. I dealt with the “old guard” in my original comment when I mentioned the 2 different mindsets.

    Nonetheless, let it be said that the sins of the domain industry are not committed solely by newbies. There are seasoned domainers that are involved in questionable behaviour as well. I am not going to get into any naming and shaming here, but we should not be so quick to lay all the blame on newbies.

    I do however have at least one problem with the “old guard”. I will outline that viewpoint in the guest post.

    “Who is determining this $500 value in this particular instance? What would anyone know about a domain that they don’t own other than some vague assumptions and what they perceive the value to be ?”

    How scientific can the valuation of domain name be? People are going to extreme lengths to come up with all sorts of valuation methods, while ignoring the best valuation technique of all: good old common sense.

    The domain industry as we know does not have any reliable and concrete way of valuing domain names. It’s an industry that depends greatly on negotiations. A domain is only worth what the buyer and seller can agree on. That is another problem within itself, as it causes the domain aftermarket to be inefficient and illiquid.

    Again there are 2 different mindsets. Domain investors have their reasons why they invest in and hoard domains. End-users are more focused on their returns on investments and exit strategies. I outlined that in my original comment.

    ” that’s a pretty bold thing to just throw out there in the wind. Unless you have something substantial to point at and back it up I think this sort of conjecturing is dangerous for all involved and anyone reading this.”

    I’m quite sure that if I had boldly voice my concerns about shill bidding before the Snapgate/Halvarez scandal there would be a lot of people wanting to see my head on a platter. With regards to the money laundering comment, as you cited, this would not benefit anyone. So I will not expand on my comments regarding money laundering. Neither will I retract them.

    The rest of what you have to say is pretty well said, and I will add anything else in the guest post.

  47. Great post, couldn’t agree with you more. If you communicate your business service or product to a target audience the right way, they will be more than willing to utilize or purchase it. As you have stated the problem with our industry is how we communicate to the prospective buyers.

    If they don’t understand what we do or the products that we offer, then how in the world are they supposed to buy into what we are selling? It is a Domaining Industry problem, one that a handful of domainers have figured out how to solve.

  48. “Isn’t it time the money started going towards creating an organization that focused on having booths at small business conferences to help educate. Or is there a reason we do not do that? If this has happened I sure have not witnessed it.”

    Why don’t you start one? Are you waiting for someone else to do it.

  49. @ NY – Too bad we don’t know who sheem (“NY” – she or he) is, because it’s a great idea for a domain nonprofit organization to attend outside industry conferences and set up a booth explaining how domain investments work. We domainers should support a small group of 2 experts who attend every marketing and advertising event, even going to the “breakout” product conventions that aren’t focused on marketing, just the hot new items available.

    They can tell tech executives that we’re not “squatters” etc… and that owning a keyword generic domain phrase that controls the same prodservs of your competitors is a great position to be in online. Investing in a domain name that describes the generic descriptive prodeserv of your company’s prodserv is THE best position to be in online. Not only will the domain name serve your company nonstop, but it will gain monetary value each month it is used. They should have a 46″ flatscreen behind them runnning 24/7 a powerpoint 100 page description of domains, how they are valuable to companies who are online and marketing their prodservs to consumers.

    Excellent post, and it’s a shameful situation that we don’t know if the person who posted it is for real… so, symbolically, is the status of domainers. As long as we hide, we’re not legit to those “outsiders” and potential endusers who are ready to be convinced.

    Name any other legit business where comments from major players are “hidden” behind handles.

    Can’t.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. uberVU - social comments - Social comments and analytics for this post... This post was mentioned on Twitter by brucemarler: Quit Blaming End Users It is …
  2. My Three Favorite Domaining Blog Posts: Week of 11/15/2009 | Domaining Manual - [...] BruceMarler.com – Quit Blaming The End Users It Is A Domain Industry Problem [...]
  3. One Word, Thanks | BruceMarler.com - [...] knows, I really was having a hard time coming up with a blog topic today after the attention my …
  4. One Word, Thanks! | Domaining Manual - [...] knows, I really was having a hard time coming up with a blog topic today after the attention my …
  5. End users not getting it? How about you walk the talk? « Competitive Names - [...] following blog post was inspired by the post, and various comments on, Quit Blaming The End Users It Is …
  6. Get Your Plan Started Now | BruceMarler.com - [...] Outreach - Well, after my post the other day and a few discussions since it looks like a few …
  7. My Guest Post for a Personal Finance Blog on Domain Name Investing - [...] Bruce Marler (writer of “Quit Blaming the End Users It Is A Domain Industry Problem“) [...]
  8. 18k Visitors and 70k year – Why the Web Rocks : Domain News, Videos and Domain Blogs - [...] Marler had a great post about discussing ways to grow the domain aftermarket to end users so I highly …

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>