For those of you debating getting a domain name for your business to use for a website or even for just email, the choice to get the domain name or not should be an easy one… Get the domain name because it can cost you a lot of business if you don’t, and here is my real life example to prove it.
A couple weeks ago at SMB Nation, I was eating lunch with several Partners and we were discussing a variety of different topics. Somehow we got onto the topic of domain names and email and it occurred to me that without even knowing it, I had recently made a decision that cost an individual a great deal of money over nothing more than their email address. If only they had known. How did an email address cost them this money? Here’s how:
Recently my wife and I decided to look for a house with a bigger yard for our kids. I went up to all of the realtor websites and created alerts for the land or houses that would meet our criteria and the areas we wanted and told them to alert me of every new matching listing as soon as it came on the market. Sure enough, a new development triggered a matching alert after a few weeks and I compiled a list of 5 houses I wanted to go see the next day from the alerts I received earlier in the day. When I pulled up the listing of the house I most wanted to see, I noticed the listing agent had an AOL email address. Without even realizing I had done it, I dismissed this agent as “a new agent that wasn’t established;” therefore, not someone I wanted to work with to find a house or sell mine since I wanted someone who knew the local market. So, I looked up the listing office and contacted an agent at the office who’s name I had heard before and who had an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org (It is a well established agency here in Washington who’s name has been removed from this posting). After all, if they have a permanent email address at the listing office, they must be established and not a new or transient agent, right?
Sure enough, one of the houses I went to see that next day was one I liked, so I had my wife go look at it the following morning with the agent and we made the offer on the house that day. Well, to keep things simple and save on commissions, we obviously chose the same agent to list and sell our current house. So before you know it, this agent that had no idea who we were was just handed a full commission on the sale of our house and the purchase of another all because the agent who was listed on the original house I liked appeared to be “new” because they had an AOL email address.
For those of you who know the real estate market here (not the cheapest place to live) and the way real estate commissions work, you can begin to guess what the total commissions will amount to on the purchase and sale of the two homes will be. And the difference between which agent gets the commissions came down to the initial impression that was made by the simple fact that one did not have an established email address and one did (a postcard that the second realtor had sent to us back in the summer to put her name in front of us helped, but it was the AOL email that started me looking for another agent to begin with). So before you dismiss spending those few extra dollars to get that domain name for at least your email address, think about what it could actually cost you to not get it. When you compete against others in your market, even the slightest advantage or disadvantage can make all of the difference. And right now, you can get that domain name and email account for free through the Microsoft Office Live beta or talk with your local Microsoft Small Business Specialist about bringing in a Microsoft Small Business Server to your company to get you started.
Thank you and have a wonderful day,
Eric LigmanMicrosoft US Senior ManagerSmall Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights
I would like to use this post in some promotional material. I would use it with full attribution to encourage fledgling businesses to get their own email address. I think it would make a wonderful story to prove my point. I could probably make up something, but your real life experience is an affirming touch.
Obviously, it made an impression on me, as I had to dig back through your archives to find it almost a year later.