Branding vs Branding vs Domainer

Morning Folks!!
What if I told you that this single post can make
you a millionaire many times over? Well it will if you read carefully and fully
get your head around this simple message. That's exactly what can happen.
I have made a lot of posts in my time, but none are more important than the
one you are about to read. So close the door and give me a focused 10 minutes
and I think I can share something that will make your journey just a little
sweeter and more rewarding. To me
it is the difference between a domain being worth $750 and $750,000 or $7.5M.
The domain can be the same but the customers needs is different. Tapping into
THAT need is the key. So if you focus on selling domains that is exactly what
you will do. You will do what everyone else does. Buy for $100 and sell for
$200. Sell for $300, Sell for $500. But how do you buy for $100 and sell for

I heard the following phrase when I was 19 years old and it probably took
me about 15 years to finally figure out what the hell it really meant. '
When you see John Jones thru John Jones eyes, you will sell John
Jones what John Jones buys.' That is the first principle. This is the most
important one as well. But this is only an add on to the purpose of this post.
Just a bonus to make it more understandable.

So how do you put this in effect? You have to look at
an end user thru an end users eyes. At TRAFFIC in late September, Brad Geisen
did exactly that. As an end user he shared his John Jones story of obtaining and He originally was the guy on the other side of
the email telling folks they were crazy to ask $5000 for something they registered
for $7. We all know the type. Well here is how this guy evolved from a mindset like that to paying tens of millions for a domain name.

When you see the end user thru the end users eyes, you
will sell the end user the domain he buys. So the story starts. It's so damn
simple! It's so natural. It's untapped because until now it was difficult to
articulate in a simple form WHY they would want the category killer domain. It
took an end user to explain it and that is what he did.

Funny thing.....been into domains very early. Approaching 13 years. It took
an end user to simplify what a great domain really means. If you missed TRAFFIC
you missed some real words of wisdom from Brad Geisen of and the
buyer of my domain name. He told us HIS story from the other side.
How it cost him millions to brand a domain name with no end in sight to that
branding. Here is his key thought about domains. The 1 over 2 simple theory.




This alone is worth the price of admission. Brad told us his story of
spending millions and millions to advertise and brand with his original 3 word
creative domain name. When he switched and used a fraction of those ad dollars
to buy a category killer domain name, he transformed his business. The dollars
he was using to brand was now freed up to do other acquisitions and grow his
business in a more dramatic way. NATURAL BRANDING may be the simplest way to
describe what a great domain brings to the table.

So it took an end user to make this old dog figure a way to articulate what
a domain name does in a very quick manner and have folks understand. Have END
USERS understand.

So a category killer domains gives you instant gravitas. Gives you instant
recognition. And gives you something that saves many millions. in 'Natural
Branding.' The elements and benefits associated with a natural branding domain
name overwhelm anything that advertising can do. But it is when you do both that
the result is something that can not be obtained with most creative domain

I have never sold a stick of candy in my life. I know nothing about the
business. What I do know is elbowing my way to the table with is going
to be easier than with Advertising is easier than
the alternative. Match it with good content and you have a winner before you
start. How much does it cost that first day for to get his
1500 targeted folks looking for candy? So one way you pay up front for an asset
that returns dividends in the form of natural visitors and appreciates in value
at the same time. Folks, this is really the ultimate no brainer for business and
what it proves is obvious.

My friend Warren Royal knew nothing about bobbleheads, but it seems that it
is easier to learn their business owning than folks in the
bobble head business who don't understand it and now will pay a penalty for them
not getting it with a new competitor to contend with and what could be a giant
new competitor. Oh you don't think so?

Well then take my buddy Jeff Reynolds. A few weeks after 9/11 he bought a
domain name, That was a life changing purchase both for him
and everyone else in the flag business. Jeff took the ball and from what I
understand, he is the largest or one of the largest flag distributors in the
country and beyond. So here is another real world example of an industry not
figuring out and a domain investor coming along and being an uninvited player in
their industry. Taking market share only because they have THE domain in that
category. The invisible cost of not understanding your own business. Your own
space as it relates to domain names.

These stories can be repeated all day long. Sahar with He
never intended to be in the funeral business but had an idea and a natural
branding domain name and has made his mark.

How many more stories are like that? The most famous one of course is by
Barry Diller who bought and forever changed the landscape of that

A great domain name allows you to suck and still stay in business. I equate
it to the pizza stand on the boardwalk by the ocean. Each day a new group of
people come and each day you serve your crummy pizza. The pizza sucks, but you
are always busy. Busy because nobody knows it sucks cuz they are tourists and
are not coming back and the only reason they came to you in the first place was
that you had LOCATION! Location, location, location. So that sucky pizza guy
will always make money because of his location. On the other hand if he had a
good product he would not only tap into the tourist, but his pizza place would
become a destination and he could grow and expand and open new locations. So
while the sucky pizza guy will always make great money, he will never be able to
do what the guy with the great pizza does. So when you marry a great domain with
a great marketing plan and a great base idea, you have something that will grow
and expand and that is what it is all about. Catching that lightening in a
bottle. Impossible to do unless you know what to search for and capture.

Brad started with the next phrase. One I myself know well. One I decided in
my 20's I would not have to use in life. He started his speech with the words
and I will close my post with them, 'If I knew then what I know now?' Then ask
some questions. If Marriott or Hyatt or any other hotel chain knew then what
they know now would they buy Would they all bid on it? What is the
loss or gain that domain represents? There are still more questions than
answers, but I hope this claws away at things just a little bit more. Gets us
one step closer. Gets one more business to understand what the hell we are
talking about and why it matters more to them than it does to

Have a GREAT day!

Rick Schwartz
PS: For those that really want an in depth understanding of the entire domain name channel and a great understanding of what it means to YOUR business, you can view a report authored by the folks at, a public company in Australia. It is the most objective report ever produced for the industry.

38 thoughts on “Branding vs Branding vs Domainer

  1. Mark Fulton

    Great read Rick! I have always told myself, friends and family that once I start making the big bucks I am going to buy an awesome generic domain name.
    Until then it seems I am stuck using the”Build & Create Branding” method. On a positive note I seem to do this very well and at no substantial cost.
    Here’s to a few years down the road, I’ve got time and I’m not going anywhere!
    Thanks for the morning inspiration!

  2. Kevin

    The greatest salesmen in the world all do one thing that sets them apart from the rest.
    Just shutup and listen. Your customer or prospect will tell you how to sell them what they want to buy.
    There is a 4 step process to closing deals. It’s called AIDA.
    1. First, you have to be creative and find a way to get your prospect’s attention.
    2. Second, you have to hook their interest.
    3. Third, you have to convey the benefits of whatever you are selling and create the desire within them to want whatever you are selling.
    4. And finally, the fourth and most important process of selling and the one step that 99% of salesmen never master.
    That’s it. It might sound simple, but if you master these principles, you can sell anything and become a superb deal closer.

  3. Rick Schwartz

    If folks never learn 2 other things about the art of selling it is these two items below. NONE are more important.
    LISTEN Just shutup and listen.
    And finally, the fourth and most important process of selling and the one step that 99% of salesmen never master. ASK FOR THE DEAL! DON’T SAY ONE WORD AFTER THAT UNTIL YOU HEAR A YES, A NO OR AN OBJECTION!

  4. eric shannon

    delighted you are writing again, you never lose your touch!!
    I could not agree more with your post. you do have a typo though – it was Bob Deiner that bought… I had the privilege of listening to him tell his story w/ Sahar a few years ago

  5. wendy

    Right on! While Wall st. tanks I continue to make money from my domain name:
    It is parked because I have no interest in the pizza biz but I saw the possibilities and grabbed my natural category killer! So even though my pizza sucks I still make money! Yes I should learn how to make better ‘pizza’ then I would really have a great business… but of course I don’t have just one domain so the pizza biz will have to wait while I work on the travel business with natural category traffic! Excellent post, great analogy, thanks Rick!

  6. Jeremy

    Fantastic post as always Rick.”John’s eyes” Reminds me of something I was told when I first started as a (very broke) stockbroker:”Don’t think with YOUR wallet.”
    The guys that couldn’t bring themselves to ask for the big money…never got any. You’ll probably get turned down, but you’ll never get it if you don’t ASK.

  7. Frankie

    This is a very well thought out article and a very interesting read. However Rick, very few domainers have category killers like you do. what do you advice, should the rest just pack up and go home? Not trying to be funny but it seams like most of us are selling crummy pizza in a crummy location.

  8. Frank Rudner

    No one and I MEAN no one can put it straighter than you can Rick, Bravo!
    “Basics & Common Sense” always worked and always will.
    Thanks for the Inspiration.

  9. JS

    Rick & Kevin,
    Can either of you elaborate on”Ask for the deal!”. Is this in regards to asking for a premium price or feeling out your potential buyer? Any additional input would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Joan Butler

    Great Post. Ask for the deal is the most important part of any sale. Your customer needs to know you want to do business with them, they are important to you and you have a right to ask for their business or the”deal”.
    Have a great day.

  11. oyster

    so to summarize possible states of domain entrepreneurship
    1. selling crummy pizza in a crummy location.
    Prerequisite: Desire & Work Ethic
    Goal: making good pizza
    Next: (2)
    2. Selling good pizza at crummy location. (Build & Create Branding)
    Prerequisite: (1)
    Next: Sell, or move to (4)
    3. Selling crummy pizza at good location.
    Prerequisite: Ca$h
    Next: Sell or (4)
    4. Sell good pizza at good location.
    Example: (?)
    Prerequisite: (2),(3)
    Next: Buy

  12. Jeff Schneider

    Great post! Our sneaking suspicion is that after all the category killer targeted market names are in place, there will be a narural need for competitors to differentiate them selves from the generic category killers. It is a natural progression in this rollout cycle of online branding. The marketing agencies need to brand so as to differentiate themselves from the pack. We at back in the mid 90s placed a bet that there would evolve a category called Target Market Branding.
    Yes this is competition for Generics, but it also will be an extension strategy in our opinion. Online Branding is not dead, it is morphing. We are delighted to be in the position we are for this transition we feel is coming.

  13. Rus

    This place always inspires me. I know I will have a better outlook on getting that in the near future.

  14. Daniel Sanchez

    This is exactly what I have had in mind since I found the domain name industry. I honestly believe there are good opportunities out there that will catapult a”crummy” business into cash flow heaven.
    Let’s go out there and find them! Great post Rick!

  15. Steve

    Rick – your advice is always comes at the perfect time when I am deciding my next moves. This definitely got my attention and will approach buys a bit differently in the future. Thank you again & congrats on your bobblehead doll.

  16. Tony

    Imagine if you had GREAT Pizza…and GREAT Location!!!…
    How much are you worth then???
    And why…..with your GREAT LOCATIONS (…etc…)…..don’t you hire someone to make you GREAT PIZZA????
    aren’t you now worth ALOT MORE when you go to sell????

  17. Doc

    I agree with your comments, unfortunately some of us cannot afford the big names but are working on good projects, I just bought my first city name that is popular here.

  18. Successclick

    Well Rick, it’s nice to see you posting positive pieces again. However, this post is a summation of what you’ve been saying (and a lot of us agreeing and adding to it) for the last four years.
    Unfortunately for most domainers, we don’t have the”internet real estate” (apologies to Zappy) that you have to appreciate your argument.
    Yes, many of us domainers have two-word category killers, and we all agree that the end user is the golden parachute for a domain investor, but let’s talk about doing something to educate the business sector better than what we’re NOT doing now.
    Educate the public. First line of attack — Parking services should put a little”Domain Value Facts” button on the bottom of all their parking pages, and no domainer should object to it. The button should lead to a nonprofit website with every single noted and proven benefit of owning a domain name. An archive of supportive articles by mainstream media should be readily available on this site to back up what you’re saying. Sell domain values to the world this way.
    We’re all on board with your post here. We were with the ICA, at least those who could afford it. But Rick, you’ve made yourself exclusive to only the biggest of the big in this industry. You’ve prided yourself on this.”Keeping out the noise”. You need to reach out more to the newcomers, who can be your ‘soldiers in the field” that promote your message, thereby advancing the”domain army” invasion on the new item investment ownership that Wall Street can no longer claim – domain names.
    You are a maverick and innovator, now you have to be a populist. Just my two cents worth.
    Good post. Always mad AND glad you to see you are still involved. ;-)
    *****You can edit this post if you like, to advance your article’s purpose and to remove my personal editorial. permission granted. Stephen Douglas

  19. Daniel Rueda

    great read. hitting nails on the head. there is not alot of people that have the manhood to talk about the state of the domain industry. soo many sheep out there that condemn what we do. these meltdown tech bubble websites are gonna disappear and what still remain after the dust settles. those damn common sense natural language domain names. He who has the”greatest strategic multichannel natural language domain portfolio may just win this internet”location,location,location” game.

  20. Jeff Schneider

    There can be no argument that Generic names are natural branding. Throughout the history of commerce, which is cyclical and constantly morphing there have been many different marketing concepts. The very early phases of marketing involved generic barrels of goods and services.
    The next phase, Product Differentiation, created a narural need for competitors to differentiate them selves from the generic category killers. It is a natural progression in this rollout cycle of online branding. The marketing agencies need to brand so as to differentiate themselves from the pack. We at back in the mid 90s placed a bet that there would evolve a category called Target Market Branding.
    It takes advantage of targeting products and services and at the same time supplies the branding qualities that advertising firms crave.
    There are millions of branding combinations still available to register. Think its too late ? We think not.

  21. Rick Schwartz

    In the interest of full disclsure, I had to delay this particular blog post several days. Why? Well because when I started to write it and got my notes out for the EXACT terminology that Brad used, I decided to see who owned the domain name” and how it was being used. So I contacted the owner and $1500 later I now own the domain name. fwiw

  22. Daniel Rueda

    naturalbranding is linking perfectly.”Natural Location” ($2800 sedo) is more even more powerful. Natural Language Location has what I call Built in Branding.

  23. Farhan

    hi Rick,
    Great Post. Thanks for sharing. If you have some time do have a look at my portfolio at the url above and give me some advice.

  24. Dan Pulcrano

    Rick, although Barry Diller was the largest shareholder in Hotel Reservation Network when it purchased the domain name, the company was being run by Bob Diener and Dave Litman and it was not yet fully owned by IAC.
    From what I can gather on the intellectual property line of their 2002 financial statement, the purchase price of the domain appears to be about $12 million.

  25. Rick Schwartz

    Thank you Eric and Dan for correcting the record with the relationship between Barry Diller, Bob Diener and Dave Litman. I will probably continue to tell the story in much the same way however I will try and footnote it to set the record straight before the story ends. :-)

  26. spyware101

    This post is fascinating. We are in a transition in our domain biz. Our philosophy has been to conquer the category (keyword) market and grab what we can. Amaingly enough there are still thousands of affordable names out there for sale, by those who purchased in the last 10-12 years, looking to cash out. It’s a great time to buy. BUY BUY BUY!

  27. Geoffrey Gonzalez

    Rick, Everytime somebody asks”how they can start building their presence on the internet”.
    I simply tell them, get the category domain name. In non-english languages.. you can get category killer name for $10,000 – $20,000
    Nice article to read with my sicilian slice. Geoffrey

  28. JP

    I had to double-check the date on this article because it seems like it was written in 2002 when it was possible to buy a dictionary domain for less than the price of a new Emerald Green Jaguar with Panda Interior.
    While I understand the sentiment of your post, what is someone who isn’t already a kajillionaire supposed to do? Buy Nope, that’s taken. Whooda guessed?

  29. Number Fan

    We paid close attention to your suggestions Rick and totally re-branded Numbers That Work into Crossover Domains.
    Crossover Domains are keyword rich, clever domain names that as business names say,”Call us. We answer the phone!”
    3 Times the performance of AAA Business Naming Strategies for large businesses that close sales by phone.


    AAA Business Naming strategies live on the web

    As phone books transition to the web, the alphabet goes with them… AAA Naming strategies live again!!closing more sales answer the phone Huh? Really? Deny, deny, deny. There is no ‘pork’ in that bill… The internet made phone sales irrelevant…Oh…

  31. Jeff Schneider

    Hello Rick,
    I remember this post quite well. It was a good catalyst to change some of my thinking. Evolution can be the very thing that teaches us to learn from our mistakes and not fall victem to them. I wake up everyday and recreate my thoughts according to the new days realities. The process of failing forward is the key to success. The best teachers are often the harsh wake up call.
    P.S. Thanks for reposting this even if it contained a small embarrasemrnt for you,we all learned something in the process then and now newcomers will also learn.
    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group)


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