Seinfeld: Stop Registering Domains and Start Telling Your Story

Kruger Industrial Smoothing at kruger.meh registers some catchy domain names, like SmoothBetter.any and SmoothNow.wow.

Kruger points both domains at their current home page. And then…? Wait for it…! Nothing. That’s because extra domains don’t add any value–by themselves. “How do we make these cool domains work for us,” asks Kruger? But Kruger has it backwards: instead of buying domains and wondering what marketing campaigns to create around them, it probably needed to start by planning some marketing campaigns and then only buying domains if they’re needed to support the campaigns. By comparison…

The Pendant Publishing Vision

Pendant Publishing (pendantry.ok) creates TrustPendant.yes for an ad campaign about “trust”. The domain points to a landing page that’s all about trust in the publishing industry, why it’s so important, and how Pendant fulfills on that. The target is media professionals, though media consumers are welcome. The page has a video, a downloadable white paper or position paper and, in exchange for an email address, an industry report on how consumers are viewing major publications since this time last year.

Pendant promotes TrustPendant.yes in the context of a “Trust Pendant” campaign it delivers via search ads, social ads, related content ads, native ads, and print ads. The domain name compliments the ad copy by strengthening the point, premise, or value proposition for the person responding to the ad.

You may recognize both Kruger and Pendant as fictional companies from NBC’s Seinfeld–my way of protecting the innocent and also plugging my favorite sitcom. Character George Costanza worked at Kruger and Elaine Benes at Pendant.

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The ClientPipe Countdown

A real company, Free Agent Source, wants to create a user community for independent consultants that focuses on client acquisition. Instead of spinning up an entity (LLC, S-corp, etc), building a brand, doing a lot of design and collateral work, and still not getting any work out of it–not without a whole lot more effort, “you just want clients” (or so FAS believes and declares). That’s the value proposition. So the domain they launch is ClientPipe.com – it compliments the premise and now they can campaign to attract the audience. They don’t even really have to build a site; they can just put up a countdown page, with an email form offering “be alerted when it goes live!”

The Artist Federation Soft Launch

A nonprofit, The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists, wants to foster artist-organized local communities that collaborate through a national federation. They register TheArtistFederation.com – it’s a placeholder page that can get people involved while they build out the real deal. They start promoting it through their podcast, email list, and direct outreach to artists, and it takes off, because they were right about the need and the desire. Now they’ve got a high class problem–what kind of technical platform do we build, now that we’ve got people wanting to use it? A landing page won’t do any longer. And so they’re off to the races!

It’s the Story, Stupid!

Domain names are tools. Writers may buy them as a visceral act to emotionally galvanize them for a book they want to write. Founders often buy them for the day they can flesh out a business idea. Investors certainly buy them to sell (though I think you’re better off putting that money on a blue chip stock you love)–usual disclaimers. Where these domains kick in is when you’re ready to tell the story. It’s not even when you’ve got a story to tell–you might sit on that for years. The world may be ready for a story, but you act when a story is ready for the world.

Then you tell it, in a digital medium, and a domain can help you do that. And then you promote that story to a hungry audience with a campaign that transmits your story to a wider audience.

Will Pendant get anywhere with their “Trust in Publishing” campaign? In a post-truth environment, it’s certainly a hot button issue. If they target well, position creatively, and there’s some unique substance behind the hype, I’d bet on it. I’d also bet they’ll get press for it, if their PR person is working that behind the scenes. The story isn’t the domain; the domain is just one of the tools for telling it.

Seinfeld is the Answer to Everything

What makes Seinfeld so great is the storytelling. It’s not just the character arcs that stretch over so many stellar, situational episodes. Listen to what the characters are doing–they’re always telling each other what happened. Monk’s Diner (another fictional business) is their staging ground and briefing room. If we can tell stories as well as Larry David’s NBC sitcom, we can become just as iconic. Our campaigns need to be Seinfeld-like–emphasis on the story, with serial situations and recurring arcs.

Not to neglect Kruger–they just need to forget domain names for a moment and, instead, go back and ask themselves a core question: what story do you really want to tell that other people want to hear? If they get that right, there will be a domain name to support it, and they’ll think of it easily. Something available will work fine. Of course, Kruger has a lot to get right: “According to our latest quarterly thing, Kruger Industrial Smoothing is heading into the red…or the black…or, whatever the bad one is. Any thoughts?”

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides leadership in marketing, educational programs, and organizational transformation for brands that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, writes a Forbes column, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, and Success Magazine.

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About once/month, Corporate Storyteller and Digital Ecologist® Daniel DiGriz weaves together interesting stories around organizational transformation, education, and marketing.

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