Do Category Killer Domain Names Give you an Unfair Advantage?

We saw this quick rambling by Shane Cultra of DomainShane that we wanted to share. Shane is an offline businessman first and foremost, but owns a good collection of domains mostly in areas that he knows well (i.e., plant and garden-related). He asserts…

“When you own a category killer domain, a person that enters that site is making an assumption that the owner must be one of the leaders in that category. They haven’t a clue that many of the owners are clueless about their products or the industry in general. In my opinion, new customers won’t feel as comfortable going to Jones’ Mattress Factory as they would Mattress.com. Jones’ may have been around for 80 years and Mattress.com only 3 years (made up numbers) but Mattress.com gets a big head start. This doesn’t mean that Jones can’t become the largest seller on the net, but the road will be longer and actually could be more expensive than the mattress.com road with the advertising budget needed. The Internet is still young but major keyword domains feel older, more experienced. People feel like they’ve been to the site even though it was most likely some other generic type site. That familiarity helps them sell…”

Will the name make you an overnight success? Hardly. If you fail to deliver on customer expectations within the business itself (e.g., if Importers.com could not gain the trust of its users through its actions), then the name doesn’t matter.

The impact that “Trust” has with customers, and the ability for a domain to influence this trust, is directly attributable to the brand positioning that we’ve established for Importers.com. This category killer and brand is all about “Trusted Global Trade.” We’ve been working since the brand’s launch to reflect this intrinsic trust of the domain name, back out in any of our marketing messages.

Launching and running a business is hard. There are bumps, twists, headaches all along the route. One second things are going well, then the next you are scrambling to reconfigure a merchant account so as to not miss out on any online orders. But when things are running properly and all things are equal:  in our opinion (and Shane’s too) the ability for your customers to trust you over your competitor does give you an unfair advantage.

Part of what we do at Left of the Dot is allow small businesses as represented by the category killer domain name is to leverage this trust bestowed on the domain as sub-domains. In a way, having a marketing name is kind of like a celebrity endorsement from someone you trust. Everyone trusts Tom Hanks, so if you have your product next to Tom, some of that trust rubs off on your products too.

What do you think … do category killer domain names give you an unfair advantage?