Remember the old saying about keeping your friends close and our enemies closer? Well the same tactics apply for business. You should always know what your competitors are up to and where they are headed. It’s much easier to anticipate their next move and determine how it may impact your business if you are keeping tabs on them.
Over the last several weeks, a scenario has played out amongst the Republican candidates reminiscent of the business lessons I have taught so many times. It’s about business fundamentals and the importance of competitive intelligence. Here’s the recent scenario. A “tweet” is sent by Donald Trump stating that Jeb bush’s domain name became available and he bought it. Jeb Bush’s website was now being redirected to Donald Trump’s. Funny scenario and it highlights how vulnerable businesses are in today’s online marketplace. As the story unfolds, it wasn’t Donald Trump after all who bought the rights to the website, but someone posing to be Donald Trump. And it wasn’t Jeb Bush’s main campaign website (www.jeb2016.com) but an alternative (www.jebbush.com). Originally I was even duped as we have turned into such a visual society. When I saw the tweet and Donald Trump’s name next to it, the post seemed legitimate. Even the tween itself was worded in such a way that you could imagine the presidential candidate making that kind of statement.
The intent of this post is not to delve deep into the intricacies of web domains, cross-pollination of names and AdWords, but to highlight the importance of business fundamentals in an online world. The person that secured the domain name http://www.jebbush.com thought things through, just like a competitor. When Americans search Google with a name that has an easy recall, they will likely use the whole name. The graph below reflects this. The red line, which represents actual searches for the term “Jeb Bush”, has significantly more traction than those searching for “Jeb 2016”, which was the presidential candidate’s primary website.
I am baffled that Jeb Bush’s campaign did not secure the website http://www.jebbush.com and redirect that “url” to the candidate’s main website. First and foremost, protect your online identity! Ensure domain names to your website are up-to-date and you have secured as many relevant names as possible.
Secondly, protect your intellectual property. Imagine if this scenario had transpired with a competitor from another country. We are all familiar with stores of fictitious storefronts in China illegally pretending they are famous international brands. Imagine if a foreign competitor had bought the rights to a domain name reflecting your business or products and redirected it to their site. It could easily resemble your brand and consumers likely would be unaware that they were ordering from another company.
Lastly, even though this scenario wound up not being one campaign against another, it depicts the power that is now in consumer’s hands. Be diligent. Monitor your company and brand. Your business and reputation depends on it.