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Looking Internally for the Success of Your TLD Strategy

Tony Kirsch

Last week, I had the privilege of presenting at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in London on how to create a TLD strategy and activate your path to market for launch.

Some of the best and brightest minds in the industry attended and it was encouraging to hear from major brands such as Phillips, Microsoft, Google and KPMG, as well as a variety of other applicants.

While in my previous blog I discussed why a .brand TLD strategy is important, let's now delve deeper into engagement strategies and why this is the key to a successful .brand.

Why do I need internal engagement?

Internal engagement is a critical element of a TLD strategy because your .brand TLD is going to impact every aspect of your organisation. From technology to marketing and even customer service, everyone in your organisation needs to be engaged in your TLD strategy at differing degrees.

While you may have already engaged key decision makers during the process of applying for a new TLD, many haven't sought the necessary strategic input across the organisation — something that is extremely challenging for multinational enterprises (and for some of their consultants!!).

You have to appreciate that how one department approaches your .brand TLD might be different to another department.

However, done correctly, your TLD strategy is the perfect mechanism to align key department's .brand aspirations with your organisational goals.

Who should you engage internally?

Ideally, the critical areas of your business to target are your C-Suite executives, IT infrastructure and systems teams, digital, brand, legal and marketing departments. This is where the key decision makers lie who can make or break your .brand.

You should also consider bringing in the finance department, PR and internal communications teams, and any agency support your organisation receives from digital, branding and advertising specialists.

Finally, don't forget that even though you are a .brand, you'll need to engage your Registrar too (if you haven't already done so).

Remember, engaging with some internal audiences might be a challenge because there are still people out there that don't know anything about new TLDs.

Change management

Adopting a .brand is a massive change for any organisation.

It's important to remember that change is never easy and often clouded in risk as people intuitively resist transformation.

This is why your TLD strategy serves two purposes: 1) To provide purposeful direction in the launch of your TLD; and 2) To act as a mechanism to engage internally and gain the support of your key stakeholders.

The reality is that you're not only taking ownership of your .brand strategy, you will also be seen as the change facilitator. Leaders of large change programs must take responsibility for generating the critical mass movement in favor of the change. This requires more than mere buy-in or passive agreement; it demands complete ownership of the entire change process.

The five steps

I detail these steps in far greater depth during our TLD strategy workshop sessions. At a high level, below are the five key elements you should consider as part of internal engagement for your TLD strategy:

1. De-risk – A successful TLD strategy will need to take a 'whole of business' approach if it's to be effective. Remove the target from your back by involving key stakeholders early and de-risk your .brand TLD investment.

2. Get support from your TLD advisors – Get support from your trusted TLD advisors to guide you through the process. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.

3. Secure budget – You've made an investment in a core piece of Internet infrastructure. Now it's time to activate this investment. Engage internally to make a business case to secure budget.

4. Get internal resources – You can't do this yourself. Collaborate and consult with key stakeholders in all departments to share the load. It's often far more effective to have others champion the cause for you.

5. Align with corporate goals – Does your .brand TLD strategy reflect your organisation's mission, vision and values? Now's the time to engage every department to get collective buy-in.

Your plan

You're building something from scratch and you need to get your plans in place. Internal engagement is the key to successful project planning and management.

Think about the construction of a house. You would never build a new house without detailed plans.

Similarly, with the creation of your TLD strategy, you should facilitate constructive internal engagement so you can build a plan that provides visibility across all facets of your business operations — and provide a digital platform for your organisation for many, many years to come.

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at Neustar
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Share your comments

If a company already has a social Alex Tajirian  –  Oct 01, 2013 10:27 AM PST

If a company already has a social media strategy, its .brand strategy should draw heavily on that experience; your recommended 5 steps should have been in place prior to acquiring the .brand.  If it doesn’t have a social media strategy, “Huston we have a problem!”

Moreover, a company’s .brand strategy should be part of its broader digital business model.

Digital strategy Tony Kirsch  –  Oct 01, 2013 10:17 PM PST

Thanks for your comment Alex, appreciate you taking the time to read this.

I completely agree that a .brand TLD strategy should be part of the broader digital business model.

Further, I see the social media strategy as just a subset of a larger marketing, PR and digital strategy. While I did not specifically mention social media, it would obviously fall under the responsibility of the marketing, PR and digital departments.

My experience over recent months with some of our clients tells me that there are plenty of different business models available for .brand applicants that might challenge the way that digital is currently undertaken generally.

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