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Building a Brand for an Entire Industry: Q&A With Glenn Ruscoe of .physio

Ryan Baker

Success has many definitions. For many within the TLD community, it is a question of volume — domains under management, revenue and so on. For others, it's more long-term — renewal rates, utilization, and year-on-year growth.

For Glenn Ruscoe, the physiotherapist behind the .physio TLD, success is far grander. His 'philanthropic' approach to the world of new domain extensions stems from a desire to create a global identity for the world's third-largest health profession.

I spoke to Mr. Ruscoe about his plan for .physio and how the TLD is performing so far.

"I've always been a strong advocate for our profession," explains Mr. Ruscoe. "And the .physio TLD provides an extraordinary opportunity to advance and unite the profession under a single brand."

What is physio, anyway?

Mr. Ruscoe explains that the need to unify the physiotherapy profession stems largely from a simple, lack of understanding, or confusion about the role physiotherapists play, among the general population. Aside from other 'competing' professions such as myotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment, physiotherapy itself is known by different names around the world.

"Globally, the profession uses a variety of names. Around 60 percent use 'physiotherapy', but other large portions use language derivations — such as spelling it with an 'f' at the start or an 'ie' at the end — and in the United States, the term 'physical therapy' is common. Then there are a few additional terms, like Kinesiotherapy in some countries.

The U.S.' use of the term 'physical therapy' is something Mr. Ruscoe initially saw as a potential barrier to his success with .physio.

"Initially I stayed away from that market because I thought the prevalence of 'physical therapy' as a term would prevent them from identifying with .physio. But fairly quickly, practitioners were coming to us saying 'Hey, we want to be a part of this. We see the value of the global identifier and want to join what the rest of the industry is doing'".

Why words matter for physio

This focus on the specific language used for the TLD goes beyond consolidating ideas within the industry, Mr. Ruscoe explains.

The reputational and branding benefits of the .physio domain are what really drive him and are the strongest factors helping him engage with major organizations in the industry.

"I hope that .physio, by unifying the profession with this common identity online, will help build more awareness of the profession.

"The way the digital world works today, someone in one country can post something about physiotherapy, and it can be read all around the world. If that message is inconsistent with the reader's understanding of the term, then it will create confusion, which is bad for the profession."

Usage of the .physio domain is growing

According to ntldstats.com, around 47 percent (at time of writing) of .physio domains are currently parked, compared to an average of 62 percent across all new gTLDs. This suggests that while domain volume may not be as high as some publicly-available TLDs, usage is significantly stronger in .physio than average.

Mr. Ruscoe attributes this in part to the high value placed in the domain due to its strict eligibility policy, which limits access to the professional community.

"The eligibility policy brings a strength to the domain because it is clear to the public that the information they're receiving from a .physio site is from a legitimate, bona fide member of the professional community."

"So whilst in some people's eyes, this would make it hard to make a financial success of it, in the long run, it will be a more valuable product to physiotherapists. It's a quality standard."

This value, combined with the branding opportunity, has attracted corporations and individuals alike to take up the domain.

"A young practitioner in the U.S. was opening a practice that he wanted to call 'Limitless' — so he registered the domain limitless.physio, and better yet he has incorporated the domain into his brand name and logo. It's a good example of the branding and navigation potential that the TLD offers clinics.

"Another great case is mickhughes.physio. Mick is a Melbourne-based practitioner who sees the potential of reaching a broader audience through physio. He's filled his site with useful, clinical content around his niche area of expertise, and in a period of 12 months, he has built a profile globally as an expert in this field. In three words, his domain says who he is, what he does and where to go for more information."

In early 2015, LifeCare, Australia's largest provider of physiotherapy services, secured almost 300 .physio domains relating to the various locations and regions in which it operates, setting them up as microsites or redirects to existing pages. The strategy aimed to mimic customers' online search behavior to provide an SEO boost.

"LifeCare knew that when people search for a physiotherapist online, they usually enter their location and 'physio' — for example, "Hawthorn physio" — so by getting the domain hawthorn.physio they're increasing their chances of being found online."

Defining success, and what's next for .physio

A landmark moment for .physio was when the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) adopted the domain choose.physio for a widespread consumer marketing campaign in 2017. The domain name formed the call-to-action, and the campaign was an enormous success from an awareness and engagement perspective. Delighted, the APA are planning to use .physio more broadly in 2018.

Mr. Ruscoe is also in talks with similar organizations around the world to grow .physio's audience and usage globally. This uptake and awareness, adding to the value of the physiotherapy profession's brand, is what Mr. Ruscoe truly sees as 'success.'

".physio is not designed solely to be a big money-maker. Its purpose is to allow a profession to have its own online identity, its own namespace, and ultimately to strengthen that profession. What that brings is reliability.

You won't see people buying huge amounts of domains and abandoning them. It's not a namespace for squatters, speculators or investors.

"I wouldn't say it is a total success yet. But it is a success in that it fulfills an objective, which is to give the profession an identity to unite behind.

"Now physiotherapy has that identity online. And that's success."

By Ryan Baker, Advisor, Professional Services at Neustar Inc.
Related topics: New TLDs
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I confirm (.PHYSIO) Jean Guillon  –  Jan 23, 2018 2:37 AM PDT

The volume of domain names created ending in ".physio" has increased from January to December 2017. The full report (new gTLDs related to Health) is available here.

I like to use the example of Charles Christopher  –  Jan 24, 2018 9:57 AM PDT

I like to use the example of .COOP, zoned in 2002, with RegistrarStats.com showing 7666 total registrations.

Domainers would never call this a success. The NTLD operators with their $185,000 application fees auctions, etc, would likely not call this a success. And yet I have never heard any doom and gloom comments about this registry or TLD and it appears to be humming along just fine.

From ICANNWIKI:

https://icannwiki.org/.coop

"it is committed to using the surplus revenues earned from the registry to develop cooperatives in underdeveloped countries through the Digital Divide Fund."

The more the root zone is expanded to see what the market place finds useful the better. In fact unless we have some real failures in the form of registries failing, we are not even close to knowing what TLDs are useful regardless of registration count. Creativity and innovation requires that there exists some significant degree of failure, if there is little or no failure then we know we are not even close to a high degree of finding out what is useful and possible.

And with .COOP there is no failure at 7666 registrations ....

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