Be Bold and Courageous

Superwoman

Photo credit: andyi via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Guest post by Susan F. Moody. Attend Susan’s workshop “Are You Out of Your Mind” at the 12th Annual Women Entrepreneurs’ Small Business Boot Camp on May 7.

“Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.” H. Jackson Brown

Most of us have something that we promised our self we would do in this lifetime that we haven’t done yet. We tell ourselves it is because we don’t have the money, we don’t have the time, and we don’t have the right support or resources to make “it” happen.

If you are holding off on starting your own business waiting for that perfect time when your    success is 100% guaranteed, then you may as well give up on that dream right now. Because, as Benjamin Franklin said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

What you can do instead is minimize your risk of failure. Prepare yourself to the best of your ability, be sure you have a fall-back plan in place, consider the worst case scenario and decide if you can live with that outcome. If you can, then go for it!

If you can’t, re-explore your options. Perhaps instead of being a solopreneur, buying into a franchise on taking on a partner is a more comfortable choice for you. The thing I know for sure after having started over 10 small businesses is that it takes more than capital and a business plan to create a successful company.

To learn the character traits of a successful entrepreneur, join my breakout session “Are You Out of Your Mind?” at the Women Entrepreneurs Small Business Boot Camp on Saturday, May 7th. For more information go to http://www.womensbusinessbootcamp.com.

There is a big difference between wanting to do something and being able to make a living doing it. Join your NAWBO sisters and come to this Boot Camp breakout session to find out if you really have what it takes to be a bold and courageous entrepreneur.

Here’s to your success and happiness! – Susan

Hell in High Heels

LyndaBishop-webThis guest post includes an excerpt of a blog post by Lynda Bishop. Attend Lynda’s workshop “Hell in High Heels” at the 12th Annual Women Entrepreneurs’ Small Business Boot Camp on May 7.

Learning to be a great leader takes training. There are countless leadership training courses, classes, videos, books and even degrees available for people who truly want to be great leaders. Much of the training available is excellent; however, when you look at the majority of the great training out there, it was developed by men for men. Women can still use it, of course, but very little of it addresses the differences between male and female energy and how that changes leadership.

With all of the great training resources out there on leadership, why do we have to look so hard to identify and name great female leaders to learn from?

Women make great leaders. And women have been banding together with some very exceptional men to level the playing field and open the doors of opportunity into leadership for everyone for a very long time. Yet, progress has been slow. What in the world is truly in our way?

Being a person without a victim mentality (oh, I am sure I had one once, but I have long forgotten where I left it), the question I like to ask even more than what is stopping me is, “How am I stopping myself?”

So, since I am a woman, but am not ALL women, the question then becomes “How are we stopping us?”

One of the biggest blocks I have seen in my many years of working with women entrepreneurs and women executives (all of them leaders!), comes down to this:  We have been trained this way.

Since we were little girls, we have been getting messages that have created blocks to leadership not only for us, but for nearly all women. How do the messages do this? By pitting women against women. How do you stop the most powerful force there is? Get it to fight itself. We have been trained to do this and we all are affected.

From the time we were three years old, we started to learn the difference between boys and girls and what was expected of each. We were taught to be pretty (but not too pretty), to be smart (but not too smart), and to be polite so that others would think well of us. What other people thought of us was ingrained as more important than what we thought about ourselves. That’s just bad training, isn’t it? Let’s unlearn it.

To learn how to unlearn this training, read the full post here.

Lynda Bishop, MPC, CEC is an International Women’s Leadership Development specialist, trainer, speaker, and author. She is also the founder of Relationship Insurance, www.relationshipinsurance.guru, a boutique relationship focused coaching/counseling practice. Learn more about Lynda at www.lyndabishop.com

 

 

 

Why Video Should Be Part of Your Business Strategy

videoGuest post by Deborah Burris. Attend Deborah’s workshop “Educate, Automate and Dominate with Video” at the 12th Annual Women Entrepreneurs’ Small Business Boot Camp on May 7.

Despite the fact that most brands know they should be using video as a part of their business strategy, most aren’t. Here are some of the most important reasons why you should be using video, which will help give you the push you need to finally use this powerful technique for reaching your target customers.

Videos are More Compelling Than Other Forms of Content

We are hardwired to pay attention to faces and movement – the only way to incorporate both of those in your marketing is to use video. Feature real people in your videos to grab the attention of your audience.

Consider featuring yourself or another representative of your company in a video that allows you to share your brand’s message in a way that makes whoever is in the starring role likable. This will allow your audience to feel like they know you or your company rep in a way that they simply can’t through the written word, or even via audio alone. People tend to buy from people who they know and like, so conversions and profits tend to go up when you use this powerful tactic.

It’s the Perfect Way to Demonstrate Complicated Ideas

Show, don’t tell. If you have a complex product or service, the easiest way to explain to your audience exactly how it all works and how it can benefit them is via a well-thought-out video demonstration. Additionally, video demonstrations are far more interesting than a dull list of features and benefits, and are easier to understand.

Videos are Perfect for Sharing Testimonials

Not only are videos the best way to share a customer testimonial, but your audience is more likely to put their trust in it if they can actually see and hear the person who is giving you such a glowing recommendation.

Most people won’t say they love your company on camera for the whole world to see unless it’s true, and your customers know it. Use the increased believability that videos bring by asking satisfied customers to share any positive feedback about your company on camera. If you have the budget for it, have a pro help you put it together. Alternatively, if you want to make it easy for as many people as possible to share a video testimonial, ask your satisfied customers to post their reviews on YouTube, and send you the link so you can share it!

Videos are Great for Storytelling

Everyone loves a good story, and smart marketers are using stories to share their marketing message and build brand awareness. We all know movies are popular because it’s far more interesting to watch a story take place on screen then to simply read it and try to imagine how everything unfolds. The same principle applies to advertising.

Grab the attention of your audience by combining video with a compelling story built around your marketing message. This dynamite combination will make your message far more memorable and attention-getting compared to a bland list of features and benefits.

Use Video as Part of Your Business Strategy

Videos have many uses including getting the word out about your latest products, educating your audience about how your company can serve them, and spreading glowing testimonials from satisfied customers. Start thinking about how you’ll use video as part of your business strategy going forward. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Three lessons for lasting leadership

leadershipGuest post by Tom Zender. Attend Tom’s workshop “Step into Legacy Leadership” at the 12th Annual Women Entrepreneurs’ Small Business Boot Camp on May 7.

Too much. Tired of reading long lists about how to be a leader? A better leader? An effective leader? But, think about the few, core characteristics that create lasting leaders. Not the job jumpers. But leaders who stay and create sustainable success. Who are they?

Simple searches will provide the lists of attributes associated with lasting leaders. You have read these lists – ad nauseam. The top ten articles in an Internet search produced more than two-dozen traits of successful leaders.

But the three most frequent characteristics of lifetime leaders are Honesty, Communications, and Positivity.

The best policy

Honesty: this leadership quality is at the top of the list for real reasons:

  • It breeds openness, trust, and human bonding.
  • Honesty is at the root of good ethics.
  • Telling the truth opens up two-way communications.
  • Others will be honest, too.
  • Customers will become more appreciative and loyal.
  • Vendors will be better partners.
  • Honesty means doing the right thing, no matter what.

Yet honesty does not mean that the leader has to tell everyone everything – that can create a new set of problems. Just tell the truth in all open communications.

Dishonesty breaks people, organizations, and businesses. Don’t risk it. Ever.

Let’s get together

Communications: leaders who cannot communicate, cannot lead. And, the forms and forums of communications are many:

  • Effective communications is two-way.
  • The form can be in person, telephone, email, text, and videoconference.
  • Good listening is a superior form of communications.
  • Body language, tone of voice, and facial expression are communications.
  • Let everyone involved know what is happening – avoid doubt and distrust.
  • Share bad news before it happens, and good news as it happens.
  • Communicating well means soliciting and receiving inputs.

And good leaders are sensitive to what is being communicated, to whom, why, where, when, and how. These set the critical context for communicating.

Obviously honesty reigns in all communications. That is the truth. Always.

On the high road

Positivity: no leader can get away with being downbeat, depressed, anxious, and withdrawn. Not for long. But an upbeat leader can work miracles:

  • Employees, customers, vendors and other stakeholders become positive.
  • Appropriately added humor helps build a more fluid and fun culture.
  • Positivity helps overcome periodic disappointments with resiliency.
  • Heavy workloads become less of an issue and more of a “can do” outlook.
  • Teamwork is greatly accelerated; politics are diminished.
  • Growth of the business is accelerated.
  • Best employees are retained and new employees are attracted.

Positivity does not mean never being serious. Strong leaders must be appropriately serious while remaining positive overall.

But they are not Pollyannas pretending that nothing is ever wrong. Never.

More …

The top ten lists of great leader characteristics also include: delegation, confident, commitment, creative, intuitive, inspiring, empathy, consistency, flexible, conviction, respectful, resourceful, rewarding, knowledgeable, open to change, receptive, organized, initiative, responsible, accountable, courage, tenacity, patience, humility, presence, visionary, ethical, values, culture, visible, authentic, and many more.

Superhuman!

Point. The three must-have qualities are: honesty, communications, and positivity. Period.

A recent revelation

“As we look ahead, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

The bottom lines

Three traits. These are the ones that build lifetime leaders. Yes there are many more characteristics of strong leaders. But three that are most often listed are honesty, communications, and positivity. Master these three first. Then lead on.

 

Tom Zender is an experienced CEO mentor, Amazon bestselling business author, a guest writer for the Phoenix Business Journal, and a professional speaker. He held leadership roles at General Electric and Honeywell, was the CEO of a global nonprofit, and a senior VP in NYSE and NASDAQ listed corporations. Tom has been a leader in startups, small, and midsize companies. He mentors students at ASU’s SkySong startup business incubator and is on the advisory board of Paradise Valley Community College. He just published his third book, “The Bottom Lines 2016: 52 Unforgettable Lessons in Leadership.”

 

Striving for Balance When Leading an All Female Team

Leading an All Female TeamAs women business owners, we’re often drawn to hiring other women as we build our team. We like the camaraderie, the easy conversation, and the like-minded ways of thinking. Let’s face it, we tend to be drawn to people who are JUST LIKE US! This actually applies to men, too, and it can be a major barrier to our business success.

Diversity among your team is a huge benefit but what if you don’t have it?

If you’re leading an all female team, here are some things you might observe and want to address.

Meetings Running Too Long

Women LOVE to collaborate and sometimes can dive down the rabbit hole before you even realize it. When leading an all female team, a specific meeting agenda distributed in advance with a time limit on each topic can help to keep everyone focused.

Lots of Ideas With Less Actual Action

Now this is a huge generalization and certainly not always true but the majority of women tend to be creative, right brain thinkers. We like to use our imagination and visualize solutions but it’s a much smaller percentage of women who are the detail-oriented, strategic thinkers and can actually break it down into step-by-step execution. If you find one of those for your team, treat her very well! She’s worth her weight in gold! And for heaven’s sake, let her create your processes and insist that everyone else follow them! If you DON’T have one of these on your team, seriously consider contracting a project manager to help you with execution of larger initiatives.

Unspoken Misunderstandings or Grudges

One of the realities of being a woman is we are still driven in large part by the ancestral instincts that were crucial to our survival. As a cave-woman in a large tribe our likelihood of finding the best mate and achieving the highest levels among the tribe hinged upon being liked and darned if we aren’t still driven by it today.  When men have conflict, they tend to just throw it out there, deal with it, and move on. Not us. Women will tend to say nothing and hope it just passes, all the while building resentments even to the point of deliberately undermining each other. Horribly unproductive.

Start your team with a Clean Slate Policy. Every time I bring in a new team member, male or female, we have an orientation meeting and I explain our Clean Slate Policy.  Every day when we leave the office, you must have a clean slate with every other person. In other words, if there is ANYTHING that is causing discomfort, confusion, unrest, or anxiety, we all agree that we will immediately bring it up. We each agree to be open to feedback and realize that we’re all on the same team and we all want the best for the company and each other and unspoken tension will not serve anyone. We will GET IT OUT and ADDRESS IT!

Leading an all female team has a lot of advantages but hopefully these tips will help to avoid a few of the possible pitfalls. I’m actually looking for the first man to join my all-female company. It will take one brave soul to climb into this power-woman cave!

Nancy HetrickBy Nancy A. Hetrick, CDFA™

Nancy founded Smarter Divorce Solutions in 2011 after going through her own less-than-optimal divorce process. She has over 16 years of experience in both investment management and financial planning. Nancy is a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics, (MAFF™), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™), an Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA), an Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS), a Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC) and a trained mediator. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, riding her motorcycle, and spending time with her 3 children and one grandchild. Get in touch with Nancy at nancy@smarterdivorcesolutions.com or smarterdivorcesolutions.com.

Content Marketing Strategy: How to Create Lasting Value in 2016 and Beyond

Content Marketing Strategy

We live in an information-driven economy. Creating content – the right content, on a regular basis – is essential. Doing so can also get expensive, but you can’t afford to be left behind, so how do you keep up and still stay on budget?

Here’s how you can maximize your content marketing strategy so you can do more with less.

Create Evergreen Content

While there’s a place for content about the latest happenings, the content marketing strategy that will give you the most bang for your buck over time is content that remains useful over an extended period.

What best practices and advice can you share with your audience that won’t go out of style? What aspects of your business do customers need to know about that aren’t likely to change? What questions do people ask you again and again?

Mine Existing Materials for Hidden Gems

You may be sitting on a gold mine of content without even realizing it. Take an inventory of what content you have so far. Look across all platforms, at all your product content and sales and marketing materials. Identify copy, videos, images, handouts – anything that you use to help your customers understand who you are and what you do, and resources that help them out.

Then…

Repurpose and Reuse

Look at your most popular blog posts – why not turn them into an e-book? Sell the eBook and add a low-cost revenue stream. Or you can use the e-book as a free giveaway to incentivize people to join your mailing list so you can get them into your sales pipeline.

Or maybe you want to start speaking and teaching courses. Take that e-book (or series of blog posts, or newsletter articles…) and use them to create your course curriculum and handouts. Or go the opposite direction and turn your course handouts into an e-book.

Have a client success story? Use that to write a blog post on how to implement your product/service once people buy. Send it out to your email list and offer to provide a similar service for new clients. Use the story to train your team on how to help other clients achieve the same kind of success.

Did you recently hire a professional to re-write your website copy? Make the most of that investment by copying key sentences into your email campaigns, your sales collateral, and your phone scripts. Update your 30-second commercial for greater impact at networking events.

In a value-driven content marketing strategy, you use content in multiple ways to market your products and services, or to create new products and services, or simply to build stronger relationships with clients. Write once, sell again and again.

Start simple – identify one piece of content right now that you could use in multiple ways.

Sara KornSara Korn is a marketing copywriter who specializes in crystal-clear messaging that gets the attention of the people who need you most. Connect with her at WriteSmithAZ.com.

Getting Started in Real Estate Investing

Get Started in Real Estate InvestingDeciding to Invest in Real Estate.

Most people would like to make more money.  How would you like to do this dynamically while concurrently enjoying what you are doing? Think about real estate investing.  It may not be as risky as you think. And, the positive outcomes can outweigh the risks. The look and feel of this type of investing is much different from bank investing. You have a tangible product, which could, in turn, earn you many long-term benefits, but there is more effort and thought needed to have this type of investment be successful.

Searching for Your Property.

When searching for your first investment property, set clear expectations with your realtor. Do you plan to rent it for several years, or sell at a profit in a couple of years? Either way, consider short sale and foreclosure properties. These properties can be purchased below market value, minimizing your initial down payment. Select a good location that will, in turn, attract good tenants. Choose a property that does not require too much work before a tenant can occupy it.

Required Expenses.

Selecting a property that is in good condition, and not requiring too much work, will allow you to put more money down, or place money in a reserve account for possible unforeseen future repairs. Determine how much rent is needed to cover your expenses, such as mortgage, taxes, insurance, HOA fees, etc. Can this house in its location achieve that figure or greater? To find out comparable rent figures in the community with similar type houses, you can visit such websites as Zillow and Trulia, which provide estimated rents. Lastly, know the market. Current market trends can be found at the National Association of Realtors. Buying when the market is down is the best option so you do not lose money in your investment and are able to sell it and earn a profit if you so decide in a couple of years.

Choosing How to Manage Your Property.

Your realtor can be your property manager for your property. He/she can find a tenant, prepare the lease agreement and be responsible for arranging any maintenance or repairs – which are, in turn, paid by you. You could also self-prepare the required legal documents for your lease agreement. Websites such as ezLandlordForms.com can provide both free and fee-based documents needed. The property manager could also prepare these documents, as well arrange repairs and maintenance for a fee, which is often a percentage of the monthly rent. This percentage can be as high as ten percent. To earn more revenue, you can manage the property yourself. You can be the landlord and be your own boss! This is easier if you are in the area where the investment property is located and if the property is a long-term rental. Your realtor can still find your tenant (with your selection approval) and prepare the lease agreement. Then you take over.

Establishing a Relationship with Your Tenant.

Establish a positive relationship with your tenant and be responsive. It is a two-way relationship. Just as a landlord may have hesitations with new tenants, tenants may possess these same sentiments with a new landlord. Managing the property yourself does not necessarily mean performing the work or maintenance on the property yourself, but rather organizing and making the arrangements for such actions to take place. Remember that these expenses can be claimed for tax purposes.

There are many factors to consider when deciding if you would like to get started in real estate investing. It can be a long-term investment and continued source of revenue, which increases in value over time. More income can be earned in investment properties than traditional savings accounts. You are an active participant and decision maker. There are many options to consider, and if this is something new for you, do your research. Remember there will be new experiences you encounter, but with careful and calculated considerations, it can be a long-term source of income and, of course, enjoyment.

The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University (West). Lisa M. Buccigrosse, M.S.Ed., NBCT has been an educator since 2001. She has served in a variety of capacities including ESL/bilingual/Spanish teacher, instructional coach, mentor, administrator, and university professor. She has been a faculty member at Western International University since 2010. In addition to her educational roles, since 2010 she has owned a small business in real estate investing and landlord of rental properties.

What to Look For In a Bank

Inna head shot 2014 11 10Guest post by Inna Korenzvit , owner and CEO of KORE Bookkeeping Solutions.

I have been with the same bank for over 20 years now, but as a professional bookkeeper, I also work with a number of my clients’ financial institutions. I came to realize that not all banks are created equal. For example, some banks do not download transactions into QuickBooks, but only into Quicken, restricting the user’s choice of financial software tools. Others limit access to statements or copies of checks, making them unavailable or charging a fee to access them after a certain period of time.

In 2014, JD Power and Associates conducted a banking satisfaction study , finding that overall customer satisfaction is at a record high. Regardless, there are still a number of customers switching banks, most commonly citing poor customer service (28%), non-competitive interest rates (19%), and high fees (15%) as their primary reasons for switching. Additionally, another JD Power study has found that satisfaction among mobile users is on the decline.

While they are unlikely to change a bank with which they have been dealing for a while, every so often my customers do change their financial institutions. If you are on the market for a new bank or simply want to see how your bank measures up, you may find the checklist below useful.

From an accounting standpoint, you should ask yourself the following questions:

bank-table

If you find that you like your financial institution, but its fees are excessive, talk to your small business banker or the branch manager. He/she could help waive certain fees and make other accommodations for you. If you are a good customer, it may be possible to get these fees refunded, with the bank manager’s approval, even after incurring them.

For some businesses, which receive small numbers of large checks, being able to deposit them on the spot via a smartphone would be very beneficial, as it improves cash flow, and makes managing papers less of a chore. This can also simplify the bookkeeping process, as individual deposits make it easy to identify individual checks to be matched up against invoices.

One thing that would not figure into my calculations is the interest rates. Getting an extra 0.5% interest on $5000 amounts to a whopping $25 a year, or a little over $2 per month. So while I, like many others, am dissatisfied with the low interest rates that my money earns, getting a slightly higher rate would not sway me towards a different bank. If the difference were 2%, then it may make a sense, but that is extremely rare.

An average bank branch makes close to a $1million a year in fees. But as CFPB study has found, 61% of those fees are collected as overdraft and NSF charges. While it is not unreasonable to pay service fees for the features we need and want, the overdraft charges may often be avoided, by following good bookkeeping practices. It should be a goal of each businessperson and even private bank user to avoid incurring overdraft charges.

All in all, finding a right bank for you can make a significant difference in not only saving money overall, but also making your business and personal life less stressful. Although there may not be one institution that is right for everyone, selecting the bank or credit union with the right mix of features to suit your needs will often far outweigh the cost of service fees.

Inna Korenzvit is owner and CEO of KORE Bookkeeping Solutions, an Arizona-based professional bookkeeping company focused on helping its clients reach new levels of financial clarity while allowing them to focus their time on what they do best – running and growing their business.

Members and corporate partners, if you would like to submit a guest post for the NAWBO blog, contact Sara Korn.

 

Your Customers May Be Killing Your Business

Guest post by Cindy Gordon, owner of Culture Shock Coaching

Over the past few weeks I’ve had two frustrating situations with companies that I deal with on a regular basis. The first one was with my gardener. I met with him four weeks ago to discuss the flowers and plants I wanted put into my garden. (It’s the Canadian in me – April rolls around and I want to plant flowers.) We discussed the type, color and location for the plants and he noted everything in his cell phone. I didn’t bother to ask when he’d have them planted because I just assumed it would be the next time his crew came to my house. I was wrong. It took four weeks and various text and voice messages. Finally, I threatened to fire him and that day the job was taken care of. Why don’t I hire a new company? Because the crew that services my house on a weekly basis is fantastic. It’s the owner who ruins my experience. Interesting!

The second situation was with my contractor. Two weeks ago he started working on some renovations, which he said would take about 6 days to complete. I had a very clear list of things to be done and a hard deadline as I wanted the work done before our out-of-town guests came. I made sure all the supplies needed were available, so I anticipated no delays. Over the two week period (10 business days) he had 4 migraines, two flat tires and a family emergency. Let’s do the math – we worked 4 days (on one day he had a flat tire and migraine). He never once tried to get someone to help him get the work done. I have a partially sanded and unfinished front door; big patches on unpainted plastered walls in different spots around the house and numerous projects not even started. How do you think I feel welcoming my guests into this construction zone?

Do business owners not stop to consider how their actions impact their customer loyalty? A negative customer experience can influence customers to find a new business to deal with; not refer business or tell others about the negative experience. This can kill a business’ growth.

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.
  • 92% of respondents in a Nielsen survey trusted referrals from people they knew.
  • It is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer.
  • It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for 1 negative experience.

The cost of a unhappy customer is huge, so why don’t more business owners focus on the level of service they provide by creating an intentional customer experience? The customer experience is not something that should be left up to chance. Especially when employing staff, everyone should be clear about the key outcomes of the customer experience.

Creating an intentional service outcome

  • Write down the specific procedures that should occur when servicing your clients. Think about how this emotionally touches your clients. Do your current procedures create the impact you want them to? Be very specific and detailed in this step. Should an employee open the door for a customer as they enter your premises? How should the phone be answered – by a person; automated system; after how many rings? Etc…
  • Ask your employees to write down the procedures they follow when serving a client. Are they the same as your list?
  • What are your top three corporate values? Do your customer service procedures highlight and exemplify those values? Do your clients walk away experiencing those values?
  • Consider hiring an outside, unbiased consultant to observe your customer service. An impartial eye will see things that an insider can’t.
  • Get feedback from some customers. Ask questions such as “Why do you stay with our company?” “What leads you to refer business to a company?” Again, an outside consultant may be able to glean more honest information as customers may be hesitant to be fully transparent to a company representative.
  • Think about a company or business you’ve spoken highly of to others. What was it that made dealing with that company so special? How did they make you feel? Compare your customer experience with theirs and assess how you can raise the bar on your service experience.
  • Repeat – continuously assess and improve your customer experience. This will tell your customers you appreciate them and don’t take their loyalty for granted.

Cindy Gordon is the owner of Culture Shock Coaching. She works with small business owners to alleviate some of the stress they experience within their business by helping them create more effective and efficient systems and processes.

Members and corporate partners, if you would like to submit a guest post for the NAWBO blog, contact Sara Korn.

Coming soon: the .sucks domain name

Flavia CampbellGuest post by Flavia Campbell, partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber, a NAWBO Phoenix corporate partner.

Domain name extensions have expanded far beyond .com, .net, .biz and .org. In the past few years, several new extensions have been created to increase competition and choice in the virtual space. New extensions include .clothing, .technology, .contractors, .photography, .company, .training, among hundreds of others. A  much publicized new extension will be launched soon: .sucks.

The .sucks extension is supposedly being created to promote debate and provide “an easy-to-locate central town square available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year” for criticism.  It is too soon to tell how the market will react. Maybe .sucks domain names will become a go-to-place to find out about bad experiences that consumers are having with a particular brand. Maybe no one will visit .sucks pages. The risk for harm to one’s brand, however, is troublesome. Disgruntled consumers, business partners or employees could get their hands on .sucks domains and use them to post complaints and undesired comments about a brand.

Because of free speech guarantees, it will be nearly impossible for a brand owner to retrieve a third party registration for a .sucks domain name that includes their brand. Brand owners should, therefore, consider registering domain names for their main brand(s) followed by .sucks. as a preventive and defensive measure. The domain registrar in charge of the .sucks registrations has given brand owners an opportunity to protect their rights before registration is open to the general public on May 28, 2015.  During this pre-launch period, brand owners who own federal registrations for their trademarks and who register such marks with the Trademark Clearinghouse, a global repository for trademarks in the domain name space, may apply for .sucks domain names. As an alternative to registration of a .sucks domain name, brand owners may apply to “block” their mark from registration by third parties. The disadvantage of the block is that it is not available during the pre-launch phase. Pricing for .sucks domain names and blocks ranges from $10 to $2500.  The cost of a .sucks domain name is highest during pre-launch.

We encourage brand owners to review the available options regarding registration of .sucks domain names. More information can be found on the registrar’s website at www.nic.sucks. Given the upcoming pre-launch deadline of May 28, 2015, time is of the essence.

 

Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP,  one of the largest law firms in the Western U.S., provides comprehensive legal services to clients of all sizes. The firm maintains thriving practices in litigation, real estate, business transactions, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, gaming, banking, bankruptcy and energy and natural resources. For additional information, please visit www.LRRLaw.com.

Members and corporate partners, if you would like to submit a guest post for the NAWBO blog, contact Sara Korn.