One of the first steps entrepreneurs take when jumping into startup life is setting up a company webiste. But then reality strikes: Most find that their dream ".com" names have been taken, or else are being held by brokers looking to make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to release even the most mediocre domain.
Entrepreneurs in this position would be wise to take advantage of some of the new extensions being rolled out and ditch .com for good. Instead, they should consider some of the following opportunities when jump-starting their digital presence or a new campaign:
1. .Email, .design, .rentals and other industry-specific domains
The truth is that while consumers are the most familiar with searching for a .com, many of those same .com domains fail to tell the company’s story.
Fortunately, there is now a new domain for just about every industry. A new creative agency can launch on a .design, while a startup competing to find the path to inbox zero might consider a .email. The new domains being rolled out are more memorable than a traditional .com; and they are positioning companies at the forefront of upcoming internet trends.
2. .Menu, .blackfriday and campaign-friendly domains
For businesses that don’t want to transition to industry-specific domains, opportunities are still available for leveraging the new extensions in other helpful ways. With all the talk lately of secret menus at popular food hubs like Starbucks, Chipotle and Shake Shack, consider how enticing it might be to use the .menu extension to build a secret menu promotion.
Consumers already heading to your .com to check out your latest mouthwatering offerings might experience a thrill if they managed to find a less visible .menu page.
Even individual celebration days have their own top-level domains: .cue .blackfriday and .christmas, whose creators anticipate companies choosing to promote their holiday sales events on pages separate from their .com sites. These "individual-day" domains are perfect for building and tracking a campaign around.
3. .NYC, .wiki, .LGBT and community domains
In addition to its lack of creative flair, .com doesn’t really capitalize on the communal nature of the internet. That’s a shame, given the potential for a domain name to strengthen a brand’s presence and reach consumers in a way they haven’t yet experienced.
Take the .nyc domain name, for example. New York is known as a mecca for everything from technology to food, and that association can play a big role in a brand’s overall power. Places like The Wolcott Hotel and the Flatiron 23rd St. Partnership have already leveraged the .nyc domain to more closely align themselves with the city. And we’ll likely see more begin to pop up.
4. .Moda, .immo and expanded language domains
Consumers generally don't engage with brands that don’t feel personal or offer some sense of familiarity. For non-English speakers, one way to overcome this challenge is to reach out to consumers in their native languages.
There is now a wide range of new domains available in several different languages for entrepreneurs to consider. For example, there are many new Spanish-language domain names waiting to be scooped up -- everything from .casa (home), to .abogado (lawyer), to .moda (fashion), which will continue to gain traction over the coming years.
At the end of the day, of course, .com still reigns supreme. But its rule is slowly fading with each new domain that rolls out. Over the next year, we’ll likely see everyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies leveraging these new extensions in some capacity. The reason? They'll start to realize -- if they haven't already -- the potential of a buzzworthy and memorable domain name.