One of the first and most important questions I ask a prospective client when they approach me wanting my help acquiring a domain name for their startup or new business venture is, “when do you need to have control of the domain name?”
The answer to that question will often have a huge impact on the likelihood they will get their first (or second or third) choice of domain name as well as how much they will pay for it.
Put simply, the more time you have, the more options you have. Way more...
For instance, if you don’t need to have control of the domain name for months, it might be possible to wait and see if the current owner lets the domain name expire. If that happens, and you’d be surprised how often it does, then it may be possible to scoop up the domain name for peanuts post-expiry. There are a whole bunch of companies that now own some fantastic .com domain names because I convinced them to patiently wait a few months for the former owner to let the domain expire, and then I swooped in and grabbed the domain, often for less than $100. Had we approached the owner of the domain name prior to them letting it expire, chances are they’d want way more than $100 for the domain name.
But not everyone has months to wait, and I totally understand that. If you have several weeks, then at least there’s time to try to contact the current owner of the domain name and see if there’s a chance to buy the domain name from them. Sometimes the owners are easy to track down and they respond promptly. Sadly, most are not, and do not, which is why I like to joke that my job as a domain name broker is part detective and part hostage negotiator. Every extra day of negotiation time you have as the buyer or broker the better, since a good negotiator can use this extra time to their advantage. You certainly don’t want to appear desperate to buy the domain name; that will only drive the price up.
With more time, you can also identify alternative domain names for the client and how much they might cost to acquire compared to your first choice domain name. In essence, you have time to prepare a Plan B or Plan C, and sometimes by going through this contingency planning process you will find an even better domain name.
Another advantage to having at least a few weeks to hunt for a domain name is that it opens you up to a wider range of inventory. Sure, there’s the inventory that’s currently listed in the well-known public marketplaces like Sedo and BuyDomains, but if you have some additional time your domain broker can source inventory that is not publicly listed for sale. Truth be told, not all the good stuff is listed in the marketplaces, and a good domain name broker knows how and where to source this ‘hidden’ inventory.
If you only have a few days, you are sadly limited to the inventory that is currently listed with fixed “buy it now” prices in the big marketplaces since you or your broker probably won’t have time to engage in any “make offer” negotiations. So not only have you vastly reduced the universe of inventory you can choose from, but you are forcing yourself to pay list price versus negotiating a discounted price.
Finally, if you only leave yourself with a few hours to find that perfect domain name, your choices will be even further limited. You will either have to choose from a subset of existing inventory that is “fast transfer” enabled (meaning it can be purchased instantly) – and good luck figuring that out on your own, by the way – or you are going to be stuck with hand registering a domain that is likely not your first, second, or even third choice.
So do yourself a big favour. Start your naming and domain hunting process as early as possible, and give everyone involved as much runway as possible. You’ll end up with a better domain name and will likely get a better deal on it as well.
Domain name expert Bill Sweetman is the President & Lead Ninja of Name Ninja, a boutique domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Bill has provided strategic domain name advice to major companies around the world for over 20 years.
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