While early in his career Jeff Sass was making B movies, he has spent more recent years in the C-suite as a COO, CEO and currently as CMO for .CLUB Domains, one of the new top-level domain name extensions. With a career spanning the entertainment, computer game, mobile and Internet worlds, he has written and produced for film & TV, and he has been a tech startup entrepreneur. A graduate of Cornell University, Jeff is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, mobile marketing, domain names and social media. He has had articles published in FORBES, ENTREPRENEUR, AdAge, and many other publications. As the father of three, he has also been a prolific "Dad Blogger" participating in influencer campaigns for brands including Intel, Sony, Ford, LG, Asus and others. Despite this seemingly successful career, Jeff Sass is happy to admit that everything he knows about business and marketing he learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER.
Thanks Arlan. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you. I appreciate it and you know today. We're really excited. I'm really excited to talk to you about using different domain extensions. So to leverage and bring traffic to your website, but of course before we get into that, I definitely want you to tell us a little bit about your background and specifically the book you wrote and then I came up Let it tight.
Absolutely. So I've had a long and Winding Road career, which is which is the nice way of saying I'm older. So I've been in a number of different Industries and I've been very fortunate to have a lot of fun along the way. I started my career in New York in the film and television industry in the entertainment industry.
And that was the Genesis for the book which I'll talk about a little bit later, but I was really interested in the convergence of traditional entertainment with interactive entertainment kind of in the early days the early 90s and ended up believing. Traditional entertainment moving down to Florida to work in the video and computer game industry.
So I spent a number of years working on the early CD-ROM games and early computer games and had the chance to work with William Shatner. Oh, it is tekwar game if Star Trek fan, which was a lot of fun and from the game industry end. Becoming sort of a tech entrepreneur down here in Florida and started a couple of companies in Mobile Commerce and some other areas and did a stint with a start-up in the music space that the Heyday of ringtones that was a company called mixer myx ER and was one of the leading places where people went for their ringtones when ringtones were thing before the smartphone took over the universe and then for the past six years.
I've been CMO of Doc Club domain. The club is one of the new top level domain extensions. So instead of a web address ending and.com or.net or dot Biz you can get one that ends in dot club and there are a lot of great applications for the name because Club is all about community and passion and and we'll talk more about that and some really interesting things going on in the domain world with all of these new.
Club is one of almost a thousand new domain extensions that are now available and many of them have very specific meaning which gives you a lot of other opportunities. And in addition to that club. We run a little startup incubator here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called startup stock club, and we're actually doing a little 10-episode documentary series about the startups and startup stock Club.
So we've got a lot going on and the book you mentioned. Yes. It's a long title, but earlier in my career. I spent seven years working for the low-budget. Film Studio troma some of you may have heard of Trauma from the Toxic Avenger and class of Nuke Em High and other wild and crazy movies. And we also had a cartoon Series in 1990 called the toxic Crusaders and the book is really focused on marketing lessons.
I learned from making these wild and crazy low budget films. So they're they're legitimate business lessons that you could apply to any industry, but they're wrapped around these crazy behind-the-scenes stories making these movies so it's a very. And funny book, it's definitely not your typical business or marketing book.
Okay, great. Well, yeah, Jeffrey you've definitely done a lot for sure and appreciate the telling us about what you've been up to, you know over the years for sure and I did get recently a copy of your book that I'm so excited to kind of dive into it because it's title definitely caught me and then the even the cover of it.
I know you had quite a time working with those that that studio and on the sets of some of those movies I got. I can imagine that was quite interesting. Yep, but really great lessons and you know that I've used to this day, you know, 20 some odd years later and I still apply a lot of those lessons to the work I do today.
Okay. Yeah, that's that's awesome. Yeah, it's I've a lot of things that I've learned early on are lessons that I applied now. So it's it's always good to be able to you know to pull from experiences in the past for sure. Well, you know, one of the things of course that you mentioned is that you the you know, you are working with that club domains and.
Are the CMO there doc Club domains, and for those listeners that are you know that are out there that are listening and most people are aware of the fact that there are a lot of. Domain extensions that are out there these days, you know from the dock Club to the dot Biz is the informing just on and on there's so many these days I can barely keep up with the amount of extensions that are available that definitely are unique and stand out.
And so there's you know more than just the dot-coms that Nets in the dot orgs. So, you know, one of the things that you brought to my attention is that businesses these days can come up with a memorable domain. And help Drive traffic to their main website by just coming up with a memorable catchy domain and so I wanted to see.
My first question is really, you know, how will really effective is this and really kind of what stats are out there that support this. Yeah. So so it's really important to have a domain name that's easy for people to remember but I think it's really important for your domain name to be spelled correctly.
I'm not a big fan of made-up words, you know, sometimes young company or startup thinks they can't get you know, the keyword or the matching name of their company with a.com. So they go make up some word or they. They misspelled some word and that's going to be very detrimental because it's hard to build a brand around something.
That's that doesn't exist. As a real word or is hard to spell you can do it and it could be done. And of course you got companies like Yahoo! And Google with the you know, made up words, but they've spent literally tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to build those brands on top of those unusual names.
The flip side is if you have a strong domain name that's memorable and means something and is spelled correctly. It's much easier for people. To find you it performs much better in search organically, you know, I went to a conference once I think it was TechCrunch disrupt in San Francisco and they were two different companies on display, you know having booths.
There's name safe. Safe.com right one was spelled sa y Fe. The other one was spelled sa iife. Oh and and and all of the promotion that they were doing guess who is going to benefit from all their promotion in any anyone who heard about safe.com guess where they were going to go the saf VTEC exactly what the company did own safe.com?
Yeah, so. Now you don't have to misspell things. You have all these extensions so you could pick something that makes sense for your company's. You can pick a DOT Club. If you're about community and membership if you're a subscription model company Club makes perfect sense as your extensions to get something that is spelled correctly and is easy to remember to the left of the dot and getting word that makes sense for your business to the right of the dot.
There's a DOT agency if you're an agency, there's Dot law if you're a lawyer so these things are relevant and when a domain name is relevant and the. Relevant it performs very well on organic search and even your paid search is going to perform more efficiently. So you'll spend less money for the same results and and it doesn't have to be your primary web address.
You can use these creative domains for redirects and marketing purposes. As you mentioned Arlen to drive traffic to your main website, even if it's not the same URL right take my take my book as an example. So it's a long title as you as you pointed out everything. I know about business and marketing I learned from the Toxic Avenger.
Well, I want people to go. Amazon.com and buy my book. I don't want them to have to remember my name or the books name and search for me because then the search results that might distract them. They might see a different book that they want instead of mine. I want them to go to my books page directly.
So I registered the domain name Toxic Avenger dot marketing. It's very part of the title of the book. It's relevant to the book's title. It's easy to remember and then I use that to Maine in all of my marketing for the book and that domain simply redirects to my books page. On amazon.com. So we go to Toxic Avenger dot marketing.
You're literally one click away from buying the book instead of going on Amazon searching Etc. And you can do that for your Facebook page. We have a lot of people who are using custom domains now to redirect to their Facebook page or to their LinkedIn page anywhere you want to make sure people get to the right.
Destination and more importantly, you're controlling that audience you're training people to go to a domain name that you control as opposed to training them to go to a third party platform in search for you. Yeah, that is so right and you know, when you mention coming up with the using one of these unique extensions rather than you know, like you said in the example of the safe the safe.com one, you know, I talked to business owners all the time e-commerce business owners, and I've I've encountered some businesses that.
I mean you would it would just be a maid. It's so amazing the domains they come up with that. They're really so long and and I'm just thinking in the back of my head. Wow. I mean it's just. I would never remember that I would never remember how to spell that and it's just it could be you know, and it could be a nightmare and it's just like what do you do that a lot of companies, you know, they've invested a lot into that but like you said you can always get one of these additional auxiliary domains and just point to your main website and it don't know this is you don't necessarily have to change all of your branding but it's just another Avenue another way especially for promotion, you know on social media would have you for none of these other other?
I mean, so I think that that's very effective. Yeah and a shortcuts you can use them to as shortcuts to deep links within your website because there it remains. So for example, you know Da Club is about your community there's dot shop. So if you have an online store, you could use a DOT shop or a DOT store and have that go directly to your store instead of people having to dig for it a good example is the The Watch Company Swatch, right?
So they actually have a Swatch Club, but the Swatch Club is deep within you know, their website. They have a great section of content around their Club. So they use Swatch dot Club as a shortcut right to the section of their website. That's all about Swatch Club. So if they want to drive traffic or membership to the club instead of having people go to Swatch.com and try to find the link to the club.
They can go to Swatch dot club and get right there. And then if they're doing a promotion specifically. They're Swatch Club The Da Club. May name is the domain they can use and it makes it much easier to get traffic there. So you can think of these domains as shortcuts as well. Right? Yeah, and I appreciate you pointing out that example because I am always one to tell people that you know, they're looking at different marketing ideas and things to look at what some of the big guys are doing and you mentioned swatches a great example because you know, these companies are nothing, you know, their budgets are nothing to sneeze at you know, because they they've invested on.
In the coming up with strategic marketing plans, and there's a lot of money behind it. A lot of people, you know sitting in conference rooms deciding about what to do and if they're doing it then you know, there's a reason behind that that means that the statistics supported and that means that it's something that nine times out of 10 is going to be effective.
So yeah, I appreciate that example. That's something that you definitely want always look. What some of the big guys are doing now? There's a lot of people out there that are listening everybody. These days is really kind of focused on SEO search engine optimization and there's so many books out there.
There's so many blogs and podcasts and what have you about search engine optimization, so I know there's people thinking okay. What are these personalized domains are or how do these personalized domains? Ultimately affect my search engine optimization. Is it going to have a positive effect and if so, how.
Yeah, so it's a great question and I obviously SEO is very important and it's a challenging thing because the rules are always changing, you know, according to google their their official statements are that all extensions are treated equally in others is no Advantage nor disadvantage to using an alternative domain name extension that they're all pretty much treated the same.
However, they've been a few studies to show that because it's not just a domain name, but it's the. Instead of the phrase and how it potentially matches the search term that when you have a domain where the words to the left of the dot and the word to the right of the dot or the extension together make something that matches the search term those names perform very well organically.
So for example coffee Club, there's a company called coffee dot Club. Okay, if you search for coffee space Club coffee dot Club is typically in the first few organic results. Was without any you know special SEO handling and we've seen that happen again and again with dock Club domains where it's a common phrase, you know, coffee Club soap Club soap dot Club all those things will perform extremely well and not just with that club with other extensions to when the content is relevant and and the domain name matches recently.
There was a very high profile sale. Of the name vacation rentals it's sold for half a million dollars with a while very high-priced. Yeah for what if you're one of the new domains, but when you think about it, you know vacation rentals is one of the top Search terms on Google. So the domain name itself vacation dot rentals is an exact match for that term and the owners of the name who launched a business on it have been reporting, you know, tremendously positive results since they launched with that name.
So there's an opportunity to create a domain name where the domain name itself. You know matches the search term you're going after and therefore organically. It's going to perform very well. Yeah, that's a good example the vacation that rely almost in aware of that. But yeah that that's a lot of money for it to Maine half a million for sure.
And so there's another sorry. Go ahead don't know. Yeah this I just really just goes to show the power of these and really, you know, the people that of course invested in that they they really know what time it is for sure. Another thing that's interesting or Island and it's and it's almost too soon for there to be a lot of data on it yet, but it's definitely the future and that's voice search right?
How many of us are now talking into our phones? We're talking into devices in our homes, whether it's Alexa or Google assistant or whatever you might have but you're starting to to search with your voice and that's another reason we're getting a domain that is spelled correctly that has dictionary words in it and not.
Upwards and it is going to be very important because if I say out loud to whatever device I say, you know, tell me something from safe Da Club to go back to that safe.com to go back that example. It's not going to. Go by voice to one of these misspelled places. It's going to go to the site that spelled correctly.
So when it comes to voice search in the future you wanted to main name that is going to be easy to be understood by Machine like, you know by a machine essentially, right? So I think that the power of having domains that make sense that are semantically correct is going to increase over time partially because of the continued growth of voice search.
Yeah, that is so true because right now we're really kind of. The infancy of the voice search and. You know these devices the Alexis in the the series they're you know, they're not perfect. And so, you know, I know you've probably had experiences. I know I have with both Amazon Alexa and these in the Siri where it doesn't recognize what you say and you know, if you're especially if you're you're mentioning a brand or a particular website these types of extensions can definitely help for sure.
Which would it brings me to my next question from what you see. As far as what we have right now. Do you see that? There's really a big growth opportunity into the creation of these new extensions dummy. Is this really going to be just kind of endless. Is there going to be extensions for just kind of every industry and every Niche?
Where do you see this going? That's a great question Arlen and really it's actually a it's a regulated space. So the only reason we were able to apply for Da Club Going Back six years ago now is that I can which is the organization that manages the DNS and manages the internet namespace. They opened up an opportunity back in 2011 where anyone could have applied for anything so you could have applied for DOT Arlen for example, if you wanted to all you had to do was pay the $185,000.
Feet and then that window of opportunity closed in January of 2012. Okay. So after that date, you could not apply anymore and then they had revealed day where they revealed all the applications and if you were the only one who had applied for Darlin for example, and your application was approved and you would become the registry operator for Darlin, but if multiple people had also applied for DOT our land then you would have to compete with them.
So when we applied for Da Club to other companies also applied for. Club, and we spent over a year and literally millions of dollars to eventually get the rights to the name by going into an auction with those two other companies and then we won the name in that private auction with those two other applicants for Duck Club.
Okay. So right right now as we sit here today, the window of opportunity is closed. You cannot go out. And apply for a new domain name a new domain extension today. There are some that were already approved that are for sale. So you could as an entrepreneur go out and possibly buy an existing approved extension, but the window for opportunity for new extensions to be applied for is still in debate with I can and it and if it happens it probably won't happen until 2020 or possibly later.
So at the moment. There's not an opportunity which is too bad because the other side of this Our Brands and a lot of clever Brands over 600 of them applied for their brand name as a domain extension. I use the, you know, even Swatch when I mentioned earlier they also own and use dots watch so they have some sights set up with dots watch.
Okay. If you go to Canon the camera company can and switched over and uses dot Cannon as their primary domain extension. Their website now is global.com. If you go to Canon.com, it actually redirects you to Global dot Cannon other brands are using it, you know, very intelligently like Audi for example dot Audi.
If you go to TT dot Audi, you'll see your website for the Audi TT bottle. So that's a logical use of the domain and the advantage for Brands is Big because it gives a level of authority. That otherwise consumers might not have so for example if I want to buy sneakers and I see there's some website called My Favorite Nikes.com or without whatever, you know, I don't know if that's actually Nike or if that's someone who's just a Nike reseller or someone who just made up that name it is using it without authority to sell me.
What could be real or not real Nike sneakers on the other hand. If I go to running dot Nike, you know, and it's running shoes and it's on a DOT Nike go. I know that only Nike can have that only the brand can have their own name. So it gives me a sense of trust and it gives them a sense of Authority for that domain name that didn't exist before so for Brands, it's a very powerful thing to have your own brand as a domain extension.
Yeah, I can definitely see that and appreciate that that history of it I cuz I wasn't really aware of that that it was just opened up in 2012 and it's closed down for now. So it seems like all of those met all of the major brands of course that could. Ford the $185,000 price tag to get an extension they just jumped in there and and and signed up for their own extension.
And that's that's what's out here today. Like you said the Audis and yeah the Cannons and all of the other companies so that that makes sense. That makes sense. So yeah, I'm really curious whether they will. Open it up again. And you know will it will just floodgates be open and we'll all of the other companies that didn't get a chance to jump in there and it'll be interesting.
I'm curious as to whether that's going to happen or not. Yeah, a lot of the brands that missed out that didn't didn't apply when they had the opportunity to, you know art are lobbying for the right to apply now. I know Twitter is Twitter for example is one company that. You know made a lot of noise that they didn't apply then and they want to apply now.
Okay, and it's the other thing is a lot of big brands are doing interesting things with domains to because you have all these different extensions. So Google for example applied for I think over a hundred different extensions at the beginning. And not just dot Google but also different Google Brands and they also own some like they own dot new.
Okay. And ew and what Google is what Google's just launched with DOT new is a very clever and interesting use of of a domain name is that if you use Google's Google Drive services like Google Docs or Google Sheets, if you want to open up a new Google doc or a new Google sheet or a new Google form.
You just have to type dot new. And it'll open up a new dock from you just go into your browser and type dot dot new and as long as you're logged into your Google account, it recognizes that as the command to just open up a new Google doc or a Google spreadsheet. Wow, really clever shortcut using one of the new domain extensions.
So there's a lot of innovation, you know happening around domain names that go beyond just the the typical use of domains to yeah. That's that's interesting. I was not aware of the dot new. Yeah, because I'm a huge Google Docs Advocate and Google Sheets Advocate that we've been using it internally in our company here.
I'm just out for quite a while now. And yeah that shortcut is let's call for yeah, that's a that's an interesting way to do it because I'm creating docks all the time. And that's definitely a good shortcut. So I'll definitely keep that in mind. I appreciate that. Now I always like to look at the good in the bad the pros and the cons to anything any marketing tactic or strategy.
So I'm just wondering in your experience. When your opinion is there any downside to doing a personalized a highly personalized domain? You know that a company can do what do you think? Well, I think that you know, you know, the downsides are you know, potential downsides I should say if you are switching domain.
So let's say you have. Long domain that you don't really like and now there's an opportunity to get a shorter better domain with one of the new extensions and you decide you want to really Rebrand and switch your company. You have to make sure you do that properly. There's a right way and a wrong way and this is true switching any domain whether you're switching from a.com to another.com or from something to a new extension.
There's steps that you have to take to do it properly so that you don't lose any of your SEO juice that you've built up in your Authority for all the years. You've you've operated. The other domains of there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. So obviously you want to make sure you do that the right way so that you don't lose any of your traffic or lose any of your search Authority Etc.
So that's important to make sure you do it properly. I mean other potential downsides not to harp a negative. It's not really a negative thing. But like anything new you might have to you know, work harder to drive traffic to a new domain that you haven't used before, you know draw. Draw attention to it but there are many downsides to domains and as compared to other marketing programs, you know getting a good domain name for a campaign and Market is something that lasts forever.
No, it's not limited. It's not like an ad spend where you have a budget you spend the budget. And the campaign is done and over and you either succeeded or failed and that's that it's going with a domain name. You can get a clever domain for a campaign you could use it for the campaign and the domain still exists.
You can continue to use it. You could actually sell it to someone else in the future. It's actual tangible asset, you know, if you decide you're not using it anymore, then a lot of companies actually, you know, build up domain portfolios over their lifetime for different projects and then eventually end up selling them because they realize what we're not doing that business anymore.
We're not. This with our product we Sunrise that product so we don't really that need that products names domain anymore and it's an asset you can sell so there's not many other marketing tools that actually become assets of value that you could repurpose reuse or resell later on. Yeah, there are there are advantages to it.
Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that the it's definitely a bona fide asset and it's something that I'd only know too. Well with our company you don't before we started recording I was telling you about, you know, we had our own Suite of. Products you several years ago and we actually had individual sites for all of those products which we've since discontinued but most of those domains because the age of them we decided to not to just let those go we hold held on to all of those domains and we've actually done other things with them and redirected them to other, you know, informational sites and other marketing Vehicles.
So yeah, I would. Recommended or anybody listening if you got a domain definitely hold on to it, especially if it's aged and even if you're not using it, you just never know you could either start another venture or even sell it and it's just it's always an acid. It's almost like real estate actually in a way real estate for the internet for sure absolutely virtual virtual real estate.
A lot of people like to refer to it as virtual real estate. Yeah. Yeah exactly. I like that term we had great Jeffrey. I really appreciate you coming on we had we never really talked too much about this. Particular marketing strategy and vehicle, but I know it's really starting to take off these days up seeing more and more of these different unique extensions and these personalized domains and you've kind of got my wheels turning as well.
So I'm starting to think of yeah, so personalized the domain so we can come up with for our company because we're and we've got a lot of things going on and plan for it for 2019 coming up and our land. I know you're focused on e-commerce, you know, we've seen e-commerce with Doc Club specifically, we've seen a lot of different types.
Ecommerce businesses effectively using a DA Club domain because when you think about it, especially with the popularity of subscription boxes now and membership programs, you know, if you have an online store and online business, your customers are your community your customers are your Club? So you want to grow that community and build it and a DOT club name works very well for that.
We've seen a lot of vacation rentals the voirbo's using a DOT Club again because they're building a community around their property and what's interesting is when you. Brand your name that way it changes how you think about it? So if you use Da Club, for example, you might start thinking yourself.
Well, what else can I do to give my customers more of a Clubby feel what can I do to give them a sense of exclusivity a sense of importance, you know, so the extension you choose can help shape. How you approach your business to right? Yeah. That's that. So true for sure in the dot Club definitely like you said Lynn's well to a community.
So yeah, there's a lot of different ways that that can be used. Well lately. I've been kind of Switching gears at the very end of the recording here and been asking my guests, you know one final closing question, which is what is one thing that our audience would actually be surprised to know about.
Okay. Well, it was already surprised that I worked for troma for seven years, you know making these wild and crazy movies so I can't use that one, but I will say because we're recording this in early December. So we're not too far past Thanksgiving. I will say that three times in my life. I had the opportunity to walk wearing a costume in the Thanksgiving day the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Okay in New York and that is a wild experience to be walking down Fifth Avenue with hundreds of thousands of people and. Either side of you and of course, they have no idea who you are because you're wearing a costume right? But it's a lot of fun. Okay, that's awesome. Yeah, I know that there's not a lot of people that can say they've done that and especially three different times.
I know that was quite an experience and I know the one that this that came this past year it was one of the coldest so, you know, I'd say fortunately inside inside those costumes it gets pretty hot pretty fast. So the weather's weather's not an issue, right? Yeah, but that is true I can imagine well, Jeffrey.
I definitely want to thank you for coming onto the e-commerce marketing podcast and lending your your expertise and your knowledge is definitely going to go a long way for sure. Now. I if our listeners want to get in touch with you, what is the best way for them to do? Well for of course if you're interested in Da Club, our website is www.guitariq.com Club clu be of course you can find me at Jeffrey's ass.com or Jeffrey says dot Club, they both work if you want more information about the book you can visit Toxic Avenger dot marketing which will take you right to the book on Amazon as I mentioned earlier on Twitter.
I'm at SAS SAS s all this is like Sam and then you can just Google me. I'm pretty. Easy to find a bit online for a long time. All right, sounds awesome. Thanks a lot Jeffrey for joining us again, and we appreciate everything that you've provided to us. Thanks Harlan and thanks so much for having me.
Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast. You need to get more feedback and reviews from your customers and improve your customer retention. We have made it easy to do all of this with our Advanced customer feedback software just visit get OS i.com forward slash feedback and sign up for a free trial today.
That's get OS i.com forward slash feedback.
Author of Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER