What’s in a Name?

I never had a child so I can’t imagine what it’s like to give a new child a name.  Naming a web site on the other hand, is something I’ve done many times.  So why is this one so difficult?

Let me tell you, good domain names are hard to find.  This is not just naming a company or naming a regular consumable product.  The web site’s domain name is the name of the product, because the web site IS the product!  I must have been through 1,000 names before coming up with Juntopia, and I thought it was pretty clever at the time and was shocked nobody had thought of it.  Thankfully domain names are cheap so it’s no big deal to grab it up and then end up not using it.  You know where I’m going with this, right?

Right.  I’m changing the name.  This was a big deal for me, because I hate wasting time and I feel like the whole process of picking a meaningful (e.g. explainable) name had to be done all over again.  But once I realized that the name doesn’t really need to be all that meaningful, as long as it’s intuitive, memorable, and easy to spell, the process was a lot easier the second time around.  I won’t even go into the explanation of where Juntopia came from and why it’s meaningful, it’s a moot point now.

Think of the popular web sites that have similar features to Juntopia’s planned features.  Many of them have pretty meaningless, but memorable names.  Most are easy to spell and pronounce.  Digg, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Plurg, XY7, Zanox, you get the picture.  So it boils down to…

– short (10 letters or less and no more than 2 syllables)
– easy to say (relatively)
– memorable in a catchy sort of way

This last one is probably not as important, but I went through a lot of names that just seemed, well, weird.  Gorpia, TurnLeftAhead, Grouption, GrateGroops, Froupster, Weevia, Cluboom, Urgroupz, Commongrounders, and lots more.  Most of the weird ones were also already taken.  What do these people do with all these bizarre domain names?  Many of these URLs just get a “server not found” error.  But… I digress.

I’m going to hold you in suspense for another week because even though I’ve decided on, and purchased, the new name, I want to savor it as my secret domain name for just a little while.

Are you my buyer?

I read a book last month by David Meerman Scott called The New Rules of Marketing and PR.  It came out a few months ago and is very relevant to Web 2.0 and New Media and all the current marketing topics.  This guy is very smart and has a lot of brilliant things to say.

One thing that has been gnawing at me is his suggestion to create buyer personas.  Basically this is kind of a Living Breathing Avatar who represents one user community, and you create one for each of your different types of users.  The reason it’s gnawing at me is because I believe juntopia will have many *many* different types of user communities.  Sports enthusiasts, nuclear families, extended families, professionals, lobbyists, churches, hobbyists, activists, political action committees, recovering addicts, you name it.

Any kind of group will be able to take advantage of Juntopia’s features.  That’s the beauty of it.

That’s also part of the complexity of the marketing plan.  How do you target all these people?  Well, I have to start somewhere, and from all I hear — the narrower the better.  So let’s say I choose a handful of active outdoor types that fit into a particular demographic.  These would be golfers, runners, skiers (both kinds), cyclists, mountain bikers, hikers, and mountain climbers, just to name a few (although there are probably about a dozen of these that I could include).  The demographic is broad but definable – health-conscious adults 25-55 with disposable income, a competitive personality, and spare time to devote to their sport.

I can even narrow it down further to include only, say, cyclists and golfers.  This would shift the age group up a bit, bring up the average income level, and skew it toward men.  Is this a narrow enough demographic to start with?  I could go either way — narrow it further to only one sport, which might skew my results (maybe golfers have no use for online groups) or I could broaden it out to include more club types – and then have to manage the tracking of all the resulting data.

I wonder what others have done in similar situations that worked for them?  Maybe I need to go back to my books on this.  I have to nail this down before I can complete my marketing plan.  And I need to complete my marketing plan before I can do a lot of other stuff.

One more thing…  Read that book I mentioned earlier, David Scott’s new one.  I highly recommend it if you have anything to do with marketing for your organization, and even if you don’t you’ll still get something interesting out of it.

Ugh, Market Research

Ok so I’ll just put this out there right up front: when it comes to marketing, I’m kinda dumb.  I have read a lot of books that covered the topic, and I have a good “feeling” for what needs to be done, but I have very little experience marketing a new web application.

So I feel like I’m groping around in the dark a little bit.  I know that I have to find out whether this is a viable product before I spend a bunch of resources building it.  But what I really *want* to do is start designing.  It’s more fun, and I know how.  This is tough.  Tough like quitting smoking was tough.  REALLY tough.

A couple of things I need to do are obvious.

1) Create a nice-looking basic web site that briefly explains what this thing is and asks the visitor to provide feedback and/or put their email into my database for future updates.

2) Come up with some catchy Google AdWords ads to get people to visit, give their feedback and email address.  This includes figuring out which keywords to buy and deciding how much to spend on this.

3)  Compile the data as it comes in and use it to adjust the roadmap.Ah, the roadmap.  Hm… that’s something I didn’t do yet.  Crap.

So these three things are pretty simple right?  Not.  I’ve started all three of them, gotten only so far, and then hit a brick wall because I don’t know how to do it.  I think I’ll go get some outside help on this.  Then I need to get to that roadmap — something I DO know how to do.  Maybe I’ll write about that next week.

In the meantime I’ll go back to some of the recent books I’ve read that covered market research and brush up on those sections.

Just Get the Train on the Tracks

My Dad has this analogy about starting big projects — just get the train on the tracks and get it moving and then you can start adding the seats and windows and lettering and whistle and all the other stuff it needs.

I have a chronic case of analysis paralysis.  Of course every large project starts with research.  The thing is… I don’t know when to stop.  When do I have enough data?  Every new finding generates more questions that need to be answered.  It feeds itself and becomes a project in and of itself.  At dinner the other night, I was telling some friends about this — how I am stuck in research mode and can’t get out.  They both encouraged me (strongly!) to just pick the most important feature and get it out there.

Yeah, good point.  Duh.  I knew that.It was already pretty clear that the Event Calendar would be Juntopia’s primary feature and so I started to design the database.  Doing this always gets me going in a good solid direction, and helps me put tangible-ness to an idea.  I started looking at my drawings from a month ago where I had identified all the “objects” I could think of that would make up this critical feature, and wouldn’t ya know it, I had it all done already!  So all I had to do was get it from the paper into the computer in database format.  EZ! Now, what to do with all that data we’ve been collecting?  More on that next week.  In the meantime, I’m on a roll.

Thanks Dad (and Patty and Kris).