New domain name extension targets small businesses

MIAMI: The company behind a new domain extension, .co, launched a $1 million PR campaign in early March, targeting small businesses and the domain, trademark, and IP industries.

MIAMI: The company behind a new domain extension, .co, launched a $1 million PR campaign in early March, that targets small businesses and the domain, trademark, and IP industries. 

Colombian-based .Co Internet SAS is working with Burson-Marsteller, who came on as AOR at the end of 2009.

"The overarching goal is to create .co into the global domain name extension of choice," said Lori Anne Wardi, director of marketing for .Co Internet SAS. "We're trying to build awareness that we exist and generate interest by showing people there is a relevance to this domain extension and it's credible and flexible."

One of the campaign's messages is that .co can be a stand-in for many words like company, community, or collaboration. The company created .Co Founders Program, an initiative that allows brands and companies to apply for a .co name by demonstrating unique ways to use the site.

The official public debut of .co is scheduled for July.

"The three core targets are the domain industry in general; the entire trademark and intellectual property community; and the small- and medium-sized businesses," said Juan Diego Calle, CEO of .Co Internet SAS. "The entire strategy is to reach that market by showcasing the early adopters that use our domain names through the .Co Founders Program."

Transitions Optical is the first participant in the .Co Founders program. The eyewear company, which is a client of Burson-Marsteller, launched an education campaign March 22 called "GetSighted," which uses

.Co Internet SAS is also partnering with domain name companies like Go Daddy to showcase the .co domain name options on their sites.

The company is targeting small business and entrepreneur media outlets. Additionally, .Co Internet SAS plans to attend trade shows and will sponsor the social media track at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in November to spread the word about the new option.

Online, the team created a Facebook page for .co and will use Twitter to build buzz. 

Wardi said that outreach to educate general consumers, so that they do not automatically go to the .com version of a site, will focus on grassroots as more companies start to use .co.

"The .Co Founders program is just the initial building block of the strategy coming out to the world," Calle said. "Our goal is to reach out to the millions of businesses that are starting on a monthly basis around the world. Everything you're going to see during this launch from now until the end of the year will be in one way or another tied to that."

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