Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve always been interested in marketing as the central pillar of business strategy. A marketing degree was my first jumping-off point, followed by some postgraduate studies in research. An early stint with an ad agency crystallised how visual identity, design, and communication have the power to engage an audience and change perception when supported by business analysis and market research. I spent many years at Compaq Computer at its pinnacle as the world’s largest PC company at the time and was product manager on a number of business categories, then at HP, so always enjoyed a tech online focus.
Please tell us more about Ourhomeonline
Nominet has managed the UK internet domain name space for over 20 years, managing the registry for respected top level domains such as .co.uk, .org.uk and the newer shorter .uk. Nearly 3 years ago, the opportunity came up for Wales to have its own internet domain name space in the form of .cymru and .wales. This was the chance for Welsh people and businesses to actually brand their name or business as Welsh with an authentic Welsh domain name. We felt that adding this to our UK Domain website (www.theukdomain.uk) would not give it the stand-out presence it deserved so we came up with www.ourhomeonline.wales and a Welsh language variant www.eincartrefarlein.cymru.
This is a site where Welsh people and businesses can visit, see great businesses using the Welsh domains, become inspired and see how start-ups and mature businesses are switching, and also check if the domain name they want (that ends in .cymru or .wales) is still available.
What are the challenges your industry is currently facing?
A few years ago, the choices were simpler – .co.uk or .com; these days there are many hundreds of domain name endings available. The choice is bewildering. And the costs vary widely. In the UK most people still choose a domain name ending in .uk (e.g. a .co.uk or .uk) Or .org.uk if they are a charitable organisation. Around the world many regional top level domains have launched such as .newyork; .moscow, .berlin etc and within the UK we have .cymru and .wales. A domain name costs only a few pounds to register on an annual basis but can have great value to an owner. Then the challenge becomes one of maximising the value of the asset. Creating a great website that evolves with the business and stays current with the ever-changing world of digital marketing.
What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
I was recently presenting an award at a Wales business event in Cardiff and it was amazing to see so many great start-up businesses across all categories and verticals thriving and growing in Wales. Many of these were online businesses, employing state of the art technology to establish and grow their markets both within wales and on a broader national and international scale. It’s clear that Wales is a centre for innovation with a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit.
Any predictions for the future of your industry?
The domain name industry has always been a centre for innovation and diversification. Nominet is leading that innovation, supporting small businesses to get online and to grow online.
Our future will be built around three pillars: connected, secure, and inclusive. Nominet is a ‘profit with a purpose’ company. We have an ambitious strategy to diversify into new markets that leverage our DNS and registry skills – such as cyber security and dynamic registry solutions for wireless internet, transport and infrastructure.
Doing this well means we can invest in our business for long-term growth and in a range of public benefit initiatives that align with our purpose. We’ve just recently partnered with the BBC Children in Need and the whole company got on board running fund raising events. We plan to do more of this in the future.
What are your top three tips for success?
It’s difficult to offer three tips for success, as success will depend on your own personal values and goals as to what defines success. Firstly, I would suggest that business decisions need to be based on sound research, data and customer feedback to develop clear winning propositions. Secondly, I’d suggest testing assumptions to allow agile change; if something isn’t working change it, try something else. Always decide what your key measures are, and regularly monitor your KPI’s to keep on track. Thirdly, be really clear who your target customer is, and build your value proposition around them: is this what they really want? Can you deliver it better, faster, at higher quality than your competitor? And at a price your customer can afford to pay?
What advice would you give to young people looking to work in business?
Before setting out in business, making a plan or personal roadmap is essential. Read everything you can get your hands on, develop a hunger for knowledge and study the success of others. Seek out the sweet spot between what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at. What do you have a passion for? If you enjoy doing something, you’ll get better at it. Set clear goals with timescales, and don’t be afraid to change and modify as you learn more about the path you’ve chosen. It’s vital to think differently and be creative. How can you stand out in your chosen market, and how will your customers find you in an increasingly digital world?
Why do you think it is important that businesses have an online presence?
With over 90% of consumers searching online during research phase prior to making a purchase, if you cannot be found online, then your competitors will be. If you have no online presence, then you’re effectively invisible. Creating a website is the place to start. It’s your own personal unique space where you set out your stall. Understand how you use social media around this to raise awareness and drive traffic to your website, the central hub of your online world. Research shows that businesses with no website (still amazingly around 30% of businesses) are trusted less by consumers and earn lower loyalty and experience slower growth than businesses with a vibrant online presence. Websites are easy and low cost to set up these days; you don’t need to be technical anymore to build great websites. Start small and grow as your business grows. Make sure you have a memorable website and use a trusted domain name that complements your brand.
For more information on Welsh domains head on over to www.ourhomeonline.wales and download some of our free guides at www.theukdomain.uk where you’ll also find free videos and tips on how to develop a winning digital presence.