Get a business card in cyberspace.
Think of your Web site as your business card in cyberspace. Few people would enter into business without a business card. Likewise, a Web site should be part of your basket of necessities to operate your business successfully. Your site can be as simple as your company name and co-ordinates, or it can be much more complex. The important thing is to ensure that its content is totally relevant to the audience you are serving.
The first step in creating an effective Web site is registering a domain name. A domain name is essentially your Web site address. There are a number of address options available - www.mybusiness.ca, or dot-com, dot-net, dot-org and others. We will focus on dot-ca because it is Canada's official space on the Internet.
Whether you decide to have a Web site today or in a few years, the first thing you need to do is to contact the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). CIRA is a not-for-profit corporation mandated by the Canadian government to manage the dot-ca domain for Canadians.
A dot-ca Web site, as opposed to any other, does three things. Firstly, it shows that you and your company are Canadian and that you have a relationship with Canada. Secondly, it keeps you in the Canadian legal system as opposed to the U.S. system, should any legal issues arise. Thirdly, it differentiates you from the generic rest. Research has shown that Canadian Internet users generally prefer to visit dot-ca Web sites because of their intrinsic link to Canada.
The CIRA Web site (www.cira.ca) provides a list of certified registrars that can offer you domain name registration services. Once on the site, click on register a "new dot-Bca domain name." From there, go to "choose a registrar" where you will be presented with a list of companies who are certified to register dot-ca domain names. Scroll the list and chose two to three companies you would like to investigate further. Visit each registrar's Web site and phone each registrar. You want to get a good understanding of their service levels, their customer relations manners, their rates and services. Essentially, you want to narrow down your choices and pick the registrar that is best suited to your business needs. Some registrars are great for technically oriented people; some are better for big organizations. Once you chose a registrar, the process to register your domain name is rather easy - you simply follow the steps outlined on the Web site of your selected registrar.
When you are completing the online registration form, think carefully about the name you are going to give under the "administrative contact" box. This person is the one who will have the ultimate decision-making power for your Web site and their role cannot be underestimated. Many large companies have had their sites go down because their administrative contact forgot to renew the domain name. This can cost a business hundreds to millions of dollars.
For most small businesses, the administrative contact will likely be the business owner herself, for larger businesses the contact may differ. The administrative contact holds all pass-words for your site and can change the domain server address. They play a pivotal role in maintaining your Web site. Always keep your administrative contact information up-to-date.
The cost to register a domain name ranges from $15 to $60 depending on the level of service you chose. The basic $15 gives you a registered name and service agreement for one year - a good place to start.
You can register a domain name and begin working on a Web site now, or chose to register now and create your site later. If you have a short and catchy domain name for your business in mind, register it now, pay the annual fee and feel comfortable knowing you have reserved a domain name that will make your future marketing campaign sing. No one else can use your domain name once you have registered it.
The use of the Internet is continuing to grow. Across the business horizon, it is becoming synonymous with communications in general.
Ten years ago, only large companies had Web sites. Today, companies with one staff have a Web site, families have Web sites and restaurants house their menus on their Web sites.
In conclusion, $15 can buy you the world at your doorstep. It's your cheapest marketing investment when you compare the thousands of dollars needed to buy radio, television or print ads. Registering a domain name is simple and a leading-edge channel to market your business.
Cynthia Stables is principal and owner of CMS Communications out of North Bay. She can be reached at 705-495-0108.
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|Publication:||Northern Ontario Business|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2004|
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