Embrace Canadian identity with dot-ca address, ad guru says

Canadian businesses should capitalize on their “unique” Canadian character and take advantage of the good reputation of dot-ca domain names have in the online market space, according to advertising guru Terry O’Reilly.

“Every product has a story and when you tell that story in an engaging way that sets your product apart from others in the market and adds value to your product,” said O’Reilly, known for his book and CBC Radio program The Age of Persuasion.

O’Reilly encouraged Canadian businesses to tell customers about “when, how and where” their company was formed, reveal little known facts about their product and narrate “the amazing stories your customers have about how they use your product.”

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“I’m not saying that you should go out of your way to write a Canadian story. What I am saying is don’t go out of your way to bleach out the Canada from your story,” explained O’Reilly to members of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) at a recent Toronto event. CIRA is a non-profit authority responsible for Canada’s dot-ca domain names.

A dot-ca domain name, O’Reilly says, can also work to the advantage of many Canadian businesses when they are dealing with Canadian customers.

Such a domain name provides sort of an assurance to the consumer that the seller “speaks his language,” said O’Reilly. “Toonies, Timmy’s, double-double… cultural shorthand we all understand.”

“A dot-ca domain name tells me the company is Canadian, the site is safer to surf, there’s less fraud,” he added.

But at least one technology analyst said in some instances using a dot-ca domain could be a handicap for many businesses.

“I think dot-ca would be great is you’re dealing largely with Canadian clients but in some cases it could be limiting,” said Michelle Warren, principal of MW Research and Consulting in Toronto.

She said for instance many Internet users in the United States and other countries are more used to keying “.com” when they search for a company name.

To get around this, Warren said, some Canadian businesses also register their company under a .com domain name. “I have a client who has a dot-com and dot-ca domain name. When customers click on the dot-com name, they are brought to the dot-ca site.”

O’Reilly himself said Canadian businesses should be careful when using uniquely Canadian marketing strategies.

“Self deprecating humour is a Canadian trademark,” said O’Reilly “and this sells well in Canada.

It is a national character trait that doesn’t resonate with our neighbours in the south, he said.

“However, every time I make ads with self deprecating humour for American clients it doesn’t sell,” he noted.

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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