Challenge: GoDaddy.com Inc. has been an accredited Internet domain name registrar since 2000. In late 2004, the e-commerce market was coming back strongly. GoDaddy’s business was good, but the market was crowded and brutally competitive. Customers didn’t perceive much difference between suppliers and made decisions based largely on price. GoDaddy.com distinguished itself by offering rich services at a low price. But the task of communicating that value would require lots of advertising.
GoDaddy.com had to move fast to assume a leadership position and take advantage of the opportunity. The company wasn’t afraid of spending money; it planned to run two spots on the 2005 Super Bowl. But Parsons also wanted to find low-cost ways to make the company stand out.
Solution: Parsons, a former Marine and a successful entrepreneur, has never been shy about speaking his mind. GoDaddy.com’s eye-catching commercials were generating controversy—and traffic—for their risqué content. Parsons wanted to show another side of the company. He had thoughtful opinions about a lot of issues: the Internet, running a business, TV advertising, society’s values. A blog would be a forum for him to air his views in his blunt, no-nonsense style. “I want to promote the Internet, I am an entrepreneur by nature and I have opinions and don’t mind telling you about them,” he says.
Parsons blog, (www.bobparsons.com), launched in December 2004. Its first topic was innocuous: how GoDaddy.com got its name. But as Parsons took on more controversial topics and wrote with more passion, traffic grew. “I speak my mind and I don’t pull any punches. When I’m writing, I’m just being myself and being honest,” he says.
The timing was perfect. In January, 2005, Fox rejected a GoDaddy.com Super Bowl ad as too controversial. Parsons blogged at length about the Fox decision. “Many of the stories done about GoDaddy’s quest to get an ad approved came from news I wrote on the blog,” he says. The blog was great for increasing the company’s profile and feeding the publicity machine.
Results: Traffic to GoDaddy.com soared after the 2005 Super Bowl. So did traffic to Bob Parsons’ blog. As Parsons increased the frequency and scope of his posts, more users weighed in with their own commentary. As many as 500 readers commented on some articles. Parsons wrote with conviction. He knew his opinions wouldn’t always be popular, but he was determined not to hedge his words as many business executives do. “If blogs don’t have a message, no one’s going to take the time to read them nor will they return for the next article,” he says.
Today, bobparsons.com is in the top 1% of most visited blogs and has been ranked as the world’s most popular CEO blog by the Alexa Internet services. The site again served as a soapbox for GoDaddy during its tussle with ABC over controversial Super Bowl ads in 2006. Parsons also hosts a weekly radio show and podcast called Life Online With Bob Parsons. Says the host, “Blogs are a great way to leverage the reach of the Internet.”