OpenSRS: Reseller Friendly since 1999

Tucows Comments on ICANN Applicant Guidebook

The latest ICANN Applicant Guidebook was released in mid-April and covers the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLD).

The introduction of new gTLDs has been an ongoing conversation for more than a decade; We have an opportunity to approve the final draft in time for consideration of the new gTLD implementation program during the ICANN Board meeting, which will be held on Monday, 20 June 2011, in Singapore.

We submitted our comments yesterday and wanted to share them with you below:

May 15, 2011
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA

RE: Comments on Applicant Guidebook Released April 15, 2011


ICANN should do what it should have done, but could not, in 1999.

Tucows urges the ICANN board to approve the Applicant Guidebook (“AG”) and start the communications period at the ICANN meeting in Singapore. Tucows urges the Government Advisory Council (“GAC”) to register their concerns and then to support the process moving forward. This is the appropriate action for reasons too numerous to list, but including the following:

  • There will be innovation, benefit to Internet users and job creation. If there is not, there will be no adoption and we need not worry about adequate protections.
  • The protections in the AG far exceed those in the existing gTLDs. All protections come at a cost of inhibiting innovation, Internet user benefit and job creation. The balance is well reached.
  • The GAC role inside of ICANN is important and will continue to evolve. This should be in a healthy way and not saddled with special interests lobbying governments for their narrow positions. In addition, the GAC’s role should evolve separate from, not be driven by, the new gTLD process.
  • Most importantly, ICANN was birthed as a result of the desire for new gTLDs. This did not happen twelve years ago due to the political landscape. It is important to happen now.

Innovation should not need permission.


Those who are anti-closure seem to be making two arguments. First, that there is no demonstrable value to moving ahead and second, that there are not enough protections to move ahead. This is inherently a paradox.

There can be no question that new gTLDs will only be successful IF they will create value for Internet users. They will only create value for Internet users if there is innovation. And of course, if there is innovation and value for users there will be company formation, jobs, a platform for additional innovation on top of a more creative namespace and other benefits that we cannot predict.

Now the paradox. If new gTLDs are not successful then there is clearly no need for protection. A namespace which does not have broad popularity does not have much, if any need for complex protections, and here think of the hundreds of ccTLDs which are only narrowly used and do not cause IP headaches like .cx (Christmas Islands) or many other examples.

Thus, the concern for protection only exists if there is benefit to Internet users, innovation, jobs, company formation, and a whole host of other benefits.

All important innovation leads to possible harms which are massively outweighed by the benefits they are intended to create. A great example of this is the iPod. Think of the innovation that has flowed from it, including the iPhone and the iPad. Think of the massive job creation this has led to, especially in the developing world. Think of the incalculable benefit it has created for users. We cannot imagine there is anyone reading this now who has not materially enjoyed those benefits. Yet it has also been a platform for sharing of music on a level never before possible. Most of that sharing is good and beneficial. Some of it violates IP rights.

Think of the Internet itself. In our view, the Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever known. Yet it is also the platform for a whole new category of things that require protections.

Only the most reactionary would argue against the iPod and the innovation that followed. Only the most reactionary out there would argue against the incalculable benefits that the Internet has created. The same is true here. Either new gTLDs will create a massive benefit which will far outweigh any harms or we need not worry about protections.


We believe that there is an adequate level of protection for Intellectual Property (“IP”) in the existing namespace. We believe that this is not an exercise in perfection and so of course there are still issues. We also believe that there is more to be concerned about with IP interests abusing the current system to the detriment of legitimate registrants, but this is a matter for another dialog.

The protections contained in the AG are beyond the Implementation Recommendation Team (“IRT”) recommendations, recommendations negotiated in good faith by members of the IP community. Importantly, the level of protection in the AG goes far beyond that contained in the existing namespace in general and .com in particular. It will be many, many years, if ever, before any new namespace passes .com.

The UDRP is perhaps ICANN’s second-greatest success behind Registrar competition and the price reductions and improved customer experience it led to.

The UDRP has eliminated the vast majority of problems. As noted, the AG provides a whole host of additional protections beyond those of the UDRP. Each additional protection comes at a cost. The cost is freedom to innovate, provide benefits to Internet users and to create jobs. Protections are not absolute, they must strike a balance.

The right way to improve upon the protections in the AG is to launch and iterate. If additional protections are necessary then the community will develop them. There are no actors within the ICANN community who are opposed to reasonable protection of IP interests.

We feel it important here to repeat something we first raised at the Sydney meeting in 2009. We implore the IP community to work constructively inside the ICANN process. The bottom-up multi-stakeholder process must be approached trying to create win-win solutions.

Most IP actors inside of ICANN recognize and respect this. Sadly, some do not.

When some IP interests get as far as they can inside the ICANN process and then go outside of it to lobby their national governments they clearly demonstrate three things. First, they are acting win-lose. They do not recognize that all protections come at a cost and that the cost is innovation, user benefit and jobs. Second, they are harming the relationship between national governments and the broader ICANN community by putting GAC members in an untenable position (more on this below). Third, they work against the health and credibility of the bottom-up multi-stakeholder process.

These interests say they support ICANN. We believe that it is more accurate to judge people by what they do, not what they say.


We believe that one of the great challenges that the ICANN community, and the GAC within that community, currently faces is finding the proper role for the GAC inside of ICANN. We also believe that this is distinctly separate from the new gTLD process.

We believe that nation-states are important actors in the ICANN process. We respect their place and look forward to them continuing to evolve towards taking a more integrated role inside of the ICANN community. Most importantly we think this is an evolving relationship. At the birth of ICANN the GAC were reluctant actors who showed up, but did not engage. Over time their role evolved to become more integrated. With the Affirmation of Commitments (“AoC”) there is an additional, structural evolution.

We believe this is healthy and appropriate. We see ICANN as a living experiment which should always be iterating and evolving.

We do not believe that this role need be distinctly defined through the new gTLD process. We do not believe that the role of the GAC should be as a recipient of lobbying by special interests to bring those views forward. We greatly sympathize with the current GAC and the position this lobbying has placed them in.

We believe that special interests lobbying governments in this way is inappropriate, bad faith and shows a disregard for the ICANN community. We note that any “advice” coming from the GAC that is in the nature of policy runs counter to the AoC and that the GAC and those lobbying them should see it as such.

The adoption of the AG should not be contingent upon “finalizing” the role of the GAC, nor should it be impacted by narrow interests lobbying national governments.


When thinking about ICANN’s purpose and new gTLDs inside that purpose, some historical context is important.

In the late 1990’s, prior to ICANN’s inception and in the days of the Network Solutions monopoly, there was a strong movement to introduce new gTLDs. It was the existence of this movement and its actions that led to the Green Paper, the White Paper and then, finally, ICANN.

At the time of its formation ICANN was weak. Network Solutions was a strong, rich, well-connected company. The negotiations to birth ICANN were extremely difficult and the threat of back-breaking litigation was always present.

As part of this negotiation a deal was reached. Rather than introduce competition at the registry level, which would have been most natural, there would be structural separation. The concept of “registrar” was created and a series of contracts which ensured that the significant majority of the financial benefits would flow to the registry were adopted. This has played out with today’s registries enjoying healthy monopoly rents and today’s registrars preforming most of the work in a hyper-competitive market at very low margins. The increased competition has created huge benefits for Internet users in terms of much lower prices, much higher levels of service and an amazing level of customization, specialization and innovation. Tens of thousands of companies have created hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The AG, hopefully approved in Singapore, is simply doing what should have been done in 1999. What would have been done had ICANN been in a stronger position. It is a natural step that is twelve years too late but better late than never.


There have been many years of work towards the introduction of new gTLDs. The existing AG is not a perfect document, nor will there ever be one. This process has shown the ICANN community to be well-intended, hard-working and constructive. It has shown the staff to be resilient and resourceful. It is now time for the ICANN board to do their duty and approve the AG in Singapore and start the communication period.


Elliot Noss
President & CEO, Tucows

CIRA 2011 Board of Director Nominations

CIRA’s Nomination Committee is seeking interested individuals from across Canada to apply to fill three open positions for the Nomination Committee Slate of CIRA’s Board of Directors Election. Professional Canadians with Board experience and/or an interest in technology and the Internet are encouraged to apply. Expertise in one of the following areas would be an asset: accounting, law, marketing and communications or technology.

If you know of anyone you think would make a great addition to the CIRA Board, please consider nominating them for the upcoming elections. Applications will be accepted by CIRA from May 12 to June 10, 2011 at

If you want to help spread the word about the CIRA Board of Directors nominations and elections, CIRA provides a PDF information sheet to help explain the process and why the CIRA Board of Directors is an important part of the management and stewardship of the .CA domain extension.

Webinar: Control Panel In-Depth

It’s been a week or so since we introduced the Domain Manager tab in the OpenSRS Control Panel. We hope you’ve had a chance to dive in a play around and let us know what you think. We’ve already received some encouraging and constructive feedback – keep it coming!

We’re pretty excited about the Control Panel and what it can do, but a lot of the really neat stuff is behind the scenes. We know there’s a bunch of you who are keen on hearing about some of the neat kit that powers things like the search and filtering features. So we’re offering a webinar to bring some of that information to you.

Webinar: Control Panel In-Depth

With: Paul Tichonczuk, Senior Web Application Developer and James Koole, Communications Lead
When: Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM EDT [GMT/UTC -4]
Register now

The webinar will be hosted by yours truly and Paul Tichonczuk who is a Senior Web Application Developer here at OpenSRS. Paul T. is going to talk about some of this new tech and geek out a bit on how things fit together to provide the fast, intuitive interface that you now have in the Control Panel. I’ll take you through some of the neat things you can do with Control Panel – like filtering your domains lists, and how to setup DNS templates. Think of it as a bit of a power-users demo.

Do plan to check it out if you want to get some pro-tips and learn about some neat developer stuff. We promise to keep it understandable whether you are a developer or not!

Meet our Reseller: Webstarts

I just posted the latest in our Meet our Resellers series of articles about the various people and companies that work with OpenSRS.

This latest article takes a look at, which provides a powerful, yet simple to use site builder and hosting solution for small business. The Tampa, Florida based company has been an OpenSRS Reseller since 2009.

Read the full article

Internet Explorer 6 Users. Help Us Help You

With the preview launch of our Control Panel, if you’re an Internet Explorer 6 user, it’s probably time we had a chat. And if you don’t want to talk to us, then please do us a favour and seek professional help before it’s too late. Because we care about you a lot, and it’s tough watching you put yourself through this.

The Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 web browser was unleashed released to the world more than ten years ago.

As we were designing the OpenSRS Control Panel, we made a decision, after ten long years, to drop support of Internet Explorer 6. Despite the very small reseller base this would affect, we still struggled with the idea that we were finally leaving some of them behind if they continue to use Microsoft’s infamous version of this browser.

Before we get too far into it, let’s put things in perspective with a quick overview of visitors to the website:

In the last 30 days, the OpenSRS website welcomed 40,887 visitors. Of these visitors, 20.91% were using the Internet Explorer web browser. Of those visits, 3.23% were using infamous version 6.

Using these numbers, it means that we’re no longer going to support 0.68% of visitors to our website (276 people) if they report a browser-related problem.

No customer-focused company wants to ignore concerns of its users, but at some point, this day of tough love had to come. On the plus side, there’s no downside to upgrading.

In fact, here are just some of the pros associated with taking the time to upgrade:

  • It’s free and doesn’t cost anything to upgrade.
  • There are multiple browsers available to choose from.
  • Better security and protection
  • Faster web browsing, Faster browser startup
  • Your computer will not crash as often
  • Support for the latest web standards

Depending on your connection speed to your ISP, you could be enjoying a shiny new web browser in less than five minutes!

Moving the world off Internet Explorer 6

If you still don’t believe us, look at the efforts Microsoft, the developer of the browser. Even they don’t want you to use it! They’ve been putting lots of effort into migrating IE6 users to a safer, faster, more secure browser:

The Internet can be a dangerous place. It’s important to protect yourself by using the latest version of your web browser. Anything less would be outright crazy. If you’re one of those people frustrated by choices and would rather be told what to do, then go download Mozilla Firefox and install it right now (and remember to keep it upgraded!)


Perhaps the continued use of Microsoft IE6 can be attributed to the idea that not many people know what a browser is?

After writing this post, a friend directed me to this YouTube video, shot in Times Square, New York, by Google in 2009.

It’s a bit dated today in 2011, but it makes a good point that lots of average Janes and Joes simply don’t know what a web browser is. At the time of filming, only 8% of people knew that a browser was an application used to view webpages, with the majority of those surveyed believing the browser was the search engine itself.

The image used in this post was licensed from iStockPhoto.

Try Out the New OpenSRS Control Panel

It’s a pretty big day at OpenSRS – we’re ready to take the wraps off our Control Panel and let Resellers give it a try starting today. You’ll probably agree that it’s been a bit of a long time in coming, but we’re pretty sure that once you see it and try it out, you’ll agree that it was well worth the wait.

The Control Panel is far more than just a new skin for the current Reseller Web Interface (RWI). It’s a beautiful and modern web interface paired with a powerful new backend, both of which utilize the latest in web technologies. The result is a fast, intuitive place for you to quickly and easily manage your OpenSRS Services in ways that weren’t possible until now.

For example, using the Domain Manager in the Control Panel, you’ll be able to nearly instantly see a full list of domains in your account, including the status of each of those domains – like whether it’s set to auto-renew, when it expires, and if Contact Privacy is enabled. You’ll also be able to apply extensive filters to the list and see things like all the .com domains in your Reseller account that are expiring in the next 30 days – all in a matter of seconds.

And thanks to some of the great new technology that has been implemented, you can do all of this stuff whether you are managing three, 300 or even 300,000 domains.

It’s a Preview, not a beta

Keep in mind that the Control Panel is a work-in-progress. We’re very confident that you’ll find it stable and feature-complete enough to use as the primary way you interact with OpenSRS. That said, there are still some features and elements still to come. As a result, you will need to head back to the RWI to do certain tasks – things like funding your account, or using bulk tools.

More to Come…Soon!

We’re iterating quickly these days thanks to our agile development method and you can expect to see new features being added to the Control Panel fairly regularly until we’ve filled the gaps and brought over everything that exists in the RWI (and more). The addition of the Domain Manager tab to the Control Panel brings us one step closer to our goal of having a single, unified control panel that allows Resellers to manage domains, trust, email and publishing in one place.

We’ll be going into more detail about the thinking and also the technology behind the Control Panel in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Of course we’d also love to hear what you think. Learn more, then log in and take a look around. We’d love to hear what you think – drop us a line in the comments.

Tooting the Horn of an Internet Legend: Peter Tattam

Before Microsoft had the good sense to build Internet support into its Windows operating system, there was Peter Tattam and his software, Trumpet Winsock.

Personally, I don’t think of myself as being old enough to talk about how tough we had it during the “old days”, but man, the Internet sure was a different place 17 years ago.

At the risk of offending the technical veterans with some elementary details, Winsock (a mashup of the words Windows + socket) equipped the Microsoft Windows operating system with the ability to ‘speak’ the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Back in the “olden” days of 1995, Windows computers were often not even connected to the local office network, never mind the globally-connected Internet.

The Trumpet Winsock software was distributed under a shareware, “try before you buy” license, which means you could use it on a trial basis, but after the period expired, you were legally required to pay for it. The problem was that people rarely paid for the software after the trial period ended.

Trumpet Winsock was hugely popular in the days of Windows 3.1, mostly due to the inclusion of the software in many popular computer magazines and distribution by Internet Service Providers. The wide distribution channel these magazines offered should have been a good thing for Tattam Software; Internet users signed up by the hundreds, and then thousands, and then hundreds of thousands. But ultimately, although they used the software, many Internet users didn’t care or didn’t bother to register (and pay) for it.

In the end, Peter and his company received very little financial compensation for what many would agree was software that enabled a connection to a global network that has positively impacted the lives of millions.

At Tucows / OpenSRS, at our very core, we believe the Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen. Trumpet Winsock accelerated Internet adoption during a time when Microsoft failed to offer Internet connectivity in the OS. So, earlier this week, we wanted to thank Mr. Tattam by recognizing his efforts with Trumpet Winsock by way of a small corporate donation.

If you’re a former Trumpet Winsock user, we’d love it if you would also take a moment to thank Mr. Tattam for his hard work and dedication in building one of the most popular on-ramps to the greatest resource the world has ever seen. Donations are accepted via Paypal at the website.




Passion outside of the workplace

James' early morning start line at the BMO Vancouver Marathon, May 1.

It’s the weekend of your 40th birthday, how do you spend it? If you’re James Koole, communications lead for Tucows, you fly yourself to Vancouver, BC to participate in the BMO Vancouver Marathon!

The passion that James has for running reminds me that we should take more opportunities to share some stories about the kind of people we spend the majority of our waking hours with.

James is our communications lead at Tucows / OpenSRS. This means that he writes the majority of the things our resellers read on the website, and the e-mails you receive in your inbox. When he gets back from Vancouver, he’ll probably even correct some grammar and spelling mistakes on this very post.

He’ll also ask me why I wrote this post. He’s a modest fellow and doesn’t like to brag. He hates the spotlight. I have an answered prepared for him though: “James, if you don’t want the spotlight on you, then you should ease up a bit on your level of awesome, mkay?”

At Tucows, we have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry. But for a company to think about its human capital purely from a professional skillset, would surely be a mistake. After all, experts say that having passion for things out side of work is critical for a happy work / life balance. They did say that, right?

Hammering out code, programming routers, and configuring servers are a big part of what we do. But the downtime is just as important. I haven’t taken a formal count, but if I held out my arms in a group of Tucowsers and quickly spun myself around, I will be not only dizzy, but I will have smacked a couple of marathoners, a lot of cyclists, some rock climbers, kickboxers, soccer players, and even snowboarders; I’m also sure that by Monday, I’ll have colleagues reminding me of other sports active within the company.

So while James competes against himself in a grueling 42 kilometer race, fighting against the blisters, the shin splints and the fatigue, I’m going to gush a little bit about his commitment to his passion, as I sip coffee from the comfort of my front porch, and try to convince myself that I should go for a bike ride after I finish this post.

Happy Birthday James, and good luck on your run! We’re all cheering for you, and some of us are even a little envious of your commitment to your passion.


Lessons Learned from Online Shopping Cart Usability Testing

Is your checkout process working for you, or working against you? We came across a great article on Smashing Magazine this week that we thought was worth sharing. It talks about the good, the bad and the ugly of e-commerce checkout design.

Almost all of the findings of the study apply to the hosting/domains industry, although the testing looks like it was done primarily on sites that sold physical goods. There’s a ton of overlap regardless of whether you are selling and shipping a widget to someone’s house, or taking them through a checkout for a domain name and hosting package.

Assume Nothing About Your Customers

Reading through the article, I found myself surprised by what I perceived to be a lack of general knowledge about “how things work” on the part of the test subjects. On more than a few occasions, I thought, “Seriously? They didn’t know how that works?” I also realized that it’s very easy to make assumptions about how users will interact with websites when those building them are used to the process.

This article is definitely worth a read if you are looking for ways to improve your overall customer experience and minimize your rate of cart abandonment.

Click here to read the article

Thanks to Flickr user Wiedmaier for the shopping cart image and for releasing it under a Creative Commons license.

Holiday Hours: Good Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter holidays from the OpenSRS team!

We’ll be closed this Friday April 22nd for the Easter holiday.

Our Technical Support team continues to be available 24/7 to assist you.

Please note that during this closure, there will be:

  • No orders or requests processed for the following TLD’s: .at, .fr, .ch, .li, .dk,
  • No special processing for .ca (registrant transfers, conflicting and municipal registrations) or .eu/.be (redemptions).

Here are the hours by department:

Department Dates and Hours
Technical Support Regular hours
Payments Email support:
Compliance Closed April 22nd (Friday)
Service Bureau Closed April 22nd (Friday)

Special thanks for Flickr user Alanna George for licensing their colourful Easter egg shot under a creative commons license.

New End-User Mobile Email Configuration Guides Available

Did you know that OpenSRS Email Service works great with the latest smartphones and other mobile Internet devices? Thanks to the fact that we offer IMAP support standard with all mailboxes, end-users with iPhones, iPads, Android devices and BlackBerries can access their OpenSRS Email Service mailboxes natively on their chosen device.

Mobile Email Configuration Guides

To help your customers get email configured on their device, we’ve put together a collection of mobile email configuration guides for the most popular mobile devices. These are white-label docs with text and screenshots that will walk your customers through the process of getting email setup.

Feel free to download and use them as is, or grab the content and adapt it to your specific domain name with your branding. As with all the documentation and marketing materials we provide, it’s free to use and adapt if you are an OpenSRS Reseller.

Download them here

What do you think?

We’d love to hear your feedback on these guides as well. Is there anything you’d change? Have we missed a popular device? Do you want them in a different format? Drop us a line in the comments and we’ll see what we can do.

Happy 5th Birthday .eu!

April 7th, 2011, marks the fifth birthday of the .eu domain extension. Since the launch back in 2006, over 3.4 million .eu domains have been registered. EURid, the operator of .eu, says registrations have doubled in the past 5 years, and that .eu now sits ninth overall amongst all TLDs.

The launch of .eu was particularly strong – about 1.7 million domains were registered that first month back in 2006. According to EURid, since then, “Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Estonia have had the strongest .eu growth rates and Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Poland have emerged as .eu’s largest markets.”

.eu Growth Outpaces ccTLDs in Some Countries

They also point to growth rates higher than the local ccTLD in five EU member countries, including Germany, which has a very strong ccTLD in .de:

Country .eu growth ccTLD growth
Lithuania (.lt) 382% 249%
Czech Republic (.cz) 264% 207%
Austria (.at) 108% 92%
Belgium (.be) 79% 7%
Germany (.de) 65% 43%

.EU Promotion!

To celebrate the fifth birthday, we’re rolling out a .eu promotion starting April 7th, and continuing through the end of May, 2011. Two-year .eu registrations will be just $9.99 (USD) instead of the usual $14. You’ll have to sign up for this promo – complete terms are listed on the .eu promotion signup page.

Changes to how .eu Registrations Work

EURid is also making some changes to the way .eu registrations work to bring them more in line with other TLDs. Effective April 7th, 2011, you’ll be able to register .eu domains for terms of 1-10 years. Previously, .eu domains were only available in one-year terms. We’ve updated our documentation to reflect this change and you should also take note of a couple of other changes to how .eu domains work, specifically around transfers and expiry dates.

More information on .eu

You might want to check out .eu Identity Magazine, which is published by EURid and contains some great information about .eu and the people and companies who are using a .eu domain effectively. It’s available for download in PDF format.

We also provide some marketing assets for your use in promoting .eu. Those can be found in our .eu Marketing Resources section.

OpenSRS Domain Promotions

Are you taking advantage of our domain price promotions? These limited time offers are a great way to drive sales either within your existing customer base, or as a way to attract new customers to the fold.

Right now we have three price promotions going on, including great promos on .TV, .MOBI and .CO domains.

Our .TV promotion has been running since late last year, while the .MOBI promo was just recently extended through to the end of June! We’re just rolling out the .CO promo; it’s similar to the very successful Superbowl-related promotion we ran with .CO back in February. Check it out and signup to get a big discount on .CO domains this month.

How Our Domain Promos Work

Our promotions are usually done in conjunction with the registry operator for the domain extension in question. They extend special pricing to us, and we pass the savings along to you. Generally the registries are looking to lift sales of the extension and as a result, they usually require that you do some active promotion of their extension to your customer base.

That promotion can take the form of an email campaign, banner ads on your homepage, or even something like a Google Adwords campaign to drive traffic to your site, and to the specific domain extension that is on sale.

We try to make this as easy as possible for you by providing marketing materials like logos and banner ads when we can. For example, for the .TV promotion, we’ve provided a pretty complete package of marketing assets for you to use, including some videos that explain the unique value of .TV domains.

Signup Now

If you haven’t yet signed up for any of the ongoing promotions, head over to our promos page. As mentioned we have a trio of promos on right now:

Thanks to Flickr user “The Justified Sinner” for the pic.

The Elephant In The Room

You work in an intense competitive environment. Customers are always comparing your services and your prices to others’. When you mess up, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get defectors. When a competitor messes up, there’s a good chance you’re going to benefit.

So what do you do when a competitor messes up big? Maybe they have a huge outage. Maybe they get caught up in a legal battle. Maybe a senior employee ends up strangling a giraffe to death. Or just smacking around a monkey.

It is really tempting to call attention to the situation and position yourself as the antidote.

Just a few warnings:

  • Remember that you had your own mess ups in the past and will likely have them in the future. You will have outages. Maybe you once kicked a pigeon. Avoid inviting scrutiny and retaliation that will ultimately hurt you.
  • Be careful not to appear too opportunistic. If you suddenly start donating 10% of your revenues to save porcupines, it might seem more exploitative than generous. Maybe not. Sometimes the outrage is so great and the opportunity is so right. Also, honesty, creativity and humor can go a long way. Just be aware of the risk.
  • Stay on message. You work hard to stand for something. Great service. Innovation. Reliability. If you leap to a very different message because it’s trending on Twitter, you could sacrifice clarity and you might not be playing to your own strengths.

Having said all that, a competitor’s stumble is certainly an opportunity to step up your game. Their customers are going to come looking for alternatives. Make it simple for people to switch. Pound home the benefits of your service. Do all the things you likely do anyway. Just think about using this as an excuse to do them a bit better.

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