At its heart, GoDaddy.com has always been a customer-focused company built on a foundation of hard-core engineering acumen. Oh, you were thinking more along the lines of bikini-clad women and NASCAR? That's so 2011.
In the brandless market of the late 1990s and through much of the 2000s, companies left it up to their IT departments and Internet teams to shop for, purchase and manage their domain names, websites and Internet presence. There wasn't a need for a public brand, unless it was to drum up interest and build a customer base, which made GoDaddy something of a pioneer, says Auguste Goldman, chief people officer and head of HR for GoDaddy.com.
"What you saw on TV and in those ads was all about grabbing attention, generating conversions, building awareness of our product. And boy, it sure worked. But what that didn't do was highlight the fact that the people who work for us are hard-core techies, really incredible engineers and fanatical about customer service," Goldman says.
Not a match
When CEO Blake Irving took over the company in 2013, he was just as confused as anyone about how the company's advertising squared -- or didn't -- with the reality of GoDaddy. He's since worked, along with his executive team, including Goldman, to reshape the narrative and put the focus back on what the company stands for: engineering prowess and great customer service.
"We consciously decided to change our external messaging to better reflect who we are as a company. It's just as much a moral and social decision as it is about sound business practices. Who do we really work for? Small business owners and entrepreneurs, bloggers, writers. Something like 58 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are run by women," Goldman says.
Goldman says Irving's leadership provided the impetus for change and a chance to flaunt the company's reliability and affordability and to talk more about its customer-centric focus. The company has always had a strong set of diversity and inclusion principles, but none of those factors appeared in their external messaging.
"We are continually attracting new customers, but we wanted to do that based on the strengths of our technology, our talent and our culture. But when we'd talk to customers and we'd try and explain this, they'd give us this look like, 'Wait, what? You're the company who's done those bikini commercials!' It was very clear that the marketing message and our customer experience weren't matching up. It was generating buzz, sure, but not at all in the way we wanted," Goldman says.
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