The window to apply for a dot-brand or dot-category generic top-level domain (gTLD) opens on Thursday, January 12th. Have you driven your company to a decision on what to do? 

Many of the 50-plus marketing leaders I've talked with about this program in the past six months still haven't figured out what they would do with a domain registry but are concerned about another applicant getting their string. This is a very real concern, and I have addressed this and several of the other most frequent questions I've been getting on this topic in my recent report, "It's Decision Time For gTLDs."

So if you don't have your gTLD application ready to submit, what should you do now? First off, don't get so stuck in the hype about the risk of cybersquatters or of someone else getting your dot-brand. Stick to the advice we gave back in June to evaluate this opportunity strategically, looking at what new business initiatives or models you could deploy with the ability to own and operate a registry.

It is not for everyone. In fact, of the 50 companies I've talked with, fewer than 15 have a strategic initiative in mind for gTLDs. It seems like a no-brainer for a pure web-based business, but what about the brick and mortars? Is the Internet core to how you do business? How you attract, sell to, and service customers? How do you distribute your products and services? What about your supply chain? If these questions are relevant, then you need to be taking a closer look.

Keep in mind that this is much bigger than just moving your brand from the left to the right of the dot. I'm not a big fan of submitting a defensive registration. Get some of your smartest people from marketing, finance, legal, distribution, service, and strategy together. Examine some of the biggest challenges you have today in any of those areas. Think about your company's strategy and priorities over the next four years. See if you can find a strategic application of a registry that can differentiate your company, contribute to growth plans, or help with one or more of your biggest challenges. And if so, go forward with a strategic application. If not, read my latest reports and understand the risks and actions you should take when you stay on the sidelines.