What’s the most important page on your website?
It may surprise you, but most of the time it’s the About.
It’s a pity then that so many businesses treat it as an afterthought.
Once your site gets potential customers interested in your products or services, what do they do? They naturally head to your About page to make sure you are the right choice to provide them with what they need.
Of course, writing about yourself and your business is awkward, so many About pages read something like this:
“We are a great company; we are a solutions partner that redefines the enterprise landscape by providing a unique blend of innovative, world-class services and outstanding customer experiences.”
Sounds impressive, especially if you like buzzwords. World class – such a great and yet overused expression. It says nothing.
So let’s look at this differently. Let’s make sure your About page is about potential customers and show them why they can feel comfortable choosing you:
1. The customer’s point of view.
It may come as a surprise, but it’s not about you. Customers don’t care about what you do; they care about their problem and whether or not you can solve it.
First-time visitors to your site want to know you own a real business with real capabilities. Ask yourself, “if I were a customer, what would I want to know? What questions do customers typically ask during sales calls? What are the deal breakers? (hint, it’s not because you have a shiny widget)
“We give excellent customer service” means nothing, everyone says that. “99.7% on-time shipping with a .0021% error rate for the past five years”; now you’re talking.
2. Think facts, not claims.
Businesses often quite ordinary fill up their About pages with words like visionary, outstanding, disruptive (please don’t say that), excellent, world-class (that word again), cutting-edge…
If your business is that good, tell me why and then I’ll make a decision. If you are visionary, you’ll have to convince me because there are a lot of self-proclaimed visionaries out there.
And if you’re new and don’t have facts and figures, don’t make them up. Describe what you hope to achieve and how you plan to do it. Give me the chance to decide if I want to jump on board with you.
3. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
Many small businesses try to look bigger than they are. As a general rule, the smaller the business, the more flannel there is in their copy.
Most of the time, you will be found out. One-man bands masquerading as “We” doesn’t work. Be who you are, and you’ll feel more confident without something fake to hide behind.
Own your business and what it does, be it a start-up, a bootstrapper, it doesn’t matter. Start-ups (still) have so many advantages over older, more established and crustier businesses. Speed and responsiveness to name just two. And you’re nicer as well! Just embrace that, you are enough.
4. Use real photos.
What do you think about a website that uses photos of smiling people in smart suits congratulating each other? You can spot them a mile off, and everyone thinks they look fake.
A few years ago, I translated the annual report of La Banque Postale, the banking arm of the French Post Office. Annual reports are often the worst culprits for stock photos but they just gave their employees disposable cameras and asked them to take pictures of each other at work. They published the best ones, and they looked great.
Don’t let anyone convince you stock photos are a good idea, especially not on your About page; they just look silly. Real pictures will help people believe you and will make your page seem so much more appealing.
5. Never stop moving forwards
Like your business, your About page is a work in progress. Did you win a great contract? Did you get a great testimonial? Head straight to your About page (or wherever you put your testimonials and change it!).
Make sure your About page is always up to date and always matches what you would say if I asked you about your company today.
6. Finally, get over yourself.
If you’re relatively modest, writing your About page feels salesy and self-congratulatory, so you stop short of describing your business accurately. On the other hand, if you aren’t modest, writing your About page is fun, so you go way over the top.
Either way, get over yourself. The result is too important. Fortunately, it’s easy. Facts, figures, and accomplishments, you don’t need anymore. Objective information is a lot easier to write.
It’s more powerful too to talk about the needs you fulfil and the problems you solve for your customers.
Then use everyday language to describe how you meet those needs and solve those problems. Use plain language to explain who you are.