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    February-2013  


Small Businesses Ignore Crucial Page On Their Website

The “About Us” page is probably one of the most visited and highest ranked pages on a small business company’s website. 
For most small businesses, the “About Us” page is what most powerfully establishes credibility
Jeff Haden has some interesting thoughts on the “About Us” page and he pulls no punches. A successful business leader, he now spends his time ghost writing books for senior managers.
Haden tells clients to check the stats on their “About us” page.
They’re usually higher than expected.
That is, unless the company’s stinks.
Haden points out that writing about yourself is hard.  Writing about your business can be even harder.  That’s why many companies end up with “About Us” pages like this:
“Acme Consulting is a global network solutions provider, redefining enterprise networking and connectivity by consistently providing outstanding customer experiences and innovative, world-class services.”

“Sounds impressive.  Says nothing,” he says.

Haden goes on to ask readers to imagine you channeled your inner Bernie Madoff and desperately need a lawyer.  What do you want to read on a law firm’s “About Us” page?  Would you hope to see this:

“The stability and continuity of Acme Law Firm provides a perspective that considers both your immediate and long-term interests through wisdom borne of participation in thousands of legal scenarios…”

Or this:

“If it’s humanly possible, we’ll get you off.  In the last ten years we’ve won 97% of our cases.  We’re all divorced because we never go home.  Granted, we do socialize, but only with judges we’re actively corrupting.  We regularly face ethics violation proceedings because we only recognize a line when we’re stepping over it…”

Sure, intentionally over the top to make a point — but unless you like the thought of three hots and a cot, you’ll call those guys.

Potential customers who click an “About Us” page are already interested; now they want to be reassured the company is the right choice.  Here’s how to be sure a small business “About Us” page gives potential customers what they need:

  • Think customer first. What do potential customers want to know?  At a basic level, first-time visitors want to know you own a real business with real capabilities.  What questions are you asked during sales calls?  What information tends to seal a deal or win over a hesitant customer?  If I’m looking for a fulfillment center, “providers of outstanding customer experiences” means nothing to me, but “99.3% on-time shipping with a .002% error rate” sounds pretty good, because …
  • Facts are compelling, superlatives are not. Lots of About Us pages are filled with words like outstanding, excellent, world-class, visionary, cutting edge, etc.  If your business truly is outstanding, prove it with facts.  If your business truly is visionary, talk about innovative products you’ve developed.  If you don’t have many facts and figures (yet), admit it.  Describe what your business hopes to achieve, and how.
  • Don’t try to be something you’re not. As a general rule, the smaller the business the “fluffier” the About Us page.  Trying to make your small business look bigger is a natural impulse but can also create awkward moments when a potential client asks for references or specific examples.  Own the fact you’re a startup and show why new clients will benefit:  Greater focus on individual customers, shorter lead times, a burning desire to prove yourself in a new market, etc.  Candor is compelling.  Turn who you really are into an advantage.
  • Describe qualifications, but be brief. Certifications and awards are great, but pick a few that resonate the most with potential customers.  (Stick the rest on a separate “Industry Awards” page.)  If you won an Emmy you can probably leave out your “Best Supporting Actor in a Non-Speaking Role at the Roadhouse Dinner Theater and Swap Shop” award.
  • Kill the stock photos. We’re all expert stock photo spotters.  Use real photos or no photos at all.  Seriously:  Will anyone believe these fine folks work for you?
  • See your About Us page as a continual work in progress. Most About Us pages stay static for months or years.  Whenever you land major customers, add expertise and capabilities, enter new markets, open new locations, etc., update your About Us page.  Keep it fresh for prospective clients and for SEO purposes.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I originally wrote an Author Bio for this blog, but it was awful.  The bio that appears at the top left of this page was written by my BNET editor.  Ask someone to read your About Us page and then describe back to you what you do.  If they can’t immediately answer most of the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why), get back to work.

Final thought: If you’re fairly modest and writing an “About Us” page feels “salesy” or self-congratulatory, focus on facts, figures, and accomplishments.  Objective information is a lot easier to write and a lot more powerful as well.  Think about the needs you fulfill and the problems you solve for your customers. Then use plain language to describe how you fulfill those needs and solve those problems.

Haden also tells clients to put a monthly reminder on their calendar to revise the “About Us” page.  It can always be improved.


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