Your mom is just looking for your work number again. Everyone else, though? They’re on your site to learn as much about your business as possible without having to actually talk to you. They want to know how your products or services can help them, how you differ from your competitors, how much you cost and, very importantly, who you guys actually are.
And that’s why, sooner or later, interested prospects will click that “about us” link on your site. They want to know who’s going to be at the other end of the line when they call. They want to know if they should bother calling.
Unfortunately, most “about us” pages consist of mind-numbingly dull corporate histories and bland mission statements with phrases like “mission critical” and “best in class.” Do you know the last time that the phrase “best in class” really made an impression on someone? Nineteen ninety-never.
Your “about us” page should accomplish two goals:
1. Create a memorable impression of how you’re better than your competition.
2. Give prospects an accurate sense of the actual people they’d be working with if they contact you.
Here are four steps you can take with your “about us” page to accomplish those goals.
1. Don’t use jargon.
Again, we’re talking about people who have expressed a genuine interest in knowing more about you. Let them know you’re interesting, thoughtful people by avoiding corporate-speak and buzzwords. Try reading the copy aloud. If it feels inauthentic to say, then it’s a boring read. If it’s very similar to your competitors, you’re doing your prospects and yourself a disservice. Scrap it and start over. Try recording yourself while explaining to a friend how your company started, how you’re different and why anyone would want to become a customer. Transcribe that text as your new first draft. The more authentic, the better.
2. Do use pictures.
It’s about “us” versus about “our product.” Executive bios are a good beginning, but how can you stretch beyond the confines of the typical bio to communicate not just “competent leadership” but also “interesting, curious, hardworking, committed, funny, golf-fanatic human beings”? Are there any particularly meaningful company events that you can show pictures of? An “employee profile of the month” to give a sense of the real people behind your product or service? A product may win the RFP but human beings maintain the relationships over the long haul. Showing these people is an important differentiator.
3. Be funnier.
Much of my business relies on bottling up the attributes of the top-performing salespeople at Fortune 500 companies. But it turns out, most top performers (most successful human beings in general, in fact) are fascinating people with a good sense of humor. I’m not suggesting you turn your “about us” page into a National Lampoon’s script, and yes, humor is arguably inappropriate if you’re selling coffins. I’m simply recommending adding some personality and pointing out that humor is a key component of most personalities. At the end of the day, people like to do business with people they like. Funny is likable.
4. Provide testimonials.
The fact that you and everyone on your payroll think your company rocks is excellent but not surprising or compelling. When actual customers attest to how great you are, that carries a bit more weight with your prospects. When possible, let others tell your story.
Many companies believe the “about us” section is under the purview of the marketing department, but telling the story of who your company is and what makes it special is one of the most important and potentially rewarding jobs of executive leadership. As you’re thinking about your own “about us” page, look at about.zappos.com, www.southwest.com/about_swa/ or others for inspiration.
Amanda Lannert is the president of The Jellyvision Lab, the Interactive Conversation company, which creates virtual advisers who help clients attract customers, train employees and reduce the costs of customer service. Lannert has served on the board of the Chicago Improv Festival, mentors local startups and often waves at strangers just to be encouraging. She has climbed several mountains, including Mount Kilimanjaro and Space Mountain, and is known to award limitless grilled meat to co-workers who grow mustaches for her birthday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 266-0606, ext. 116.