Imagine you walk into a large shed with products laid out neatly on the shelves. There’s no sign on the door, no staff in the shop and no indication at all who owns the shop or what it’s all about. What would your reaction be? Suspicion, unease.
Imagine the same scenario but this time you are on a farm, farm produce is laid out and on the door is a notice asking you to pay for your goods by using the Honesty Box. How do you feel now? Reassured? You know what’s going on. You know who you’re buying from even though they’re not physically present.
Your website is like an unmanned shop. Potential customers need clues to work out what kind of people run the business. Only then, can they decide if the business has what they want.
The ‘About Us’ page is the one that does what it says on the tin. It tells the reader who’s behind this business.
Whenever I come across an unfamiliar business website, I always look for the About Us page. I’m curious. I want to know who they are, where they are. What they’re all about.
I notice the ‘About Us’ page is being demoted on quite a few websites, relegated to a sub page of the Frequently Asked Questions or left out altogether. This is a mistake. Even with a larger company, the story behind a business is always fascinating. In businesses that come from a personal passion or calling, your story is a vital tool in the selling process.
Although social media sites like Twitter allow your customers to see behind the scenes, they serve a different function from the ‘About Us’ page. Just like any other static content on your website, the ‘About Us’ page should be carefully constructed to convey a targeted message.
Establishing trust is an important part of business
People buy from people they like. More than that they buy from people they sense are ‘like’ them. People who share their values, people they trust. For your ‘About Us’ page you need to carefully select the salient points in your story that will resonate with your customers.
For instance, a business providing holiday cottages for families with pre-school children, can use the ‘About Us’ page to make connections with potential guests.
A lovely family who run cottages in North Pembrokeshire have 5 children of their own. Once you know this fact (beautifully demonstrated by the 5 pairs of Crocs), you realise why their site is so perfectly set up for families with pre-school children, Croft Farm & Celtic Cottages.
For business to business services there is still a benefit to explaining the story. Currently there are a number of collaborative ventures involving several different organisations. People like to be reassured, so it is important to explain how the disparate members of a group came together. What is the shared vision? How do they know each other? What is the working arrangement? These are all questions to be answered on the ‘About Us’ page.
There’s another important reason for clearly stating who runs the business. It’s about reducing people’s risk. Reassuring them. Many people are scared of being ripped off, scared of being the fool that was parted from her money. If you don’t tell people who you are, where you’re based and a little about what drives your business, it almost looks as if you have something to hide.
What makes a good ‘About Us’ page?
Choose a good image – a smiling face is powerfully engaging to the right audience. If you set up the business then put your face on it. If the company is 100 years old, then a picture of the founder is good.
Tell your story – we don’t need a life history but pick out a memorable fact about yourself that is connected to what you do. E.g. a pastry cook might have fallen in love with iced buns at a local tea shop aged 7.
Convey your passion – what gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you love about what you do? Say it on your ‘About Us page’. Take a look at this great example from Melanie McIntosh at Inspire Retail Solutions in British Columbia in Canada and this one from Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo in Pembrokeshire Wales, UK.
Keep it personal. Don’t be dull and don’t be shy.
Go now and spend 10 minutes editing your About Us page.
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Workshops, products and other useful stuff:
New! for 2012 – Business writing for an interactive audience
Currently I am developing a new course for business owners who want to improve their understanding of business writing techniques and get practical help to make writing easier. The course will combine workshops, home study and online support. I am looking for your input to decide on the focus for this first intensive course. The 2 areas under consideration are:
Writing for websites
Writing for blogs
If you are interested in this type of course, I would love to get your input at this development stage. Please add your thoughts to the blog post on my site.
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