Recently, myself and some friends decided to book an At Home Wine tasting. We cooked some food, gathered and waited for the wine man to arrive with bated breath and discussions about what we might get… He arrived, unpacked his wine tasting accoutrements and immediately launched into a 30 minute in depth monologue about the company: its beginnings, history, facts and figures, where they were based – he basically read out the “About us” section of their website - by the time he’d finished and was ready to start the tasting we were bored, restless and just about ready to push him out the door.
It sounds unduly harsh but I really wasn’t interested in a 30 minute history of his company, I simply wanted to try the wine! Which brings me to my question of the day - When did you last look at the “About us” section on your website? Probably sometime in 2014 when your most recent new site launched? More importantly, when did you last read your “About us” page from the viewpoint of a customer or potential customer? Or to phrase the question slightly differently, when did you last read the about us section on your website and think – Wow this would really make me want to buy what they are selling!
Personally, I always click on an “About us” section of any website I visit, but not because I am particularly interested – it’s actually out of a morbid curiosity to see just how bad these sections can be, here are a few examples of phrases from various companies’ “About Us” sections that I gathered from a brief search:
- We are experts in our field – I hope you are!
- We are fully committed to growth – I’d be worried if you were committed to shrinkage!
- Our strategy and goals are set on becoming a national full-service law firm – ermm which law firm isn’t?
- We have international clients and travel abroad to represent their interests – well done, you spend your money on air fares - how does that help me?
- We ask all of our employees to share our mission – good to hear, do they say yes?
- We are the world’s favourite coffee chain – so are all the other ones!
- We were founded in September 2009 and are based in California – how nice, was it the weather that made you stay?
- We have 4.8 million customers worldwide – does that mean I’d be 4,800,001?
- We are the UK’s largest provider of care and support services with 36 years’ experience – is that largest by volume or height?
All are from different industries and the size of company goes from start-up to multinational. For me they all have one thing in common, they are completely focused on themselves. All the statements start with ‘We’ or ‘Our’ and my answer to each and every statement is simply “So what?”.
Which company is not committed to growth? How many coffee chains don’t claim to be the world favourite? I’d rather hope a company has expertise and experience in their field and I worry that amid 4.8 million customers, I will not be heard. There is not a statement in the list that would make me choose one company over another and I think it’s about time we realised this and started to do things differently.
If you think people are interested in how long you have been running, how many employees you have and whether you care about your customers or not – how about adding a section called “What we think about ourselves” or “A brief and slightly dull history of Company X” – track the traffic to those pages and you’ll soon see how pointless they are.
I’d actually like to go as far as to completely scrap the about us section and consign it to the dustbin of history, flipping the concept on its head and having a new section entitled “About You” - a section that is focused on customers, their needs and problems and the questions they are asking on a daily basis. To illustrate, imagine you are the owner of a growing business who is struggling to run your accounts via free tools and internet guides. You want to take the next step but don’t know where to start. You do some Google searches and it turns out there are two firms nearby… You browse the websites and find the following statements:
- A N Accountants Ltd – About Us - We are a well-loved family firm with over 60 years of history. Based in the historic market town of Lower Whinging. We strive for success with all our clients and have expertise in every sector.
- A N Other Accountants Ltd – About You - You are the owner of a small company, you are just about managing to do your accounts with free tools, but with the growth you are experiencing, it’s starting to get more difficult – you’d like some advice on how to take the next step, what options are available and how much it will end up costing you.
Which firm would you contact?
My example is simplistic but imagine applying this idea to your company. Work out who your customers are, what they want and how you are helping them with their problems. Change your tired and dated “About Us” section to a new “About you” page that speaks directly to your target customers and the problems they are struggling with. Build a picture of them that they can identify with as soon as they start reading it and you’ll immediately be different from at least 90% of your competitors!