Friday, July 16, 2010

6 Reasons Why Your 'About Us' Page is Losing You Business

The content of the 'About Us' page on your website can turn off potential customers.

I was recently looking at a customer's new website design. "We've put a lot of effort into the 'About Us' section," they told me, "because, surprisingly, it gets a lot of hits."

That was no surprise to me. I often visit the 'About Us' page on websites and so do many other people. The content often has a direct influence on my purchasing decision.

So here are 6 reasons why your 'About Us' page could be losing you business:

1. Your 'About Us' page is not about you. Visitors click on the 'About Us' link because they want to know whether you're a credible business. It's your opportunity to build trust. Yet too many 'About Us' pages just repeat the sales message. "We sell wonderful widgets - buy now." A page packed with SEO keywords might attract more hits, but it won't necessarily attract more sales.

2. Your 'About Us' page doesn't tell people how big your business is. Most people know that a slick website could be the shop front for a business run by a teenager from their bedroom. The chances are that if your 'About Us' page gives no clue to the size of your business, it's probably very small, and that means it might be here today, gone tomorrow. Which in turn means buying from you could be riskier than buying from someone else.

3. Your 'About Us' page does not explain the history of your business. History tells visitors where you came from and helps them to decide whether you're believable. If your business has a long history and you trade offline as well as online, that's a huge asset and you need to tell your visitors. Take every opportunity to win their trust because it helps to win their business.

4. Your 'About Us' page does not talk about real people. The adage 'people buy from people' still applies to online purchasing, particularly if visitors are not familiar with your brand. In the social media age, relationships are important and visitors want to engage with individuals, not a faceless website. Being open will help potential purchasers relate to you.

5. Your 'About Us' page does not have any pictures. Photos of your premises and your staff reinforce all those great messages that you've articulated in words. They help to demonstrate that you're a credible business, someone they can rely on. The quality of the pictures are important too - the more professional they are, the more they say about how seriously you take your business.

6. Your 'About Us' page is empty. Thankfully, it's rare these days to find a page that claims to be to be 'still under construction.' That's another way of saying, 'We can't be bothered with this page.' But the 'About Us' page often seems to be an afterthought, because it doesn't actually sell anything, and as an afterthought it can be too brief or even left almost empty.

Finally, here are some examples of 'About Us' pages that work well:

Callidus Consulting, automotive recruitment specialists - brief, to the point and with links to mini biographies and photos of all the staff.

Petersfield Photographic, supplier of photographic services - it has pictures, a history and short biographies of key staff. They're real people you'll want to buy from.

Dots and Spots, home-based makers of greetings cards -  meet the person behind this business through lots of pictures and snippets of text.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

5 Tips for Getting Your Message Across

Great communication doesn't need to be complicated.

Whether it's a warning, a marketing campaign, an encouragement or a news update, the most effective messages are often extremely simple.

Finding the right way to express yourself involves more than using the right words. It's also about using the right medium, about excellent timing and about tone.

Here are some useful tips that can help you to improve your communication in either your professional or personal life, or both!

1. Use the right tool for the job. Getting your message across effectively means using the right form of communication. We can do it in so many ways that it's easy to choose what's most convenient for us, not what's going to be the most effective.

If you need to get an urgent message to someone, email is almost always the wrong way to do it. If you want your message to have maximum impact, deliver it in person or on paper. Text messages are a quick way to update people without requiring a response. To share important news with the widest possible audience use a mix of methods, including social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

2. Have someone proofread every message. Getting a second opinion on your messages is essential, and not just because they might spot a typo. Ask your proofreader what they think the message means. It's easy to include assumptions in your message, such as industry jargon, which won't mean anything to at least some of the readers.

In an ideal world, you'd want an 8 year old to read your message and tell you clearly what it means - if they can understand it, so will virtually every adult.

3. Don't make promises or commitments you can't keep. This is harder than it looks. It's easy to avoid making statements that are obviously wrong but you can fall into the trap of implying something will happen, setting false expectations. Often leaders will say that they are thinking of taking some particular course of action, or dangle the possibility of "we might do this".

The problem comes when such statements are made in a public manner, because some listeners won't hear the "might". This inevitably leads to disappointment when the implied happening doesn't occur, and possibly a loss of trust in the leader who made the comment in the first place.

4. Assume that every word you write or speak will be carved in stone. Of course they're not, but you'll be surprised how enduring some can become. Every parent knows that children remember every word they wish they hadn't said, and the same is true in other areas of life.

Anything written down, on paper or digitally, may well have a longer lifespan than you expect and even the spoken word can linger on. So your every communication should be something that you're not going to be embarrassed by the following day, month or year.

5. Make your message memorable. The very best communicators have messages that stick because people don't forget them. There are lots of ways to make your message memorable - the words you use, the medium you use or the timing.

Which messages make the most impact on you and why? Think about what gets your attention and, importantly, what you remember afterwards. Ask what works for other people. Then use what you learn to make your own communication more effective.