Most people, I think, really don’t want to talk about themselves. I think it is our nature, at least most of us.
Maybe we feel we are being self-centered. . . Maybe we think we are being narcissistic. Maybe our parents told us to not talk about ourselves too much.
Sure, there are some who do, they love to talk about themselves, but that isn’t you or me.
We do, however, like to talk about the things we love. How many times have I launched into a discourse about pro wrestling or dirt track racing?
There is something about sharing things that are important to us with our friends. And, we love to learn about what is important to others.
It lets us see a different side of them. It helps us connect with them on a different level.
But, so many businesses want to keep that at arm’s length. It’s a mistake.
I’m not talking about pretending to be friends. I am, however, letting you know more about who you are as a business, the passions, the values, and the story that drives you.
The About Page is often underestimated.
Today, I am going to show you how your About Page can be your best secret weapon.
How important is that page anyway?
I’m not sure what I can do to convince you. I mean, if you look at your analytics, you will notice that your About page gets a big share of the traffic. In most cases, it is the second most visited page on your website.
People want to know more about you.
They want to know who’s behind this website, who’s behind this company or blog.
One thing that does is give you a big opportunity.
Think of it this way, they are going to learn more about you before they ever buy from you.
Do I have your attention?
If you are like most people, the reason you have a website is to get people to buy from you.
Maybe you are selling a service, maybe you are selling products, or maybe you are selling a coaching program.
It. Does. Not. Matter.
If they are going to buy from you, they want to know more about who you are.
Not diving into that About page is like your visitor going to a shady part of town to buy an item from someone they contacted on Craigslist.
Unless they are desperate and trying anything from anyone, they are going to learn what they can.
Add a value proposition at the top
There’s that term again. If you hang out with me you will hear me use it. Sigh.
Often when I hear people saying they are looking for a tagline, I realize what they need is a value proposition.
Let’s define it, shall we?
Peep Laja of ConversionXL defines it like thus,
Value proposition is the #1 thing that determines whether people will bother reading more about your product or hit the back button. It’s also the main thing you need to test – if you get it right, it will be a huge boost.”
Let’s simplify a bit. In her ebook The Great Value Proposition Test, Joanna Wiebe says,
Your value proposition is simply a message that succinctly states what really great X your prospect or customer is going to get from you that they can’t get elsewhere. (p. 7)
The need for a value prop is so important that Wiebe advocates and teaches using it for the homepage headline.
Value props, all around! We’ve seen that leading with your value prop on a home page can work wonders, as we wrote about here. We recommend to our students that they focus their home page hero on a strong value prop. So it’s not like it’s a bad practice to lead with a value prop. Not at all. It’s good! (Copyhackers)
Differentiation is where your value proposition stands out. You can essentially explain why you are different from others in your industry.
About differentiation in your company, Wiebe says,
Your key differentiator is the thing that everyone can instantly recognize about your product, service or business. Sometimes your key differentiator is the reason your company exists, and your desire to be different from crummy existing solutions was the impetus for your startup; other times, you won’t discover what’s uniquely awesome about you until you start executing. Either way is okay. As long as you land on a key differentiator. (p. 9)
She goes on to give a couple of examples. For Apple, people think about design. For Zappos, people instantly think about their stellar customer service.
Still with me?
Wiebe gives you five characteristics for a good value prop:
Now, I usually help people by having them to ask four questions
- Who am I? (most simple title)
- What do I do? (benefit)
- Who do I do it for? (target audience)
- How we do this?
Thing is, the value proposition you come up for your company and use for your homepage headline will be similar to what you use for your About Page.
The key comes back to differentiation.
Determining your differentiation is hard. There are a few you can as yourself that will help in that process.
I learned these questions from Marian Schembari in her guest post on About pages at KopywritingKourse blog: “What pisses you off about your industry?”
Another similar question is “What drives you crazy about your industry?”
Finally, a question that Schembari used that I really like is “What part of your industry do you want to see changed?”
Case Study Buddy does a great job of putting a value prop right at the top of their About Page (the call it “Why Us?”)
I may not have clarified anything for you here, nevertheless, I believe you start that About Page with a concise and clear headline.
I tell business owners, “When in doubt, be clear, not clever.”
Default to being clear. Think about your mission regarding your business. That’s a great place to begin.
Stake your claim and tell the world.
Tell the story; your story
Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush about this. People love stories.
There is actually scientific proof that storytelling changes us.
UC Berkeley Professor Dr. Paul J. Zak observed the reactions in the brain people have when watching a compelling story. One of the things his lab discovered was the release of oxytocin. Stories literally change the brain.
He writes in this article from 2013,
“We have identified oxytocin as the neurochemical responsible for empathy and narrative transportation. My lab pioneered the behavioral study of oxytocin and has proven that when the brain synthesizes oxytocin, people are more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate. I have dubbed oxytocin the ‘moral molecule,’ and others call it the love hormone. What we know is that oxytocin makes us more sensitive to social cues around us. In many situations, social cues motivate us to engage to help others, particularly if the other person seems to need our help.”
There is a change in the brain.
Dr. Zak is not the only professor to study storytelling. If you go a little bit down the road, you will find lots of content from Jennifer Aaker, Professor at Stanford.
“But research shows that our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories.”
I once heard a compelling presentation on using storytelling based on a video by Aaker.
According to Aaker, stories are Memorable, Impactful, and Personal.
Imagine adding your company story to your About Page. It is a chance to help your customers remember you, help them connect you personally, and finally, help them take action from its impact.
Don’t be vain about your page
Carly Simon said it best, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you. . . ” Well, you know how it goes.
In more recent years, singer Sarah Bareilles wrote the song King of Anything. Both songs talk about people who were self-absorbed.
Now, this is tricky.
After all, you are writing a page called the About Page. How do you do this and keep from sounding vain?
Remember, this page is really for your website visitors. So, as you share the page that tells them about your company, remember the goal.
Copywriter Henneke Duistermaat reminds us,
You might think your About page is about you and your company.
But your readers aren’t interested.
They want to know what you can do for them. How can you make them happier, richer, or more productive? Which problems can you take away? Which challenges can you help overcome?
One way to not do this is to use the word “I” and “We” a record number of times. One way to keep this on track is to start with your value proposition (see above).
Sure you are going to share your story, but it is only a part of the total page.
Another way you can keep this about your customer is to help them imagine a better version of themselves.
You don’t have to use the word imagine to help someone imagine a better life. Pam Wilson does this in her About Page at Big Brand System
The very first part of her blog is a call to grow your business. This ties in nicely with her free Online Business Success Roadmap offer.
Schembari talks about helping your reader imagine themselves in a different place.
She calls it the “Day Dream.” It is a little tactic that copywriters like to use.
She asks, “How will your reader’s life be different when they buy/read/subscribe? What does that perfect life look like?”
Your customer is the protagonist in this story and you are the guide helping them (see StoryBrand, Donald Miller).
My friend Jay is our plumber. Let’s use a plumber as an example.
Imagine coming home tired and aching from a hard day’s work. Imagine not waiting five minutes to get hot water to your bathroom for that much-needed bath. With a new, more powerful hot water heater, there will be no more waiting. Now, after a long hard day, when you want to relax, you don’t have to wait. Wouldn’t that be something to look forward to?
See, help them see a better situation. What do you help your customers do?
How can your customer see a better situation?
Give your page some personality
Giving your page some personality is another way of saying show you are human.
You might say, “But we are a company!” Of course, you are, but your reader is a human, not a sea of faceless bots. Besides, someone has to write your page, and they are human too.
We need to remember that behind everything in business, we are all humans.
And marketing, my friend Robert Cairns likes to remind me (quite often), is a series of relationships. So, how do you add a touch of humanity to your About Page?
Henneke Duistermaat calls it giving your About Page a sparkle. She gives three tips.
First, she advises a quick intro. She warns against calling yourself a guru or an authority,
“I’ve never called myself a marketing expert. Let alone a guru. I wouldn’t dare to. Instead, I show you what I know and how I can help you on my blog.”
If you want people to know you are good, then add credibility enhancers which is her third tip.
“Can you mention well-known clients or show the logos of publications you’ve appeared in? Or can specific details demonstrate your knowledge and expertise?” Enchanting Marketing
We usually refer to this as social proof, but either way, you can show you are an expert without saying it. Remember, show, don’t tell.
The second tip is one we will discuss a bit more later. She counsels us to add our mission. The fact is, I think it should be the core of your business manifesto, a term I learned from Henenek as well.
Your mission is based on your values as a company. It’s the same thing as knowing you why.
Adding personality can also be something as fun as an interesting fact section. Take a look at the Five Fun Facts About Brittany section for entrepreneur Brittany Hodak.
In this section, you learn a lot of interesting facts about Brittany showing her personality. You see her at her first job as a mascot, a picture with Dolly Parton, and one with her son.
Add a smidgen of credibility
Add a smidgen of credibility. Why? As we said above, you want people to know that you know what you are doing.
Our friend Hennek calls them credibility enhancers. You want just enough for people to trust you, but not too much to seem vain.
As we mentioned above, use a credibility enhancer instead of calling yourself an expert or guru.
Testimonials and logos to places you have been published make great credibility enhancers.
Have you won an award or written best seller book? There’s nothing wrong adding those.
Take a look at this section of the Drift’s About Page.
You can see a block of logos they use to showcase their customers. They also have a section that shows many of their awards.
The less known you are as a brand, the more you should think about adding some social proof. It can be one or two really good testimonials.
Amy Porterfield adds good credibility in a couple of places. First, she gives you a few facts about her including more fun things than businessy things.
Then she has a block that shows a few high profile places she has been featured
Likewise, WP Engine does a good job of adding credibility. Here you see three quotes from industry influencers in WordPress.
So, go ahead and add a smidgen of credibility. After all, you’ve earned it.
Explain your Why, your mission
Having a mission for you and your company is one of the most important things you can do.
The most charismatic person in the room is the one with a mission. People are attracted to that person. The same is true with a company.
In his book Persuasion Secrets of the World’s Most Charismatic & Influential Influencers, copywriter Ben Settle zeroes in on the mission.
The first chapter outlines exactly why a mission will make you a better villain.
“Put your mission first and you will automatically become a charismatic and influential mission. Just the decision to achieve a mission — and then working towards it each day — will set forces in motion that will change your life, and the lives of those your rule over.” (page 27)
You see, a mission is like a compass and it sets the direction for you and for your business.
I heard a not so audible voice a few years ago. It kept telling me “tell the story.” I really didn’t grasp what that was about. Over time I began to see the need for and the power of storytelling, not just in business, but in all aspects of life.
My friends who run Dave Creek Media has done a great job of showing their compass.
You can see them on their About Page, but they have had a sign up from day one for their own team.
Here are the values they operate by:
- Always Do The Right Thing, Always.
- Value People Over Profits
- Look For Ways To Exceed Expectations
- Put Yourself On The Client Side Of The Table
- Be Willing To Sign Your Name To Everything You Do
I always point to this as a great way to use values for a team.
Another way to share your mission –or your why– is to look at creating a business manifesto.
Basically, with a business manifesto, you create the document that spearheads your values and what you stand for as a business.
The Story Bistro blog explains that it gives your business clarity,
What I’m talking about here is clarity.
Clarity for you. Clarity for your potential customers.
And since we all know “Clarity is Power,” there’s no way this can’t be good for you.
If you look it up, the word “manifesto” has its roots in the Latin “manifestum,” which means clear or conspicuous. See?
Using a manifesto as a declaration of your values and beliefs helps you have clarity for the direction and decisions of your business.
Call them to act! Give them your best offer
Henneke says your About Page is a sales page. It’s hard to argue with that because you have their attention, you have told them who you are, and what it is you can do for them.
At this point, if everything is going well, you have built up your credibility and have your customer at the edge of making a decision.
In other words, they are warmed up.
In her article, Marian Schembari not only advocates for a call to action, but she also advocates for selling your best offer.
Schembari suggests asking this question:
Before you get overwhelmed, ask yourself: “What ONE thing do you want readers to do after reading your About page?” (Take “grow my list” off the table for a minute, because we’ll go into that later.)
I like the idea of including your best offering. Another option is to link to some of your best content. Regardless, the idea is to introduce them to something else, to more of what you have to offer.
Schembari also suggests having a final call to action for your email list.
On the About Page for Horizon Peak Consulting, you will see three calls to actions to get started using their premium service. You can see one of the CTAs in the section below.
At this point, you have convinced them that you can help them, so it’s time to get them on your list to get more of your information.
Imagine having some kind of premium content that your customer receives for signing up to your email list. It could be an email course, training, or some other kind of interactive content.
An About Page that does not try to get your reader to take an action is not an option for you.
Wrapping it up
As with any project, context means everything. You could put all of these elements in an About Page, but they may not all be necessary.
I see good About Pages every day that doesn’t contain all of these elements. However, your page will flow better when you lead with your value proposition.
I think at its core your About Page should contain your story, credibility, calls to actions, and a little personality.
If you start with these core elements and build on those, your About Page will become your secret weapon.