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Is Your 'About Us' Page Effective?

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • Four must-have components of an effective About Us page
  • How to assess your page's content compared with your competitors'

For a small B2B business, the second most important page on its website after its homepage is probably its "About Us" page. That is because smaller companies are typically lesser-known, and would-be customers often see them as a gamble. And unless their prices are considerably low, small businesses can be overlooked in favor of their larger, more-established competitors.

The "About Us" page is a business's chance to stake its claim as a viable player in the space. To accomplish that successfully, the business needs a powerful and succinct elevator pitch (positioning statement) and supporting key messages. An enormous marketing opportunity is lost when those key elements are missing from the "About Us" page—which is a logical destination for many who have become intrigued by a provider's product or service offerings.

Winning Formula

A proven, highly effective formula can help you craft the content for your own "About Us" page. It includes the following:

  1. A 35-word elevator pitch that tells visitors what type of business you are, what you offer, who you are targeting, what makes you special, and what value you provide
  2. Your most differentiating key message about your unique experience, skills, product or service, customer base, etc.
  3. Your second most differentiating key message about your unique experience, skills, product or service, customer base, approach or technique, etc.
  4. A brief company description explaining who you are, where you're based, how long you've been in business, what your philosophy or business promise is, what the highlights of your experience have been, etc.

Many small businesses—even large ones, for that matter—fall into the trap of including only number four, the brief company description, on their "About Us" pages. That is a big mistake and a prime branding opportunity lost.

Make the most of that precious real estate, and use it to back up the claims and pitch you make on your homepage and to set yourself apart from the competition. When developing that important text, imagine that your homepage and "About Us" page are the only two pages a site visitor will see. That will help you include all of the important differentiation needed for a well-constructed "About Us" page.

How to Determine the Effectiveness of Your "About Us" Page

Once you have drafted your "About Us" page, print it and lay it next to printouts of your competitors' "About Us" pages. Carefully compare each one as though you were a potential customer. Then, prepare a spreadsheet and display the different vendors' copy, column by column, starting with your own. If you have substantial text, you may want to take only the first several paragraphs because that is all a potential customer will read anyway.

Then, carefully analyze and dissect each one, vendor by vendor and according to a set of key variables. Please note, however, that most will not be following the winning formula you just learned—positioning statement, key message, key message, company description. Therefore, you may need to hunt around to identify those components.

To conduct your analysis, you need to ask yourself the following four questions. At the end of each item, you will find an italicized word or phrase; those are the variables to place in the rows on your spreadsheet.

  1. What main claim of differentiation is the company making? In other words, is the business saying it has the world's only two-part widget, for example, or is it saying it is the industry's least-expensive provider? Whatever the company is hanging its hat on is its main differentiator. Call that row "Primary Differentiator" on your spreadsheet.
  2. What secondary claims is the company making? So, if the widget company states it has a two-part widget, look for follow-on messages that support that claim. Do that for as many secondary claims or messages you can identify. There may be many, or there may be none. On subsequent rows, label those "Secondary Message 1," "Secondary Message 2," and so on.
  3. Who is the provider targeting? Said another way, Who is the target buyer? Are they small business owners, large organizations, teenagers? Call that row "Target Buyer" on your spreadsheet. For multiple targets, capture all of them in the same cell of the spreadsheet.
  4. What value/benefit is the competitor promising? It could be something as clearly defined as "helping businesses increase operational efficiency." However, it might be poorly written as an inherent benefit that you must infer. Here is an example: "We are the world's largest cardboard-box supplier for pizza shops." The benefit (albeit, not effective at all) would be the ability to supply pizza shops with all the boxes they need. Label those benefits as "Value" on your spreadsheet.

Now that you have a nicely laid-out spreadsheet that compares the content of your "About Us" page with that of your competitors', conduct an apples-to-apples comparison, variable by variable. By the end, you can determine just how well your page stacks up.

As a final check, put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyer and ask yourself which provider you would choose. If you like your answer, you have an effective page. If you do not like your answer, go back to the drawing board and draft something that makes your business stand out.

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Kevin B. Levi of Winning Message LLC is an accomplished brand positioning professional and author of Differentiate or Diminish and Selling Your Distinction.

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  • by Sally Erickson Mon Oct 3, 2011 via web

    Sorry, Kevin, I can't agree. This is NOT another marketing page; this is a "get real" page, a get personal page where prospects go to see if there is a face behind the marketing. More marketing is not going to do that.

  • by Sandra Beckwith Mon Oct 3, 2011 via web

    I would add that very small businesses, in particular, should have information about the company's leaders and their background/experience/expertise on this page. It boosts credibility and helps prospects see that there's someone of substance behind the words.

  • by Ford Kanzler Mon Oct 3, 2011 via web

    Agree that companies both small and large very often miss nailing any differentiation at all on their About page as well as anywhere else. The method I use is getting management to address the 7 Key Questions, borrowed from Harry Beckwith's highly recommended Harry "Selling the Invisible." These are:
    1. Who are you?
    2. What business are you in?
    3. For whom? (What people do you serve?)
    4. What need? (What are the special needs of the people you serve?)
    5. Against whom? (With whom are you competing?)
    6. What's different? (What attribute, important to customers)
    makes you different from those competitors?)
    7. So: What single, unique benefit does a customer derive from your products or services?
    Gaining management agreement on these question helps drive a differentiated communications strategy. Developing a positioning statement and key messages from the responses is a key factor and where special talents are valuable. The hard part, aside from getting adequate participation and agreement (I've had yelling contests occur), is enforcing and applying the strategy by keeping tactical actions going in the strategic direction.
    I go into this in greater depth in my just-published book, "Connecting the Mind and Voice of Business." Its available now in print and digitally. Your book is similarly titled to Jack Trout's "Differentiate or Die" another highly relevant book I recommend to any marketer looking to get it right.

  • by Jake Jordan Mon Oct 3, 2011 via web

    I would agree with Sally halfway. This is the opportunity to come out from behind the curtain. The trick though is to give your USP in a way that is personal and approachable though with some humor or less formal language.

    Some of the best About Us pages I've ever read have an incredible personal story about the business or person running it.

    Point being the personal story engages, then the emotions are directed to why that makes this person, the person to buy from.

  • by Joe Tue Oct 4, 2011 via web

    I would hope that you hit most of these points before users ever get to your about page. An about page is a great place to show users the face behind the product or service that you offer. For example, a pest control company would do well to include a photo and the name of the pest controller that will respond to a customer's order. I wrote an article last week about how to optimize your site here

  • by RMSorg - WallStreetBranding Thu Oct 13, 2011 via web

    All very informative and constructive comments.. I enjoyed the article and think we can all come away with great improvements on our About Us Page that will help us to stand out from the rest, amidst all noise, we need to stand out!

    I love what Sandra & Jake said about transparency and credibility!

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