Yes, but WHO ARE YOU?
I'm thinking of buying your product or service. It's a fairly serious decision, and I'm weighing a bunch of tradeoffs. One of my questions, given that I will be trusting you with parts of my life that matter to me, is, Who are you?
As I visit websites that came up in my Google search, after I see that you make what I want, I click on the ABOUT section and look for the Management page.
What do I get?
Corporate blather. No pictures. Not a single hint as to who you really are, what really gets you up in the morning, what kind of team you have built, what led you to this business, and how passionate you are about taking care of customers. Most importantly, the pictures are missing. I need to SEE who you are, and I can only do that with a picture.
There are three places/ways in your website where you can prove to me that you are smart and professional, that you are in it for the long run, that you are not hiding anything, and that you are not going to do something stupid or sinister with my data: the About section, the CEO blog, and videos.
If you don't have pictures on your About section, you are flunking the first test - and I guarantee that there are times when customers come to your site, ready to buy, and decide to leave because you have not revealed who you are.
What follows are some examples that will help you to fix the problems with your About page, suggestions about videos, and a solution to the "I'd love to do a CEO blog but I don't have time" dilemma.
About page examples:
Here's the usual - in what is otherwise a nicely laid-out page. I don't learn anything new about this company reading this copy. Most of the page is a re-hash of content I could find elsewhere on the site. Note that this is an outsourcing company, which has an extra-high trust barrier that must be overcome. All the more reason to show pictures of the folks who created and now run this company.
Salesforce.com is a very successful cloud company, as we all know. Their About > Leadership page is very good - with pictures and detailed bios, all accessible through in-page links. (It's better to list all the pictures and bios on one page, rather than making the visitor click on each person, go to a page with that one person, then have to click back to go to the next person. Minimize clicks!)
If you're selling in the cloud, it's even more important to show who you are. Virtual companies don't have the burden - and stability - imposed by the possession of physical assets. It's too easy for you to take the money and run, over the short or long term. So the big questions in the buyer's mind are "How long are these people going to be around? If I start running my business on their platform, will they remain stable and viable?" The About section has to work overtime to allay those concerns.
The CEO Blog
Trying to find out who you are includes figuring out how you think - and what you think about.
How helpful are those thoughts to me, your potential customer? Are you thinking about and doing things that will make my life easier? A good way to answer this question is to read the company's blog. One of the best CEO blogs - which is actually shared by the COO and the CEO - is the Zappos CEO/COO blog:
If you're the CEO - or you work for a CEO - who hasn't been able to get the blog thing going, I have a suggestion for you. I recently became aware of Steve O'Keefe, who provides a news-driven blogging service for busy executives. Steve's company is called Six Estate and the service is called "newsblogging." What happens is he finds an expert in your industry - someone who is really steeped in the field, often a journalist - to work with the CEO.
The newsblogger goes out and finds articles of interest to the CEO's customers, and summarizes them (and the reactions they're getting) on the company blog. CEOs can add commentary to the news stories, or suggest stories to the newsblogger, but no matter what, the team gets the news out every day. This is really cool because it helps keep the CEO's ideas and thoughts out there on a regular basis. The CEO can also take what the journalist has found or posted and use it to create his/her own posts, when inspired.
Even a short video will help the website visitor get a sense of the leader running the company. Again, formal corporate videos are really falling flat these days. Informal and personal is much better. One of my favorite CEO videos is this one from Jeff Bezos. (If you're reading this in the email I sent you, just click on the link - and ignore the white space below :-) - thx).
When people buy something from you, they're not just buying a product. They're buying you and your company. Given the sophisticated scams that litter the airwaves, and the high cost of regretting a purchase, buyers are more cautious than ever. Don't hide behind corporate speak. Show yourself to your buyers, with a picture, a bio, a blog, and a video.
Doing this will make sure that the buyer who comes looking sticks around gets that all important "Who are you?" question answered - and brings you on their buying process journey.