My 13 year old daughter would hate me for telling you this, but she has a beautiful singing voice. She often performs mini concerts at home to immediate family and to close friends. Her voice is rich, warm and soulful.
So why is that when she’s asked to sing in front of a “strange” audience, her palms get sweaty, her timing suffers and her voice sounds weaker than usual. No doubt it’s mostly down to nerves, but there’s also a deep-rooted, primitive desire not to make fools out of ourselves or attract negative comments.
The irony is of course that when we start worrying about these external factors, we become self-conscious and the physical effects of nervous tension can impact neagtively on our performance.
Extending this analogy a little, imagine you’re at a party and happen to be talking to a Director of a successful company that withstood the recession. Now, pretend the wine is going down well and you’re both over the initial hesitancy which comes when meeting someone new at an informal gathering. You’ve gone over some mundane topics, but your interest switches to the company your new friend is Director of and you ask him or her to tell you about the company and how it continued to grow despite the economic turmoil. Depending of course on how engaged you both are with the conversation and the conviviality of the evening, you may well get an insightful, animated response with a few inspiring and possibly humorous anecdotes. Now, imagine that same Director at a Marketing meeting and being asked to write some content for the company website “About Us” page and maybe an article or two for the new company blog. In most cases, what the Director comes up with will probably be informal, full of corporate babble and completely unengaging.
Why do companies find it so difficult to produce web content people want to read?
Invariably, when you ask someone within a company to write content for a website, they feel the pressure of producing something which won’t harm the brand or offend in anyway. This means they end up producing something inoffensive and uncontroversial which they think appeals to everyone – current clients, future clients, staff, potential investors etc. A bit like the corporate version of beige tiles.
The problem is, when you start thinking your audiences as anonymous entities you end up producing content which lacks in personality and ends up appealing to no-one (apart from maybe the Executive Board). I’ve said it so often now it’s getting boring, but it’s truer than ever – people do business with people, not some anonymous corporate entity.
In today’s competitive marketplaces, the most sucessful companies are those who recognise that they must display the human side to their business to reflect their ethos, values and personalities. This creates an immediate bond with the reader who “gets” what the company is about and may be an important tool in turning the visitor into a customer.
So what should you do next?
Take a long, hard look at your company website’s “About Us” page. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just come across your site and wants to get a feel for how you do business. Would they get a true reflection of your company values by reading the page? Will they get excited by what they read and understand how you’re different from others in your industry? Be honest and self-critical otherwise the exercise is pointless.
Below are some examples of great about us pages which might inspire you:
External link to a brilliant article explaining some of these points in more detail and includes some practical suggestions for creating a customer-orientated about us page: How to create an effective about us page