What’s the key to engaging potential customers?
Not really. Those things are useful too, but if you’re trying to help people with your product or service, the most persuasive tool you have is your sincerity.
I once worked on a course with a woman who wrote a promotional piece from her heart. It wasn’t entirely grammatically correct, it wasn’t optimized in any way, and it was even a little wordy — all things I normally help clients change. But in this case, her voice — and her love for the topic — came through so clearly that I recommended she not change a thing. She had feedback from a few friends that told her exactly how to rewrite it, and those suggestions took the heart right out of her piece. I advised her to revert to her original draft.
Why? Aren’t I always nattering on about the importance of proper grammar and punctuation? Well, yes, and I still believe that those things are important. But it’s even more important to show your readers where you’re coming from. What makes you passionate about what you do?
Here are some examples:
- Angela from Oh She Glows shares on her About page that she started her blog to write about her recovery from an eating disorder. Her passion for healthy food arises from this tender place — and readers can relate to that. In fact, Angela says that her relationship with readers all over the world has helped keep her on track with her dietary philosophy. Honesty and vulnerability connect with the heart much more effectively than our “expert voice” telling people what they should or should not be doing.
- Daniel and Kelli from Fitness Blender talk about their passion for affordable, simple exercise programs that are easily accessible to people of all income levels and states of fitness. They tell us how hard they’ve worked to achieve their dream of universal access to exercise programs people can do at home. They even cop to making their videos in their garage. All of this endears their readers to them. Who can resist this kind of dedication? Can you imagine how different it might feel if their About page just listed their qualifications as fitness instructors? Those credentials are there, but they’re not the story.
- In her course description, Karen Marston tells potential copywriting students exactly how she moved from working very hard for little money to working reasonable hours for good money. Her motivation for creating the course, “Start Content Writing” was a desire to see other writers value themselves as the professionals they are, just as she began to do. Her site, Untamed Writing, is devoted to improving the professional lives of writers, and writers believe her because she tells her story with unparalleled humor and frankness.
Each of these successful businesses has at its core a unique and honest voice. That’s what readers will connect with. So don’t sanitize. Don’t try to make your About page appeal to everyone. Tell your story. Show who you really are and why you’re doing what you do. Those who resonate with it will love you, try your product or service, and come back for more. Sure, there will be those who’ll shy away for one reason or another, but they probably would never be your kind of customers anyway.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you set out to write your About page (which might not actually be on your About page — put it where it feels most pertinent):
- Why am I taking the risk to start/continue this business?
- What problems am I working to help solve?
- Why are these things so important to me?
- Now go deeper with that last question: really, why?
- What have I sacrificed to create this business?
- Have I been (or have any of my loved ones been) where my potential customers are now? What’s the story behind that?
- What would the world be like if everyone used my product or service?
- What is my dearest hope related to my business?
Hopefully, these questions will help you open up to your potential clients so they begin to trust your motives. Write from the heart. Write your truth. And then edit, just a little.
Want me to take a look at what you’ve come up with? I have a good ear for sincerity! Send me what you’ve got, and we’ll see if you’re balancing vulnerability and competence in a way that feels real and trustworthy.