Remember the mad scientists of the Middle Ages who thought they could turn common elements into gold if they just got the chemistry right?
To a certain extent, marketers are still practicing alchemy today, and nowhere is the formula more elusive than it is on your “About” page. This is the ultimate laboratory, where words and images are supposed to produce a chemical reaction in the visitor’s brain. When it works — pure gold. But it doesn’t work very often.
With that in mind, I thought I’d start a weekly series on “About” pages that do work, hoping to analyze some of the ingredients that go into the perfect page. I won’t cover my own clients, since that would be a conflict of interest. If I include someone here, it’s because their page worked its magic on me — and might just serve as a model for you.
First victim: Aaron Biebert (@biebert), whom I just discovered this week on Twitter. His whole blog is intensely personal and revealing, and the “About” page is no exception. If your business depends on a deep, personal connection with customers, then Aaron’s page could well serve as a template:
- He starts with an attention-getting lead: “I’ve dedicated my life to giving away a Billion dollars and making a difference in the world.” Stops you in your tracks and practically forces you to click on the link, right? Aaron’s actually taking a bit of a gamble here. His claim could come across as braggadocio, but he quickly tempers it with a welcome dose of humility: “Since I didn’t start with much, I’ve got a long way to go. That’s why I usually work until 2am each night.”
- He respects his readers’ time. Above the fold is an executive summary that’s barely 100 words long. If you’re in a hurry, you get the quick version of what drives Aaron and what his blog is all about. The typical “resume” section gets pushed to the end. Very smart, very efficient.
- He writes from the heart. Some “About” pages are cool and impersonal. Some are actually written in the third person, which is downright frigid. By contrast, look at the warmth of Aaron’s page. He chooses words that convey his personality: love, passionate, optimist, inspired. Admittedly, that won’t appeal to everyone; cynics may find the tone annoying. But Aaron doesn’t want cynics in his tribe, so that’s okay. Attraction and alienation are two sides of the same coin, and it’s always better to focus on the former.
One other thing: Notice that Aaron breaks the oldest rule of selling by never asking for the sale. Other than a simple link to “like us on Facebook,” there’s no call to action here. He alludes to writing, speaking and consulting, but you won’t find a button to “Buy my e-book!” or “Schedule your consultation!”
“My goal for this page is to let people inside what I’m thinking and give them a vision for where I’m going,” Aaron told me. “I intentionally don’t sell anything because I’m trying to connect with people, not sell them anything. If they really like what you’re about, they’ll call themselves to action. That’s what I was going for.”
Is that a good thing? I’m not sure it’s a smart strategy for every business, but the low-key approach does help Aaron stand out from the crowd. By not asking for the sale, he helps to lower my defenses and raise my curiosity.
Personally, I just want to buy the guy a cup of coffee and pick his brain. And after the coffee, I’d probably sign up for whatever he’s selling.
By the way, Aaron is a terrific writer, so he makes this look effortless. But don’t be fooled. The current page is “version 3.1,” and he spent about 2 hours perfecting what you see here.
The lesson: A good “About” page should grow and mature — just like the person behind it.
What do you think? Does Aaron’s page make you feel connected to him? What is it in particular that really works here? And what do you think of his soft-sell approach?
Finally, I need your help in identifying other “About” pages that work. Please drop me a line or post your links below. We’ll be back next week with another installment.
Photo credit: petercat.harris via flickr CC
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