“I Read Your About Page, But I Still Don’t Know What the Heck You Do”

By Bill Grover

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Hmm.. What is he trying to tell me

Isn’t it maddening to spend the time reading part of a home page, get interested enough to read the entire About Page and yet still do not know what a company does? So many companies fall for beautiful writing and lofty ideas but somehow never get around to tell you what they do or how to do business with them.

Here is one perfect example of a website that is self-absorbed in biz-speak that even Sherlock Holmes would have a tough time finding clues to the purpose of this business. After reading the home page, I was still in the dark about what they do so, naturally, I click on About Page expecting my fog of ignorance to vanish with the light of knowledge.  The headline promised an answer to my question, but the copy did not deliver. Take a look.

” Why CAKE for Restaurants? – Passion can drive us to take on difficult initiatives. It is what allows us to persevere where others may not. It is what allows us to overcome big obstacles and achieve our dreams. Passion is also what drives most restaurant owners to start a restaurant. …”

Ok, technically it’s a blog and maybe not intended to sell you anything, but I was on the About Page, and I found nothing “about” the business! What is the point of posting anything if it does not build your brand or educate your customers about your business.

When you want to tell your prospects about your product or business, speak plainly using as little jargon as possible. Speak to your intended audience in a way they would normally speak. If you sell complex systems, it is even more advantageous for you to simplify each and every benefit.

At times, the end user and the buyer are two different people. If your message is confusing or hard to understand they will go to your competitor’s site for the information.

“The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning.” Stephen King – On Writing

Your Target Audience May Not Have Your Level of Comprehension

You need to simplify the complex message. Otherwise, your message will be rejected or ignored; you will lose the opportunity to engage your audience.

Explain technical terms and write out acronyms. Do whatever you must to make your product or services understood by everyone. You will make more sales because you are reaching a larger audience. The buyer might not be the end user of your product. He or she may be someone tasked with gathering the information. If they don’t know what you are saying, they will walk away. Don’t confuse readers and require them to spend more time trying to understand your sentences rather than your ideas.

Instead of using sentences like, “From our core, cloud-based, modularized software infrastructure, to looking past just being a point-of-sale company, we’ve built a suite of technology operating products including guest list management, online ordering, analytics and consumer apps.”

Perhaps this might be clearer.

“We provide more than POS systems. Our company offers many restaurant management solutions such as:

  • Guest List Management
  • Online Ordering
  • Restaurant performance Analytics
  • Consumer Friendly ”

This sentence, “Prioritize staff diversity to get the collective wisdom of many,” was part of a company description.  I don’t know what they are trying to say so I would rather not guess at interpretation. And this is the whole point of my rant. Do you want your prospects guessing at what you are trying to say?

Three Ways to Simplify Your Message

Think about these tips the next time you craft a message:

1.      Address Customer Problems

Your prospects are looking for solutions and information. Tell them how you can fix their problems and how you have helped others. Leave the details and features for later. Use proper keywords to help others find you such as “Conveyor Belt Repair” or “Controlling All Restaurant Costs.”

If your product has multiple solutions, bundle two or three in a headline then add details later on the page or deeper on the website.

2.      Reduce the Useless Verbiage

Here is a real example of using too many words. This example comes from a marketing company’s portfolio touting their expertise of marketing a craft brewery expo.

(Our company) created a multi-channel campaign that put checks in all the boxes: conveying the event’s positioning, key value proposition and overarching benefits of participation in an authentic tone and visual style that appealed to the psychographics of craft beverage producers.”

How many times have you ever used the word “psychographics” in a sentence? Would the previous description compel you to use their services?

Check your website and marketing materials to see if you can clean out any dead wood from your paragraphs.

3.      Communicate Using “Stepping Stones.”

Think of communicating to your clients like trying to cross a wide stream and the other side is where they buy from you. If there are no stepping stones to get them from here to there, they will walk away and look for another way to cross (your competition). So you need to lay down stepping stones to guide your prospects “across the stream” and buy from you.

  1. Start with a promise or the big picture of the problems you can solve. “One Easy to Use Tool Will Manage Your Entire Restaurant.”
  2. Then give your prospects a way to find more information (another stepping stone) by clicking a link. “Click here for technical specifications.”
  3. Ask them to buy or whatever call to action you want them to do. Be Specific. Use a big, juicy “Click here now to order”

Email marketing uses the same technique of feeding bits of information a little at a time. Your website should offer the big picture on the home page then have more technical information and detailed features deeper into your site. This way they absorb your information at their pace and interested in keeping going (crossing the stream with the stones you laid out for them).

“Clarity in professional writing is a matter that depends on more than merely a writer’s level of skill. First, mature writers can write badly for different reasons confusion about a subject, in­ sufficient time to revise, carelessness, entrenched bad habits, sheer incompetence.” – Excerpt from Style Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams

The Simple Clarity of an Elevator Pitch

Some of you know what an elevator pitch is. It is a short explanation of your business that you could tell someone in the short time it takes to ride in an elevator. Can you tell someone what you do in two to three sentences? Start there and work in the details as your prospects gain interest.

For example, if I want to tell people what I do, I say, “I am a copywriter who writes promotional material for companies in the food industry.” It is short and to the point.  If I would rather confuse people, then I could say, “I am a correspondent and scribe who enhances and facilitates commerce between one commercial establishment and another with minimal obfuscation of verbiage in a variety of digital and print media.”

Vague Writing is a Waste of Everyone’s Time and Money

As a copywriter who writes sales material, vague messages frustrates me. It’s a waste of everyone’s effort, resources and the most important of all the message is lost. So the moral of this story is, if you have something to say, keep your message simple so that you will keep your intended audience interested.

 

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