Your website and how it would change if it had an "About You" section rather than "About Us"

"Nobody cares about your products and services (except you)." I believe this deliberately polemic assertion from David Meerman Scott is spot on. OK, you could possibly exempt shareholders and fellow employees too, but the implication stands. Moreover, saying "Nobody cares about your products and services (except you and the shareholders and fellow employees)" isn't quite so catchy!

Think about it. When you bought that Philips TV, did you really care about Philips and its product range? No, you cared about the aesthetics of your living room, the sound and picture quality you'd experience, the screen size that would work with your space and furniture, and the hit to your bank balance.

When you were tendering your PR contract, you didn't care about agency X or consultancy Y per se, you were focused on your personal and organisational objectives. How could your organisation communicate and come across better than it did? How could you exert influence in your noisy marketplace? How could you get that promotion or pay rise, or both? In fact, I bet the agency you hired talked more about you in the pitch than they did about themselves.

So, on that basis, why does your website have an "About us" section, or equivalent, but not an "About you"? Not only is the latter missing entirely from most websites, it should actually take priority over the former if you think the last three paragraphs rang true.

Of course, developing content for an "About you" section is harder, because there are more types of "you" than there are "us". Not only that, but you probably know "us" much better than "you". But that shouldn't deter you, it should excite you.

You see, if you can better relate to visitors to your website, then they feel more confident that yours is the organisation that can help them best with their needs, their challenges, their desires, their pain points. I would claim without hesitation that they are more likely to pick up the phone or place the order with you. (And whilst I'm on the topic of telephones, you know that marvellous device with which you can actually speak to people, PUT YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER ON EVERY PAGE! Sorry to shout, but why put another click or series of clicks between you and a conversation with a prospective customer?)

Site structure

Hopefully, I've excited you to get together with some colleagues to have a think about "About you", and, if I may anticipate where that might lead in just one regard, you will come round to looking at your site's overall structure.

If you have an incredibly simple proposition with one tightly defined stakeholder / prospect, then you won't need to review the website structure, but most organisations have at least four or five and usually seven or more kinds of visitors to their websites that might include:

  • Current customers
  • Prospective customers
  • Suppliers
  • Prospective suppliers
  • Partners
  • Prospective partners
  • Employees
  • Past employees / alumni
  • Prospective employees
  • Shareholders
  • Prospective shareholders
  • The local community / neighbourhood
  • Industry analysts and researchers
  • Journalists
  • Bloggers and pundits
  • Competitors

You will need to prioritise your "About you" types, and then ask yourself, if I was a supplier / prospective customer / employee / journalist, what would I need? What are my challenges and problems? What are my pain points? And you know what, if you can't answer these questions, just get on the phone and ask them. Talk to your HR department and your sales team and your community liaison and your product engineers.

You can almost envisage a homepage then that simply asks the visitor to declare who they are. You might have six categories, and a seventh catchall. You can then look to deliver that individual a website experience tailored to their needs, which serves them much better and therefore serves you much better too. Not wishing to get into the technical details of website systems and design here, but as modern websites clearly demarcate content, structure, function and style, you won't be needing to do six times the amount of work to serve a website to six categories of visitors.

And don't just skip over competitors. Why? Every visitor is a unique human being, not a faceless organisation, and if hiring is tight in your industry you should be looking to convert this party into the prospective employee category of visitor. And simply saying "Welcome competitors, how may we help?", conveys a certain confidence of purpose to other visitors wouldn't you agree?!

There are more challenges waiting to tantalise in this review of course, but I believe this is one of the most valuable projects any CMO or Marketing Director can conduct. It is an illuminating process, but most importantly it is one that should have clear ROI type metrics associated with it.

I'd love to know how you get on.