Is your “About Us” page boring the pants off your customers? Does your company intro scare off investors? Is your mission statement getting eye rolls from the most qualified, hard-working job candidates?
Some of the most successful business owners in the world are lousy at telling their own brand story. In fact, the more laser focused executives are on the needs of their company, the harder it is for them to explain what and why they do what they do.
If you’re at a cocktail party and you ask a typical small business owner why their company exists, most can’t give you a straight answer. They’ll ramble on about company history, shoot off a bunch of jargon, or brag about sales records.
Here’s the secret to getting people to actually listen to your company story: Make it about them. Not about you.
Find your hero
But, you ask, how can you make your brand story about your customer, rather than about yourself? How can you write an “About Us” page that features customers? You make your customer the hero.
Yes, you’re in this story—you and your employees are in critical supporting roles. But it’s the customer who chooses your product or service, fixes a problem with your help, and earns the applause.
Every time you say “we” or “I” or “me,” you ignore your audience a bit. You can’t completely avoid talking about your company—hey, this is your place to shine!—but put your audience in your brand story every chance you can.
3 easy steps to creating a brand story with heroic customers
- Begin your “About Us” story with a problem your customers need to solve.
- Show your customers how your company can solve this problem and how customers like them have solved this problem.
- Finally, show the happy ending of the story—how your customers’ lives will change by using your solution and how their success will help others.
Learn how to tell an interesting story
All too many corporate “About Us” pages begin with a long-ago date, some obscure names, and maybe a place or two.
Take this typical example.
“Back in 1999, Joe Hammond opened a metal tooling shop on 2nd street. By 1985, his business had expanded, and he moved the business to the third floor of the canning warehouse on 3rd Avenue. In 2002, Joe’s brother-in-law Fred joined the company.”
What’s missing from this story? Well, several things are needed: there isn’t a problem to overcome, and there’s nothing about the customer—that heroic NASCAR racer who bought custom parts from Joe’s shop to build his winning car.
Good stories need a problem, some action, and a resolution. So, when you tell your brand story, make sure you have all the essential parts. It doesn’t need to be long, but it needs a hero, and it’s got to have some action.
Get an outsider’s view
A business owner knows the business better than anyone—that’s why they founded the company in the first place. But here’s the rub: they know the business too well. They’re so hyper-aware of all the ins and outs of the business that it’s tough to edit it down and show only the good parts, without being obvious about the fact that they’re only sharing the good parts.
I have interviewed hundreds of business owners, and one of the most consistent problems is that they can’t explain their business succinctly in layman’s terms. Maybe they pepper their listener with jargon to sound smart and run down the competition with every breath, or maybe they forget what it’s like to be a customer who just needs a quick solution to a problem without learning all the nitty-gritty details.
Talk to people outside your company and get opinions on how your brand story sounds. Ask them to highlight things they don’t understand, parts where they get bored, or jargon they’re not familiar with. If possible, hire a writer outside your company to craft your brand story.
Make your story short
Remember to keep your brand story short and concise. You can make a long version of the company history for yourself, which includes all the details. But your customers don’t need the long version. They don’t need to hear about how you formed the business or that time you almost lost it before the investors stepped in—they need to know that you understand their problems and you have the expertise to fix things.
When you learn how to explain your business in a few short sentences, you make it easy for customers to choose you. You increase the chance that you’ll be heard and understood wherever you go.
Launch your winning brand story into the world
Once you’ve developed a concise brand story that shows how you can solve your customer’s problems, it’s time to share it. Add it to your website. Use it in press releases and in catalogs. Let your brand story influence your company mission and values, and make it short enough that all of your employees can learn it and tell it to customers.
As you let the brand story permeate your company, you’ll start seeing results. You’ll find yourself spending less time educating customers on your services and more time closing sales and delivering solutions.