Have you heard of VidHug?
It’s such a cool product: It allows you to easily stitch together videos from a group of people to send a meaningful message to a friend or relative for a special occasion, like their birthday. It’s easy to use and solves a major pain point, especially during the pandemic when we can’t all get together.
I so enjoyed the experience of using this product that I wanted to learn more about the company and look for other ways to support it. But when I went to the website to learn about the founder and why he created this product, I came up empty. (Note: The company’s website has since been updated. More on that below.)
I had the same experience after discovering Maple, a parenting software that launched recently with TechCrunch buzz and $3.5 million in funding. It already has a Career page, an FAQ and links to social channels with hundreds of followers. But even with a bit of digging on the website, I couldn’t find what I was looking for: information on who started the company, and why.
In an economy where consumers have lots of choices, most of us buy from companies we want to support. Of course, the product itself has to be high quality. But equally important in our decision-making process are the people behind the product.
We choose to spend money with companies because we like the people who run them. We like their character, their mission, their worldview. We like what they stand for. We connect with them on some level. And even though, in most cases, we don’t know them personally, we trust them.
Small businesses are often underdogs, but this is one area where you can rival the big companies: You have a personal story to tell. (Big companies do, too, but it tends to get buried over time.)
As a founder, you have a huge opportunity to create a connection and foster trust. But if you don’t share your story and make it easy to find, potential customers won’t even have a chance to like you.
Now, I don’t want to pick on VidHug and Maple; I chose these examples because they’re brilliant products I want to see succeed. And I know when you build a company from scratch, there’s always more to do and never enough time to do it all. Founders have to prioritize, and that means actively letting go of important things to focus on the more important things.
But that’s exactly why I believe companies should prioritize sharing their stories, because it offers a high return on investment.
Publish this story once, and you’ll gain trust over and over from everyone who visits your site, actively building your customer base without lifting a finger.
Before you get nervous about creating an About page if you’re not a writer, here’s a simple solution: hire a copywriter to do it. Any good copywriter should be able to help you tell your story, either by ghost-writing it for you or using your draft as a starting point. It’s a cost, yes, but a one-time fee with high ROI.
If you’re keen to write it yourself, here’s how to take your About page from good to great.
If you ask Google how to write an About page, you’ll find tons of advice, so I won’t repeat it here. What I want to emphasize is this:
1. You should have an About page. Don’t overlook it.
And even more importantly…
2. The page should focus more on your story and the people behind the company than the product itself.
Too many companies make the mistake of using their About page to tell the reader about their product, rather than digging into the “why” behind the company.
While it makes sense to include a sentence or two that describes your product, you’ll get the most lift from focusing on the people who are building it — and why.
Try shifting your mindset around the purpose of this page. Think of it as an “Our Story” page rather than an “About” page. You might even title it “Our Story.”
Answer questions like:
You don’t have to share all of your darkest secrets, but push yourself to get a little vulnerable. You want the reader to feel like they know you, and you can’t achieve that feeling without sharing a little about who you are. Show them you’re human, that you have hopes and dreams like the rest of us.
If you have even more in common with your typical user, share that, too. Many founders create a product or service because it solves a personal pain point. Sharing that pain point and how you set out to solve it shows you understand your users’ needs. It shows you are, in some way, one of them — and that they can trust you.
Of course, the story you share needs to be genuine and authentic. A reverse-engineered story that doesn’t feel honest could do more harm than good.
Some companies don’t share their stories because they worry it will make them look small. But that’s actually an advantage. To a potential customer, a “small” business feels reachable. Accessible. Human. Create that point of connection with your user, and they will reward you for it.
If getting this personal feels a little uncomfortable, that’s normal, and you should do it anyways. It can be a big jump to go from talking about something you built to sharing who you are. Even if you’re proud of what you’ve built, who you are is far more meaningful, and sharing something that significant can feel risky. I suspect that’s why some companies use their About pages to focus on the product instead. But without a human connection, that page feels flat and unsatisfactory. It’s a missed opportunity.
If you’re a media company or editorial operation, you have another opportunity here, too: to share your standards for content creation. Tell the reader how you gather information, and how you ensure its accuracy. Your goal remains the same: to help the reader trust you.
3. Make your About page easy to find.
Finally, once you write your story, don’t bury it.
Make it easy to find by adding a link to the footer of your website, where people are accustomed to looking when they want more information. And in the early days when you’re working hard to build trust, you might even add it to the top navigation, too.
This post wouldn’t be complete without an example. And let me tell you, good ones are hard to find.
So I’m happy to point you to VidHug, the company I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
With some obsessive Googling and tracking the founder on social media, I eventually found the company’s origin story. It was a good anecdote: The founder had “the greatest mom ever” and wanted to surprise her on her 70th birthday with a virtual group hug, so he built the first iteration of his product.
While I was writing this on this blog post, VidHug launched its new website. And look how prominently it showcases the story and the people behind the company!
Click About in the top navigation, and you get this amazing headline:
You don’t need to have a brilliant headline like VidHug, but make an effort to tell your story.
Pull back the curtain and tell potential customers more about the people behind the product.
Give us the chance to get to know you and like you, and we’ll be more likely to want to buy from you, too.