One of the golden rules – for any kind of writing – is asking yourself if what you want to say is what anyone really wants to hear. A good copywriter has to ask this question continuously of his or her own writing, and be wary of what clients think people are remotely interested in…
Harsh, maybe. But fair. We have to put ourselves in the reader’s shoes, and cut to the chase with the key messages before something more interesting catches their attention. Do they really want to know when a company was founded, when it moved offices and changed its name? Who the chairman was in 1978? The finer details of a business’ brand values, and how they ‘underpin the customer journey’.
The ‘About us’ section is a staple of most company websites. And yes – in some cases, visitors will have a quick peek for insights into size, structure, growth, longevity, stability and so on. Often, though – and especially when this features in brochures and other customer-facing literature – it can come across as corporate narcissism. As somewhere for senior management to tell everyone how impressed they are with themselves. Which is pretty counter-productive, and can turn readers away in their droves.
So what’s the remedy?
You might have a fight on your hands to discard or reduce the guff senior managers want to see, but it makes a lot of sense when you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, like a copywriter always will.
All people really want to know are the basics: Have these guys been around long enough to know their stuff? Do they seem like a responsible, reasonable bunch to work with? Do they care more about their customers than how great their company is? And crucially, the answers should be implicit in how you communicate, not explicit in boring detail.