It has always been popular to be seen as a big established business. Even if you have a small team or you’re a one man band, people tend to exaggerate the size of their organisation in an effort to be seen as trustworthy and capable.
You see this all the time, small businesses using stock images of smiley, shiny people in board rooms. You see fluffy jargon and taglines on their website like, “We’ll help you prosper”. They use words like “solutions” and “consultancy” all the time, when they might just be “Steve” who works from his home office and helps people save money on their mortgage.
This kind of tactic might have worked well ten years ago but not anymore. Your customers can spot bullshit a mile off, and it’s time to start doing things differently.
Now’s the time to step out from behind your logo and cheesy stock photos and show everyone who you are.
People buy from people
It’s much more than just showing people what you look like, it’s about creating a culture of honesty and choosing to be approachable rather than sophisticated.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a one man band or a big organisation, I want to get to know a little bit about you before I get in touch. This all starts with your website.
Get over yourself
I know the feeling. You’re about to hit publish and add your image to your website, but it’s not quite right. It’s not your “good” side, and that plant in the background needs watering. Sigh.
I’ve been there, I know the feeling and guess what? I got over it. And you will too. People don’t care what you look like, they only care that you can help them.
The quicker you get past this, the faster people will trust you and will want to work with you.
People love small businesses
If you are concerned that people won’t do business with you if they know the truth, then don’t be. There are so many benefits to working with a smaller team or a freelancer as oppose to a bigger business. For instance:
- Bespoke service
- A personal approach
- Lower fees
- Less red tape
The worst thing you can do is to misguide people and claim that you are big business with lots of capacity.
It’s much better to be honest and attract people who are right for your business rather than wasting someone’s time.
So what can you do with your website to become more approachable?
Include an image of yourself on your homepage
If possible, include images of you and/or your team on the homepage. Your homepage is the most visited page on your site, so you may as well build up some trust immediately. I do this myself and it’s always nice when someone calls and asks to speak to “Martin”. They know who I am and what I look like before we even speak.
Staff profiles on the about page
Have an image and bio for each staff member on your about page. If you take a look at your Google Analytics stats, you may be surprised by how popular this page is with your visitors. It just goes to show that people actually care about who they do business with. Who’d have thought, eh?
You can have fun with it too. Talk about hobbies, interests or your favourite Disney films, I don’t really care! But try to be as human as possible and stay away from the “Linkedin bio” approach.
You might think that your business is “different” and this kind of approach is not appropriate. I’m currently working with one client who is a funeral director. His customers have commented how nice it is to see a smiley face on his website, as they’re accustomed to seeing glum, grey pictures everywhere else. Don’t be afraid to show the real you, no matter what industry you’re in.
Check out the team page for video hosting company Wistia to see how they’re using their individual personalities. Not a grey suit in sight.
Include a group shot
If there are a lot of people who work at the organisation, then you might want to consider a group photo. Make it fun. Something that shows a diverse group of individuals with their own personality. This will go a long way in breaking down the corporate image that so many websites try to portray.
Show people behind the curtain
It’s always nice to see you and the team in action. Showing the team working away gives your customers an insight into how your company is run. You could include images of the office, people working, people chatting on bean bag chairs, whatever you like! It’s nice to see real people in a natural office setting.
Include a video
There’s no doubt that people love video, which makes it a very useful tool in building trust online. Why not include a video of yourself or your team on your website? It could be a simple welcome video or you could use videos on your blog to answer questions that people might have. Either way, video can be very powerful.
Social Media Tip
I use my personal Twitter account for Jammy Digital. I tweet about design, SEO, walks on the beach, cats and Star Wars. (Follow me here you should) The point is, I don’t hide behind my logo or the twitter egg. If you have an egg as your twitter picture, please remove…right now. People want to see and hear from the real you. So show it to them.
The internet can feel like the wild west sometimes. Your customers know this and it makes them very cautious. This is why it’s so important that you make it easy for them to trust you. Transparency is the only way you can set yourself aside from your competitors and make people feel at ease.
Over the you
Do you find it frustrating when companies do this kind of thing? Or maybe you ARE one of these companies and you’re kicking yourself. I’d love to hear you thoughts on this so please leave a comment below.
Web designer & marketer for small businesses. Martin is an experienced search engine and web design specialist, with over a decade of experience working with large corporations to small businesses.