As the leader of the 600+ member Indie Beauty Network, I work directly or indirectly with hundreds of companies to help them maximize their potential in life and in business. For most, both life and business center in large part around the Internet. We shop there, we sell there, we network there, we learn new things there. But for the value the Internet brings to our lives, I am amazed that so many Indies are surprisingly anonymous at the one place where they must make themselves known: their own websites.
Some people are naturally shy. (A shy business owner won't be a business owner for long.) Some people don't want to disclose personal information online. (Then take your business offline.) Some people are embarassed to say anything complementary about themsevles for fear of appearing to brag. (Get over it, you were meant for greatness.) Whichever category you fit into, here are some tips to help you get out of it.
Go to your website. If you don't have an "About" page, create one. If you have one, make sure it contains at least these things.
1. Your first and last names. People don't want to do business with Donna. Using your surname with your given name adds a feeling of reliability that you can't get from one or the other alone. When asking people to give you their credit card number, the least you can do is tell them your full name.
2. Where's the beef? Now that I'm at your website, what next? I want more than just what you are selling. I want an experience. Dazzle me with something. Tell me your story. If I wanted to do business with John Doe, I'd go to the local shopping mall. What's special about you? Do you bungee jump for a hobby? Are you a former food stamp recipient who pulled yourself up by the bootstraps to start your own business? Do you volunteer to help hurricane victims? Do you donate proceeds to charity? Have you won an award for your product innovation? Do you make an annual pilgramage to Mecca? Make me relate to you and I'm more likely to whip out the Amex card — and have fun doing it!
3. Where on God's green earth are you? You want my name, address and serial number, but won't even tell me where you are? It's amazing how many people sell stuff online and don't give their customers the courtesy of a mailing address. Then they have the nerve to hide their identity in the WHO Is database so I can't find out anything about them. Open wallet, insert credit card. Adios!
4. Your mug shot. I know it sounds shallow, but people want to know what you look like because their purchasing decision is emotionally connected to it. If you are self-employed, your products and services are important, but so are you. In fact, you may be more important if you sell services. Seeing your happy face smiling back at me shows me that you are happy about being able to provide me with whatever I'm thinking of buying from you. Cha-ching!
Some Great Examples
1. Emily Skin Soothers. I can get herbal skin balm lots of places, but maybe I'm more likely to buy from Mike Arsenault at Emily Skin Soothers because he shares how his passion for herbal skin remedies was born of his love for his daughter Emily. And there's a photo of him cuddling little Emily right there on the home page. Sold!
2. Blanchard's Restaurant. This restaurant website and the story behind it, including photos of the owners and their entire restaurant staff, makes it almost worth the trip to Anguilla just to have dinner there. You can enjoy more of restauranteurs Bob and Melinda Blanchard's story at Indie Business Radio.
3. CakeLove. You haven't tasted cake until you've tasted the story behind the cake. Warren Brown's website features more than just sweets, it features him. Why buy cake anywhere else? You can enjoy more of Warren's story at Indie Business Radio.
4. Soap Dance. You don't have to be fancy dancy to introduce yourself. Patti Ehaney's daughter snapped a photo of her soapmaker and business owner mom smiling on her Wisconsin back porch, and it wound up on Soap Dance's About page. Why buy soap elsewhere when you can get it made by a happy smiling person on a peaceful porch in America's heartland?
I may be able to buy what you sell elsewhere, but I won't see your face and your story at any other website or brick and mortar location in the world. You are your biggest asset. Don't waste it.