10 May How Not To Write Your Website Bio.
How not to write your website bio.
Whether it's a bio, or an About Us Page, it's the most viewed page after the Home page.
Better get it right, or the potential client is soon gone.
Which is why I find it hard to believe that most agencies get it so completely wrong.
First, let's briefly look at what's essential.
A killer headline.
A brief and compelling opening sentence. This is arguably the most important sentence in the entire piece. It has to be short. It should be clear. It should enable the reader to speed through, giving them a sense they're off to a good start.
Stop narrating in the 3rd person. It sounds like some 70's Miss World beauty pageant, as they announce each contestant's hobbies and work history.
Mix up short and long sentences to gain a rhythm that leads the reader along at a pace you dictate. Don't let them struggle to stay awake. And use, wherever possible, one or two syllable words.
"Excruciating terrible, God-awful, boring About Us pages (like the one below) litter millions of sites on the web and it's an injustice to both the brand (that's surely more interesting than their shitty little "Since 1976" story) and to the site visitor who has to read the monstrosity." - Cole Schafer - www.honeycopy.com/copywritingblog/how-to-write-an-about-us-page
Here it is, punctuation errors and all, that "shitty little Since 1976 story" - names redacted to protect the naive. Don't say you haven't been warned!
"It happened in 1984 when XXX who had successfully established himself in Hotel business, Management and the demanding world of customer service and professional catering within corporate hospitality and Leisure groups, was asked to seriously consider pursuing a career in real estate by one of his clients."
That's some first sentence. Brief, clear and compelling it ain't. It gets worse, believe me.
"Why not? Both careers needed the essential attention to detail and involved exclusive customer care and service which he was well versed with. Building relationships for xxx was second nature and this opportunity developed into an upward path of practical involvement into the many interesting and educational facets of the property industry.
xxx initially started operating within the xxx and xxx area and later settled in the beautiful xxx looking after customers between xxx and xxx from his xxx base. At this point in his career, xxx realized that he was committed and enjoyed the success and philosophy of Bringing People and Property together. During this period, he was proud to represent the corporate company in the capacity of the xxxxxx. His achievement was to have the xxx body recognized and embedded within the growing company and set standards and business ethics within the group for effective transactions. xxx was ambitious and diligent in a methodical way where his desire, drive and personality along with a thoughtful character gave traction to rise and progress through many challenging years. xxx rose to become a Director from a junior negotiator role within the same company who incidentally merged with other banking organisations and consortiums. Between then and now he has had his own two estate agencies in Hertfordshire and Essex and took over the running of an independent Scottish property agency in the scenic Highlands. Latterly, he has traveled extensively and worked in many countries associating himself with property related matters for private clients. Which brings us to the present day where xxx is happy to announce he is working in partnership with xxx and delighted to be back to his familiar well-trodden path of the stunning xxx, being a recognized area of outstanding beauty with its charming towns and attractive historic villages. He is a great supporter of surrounding local communities to maintain rural appeal. xxx's pragmatic attitude will focus on building a relational trust providing customers and clients alike wishing to have their unique discerning needs met irrespective of whether they are buying or selling. Why not call xxx and his motivated team if you want to discuss making a home move; they will listen to ascertain understand and impart their many years of knowledge and experience to bring solutions and results to your table."
Wow. Are you still here? Awake?
What's worse is that xxx had assured me this bio was written for him - at a cost!!!
I'm lost for words. That someone could write such nonsense for a living and that someone as experienced as xxx would actually pay for it.
There's no point in saying what's wrong with it - nobody has the time.
Let's just say that it will do more harm to his business than good.
There's very little in there that even hints at Who the person might be. Do we like him? Is there affinity? Can we trust him?
He's not alone in having a dreadful bio. Many, many established and respected estate agency sites are over-stuffed with nonsense.
Simply stating and trying to prove their worth.
I'm not a web designer but I do know that it doesn't matter how glitzy the site looks, if the copy is god-awful boring, it ain't gonna work. If the staff bios say nothing, don't have them.
There's one thing to understand about the human brain. As well as our inherent need to pay attention to something, as equally remarkable is our ability to disregard. When we are subjected to so many messages on an hourly basis, it's only the messages that stand out that gain attention. Short messages that impact. That lead from one thought to another. That lead to the conclusion we hope to achieve.
People don't relate to chronological facts - they relate to perceived status. Their internal mechanism that says to them: "If I move towards this person, will I be better off, or not?"
If I move towards the estate agent that uses ten words when two will do, will I be better off? Why are they intent on using ten words? Are they incapable of getting to the point? Are they trying to confuse with fancy rhetoric? Does their diligent and methodical approach hide an underlying fear of uncertainty? Are they risk averse to the point of being static?
With an attention span put at around 8 seconds, this bio gets the reader to the end of a long, very long first sentence. Did it inspire? Is it worth reading on?
Or is it simply there to fill in space on the website and tick a few boxes that imply 'expert'?
That's the dilemma facing this agent. Do they want to stand out for their insistence on caution? If so, that's not a bad thing but that's the story that needs telling. Of all the things that can and do go wrong in the sales process. And why their particular skills guard every one of their clients from that eventuality.
The sheepdog that protects the 'flock' from the wolf.
That's the analogy that changes the perception of being just another estate agent. That's the bio that needs writing.
If you got this far, thanks as always for reading. You deserve a medal!