Truth is: We all like to talk about our business. The painful truth, however, is that the rest us generally do not like to hear all about your business. Most people know this when it comes to face-to-face interactions. If you're a HVAC contractor, for example, you show up, explain in rough terms what you're going to do, do it, and then leave with maybe a few additional items to discuss.
While most tend to be good at this in person, what we at Tracking Pixel Media find is many forget this concept with their website. The mantra tends to be "the more, the merrier" with many webpages. Instead of the quick conversations you have in person, business owners like to put down their memoirs online - writing lengthy paragraphs about what makes them unique and what-not. Take a look at this webpage as an example of this verbal overload (names blanked out to protect website owners)
While much of this information might be useful to someone visiting the site, most people are not built with the patience to read through all of that wording. There are numerous blogs and articles about short attention spans, yet many small businesses seem to wholly unaware of this concept.
So why do they fall trap to this predicament?
Inbound Marketing A Culprit
It's no secret that Tracking Pixel Media is not a huge proponent of inbound marketing. The concept that 'if you build it, they will come' never seems to hold much water in the online world. Inbound marketing is effective for those who already have a substantial following! Outbound marketing, on the other hand, including television, social media ads, search engine marketing, billboards, and all of the other possible channels bring those who would never know about your offerings and makes them see what you have to offer.
Before the Internet age, and especially the Hubspot age, this argument was not as prominent as it is today. To read another great perspective on this line of argument, read Vedran Tomac's article in Small Business Trends.
So why does inbound marketing appeal to so many small business owners. There seem to be two main reasons for this phenomenon:
It's seems relatively cheap compared to outbound marketing
It stokes people's egos
Inbound marketing tends to focus on things a small business can do without expending a lot of capital. Creating content on your website, emails/newsletters, social media posts, and other channels are basically free - as long as you do not count the endless hours you spend creating such content. With small business owners making only around $73,000 a year, there is a reluctance to spend money on anything that has the possibility of not generating that money in return. Hence, business owners will be lured to the thought that blog posts on their website will generate lots of leads for them for free.
To our second point, the concept of lots of words makes businesses feel important. In outbound marketing, this shows up as a vanity buy - where the marketing revolves around the owner and their personality. Law offices, dental practices, and similar professions are all inundated with the 'Who's Who' publications that plays upon a person's vanity. Yet those publications do not really provide any ability for them to win more business after the purchase. The same tends to be the case with websites, only it is cheaper than the vanity buy.
Further, a website can make a business seem more official. It's a form of modern credentialing, or even as a way to make your business seem more important. Here's an example of an article from 2011 discussing this very concept. Many consumers will not take a business serious if they do not have a good website. Therefore, it is possible that people put more information in there to seem more important.
As Stanford researchers discovered, though, website credibility is derived by clarity, and less on sheer volume:
"Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company's ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology."
Their list of recommendations on credibility is located right here.
So if many small businesses make this mistake of too much verbiage, where does that leave us then?
A Simple Solution
Keeping things very simple will allow your audience to quickly understand who you are, what you do, and how much it might cost. It sounds so easy, huh? What it takes is honesty with yourself and your business. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're learning to reduce your verbiage:
Is all there a way to say it much more simply? On a home page, a plumbing company can mention how they got their start, the tough times their grandparents had in the various years of operation, etc. etc. OR they can just say they've been in business for 40 years.
Can you make a sub-page? Following the first point, an About or History page is a great spot to talk about your company's history. In the case of the plumbing company above, a potential customer most likely is in an emergency and just needs them there quickly. Maybe later they'll take the history lesson.
Find someone with a short attention span who'll help you. As mentioned, people have short attention spans. If you know someone like this, use it to your advantage. Have them look at the website and ask them where their eyes start to gloss over. Try to figure out how to improve that part of the page.
Do you really need it? Check your ego at the door, and put yourself in your customer's shoes. Do they really care about what you're telling them? If you have any doubts, remove it. If you start hearing complaints about not having your grandfather's war time story, well I guess you can fire up your inner Hemingway.
When it comes to your website pages, keep it simple. If you like to write, let your blog area satisfy that urge and your potential and existing customers will thank you for it!