As marketers and salespeople, we love to talk about ourselves.  We can’t seem to stop talking about our company and what we do, our great products and the great value we bring to the marketplace.  We seemed to be programmed to do this.  After all, that’s what we were hired to do, right?  The problem is, talking about ourselves seems to be working against us when it comes to meeting our goals of generating leads, selling product and creating revenue for our company.

Why?  Because people are, by nature, self-centered.  It’s a survival tactic to be concerned about yourself and think you are one of the most interesting people in your life.  Sure we focus on helping others, but if we have a choice between helping others and helping ourselves, we will generally choose the latter to ensure our own livelihood (the major exception being focusing on our children above all else!).

So no one wants to hear about you, they want to hear about themselves.  The interesting exception to this is that we are more likely to listen to a third-party reference.  We feel it is more objective and it doesn’t feel like a decision between talking about you or talking about me.  We don’t mind that it’s all about you as long as it comes from someone besides you.

How does this translate to leads and revenue?  Simple – let others tell your story.  On your website, if you have lots of copy talking about your company and products – ditch it in favor or some testimonials and blogs.  You may still need to keep the product sheets and some description of what you do – but once you get beyond the elevator pitch, no one is listening.  Same goes for your emails, direct mails and all other marketing materials.  I’m most likely to pay attention to what you have to say if either:

  1. You are adding value to my life (giving me tips, information, education, etc.); or,
  2. Someone else is saying it for you (testimonials, references, case studies, blogs).
So next time you create a marketing asset, ask yourself if you would care about it coming from any other company than your own.  If the answer is no, it’s probably a little too self-centered.

Do these characteristics describe your current website?

  • Heavy text focused on what you do
  • Homepage and main navigation centers around products and services
  • The About Us page gives a timeline of your company history and describes your mission statement
  • All of your assets are freely downloadable (i.e., not behind forms)
  • The only call-to-action is “Contact Us”

If so, it might be time for an upgrade.  While retro is hip in fashion, that’s not the case with your website.  The goals of your website should be to drive leads in addition to serving as a branding tool.  Here are a few things to think about when updating your site:

  • Your targets would rather hear about how great your products, services and company are from their peers and other third party sources than from you.
  • A picture can say a thousand words – and make your site a lot cleaner.  I’m not talking about stock photography of the smiling woman on the phone, but real pictures of your assets, your products and your people.
  • Different people respond better to different types of content.  Some people like the long whitepapers and technical briefs, but others are going to need short podcasts or summary updates.
  • Related to the point above, people in different parts of their buying cycle need different types of content.  Someone just learning about your products and services might need the education webinar, while someone much further down the funnel is really looking for how your products stacks up against your competitors’ products.
  • While long forms can deter someone from downloading that whitepaper or registering for a webinar, asking small amounts of information at a time (1-3 fields) can help you gather a full profile on your target before you know it.  This is known as the progressive profiling form.

In general, if you can minimize the copy about you, make your site easy to navigate and provide value to your targets, they will come back time and again.