Category: Branding

The Third-Person Bio Problem

About pages are the most frequently visited page of a website. A good bio or About page can humanize you and your product or service. It’s where you can forge connections by blending your story, values and interests into a compelling narrative.

Why then do so many one-person businesses talk about themselves in the third person?

The mostly likely reason is that people copy what they see other people do.

No matter how well written, a third-person bio comes off as pretentious. Even if a hired gun wrote it, people think it’s coming from you. Most of us don’t refer to ourselves in the third person at a cocktail party, so there’s no reason to do it on a website.

It presents a credibility problem even you hope that the third person will make you appear more credible. And it can often appear cold and detached. More and more, people buy from businesses whose stories and values they can relate to, even if it wouldn’t seem to matter.

Why third person?

  • It makes us appear more important.
  • It’s easier to include content that would feel awkward to write in the first person.
  • It’s hard to write a compelling first-person bio without using the word “I” so many times. which people fear will seem less important.

What to do instead?

  • Replace phrases you fear sound self-congratulatory with testimonials. Include them on the bio page or link to another page. It’s easier to let other people speak to your excellence.
  • To reduce unnecessary text, don’t worry about describing aspects of your work that are visually self evident.
  • Keep your awards and degrees because someone might care, but include them in a sidebar, at the bottom of a bio (Just the Facts, for example), or in a CV.
  • Keep the focus on your inspiration, your process, your materials.
  • Refer to the types of people you help and why, and/or the benefits you provide.
  • Include a press page with clippings or links.

Artist and maker Hilary Pfeifer has a successful line of whimsical creatures and objects, and writes in the first person. She sounds credible, credentialed and shares a story that’s relatable and human. Here are more examples of good first-person bios.

There is a place for your third-person bio in any venue outside your own website or LinkedIn profile.

Have a new bio you’d like to share with me? Good luck!

Blogging Your Brand

It’s widely regarded that blogging for your brand, while not a guarantee of success, is essential for reaching your crowd on a different level and in a different space. Think of a blog like a Victorian courtship versus the one-night stand of direct mail. Results might be slow in coming, but when they do, they’ll have substance and be longer lasting.

Blogging requires some discipline. And if you want a blog to be more than a dog-and-pony show, you have to be able to communicate what you’re an expert at, and understand what makes your audience tick. With that squared away, blogging can be a great vehicle for sharing your magic.

Despite how ubiquitous blogs are, many people are still vexed about their use and intimidated at the idea of blogging. Below are some tips on getting ideas, how to think of a blog and some best practices. Read more

The Pure Delight of Opening Moo Cards

The new Moo cards are here! The new Moo cards are here! I’m somebody! (Thanks to those who get the reference.)

I really shouldn’t post this and ruin it for you should you ever order your own Moo cards. But I can’t resist.

I designed and ordered cards for a forthcoming jewelry collection before going out of town for 10 days. The timing was deliberate. The box would be awaiting me when I arrived home, and I could indulge in the singular pleasure of undressing, er, opening the package after a long day’s drive. It’s not unlike the pleasure of opening Apple products. But Moo is more fun, less austere. Read more

What’s Your Best Offer?

highest grade

Is “on time and within budget” the first few lines of your marketing message?

If you had to remove those words, what would your story be?

Everyone worries about spending money, even those with deep pockets. And if someone hires you they hope you’ll finish on time. Both are universal concerns.

They’re also the least a customer can expect. A built-in feature. And when you’re not the cause of a ballooning budget or a blown schedule, your best offering is now shot.

Even if you’re serving the fast and cheap crowd, you still need to stand out among all the other businesses using the same line. Read more

When Naming Does Come Easy

I am yoga

Company naming is no easy task, unless, of course, it falls from the sky and lands at your feet.

Most often, it involves pouring over the company’s how, why, what, who, where. It involves word collecting, list making, searching, listening, vetting and playing.

Does it sound good? Will people like to say it? Not always possible but it doesn’t hurt to start with high standards. I created a brand identity for a climate initiative with a seven-word name. Try to say the name and you stop after the first few words, hoping the person knows what you’re referring to. The acronym is its own tongue twister. Did the committee that selected the name say it a few times aloud?

Is the name easy to remember?

Does it look good when written out?

Will it have longevity? Does it need to? Read more

Making Your List, Checking It Twice

List of names

If you use an e-mail service to send newsletters or blasts, how did you build your list? If the answer is that you invited people or they added themselves via a form on your website, three cheers for you! No coal in your Christmas stocking.

Email is still one of the most powerful ways to connect with customers or prospects short of having coffee together, even if automated (because you can personalize it with the recipient’s name). You’re not competing with a stream of cat photos in Facebook or random Twitter chatter. It’s a great way to further your brand and personality, and become a go-to person in your field.

But you don’t want people scratching their heads when your third e-blast of the week arrives in their in-box, wondering if they forgot they signed up for your list.

There are three types of emails from businesses: total spam, almost spam and not spam. If you invited people to your list or they signed up (knowing what they were getting), that’s not spam.

We all know what total spam is.

Almost spam is everything else, such as adding people to your list, even people you know, even good friends, who might very well have said, “Yes, sign me up Scottie!” if only you’d asked.

But they can delete emails, right? Trust and respect rule here. The burden shouldn’t be on the recipient. Your goal is to inform, inspire and delight. It’s a sign of respect to ask permission to add someone to a list, even a client. Read more