On the Internet, any company, no matter how small, can look as good as a large company. This situation presents an important challenge for small businesses: how can I convince my potential customers that I am not an unethical, fly-by-night operation?
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"About Us" Pages in Small Business Websites

The Internet has been heralded as "the great equalizer": on a browser window, any company, no matter how small, can look as good as a large company with a long history of quality and service. This situation presents an important challenge for small businesses: how can I convince my potential customers that I am not an unethical, fly-by-night operation? The best way to do it is through a properly structured "About Us" page.

Your "About Us" page must not only introduce your company to your potential customers, but must do so in a way that it explains, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why they should trust you and your company. Often, this means answering six basic questions:

Who is behind this website?

People are getting tired of large, bureaucratic companies and their "your-call-is-important-to-us" service mentality. As a small business owner, you can give your customers the personal attention they won't get from the big guys. Get that message across in your "About Us" page. Don't be afraid to talk about yourself and your passion for the business, and by all means include your picture. The central message you want to convey is that behind your business there is a real human being who has his or her customers' best interests at heart.

Is this a real business?

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to list your full physical address. There is something reassuring about a "bricks-and-mortar" location, even if your customers will never visit you. A physical address shows your prospective customers that you don't have anything to hide. Include your full contact information, including your physical address, in a conspicuous location within your "About Us" page.

How do they make money?

You know the cliché: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". If you don't make your business model evident to your visitors (in other words, if you don't show them how do you make money) the first question they will ask themselves is: "what's the catch?". If you offer too many things for free, or price your products too low vs. your competitors, prospective customers will hold back. Use your "About Us" page to explain what your main revenue streams are, and why do you charge what you charge. Remember to always talk "value", not "price".

How long have they been in business?

People tend to regard longevity and stability as important qualifiers to determine trust. Since most small business (especially of the on-line variety) tend to be very young, it may be hard to use the longevity card to solicit trust. If that is your case, you can talk about your past experience instead. For most small business owners, their past experience is highly relevant to their current businesses. Use your "About Us" page to talk about it, and how does it relate to and benefit your current business.

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