Storytelling makes your business memorable. You can use stories to connect with your audience on your homepage or on your product or service description pages. But one of the best places that brand storytelling shines through is on your About page..
How to Use Storytelling
When visitors search your About page, they are not only considering whether to buy from you or not, they want to learn about your brand. They are looking to make up their mind about your business, forming impressions and deciding if they can ‘trust’ you. If you use storytelling correctly, you will get their attention and convert them into loyal customers or ambassadors of your brand.
Why Storytelling Works
Of course, when we tell stories, we are creating a narrative. So, if you present the sequence of events in a creative and logical manner, you keep your reader or listener hooked. A good storyteller knows how to make a story come alive by creating images in the mind of the hearers, stimulating their thinking and connecting with their emotions. This is why great storytelling is about arousing curiosity.
When your About page captures the mind of the visitors, they become emotionally invested in your story and they are propelled to take action – buy your product or service. Remember that the primary purpose of your About page is not to sell directly but influence your reader into choosing you again and again.
In the next few paragraphs, we will share the elements of storytelling with you and then, talk about how you can use these elements when writing your About page. But that is not all, we will also give you examples of websites that have used these methods so you can see practical examples of where and how these techniques work. Ready? Let’s dive in!
Elements of Storytelling
It is generally agreed that there are five elements of storytelling. (Yes, some people say there are seven or even ten, but these five are basic). You can employ any of the five elements of storytelling when writing your About page. You do not have to highlight all the five elements in your About page, rather you can make one of the five the focal point.
First, a good story has a scenic Setting, that is, where the story occurs. The setting helps you situate the story in your imagination. The story can be set in a bustling city (hear the traffic?), in a quiet village or some town in between. Then you have the Characters.
The characters are the people that make your story come alive. The more memorable characters are the heroes who swoop in to save the day (did I just see someone zapping through the clouds?) or the villains with their incredible one liners. But you connect with them, this is why you feel emotions as the story progresses.
A third strong element of storytelling is the Conflict. The rising conflict creates suspense which keeps you listening, watching or waiting. Remember that conflicts are a great way of showing the strength of your character. The more conflicts they overcome, the stronger the story.
Also, the Resolution – the unravelling of the story, is another important element. How do you feel at the end of the story? Satisfied that the conflict was resolved or annoyed that you wasted 90 minutes of your time watching this! Well, how you feel often depends on the Plot. The plot is the story itself with all the twists and turns that makes it unique or flat like unleavened bread.
Now that you understand the five elements of a story, let’s share how you can apply these storytelling elements in writing an About page that pops.
1. Your Inspiration (The Setting)
Where did it all begin? Did your business idea come to you while you were singing in the shower, taking a dump in the toilet while watching a bug crawling on the wall or while you were hiking on the mountainside? Or was it in the middle of the business day when you had a mountain of work and were about to call it quits and then it hit you, “there is a better way of doing this.” When did you say, “dang it, let’s do this!” Capturing that moment in prose can create a strong connection with your audience.
Mailchimp does this pretty well. They tell us that the inspiration behind their brand is the small business owner. Because they care, they created “an alternative to the oversized, expensive email software of the early 2000s”. So when you think of Mailchimp, you think of an inexpensive alternative… nevermind that in 2021, there are cheaper alternatives to Mailchimp. But that’s their story and they are staying with it. This works. Today you cannot say email marketing for small businesses without thinking about Mailchimp. They even have a functional free version of their product.
2. The People Behind the Brand (Character)
Who is making this story move forward? Your About page can be anchored on the founders. People do not only want to know the product and services you offer, but they also want to know about the people that create the magic. Satisfy their curiosity by talking about them on your About page.
SlvrWlf delivers on this promise. They use their founders’ stories to communicate their brand story. They tell us about how three persons with a shared connection came together to create an agency whose main goal is to connect brands to their audiences. See why it works? Slvr Wlf is all about connections. They tell stories that connect.
3. Your Unique Selling Proposition (Plot)
A plot-driven About page can leave your visitors feeling “Oh my God what did I just read!” or “Oh my God what did I just read!” The difference is that they are either closing their browser page trying to forget the bad memory or buying and bookmarking your page for return business. So be careful here. If the strong point of your business is not your business proposition, then don’t make it the focal point of your About page.
PiggyVest shows us how this is done. The opening line of their About page says that they “give everyone the power to better manage and grow their finances.” Who doesn’t want to save and invest? And then they make a claim, “PiggyVest is the first online “Savings & Investment” app in West Africa.” They are unique because they have defied the tendency of Nigerians to walk into physical spaces to carry out banking services. You can save and invest and you can do it online. How? Now you want to know more. Yes you are hooked!
4. The Pain Point (Conflict)
Your business provides a solution to a challenge that people face. The more difficult the challenge, the happier your customers and prospects are with the solution. When they are on your About page, they want to know ‘how’ you are the solution they are looking for. Tell them in a creative way and they will love you for it.
Visitors become frustrated when they read an About page, only to realise at the end that they still have no idea how the company can solve their problem. So, use the conflict-centred About page to outline the solution.
Dropbox gets right to it. They create a conflict and then present themselves as the solution. They tell you that their mission is “to design a more enlightened way of working.” Oookay so we have all been in the dark ages or something? That’s the conflict! You find yourself saying, “Enlighten me” and they do. They tell us how “most “productivity tools” get in your way” and how they “change this.” Don’t you just want to know what Dropbox can do for you? The About page’s work is done.
5. Your business model (Resolution)
“So this is how they do that!” When you find yourself achieving this clarity about a business process then you have been wowed by a creatively told About page woven around the “resolution”. When using this model, highlight your clearly laid out long term plans, specifying what the business stands for and the approach it wants to take to keep the revenue coming in. Weave your story around business growth and milestones achieved.
The Airbnb About page does this brilliantly. They tell us their business model wrapped around their journey so far in the first sentence. “Airbnb was born in 2007 when two hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, and has since grown to 4 million hosts who have welcomed more than 900 million guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe.”
This works to capture your curiosity. In a world where people think more about their differences than their similarities, their business model is built around strangers living together. This sounds too good to be true. And then Airbnb seals it, they tell us this is not a dream. 900 million guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. You too can be welcomed in a home anywhere in the world courtesy of Airbnb.
Tell the stories your customers want to hear
So, what do your customers want to know about you? Answer those frequently asked questions about your business or processes on your About page. Use one of the five elements of compelling storytelling to address these concerns. You can talk about what inspired your business, your founders’ stories, what makes your business unique, the customer challenges your company is solving or the model upon which your business is built.
You could also draw their attention to any under-represented aspects of your brand offerings. Let your About page capitalise on the curiosity of your prospects. And if you need any help along the way, we are right here.