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You Only Have 45 Seconds

An interesting statistic I found while looking at web traffic for a company’s “About Us” page is that the average viewer spent a scant 45 seconds on a page that contains enough text to take two to three minutes to fully digest.

There are literally so many things pulling us away and distracting us today that understanding and conveying a core message succinctly is more critical than ever. 45 seconds also happens to be the amount of time needed for that old familiar chestnut, the “elevator speech.”

In crafting “About Us” content or an elevator speech, focus on these three core statements that a principal at any organization should be able to answer in 45 seconds:

  • This is who we are.
  • This is what we do.
  • This is what makes us different.

Let’s examine what Nike does:

  • Nike is devoted to athletes – from weekend warriors to the world’s finest professionals.
  • Nike makes the equipment that helps athletes succeed.
  • Nike continually improves its products and technologies to help its customers succeed.

For professional services companies, this proposition is admittedly more difficult. However, the fundamentals of selling (yes, lawyers and accountants sell too) remain the same. If a purchaser of legal, accounting or financial services sees an entire display of firms arranged like so many sneakers in front of him and each looks the same and seems the same, then what drives the choice?  With firms competing at nearly identical price points for the same services, the one that can effectively differentiate has an advantage.

How many times have you read an “About Us” page that looks like this?

  • XYZ is a multi-disciplinary regional firm.
  • XYZ provides services to business clients through a diverse array of practice areas including: bankruptcy, estate planning, labor and employment, real estate and tax.
  • XYZ provides cost-effective representation and zealously defends client’s interests both in and out of court.

Here is the problem. I have learned very little, even though a lot is crammed in there. Let’s refocus based on the aforementioned guiding statements.

  • XYZ helps companies solve problems and develop sound strategies.
  • XYZ is a strategic partner offering a broad range of services to companies in industries such as energy and technology, helping in matters ranging from labor and employment concerns to tax issues.
  • XYZ practices preventative medicine. Our aim is to work hand-in-hand with our clients and grow together. However, when needed we strategically and surgically address matters before the courts.
  • XYZ is your partner for growth.

The emphasized words speak to a synergy between the potential client and XYZ and, aside from “surgically” which connotes direct, they stress meaningful collaboration. Many of these “About Us” and mission statements are written looking inward instead of looking outward. You have 45 seconds, chose your words and your positioning wisely. The difference between being Nike and an also-ran is clear to see both in the marketplace and in the bottom line.

–  Michael Bond

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