Four stories to tell on your website
21st October 2013
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Four stories you should be telling on your website

Poking around online one night I came across a web designer in Norwich I didn’t know. I was curious and looked him up.

Him, I say. How sexist of me. It may have been her. Or them. There was no way of knowing – the contact page revealed nothing, and even the email address went to ‘inbox.’ An impressive portfolio of work suggested stuff gets done, but there was no one standing behind it – it felt like I was calling out an echoing “Hello?” into a deserted shop.

It turns out the guy – and it is a guy – is real. A colleague of mine really rates his work. But I wouldn’t hire him, however good his work or his rates, because his website gave me the impression that one of two things are going on:


  • He’s either a spotty kid sitting in his back bedroom with a laptop, pretending to be an agency
  • Or he’s offshore, pretending to be English and local, but actually thousands of miles away.

In either case, if he’s not putting his name on it, then he’s not standing by his work. And an awful lot of customers these days are looking to work with experienced craftsmen who’ve made a name for themselves.


Pretending to be big

Rant over, of course I understand why a small company or a start-up might avoid putting their names on their website. Giving the impression you’re bigger than you are feels like you’re increasing your stability. And when it’s just a few of you, you can’t risk sacrificing potential customers due to being small.

But at the same time you’re trying to look big, the multinationals are actually scrambling to catch up with you – and no matter how much money they chuck at it, they’ll never match your energy, flexibility or ideas. The fact is, you’ve got the edge over them, because being personal is exactly the core advantage you bring to your work.


Four stories you can use to quickly bring real life to your website

It can be really simple to bring person to your site – I love how Jan at Motherly Love stands by her product (scroll down on her homepage). These four simple stories bring depth and character to your business, add professionalism and humanity, and give people reasons to want to work with you.

  1. Your company’s story. Think about what words you’d want customers using to distinguish you from the competition: “They’re the florist who…” You know the best answer to this sentence. Were you the little girl who presented the flowers to the queen? Or is the business a co-operative of independent flower farmers in Holland? Find a way on your site to say why you, why here, why now.
  2. Your story as boss. As the business owner you have a reason for doing this job. Sometimes this story is part of the company story; sometimes it will be completely different. As a rule of thumb, if the company was there before you joined, then you need to tell what it is that makes you want to be part of it. When was the moment that you knew this would be the right job for you? What gets you out of bed every morning? These stories matter and will make the difference for an indifferent customer just looking for a reason to choose your business to spend money with.
  3. Case studies. These are one-page stories about the difference you’ve made for customers, written from the company’s perspective. It’s a good idea to aim for three, and for each to align to one of your key services. Tell what the customer’s problem was, how they came to you, what you did to fix it, and if you can, the on-going benefit to that client. Potential customers will be able to imagine themselves in a similar scenario, and they’ll be reassured that you’ll be able to help them, as well.
  4. Testimonials. These are rave reviews from happy customers. You can use these in any format you like – I’ve even seen scans of hand-written thank-you notes on a company’s homepage to add authenticity to the comment. Aim for at least three. Some people put them all on one page; some put a different one beside each product image, or on each of the main product pages. Like it or not, readers are going to take your previous customers’ word for your great service  more than they’ll believe you, so make sure you include these from the start.

Customers’ buying choices do not just come down to price or even quality. They buy from brands and people whom they warm to, when they think they have something in common.


Only two choices

As a small business, you have two choices about how you approach your marketing:

  • You can admit you are small, and use that to your advantage
  • Or you can try to use the impersonal language of the big older companies, implying that you bring all the same baggage and bureaucracy that customers are trying to get away from. Then you can keep your fingers crossed your customers won’t find out you’re not as big as you were trying to seem.


Every decision you make, including what you choose to say, either reinforces or undermines your brand. If you’re after authentic relationships with customers, there’s not much choice there, as far as I see it. Have a look at how stories are built into the very building you do business in.  

Have you found that being honest about your company’s small size worked to your advantage? I'd love to hear about it.

Next week I’ll be writing about blogging – the best way of getting your stories on your website on a regular basis. Dave, Sarah and Rebecca: this is for you!


About the Author

Tracy Kenny

Member since: 23rd September 2013

I’m Director and Shop Manager of Kett's Books, a social enterprise bookshop in Wymondham, and I write the White Dot Business Writing Blog. Life in the bookshop keeps the business writing advice real.


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