Does Your Website Look Like an Online Dating Profile?

Last Updated May 5, 2011 8:45 AM EDT

A friend of mine met someone through an online dating service. When they got together in person, he immediately realized her profile was juusst a bit exaggerated. But that's okay. His profile was even more sizzle than steak.
Since 40 million people use online dating services in the U.S. alone, a little profile enhancement evidently isn't a problem even when the disconnect between profile and reality is a little jarring.

But exaggeration can be a real problem in the business world. If your website doesn't reflect the reality of your business, the disconnect can drive potential customers away -- possibly forever.

See if any of these apply to your business website:

1. Your business appears to be taller, thinner, wittier, and more successful than it really is.
Small businesses naturally want to appear bigger. You should always describe your business in positive terms. But don't go too far -- a potential client who doesn't see what they expect to get is likely to walk.

What to do:

  • Never use "we" if your business is an "I." I know; "we" and "our staff" sounds more impressive than "I" and "me." If you don't have other employees, be proud of it. Many people prefer dealing with one person. The best book designer I know works alone. The best web designer I know works alone. I like knowing that when I call I will deal with one exceptional person. Plus, addressing clients in the first person on your About Us page may help establish rapport and lets you show a little personality. If your business is an "I," make "I" a selling point.
  • Provide details and facts, not platitudes and fluff. If you're a web designer, are you really "passionate about web design"? You may be... but I don't believe you. Not until you prove it. Show me the hundreds of great websites you've designed, or if you're just starting out, show me a few works of web art. The passion proof is in the delivery pudding. I doubt the guy who writes, "I just want to find that special someone I can share my true feelings with as we talk until the sun comes up over a bottle of Bordeaux from an amazing winery I found while backpacking through France leading a group of children on their first venture outside the orphanage..." is sincere. Platitudes make no impact. Describe your company the way it is.
  • Skip the fancy titles. Should a four-person company have a President, two Vice Presidents, and a Director of Marketing? (I once visited a 20-employee company with 14 Vice Presidents.) The smaller your business, the sillier lofty titles come across. Customers don't care about titles; customers care about what you can do for them. Describe what you can do.
  • Describe aspirations with care. If you have a vision or mission, describe it. But tell potential customers how you plan to achieve that vision or mission. Make sure your website isn't all vision and no action.
Speaking of action, let's talk about your website photos -- especially the photos of you. NEXT ->
(Photo courtesy flickr user cliff1066TM, CC 2.0)
  • Jeff Haden On Twitter»

    >> View all articles

    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.