Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dale Carnegie: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate History.net

Dale Carnegie, a poor farm boy from Missouri, began offering courses in public speaking and human relations in 1912. In 1936, he published How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the best-selling self-help books ever. Today the company he founded is headquartered in Happauge, New York, with franchises in over 80 countries. More than 8 million people have completed Dale Carnegie Training. The company’s About Us page is here.


Products/Services: A+
The top-notch Press page opens with “Latest News”: recent stories that refer to the Dale Carnegie course or cite the company’s leaders. Each item includes a line or two of the text, a link to the full story, and occasionally a thumbnail image. This is an excellent way to illustrate the pervasive influence of Dale Carnegie. (The same headings and links are wisely reused below the left-hand navigation menu on all the About Us pages.) Separate options under “Press” link to company press releases and a press kit. We have rarely seen CorporateHistory.net’s Commandment 4 of About Us pages, “Don’t take your own name in vain,” done so well.

Just having a page called 100 Years in the navigation menu serves as a reminder of the company’s longevity. The layout and content of the page are also top notch. Above the fold is a changing display that serves as a visual menu of choices: look at Dale Carnegie publications, join its social network, listen to testimonials. Immediately below is a link to Tips, a page that offers downloads of 100 tips each for leadership, communication and success. Offering high-quality free material is one of the best ways to collect names for your mailing list. The 100 Years page ends with two pithy paragraphs on the company’s origin and principles and the company timeline.

This timeline, which also appears on the History page, is one of the few items on the Dale Carnegie About Us pages that doesn't work well. It’s a video that requires Flash, so the content will be inaccessible to many users of phones and tablets. The format is truly awful. Even when viewed on a large monitor the timeline wobbles along, without any way to pause it or to see more than one segment at a time. This format is far less useful and informative than an old-fashioned illustrated table would have been.

Another excellent feature is the Clients page, prominently featured on the About Us submenu. It lists hundreds of illustrious clients sorted by industry. Even without testimonials, the names make it clear that many successful companies find Dale Carnegie courses invaluable.

Personality: D
We tried but failed to find a page devoted to the leaders of the Dale Carnegie organization: a bizarre oversight in a company whose business is training leaders. The closest we come to seeing management is the Chairman of the Board / CEO’s photo on the first of the Careers pages.

Even more peculiar: we found no page on Dale Carnegie! What a missed opportunity to use corporate storytelling to show the value of Dale Carnegie techniques. A brief paragraph about the founder appears on the aforementioned wobbly Timeline as the 1888 entry (his birth year), but you can’t pause it long enough to read it well. Worse, the photo looks as if it was taken 100 years later. Very confusing.

Accessibility: C
The Contact Us page (reached via a link at upper right) is an online form for having a representative contact you. For those seeking information about local franchises, a direct link to the Worldwide Locations page would be helpful.

Give visitors the best possible current information about your company, but don’t miss the obvious: If your company bears the founder’s name, then the About Us pages should tell his story, too.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). To talk about your About Us page, contact us!
Today’s example was chosen at random; CorporateHistory.net has no ties to this company.