In recent weeks I’ve talked a lot about Product Storytelling, and the brands who do it best. One of the first I came across who do this journey justice was Buffalo Trace – a brand of bourbon I happen to enjoy a lot. I tend to find people sit in one camp or the other when it comes to Whiskey:
you Love it or you Hate it!
Few like it or sit on the fence, so if you happen to hate this magical elixir that soothes my throat on difficult days, I ask you to place your distaste to one side, for this post isn’t about bourbon, so much as how this particular brand knocks their product storytelling out of the park.
Before we do, let me offer some substance to my tale, and share how I came across this Kentucky whiskey. Few bars sell it in England, but it’s far more popular across the pond. One night, whilst in Columbus, Ohio, I met a few friends, and as the night drew on, I had a hankering for the good stuff.
“What would you suggest?” I asked my friend’s girlfriend, who happened to enjoy a good whiskey, too.
“Have you tried Buffalo Trace? You should give it a go.”
So I did, fell in love, and a few weeks later visited their website. This is where my tale begins to matter, because this came at a time before I became a Brand Storyteller. Still at business school, I hadn’t found my calling yet, but I remembered Buffalo Trace for years to come, not just its marvellous taste, but the story they shared on their site.
This is what product storytelling is all about. Approach it in the right manner, you’ll hook your audience like Buffalo Trace hooked me. So, how did they do this? Well, let’s take a peek under the hood, shall we…
HOW TO SECTION YOUR PRODUCT STORYTELLING LIKE BUFFALO TRACE
Considering my father worked in a brewery for 25 years, I have an idea as to how they make beer and spirits. Don’t get me wrong, making beer and whiskey and wine are different beasts, but I suppose what I’m trying to say is this:
I appreciate a lot goes into the making of you favourite tipple.
Buffalo Trace, like many others, have their secret ingredients and elements that are for their eyes only. However, they’re rather open as to what they share, which I find a breath of fresh air.
Their Bourbon Page offers an interactive peek into their product storytelling and how they do what they do, whisking their customers through the process of:
- Mash House
- Oak Barrels
Each stage provides a short video that discusses what Buffalo Trace do, how they make their whiskey, and the type of people/equipment they use. These videos are nothing special, but within a few minutes you begin to appreciate what goes into their product storytelling.
These are the videos that caught my attention those many moons ago, because they didn’t only teach me about Buffalo Trace, but how they make the drink I crave at a particular stage in the night. I knew beforehand it was a rather complex process, but didn’t appreciate the actual steps.
Buffalo Trace offered me this information for free, so is it a surprise I remember them, look for them in bars to this day, and follow their story online and off? I think not.
But these days there’s another reason I love their Product Storytelling, and it’s how they use the real estate on their website. You see, such an in-depth process could span several pages or require you to scroll down an awful lot. You also run the risk of placing a lot of words on the page, and a lot of images, and before long you lose all impact.
We live in attention deficit society, so your everyday guy or gal prefers the simple life… the nicely-packaged story that doesn’t ask for a lot in return. Buffalo Trace achieve this because they fit their entire product storytelling process in next to no space at all. The below image show you it in all its glory, which when you think about what they offer (8 videos, a lot of information, and a true peek into their brand), is enough to blow your mind, right?
Without knowing what your product or service is, I can say with great confidence you can split your product storytelling into sections. Whatever it looks like, you can break it into chunks so it’s not only easier to digest for your audience, but builds an immersive and interactive journey that asks them to join the fun (click, watch, click again, and so on…)
The problem with this is, too often you overcomplicate everything and tell too much. You drone on and kill all impact, and whether this involves several pages or a great deal of scrolling, it’s a tough issue to get around.
Buffalo Trace have found the balance, and I for one take a lot of inspiration from their product storytelling approach. It hooked me years ago, and continues to so today. They entice me to delve further, which bring us to our next point…
AN INVITATION DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
When it comes to storytelling, one of your main aims is to leave your audience wanting more.
Buffalo Trace open up their journey for you, share a great deal, but not so much that you have nothing else to learn. Once you partake into their product story, you begin to wonder: what does their factory look like? Who are the people behind this process? What happens next?
A good story entices you down the rabbit hole, because as a business, your overall aim is to start a conversation with your customer, continue this discussion and learn more about one another, and in the end, welcome them on board with an actual purchase.
Product storytelling is great, but if it doesn’t take your audience deeper down the rabbit hole, what’s the point? Well, Buffalo Trace know this all too well, which brings us to their Distillery Page.
As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of a brand having more than one website. I find it distracts from the overall story and message, but in this case I believe it works because Buffalo Trace takes you further down their rabbit hole by bringing you to this website.
More videos, more images, further history and heritage, and an interactive map that shows you their world in all its glory. If the previous website introduces you to the brand, and educates you about their product (and whiskey in general), this page provides the ultimate insight into WHO Buffalo Trace is.
It’s safe to say that if you spend a few minutes on this website, you’re hooked. Whether you visit them and have a tour of the distillery, buy online there-and-then, or sometime in the future when you’re next out-and-about, an interactive story like this hooks you; line-and-sinker.
This isn’t product storytelling, but the previous part was. It hooked you, educated you, intrigued you, and enticed you to delve deeper. Product storytelling isn’t the end game, rather the beginning of the tale.
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So, when you next consider your brand story and the role your products/services/you play within it, consider the bigger picture and what you plan to achieve: A sale? A visit? Brand Recall? Loyalty? Word of Mouth?
Where does your rabbit hole take your audience?
PRODUCT STORYTELLING THE BUFFALO TRACE WAY
I love how Buffalo Trace approach their product storytelling, because it isn’t the end game. As a standalone website, it’s informative and helpful and interactive to say the least, but they don’t rest on their laurels and assume that’s that.
We live in an attention deficit world of too much choice, so storytelling (in this instance, your product’s story) provides the means to introduce yourself and get your customer onside. But what next? Your product itself isn’t the rabbit hole, rather the tip of the surface.
Whiskey is whiskey after all, so what makes Buffalo Trace so special? What makes you and your brand so special?
There’s a lot to say about the power of product storytelling, but you need to appreciate it doesn’t end with a fancy video or attractive page of features and information. It’s the start of something special, and in my opinion Buffalo Trace lead you on a wild ride. What do you think? Are you a fan of their product storytelling, or are you left wanting more. Let me know on FACEBOOK or TWITTER because that’s where our conversation continues.
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