Stories sell, details don’t.
I’m not a big drinker. I’ll have an occasional glass of wine or beer. Sometimes I’ll even have a mixed drink. I don’t like whiskey but my husband, Paul, does. So, it seemed natural to pay a visit to the Stranahan’s Distillery when we found ourselves in Denver, CO.
Stranahan’s produces a single malt whiskey and was the first legal distillery in Colorado. It was started by a chance meeting between Jess Graber and George Stranahan. Jess enjoyed playing with moonshine, and George was a brewery owner and whiskey connoisseur. One thing I learned about whiskey during the tour is that beer can be a starter of sorts for whiskey, and it was also the start of this friendship.
The tour we took ran just over an hour and included tastings. I gave my tastings to Paul; I took the car keys.
During the tour we saw the entire whiskey making process. There were vats to mash, ferment, and distill. We saw the barrels where they age the whiskey and where they bottle the finished products. We were taught a lot about distilling.
I’m writing this four days after our tour. I can’t say I remember much about how to make whiskey.
When the Details are in the Story
Here’s what I do remember:
- A fire originally brought Jess and George together.
- Jess asked George for a bad keg of beer. He used it to make a batch of moonshine, and it ultimately led to George and Jess’s collaboration.
- Jess’s barn was broken into by a bear. The bear stole Jess’s original still. Jess followed the bear’s tracks in the snow and recovered his still from the drunk bear.
- The pioneers who traveled west used a wad of tin to seal their bottles (there isn’t much cork in the US). Stranahan’s uses the image of tin seals as part of their bottle design.
- When Stranahan’s began their operations, there was no need for bottling – whiskey needs to age two years before it can be drunk. Two years later there was very little money to buy bottling equipment so they invited friends and family to bottling parties. A lot of their whiskey is still bottled by hand.
- Stranahan’s releases a special batch of whiskey once a year. It’s called “Snowflake” because no two batches are the same. People line up several days in advance of the December release. December in Denver is cold. These are hearty people who love whiskey and tailgating.
Why don’t I remember anything about distilling? We spent over 40-minutes going through the entire distillery, seeing all the equipment, and getting a complete explanation of everything we saw.
It’s about the story. People don’t remember facts; they remember stories.
When I speak with clients about how they market and sell their products and services they tend to share all the details about their product. The three sessions their clients get. The training and expertise that they have, and why they are qualified to offer their product.
But details are just that – details.
It’s true that the details are what make your product. Stranahan’s wouldn’t be what it is without a specific type of barley or custom made still. These details are vital to your process and to the quality of your product. In fact, without it your customer won’t come back.
What brings customers to you in the first place, and what gets them talking, aren’t these details but the story. Your customers remember stories. They will remember what drove you to create your product. They will remember how they experienced your product and tell their stories to their friends.
Think about this a moment – have you ever bought a product or service based on a story only to find that the product itself didn’t live up to your expectations? I know I have.
If you want customers to buy again, they need to buy in the first place.
Many people have told me they don’t know what kind of stories to tell so here are two ideas for you.
- Tell a story about why you created your product or service in the first place.
- Share stories about experiences your customers have had using your product.
Thoughts? Stories? I’d love to know.
Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments section below.