How do you make a buyer’s guide to strengthen your brand? We’ll provide you with tried-and-true tips and go into detail over a series of five posts. For part four, we turn to Hollywood for advice on the essential components of a buyer’s guide.
If you write about or sell widgets all day every day, it can be tough to see them with new eyes, much less find new and interesting ways to describe them.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to tap into the TV and film world to get a better understanding of the process of not only creating a series or movie, but building the backbone and supporting structure — and detail how these tips can be applied to your buyer’s guide.
Why a bible is an essential buyer’s guide component
In the TV world, most series start out with a bible that outlines everything that will happen throughout the entire run of a show. It might start with the smallest details, like the lead character’s chipped tooth or favorite slang words.
It might then expand to include everything from their best friend’s pet to a divorce that happened long before the series began. The reason for a series bible is simple — consistency. It helps viewers understand not only who the character is today, but how they came to be that way.
Add in a logline or maybe a nut graf
Almost all TV shows, movies or entertainment properties can be summed up in a single sentence or two known as the logline, which IndieWire defines this way: “It’s the one- or two-sentence summary of your film that not only conveys your premise but also gives the reader emotional insight into the story as a whole.”
If you want to pad out your introduction in your buyer’s guide, you might expand on the logline to create something often used in journalism called the nut graf, which journalism resource Poynter explains this way: “The nut graf tells the reader what the writer is up to; it delivers a promise of the story’s content and message. It’s called the nut graf because, like a nut, it contains the “kernel,” or essential theme, of the story.”
While loglines trace their use from early Hollywood when producers preferred to read a short synopsis rather than an entire script, a nut graf sums up an entire story, or in this case, buyer’s guide, in the appealing introduction.
If you’re stymied by what to include in your buyer’s guide, start off with a line and then build your initial paragraph. You can then add in data, descriptions and usage instructions as you go.
Consider creating a style guide so you have a foundation for your buyer’s guide
If you still need a bit of inspiration before you even begin, you might consider creating a company-wide editorial style guide. In this way you have an undisputed reference guide for every single piece of future content you create — much less distribute widely.
It sounds like this might involve a lot of heavy lifting, but by having the foundation for all future guides, it makes it that much easier to maintain and update. It also allows you to more comfortably work with others since there’s an outline in place that has to always be referred back to and integrated into the end result.
You can also play around with structure or presentation. For instance, if you’re targeting a more creative end-user, you might consider creating something of an ebook using fun graphics a la graphic novels or even comic books.
Learn from the rebranding of a heritage brand
Sometimes studying an update is the easiest way to figure out how to create your own materials from scratch. For instance, iconic luggage and handbag brand Vera Bradley — best known for quilted bright floral prints and loads of hidden pockets and extras — launched two new collections.
“Balancing our heritage while coming across modern and fresh is something we focus on every day. We are a company proudly built on quilted cotton, but we’ve been focusing on fabrication technology and innovation over the past several years to provide more options to our customers,” shared Beatrice Mac Cabe, chief creative officer of Vera Bradley.
She continued, “Last year, we released our new Performance Twill collection, which marries innovative water-repellent fabrication and our iconic silhouettes — and this year, we are thrilled to provide our customers with even more options by adding the sustainable ReACTIVE collection to our portfolio.”
But let’s back up for a moment. In creating brand offshoots, Vera Bradley built on the products and designs already most beloved by loyal clientele and then created a modern approach that still incorporated their classic appeal.
When trying to create a buyer’s guide, list the hallmarks of your product or brand and then find reasons why this is the brand people want or need right now. In this way, you offer not just a value proposition, but you prove to potential customers that you plan on sticking around.
Keep your customers’ needs and interests at the top of your list
Don’t worry about dazzling them with clever wordplay, when creating your buyer’s guide, you must always keep in mind what your customer wants and how you provide it. “We are always responding to our customers’ passions and what we believe to be the right things to do in a changing world,” Mac Cabe said.
To that end, “Sustainability is so important to us and something we wanted to start to incorporate into our brand. Happily, our customer feels the same and is very supportive of this direction. We see this launch as an evolution for us and a step toward a bigger future promise, as we’re always researching and innovating to provide her with the best possible options. A small change can make a big difference — in this case, almost 3 million bottles in two seasons — and we are so excited to start this journey with ReACTIVE.”
Why are you creating your buyer’s guide? Is it to sell the same old thing or to allow customers to know their voices are being heard? Even if you are simply selling what you’ve always sold, try to create a timely reason for the updated guide.
(Consumer) age is just a number
Don’t market your guide exclusively to a single demographic since you could risk alienating a secondary or third potential customer base. ForVera Bradley, consumer research produced unexpected results.
“Customer research is very important to us,” explained Mac Cabe. “Our assumption was that sustainability was geared towards younger generations, but we found that nearly 70% of our current customers consider the environmental impact of a brand to be important, so it’s definitely a cause that spans generations. Our customers are everyone from Gen Z to Gen X — really she is someone who buys our product because it’s functional and beautiful.”
And therein is the most important part of any buyer’s guide, know your core audience but create a document that can be interpreted by (and be attractive) to a secondary and third demographic as well.
Similarly, luxury fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquiere, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, is designing clothing for characters in the popular fantasy video game, ‘League of Legends.’ The partnership has pushed the luxury fashion brand into other parts of the entertainment world — and to other, potentially unlikely, audiences.
As explained in a press release, “The strategy is intended to broaden ‘League of Legends’ audience beyond just gaming circles, while broadening LV’s target market.” And therein is one of the more modern approaches to selling your product.
Allow your buyer’s guide to attract additional potential customers while explaining to your core demographic what you hope to sell them.