Gary Vaynerchuk has captured attention with his pioneering, multi-faceted approach to personal branding and business. After primarily utilizing traditional advertising techniques to build his family’s local wine business into a national industry leader, Gary rapidly leveraged social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to promote Wine Library TV, his video blog about wine. As his viewership swelled to over 80,000 a day, doors opened to a book deal, several national TV appearances, and a flurry of speaking engagements around the world. Gary’s dual identity as both business guru and wine guy has made him the “Social Media Sommelier.”
Gary’s remarks on personal branding, social media, and business at FOWA, Strategic Profits, and South By Southwest occasioned praise from established web denizens including Kathy Sierra and earned the admiration of countless bloggers and aspiring entrepreneurs. Check out the Keynotes tab above for more video and check out Gary’s national TV appearances on the left!!
Gary’s landmark seven-figure book deal with Harper Studio was featured in The Wall Street Journal and he was recently profiled by The New York Times and Market Watch. Watch his interview with Business Week for Gary’s advice to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Question: What is your secret of social media success?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I just want people who are watching this; obviously I understand the profile of people that would watch this, to understand that I, and plenty of the people that I respect, are not in the business of collecting a million twitter friends. This isn’t ‘Ha, Ha.’ I’m not here to joke around. We’re here to build big businesses. This is a platform shift.
You’ve got to understand, we’ve been playing under the same rules of society for a long time when it comes to telling stories, newspaper, magazine, radio, billboards, television. And television way up here with other print media that was quite important. I mean, this is big. Anybody can be in the game. I mean, that’s wild to me. That fact that you could become the authority about foreign affairs online, and not spend a lot of money is staggering. Now, you have to have the chops, you probably spent a lot of money on your college bills, or you know, learning it, or paid your dues, but the most important chocolateer in America can make $7 million a year. Right? Through sponsorship and speaking engagements and deals selling chocolate. That person can come out of the internet in 24 months for the grand total of $5,000 and a crap-load of hours. And I just don’t think people can believe in it because it wasn’t true 36 months ago. And I understand why people don’t believe in it, but I know it’s true and I’m excited for this shift because I think a lot of people that would have never been able to be really happy talking and conversating around the thing they love most are going to be making $79,000 a year and maybe not a buck-ten, but 79, but boy oh boy, waking at 11:00 eating Captain Crunch you know, hanging out with their kids and then the people who have the true talent, listen, I feel like I’m going to make billions from the platform. So, it’s just really a big shift, it’s a ging-change your business, everybody will be affected by it, and the quicker you wrap your head around – instead of making fun of it because you just don’t want it to happen, learn a little bit, touch it a little bit, don’t give up after three days, ‘oh this is stupid,’ and understand where it’s going because boy oh boy, there’s a lot of chatter about how stupid Amazon was in 1995 and 96 when I was doing WineLibrary.com, all of the same conversations from my industry, the wine industry, about how stupid WineLibrary.com was and how it wouldn’t work, and shipping laws. And it worked. And so did Amazon, and so did the Huffington Post, and so are many, many, many other things.
So, it’s reality. It’s only going to get much bigger and stronger, and it’s kind of like a lion. If you get a little lion and you have it when it’s a couple of days old, you can have it in your house as a pet. You just can. And when it’s a little bit older, it gets to that weird zone where it’s kind of like bigger, but you’re still kind of okay, bigger than a dog, not too scary. But eventually that damn lion is going to eat you, if you keep it in your house. And I think this Internet platform – not Facebook, not Twitter, not YouTube, the platform of the internet, it’s going to eat up every other one and so, you better pay attention.
Question: What new media niches have yet to be exploited?
Gary Vaynerchuk: it's really endless, right. I mean there is not that many people that own a space. Here's what I know. Anybody that spends a good amount of time on their computer and they think about wine, I've got a really good chance of being the first thing they think about. The fact that there is not a beer version of that and a coffee version, I -- and going to thing I believe in the most, I think tea in this country is going to be monstrous. When? Probably five to nine years from now. But boy oh boy, if you start laying down the foundation now, owning that niche, owning the pockets of tea drinkers in this country.
Starbucks is going to have a ten million dollar contract in front of you in eight years if you pump out -- if I switch to Tea Library TV right now and ran it hard for five years straight and did everything that I think about doing, there is not an ounce in my body that doesn't think I can make ten million dollars a year in five years.
So I think that there is yoga and gardening and sports center. Where's the sports center of the web? There is a lot of stuff. There is a lot of, a lot of niches. MMA. Who's the MMA personality online? Who's the person that everybody -- who's the Bill Simmons, the sports guy at ESPN version, for MMA online that every single -- I mean, there is money on that. Advertisers are clambering towards that sport and if you are the Internet voice, there is big dollars in that.
So I think that if people really follow their passions -- that's why I wrote this book -- and really owned that space because they love it, that passion, they'd spend the 18 hours a day in the trenches that are needed to build this business because this a marathon. I didn't stress about capitalizing on Conan because Conan was a little piece in a much bigger game.
Recorded on: September 15, 2009