Gary Vaynerchuk ( @garyvee ), the "Social Media Sommelier," is perhaps one of the most admired video bloggers on the Web. Using social media to promote his video blog, Wine Library TV , Gary helped transform his family's wine business, who had formerly been using outbound marketing tactics, from a $4 million business to a $60 million business. Join Gary for his Inbound Marketing University live webinar class , Passion-Inspired Video & Other Content next Wednesday, October 28 at 1 p.m. EDT.
1. You’re currently on tour for your new book, CRUSH IT! Do you feel like a total rockstar? More importantly, what exactly is your book advising readers to crush?
I don’t feel like a rockstar, I feel ridiculously lucky to be able to go out and meet tons of great people and make some new relationships. The book is about this little thing called the Internet, and how it has changed the game. The gatekeepers have lost their power, and content producers have a never-before-seen opportunity to get their voice out and build brand equity. The cost of entry is now zero. Because it’s so cheap to get in, anyone can succeed as long as they’re willing to put in the sweat equity necessary to get themselves out there.
Marketing has changed in a huge way, too, and not everyone has completely wrapped their head around the implications. That blows my mind. If you would have told a marketer twenty years ago that they could hear what their consumers were saying about their product, they’d be pumped! My book shows how you can take advantage of this shift.
2. What kinds of cool and interesting things are you doing to promote the book?
By far the most impactful thing we’ve set up is the experience page , which lets people get added value out of a book purchase--whether it’s a wristband or a personal video or even dinner with me. I really feel that giving people an opportunity to interact beyond the physical book is going to be where more and more people are going to be moving in the future. Of course we also have gotten really involved with the blog community and the media, and I am beyond excited for the Crush It Cruise in March that everyone should sign up for, by the way. Basically a lot of stuff.
3. You talk a lot about the importance of passion in building a successful business. Why do you think it’s such a pivotal attribute? Won’t an awesome product just sell itself?
An idea isn’t enough though! Passion gives you the drive it takes to make a product awesome and convince people that it’s as awesome as you know it is. Building a business isn’t just about having ideas, it’s about executing them. Passion helps on both ends and that’s why I think it’s so important for people to start following theirs.
4. You’re best known for your video blog, Wine Library TV , which helped grow your family wine business from $4 million to $60 million. What was your inspiration for starting the video blog, and what sorts of challenges did you face and overcome when you started it?
I was one-percent unhappy. I woke up on my 30th birthday and realized that I wasn’t going to own the New York Jets if I didn’t make a change. Also, I had been waiting for an opportunity to get involved in the Internet. I’m not a good writer, so blogs passed me by, but when the Wine Library developers showed me Ze Frank, I was like, this is where media is going! I sent a stock boy out to the store to buy a camera, and I was off to the races. The challenge, which is what will face anyone trying to follow this model, is that you have to be patient. It took 6 months before anyone really took notice of what I was doing. And during that time I was working—hard! Engaging in the community, leaving comments on wine blogs, answering every email until 2 and 3 in the morning. It’s hard, hard work, but if you love what you’re doing, your passion fuels your engine.
5. Why do you think your video blog has been such a hit? What’s the secret sauce that has made it such a marketing success?
I care and I have the chops. Wine Library TV wouldn’t have worked if I didn’t have the wine knowledge to back it up. Wine is something I’m passionate about, I’ve been training my palate since before I was even able to drink it, and so people could see that I had put in my time and knew what I was talking about.
Maybe more importantly though, I cared. I cared about my community. I cared about everyone who had something good or bad to say about the show. People can tell when you care and when you don’t, and if you really truly care, you’ll win.
6. Through your experience, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned about branding? How can this be applied to any business looking to create a recognizable brand on and off the Web?
You can’t be a fake brand. You need to back up your talk. The Internet has made it so that everything is becoming transparent. What we need to start think of as branding is letting people know who you really are. So if you’re a business looking to create a recognizable brand , make sure that you’re acting the way you want to be perceived. Then start getting in the trenches and reaching out to your community and customers and start interacting. You can’t dictate your brand anymore, it’s going to be the result of a two way conversation you have every day with the world.
7. Which marketers, blogs, leaders, etc. do you get your inspiration (marketing or not) from today?
To pick one, I look at a company like Zappos that totally understands how to conduct business in today’s world. Tony Hsieh and his team have redefined the concept of customer service and are a perfect model for any brand learning how to navigate the social media space.
8. What is your least favorite type of wine, and what is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I don’t have a least favorite wine. My whole philosophy is to try new things and expand your palate. Even if something doesn’t strike my palate the right way, I am a more knowledgeable wine drinker for having tried it. The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten is the foam handrest next to my keyboard. One day it just ended up in my mouth.
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