Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most successful examples of how to create a sustainable business in the age of social media. He has continued to progress from being a conventional business owner, to a social media influencer to the builder of a new type of institution builder as the incumbent business models of advertising and media buying must evolve or die.
“I’m just always looking forward. I spend very little time, looking backward.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
The business philosopher Peter F. Drucker first wrote about the age of the ‘Knowledge worker’ in his book, ‘The Landmarks of Tomorrow’ written in 1959. Drucker believed that the knowledge worker would be the most valuable asset of the 21st century institution.
“To make the right decision the knowledge-worker must know what performance and results are needed… He cannot be supervised. He must direct, manage and motivate himself.”
– Peter F. Drucker
“This new knowledge economy will rely heavily on knowledge workers. …the most striking growth will be in “knowledge technologists:” computer technicians, software designers, analysts in clinical labs, manufacturing technologists, paralegals… They are not, as a rule, much better paid than traditional skilled workers, but they see themselves as “professionals.” Just as unskilled manual workers in manufacturing were the dominant social and political force in the 20th century, knowledge technologists are likely to become the dominant social—and perhaps also political—force over the next decades.”
- Peter Drucker, “The next society” Economist.com (November 2001)
Gary Vaynerchuk was born in Belarus, which was part of the Soviet Union in 1975. He travelled to the USA in 1978 and as a young boy in New Jersey he would get involved in entrepreneurial ventures such as operating a lemonade-stand and trading baseball cards. His father started a successful wine retail business and Gary would work in the store part-time.
After graduating with a degree in 1988 Vaynerchuk worked in his father’s discount liquor store.
At this time Gary would realise the potential of the Internet and would look to expand the reach and profitability of the company.
“When we launched the Wine Library website in 1996, I didn’t even own a computer yet. I just understood that there was an opportunity here to market in a different way.”
- Gary Vaynerchuk
In 2006 Veynerchuk would rename the company to Wine Library and he would look to add a new marketing approach. In 2005 a newly formed video-sharing platform called YouTube that was founded in 2005 by former Paypal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim gave users a platform to share and promote their own video content.
Vaynerchuk took the plunge and committed to understanding how to maximise the potential of YouTube to grow the Wine Library business. Another thing that he did was to use Google ad words before they become popular, so he managed to gain promotion for a very cheap price compared to what advertising prices on Google would escalate to in later years.
In the golden age of advertising (1960-70s) the brand would present a persuasive case to the consumer and they would passively accept or reject the ideas that would be presented to them. The advertising channels were primarily radio and television, so the consumer did not have much choice in the way that we do today. The consumer of the 1960s was less informed, less discerning, less sceptical, and less questioning of the authority of the brand to present their claims. Also the fields of propaganda, public relations, and psychological behavioural conditioning were all fairly new or unheard of to the conventional consumer at that time.
YouTube and the new wave of interactive media platforms allowed brands to communicate directly with their more enlightened consumer and an individual person could also build a ‘personal brand’ that would be able to communicate in a more transparent way than a large corporation could. YouTube also allowed the brand to hear direct feedback from the consumer in real-time. The consumer could also create their own mini platform to put forth their own point of view.
Vaynerchuck would present a daily show (Wine Library TV) where he would share his expertise on wine and give an opportunity to show his (brash and candid) personality and uniquely down-to-earth style. This gave him both an opportunity to build trust from people that would never have visited his store, and he also established himself as a personality in his own right. He mixed two essential elements for the new digital age that would aid sales, and these two things were education and entertainment.
He grew the Wine Library company from $3 million to $60 million turnover a year in under a few years before 2011, then he moved on to build his own companies using his skills in using the Internet to build his company and those of other brands.
In 2009 he launched VaynerMedia with his brother AJ and they would use their expertise to serve a number of the biggest brands in the world including PepsiCo, J.P. Morgan and General Electric to augment their online presence.
Gary V has the ability to spot opportunities and trends while others would wait around with cynicism attempting to explain why the Internet was a ‘fad’. He saw the future trends and frequently mentions his understanding of human behaviour, he was an early investor in Twitter and Uber as well as many others, and this ability to not only see but understand how things will happen in the future based on psychology and behaviour will serve as a guide for anyone who is looking to navigate their way through the modern world of creative destruction and change.
“Many people who I respected were disappointed when I started ‘Wine Library TV.’ They thought I was dumbing down wine, but I always knew I was one of the biggest producers of new wine drinkers in the world, and people are realizing it now.”
- Gary Vaynerchuk
“IQ is a commodity, data is a commodity. I’m far more interested in watching people interact at a restaurant with their smartphone. We can all read ‘Tech Crunch,’ ‘Ad Age.’ I would rather be living in the trenches. I would rather be going to Whole Foods in Columbus Circle to watch people shop with their smartphones.”
- Gary Vaynerchuk
GARY VAYNERCHUK (FULL INTERVIEW)
“I want to own the New York Jets, that’s what I want. And I absolutely believe I am going to own the Jets.”
- Gary Vaynerchuk