Gary Vaynerchuk initially came to fame for taking over his father’s wine business valued at $3 million and growing it to a $60 million company. Born in the Soviet Union, in a country now called Belarus, his family immigrated to the US in 1978 living in New York and then later moving to Edison, New Jersey. After taking over his father’s wine business in 1998, he started an e-commerce branch for the business and changed the business name to Wine Library. At the time, he had become fascinated with the power of the internet and was excited to take the wine business online. He created one of the very first wine-based YouTube channels where he produced videos and content to drive sales to the Wine Library online store. That was in 2006. 5 years later, the Wine Library TV had over 1,000 episodes and thousands of hours of video.
At the same time, he started Vaynermedia in 2005, a digital marketing agency focused on helping brands get discovered and known by people through content creation. The knowledge from growing Wine Library’s customer base through content and pricing helped him start his own agency as a show of proof of his abilities. Forbes estimates his current net worth to be around $160 million. His company, Vaynermedia now employs over 600 creatives and storytellers.
Gary leverages content marketing and the rise of social media to not only grow his personal brand but also get brands known around the world. His knowledge in these verticals is well sought after. Now, aside from running Vaynermedia, he speaks at various public conferences around the world. For startups and entrepreneurs, he is a thrill, mostly because he says it how he sees it. Even more so because he has helped brands turn around their ways of doing things from his massive experience and scintillating talks. For startups, the tips you can learn from Gary Vaynerchuk alone are no doubt valuable. This is why we’ve decided to feature him in our series of entrepreneurs who can teach startups something.
Gary has produced enough content on the internet and in real life to know what kind of content moves faster. He is all about speed, and it is not a secret that startups today are seeking to scale faster than any generation of companies before. His concept is called the Content Pyramid.
The Content Pyramid
One piece of long-form content can easily become the centre stage from which several little pieces of content are derived. The little pieces of content could be in form of memes, images, videos, GIFs, mashups, stories, remixes, rants, and quotes. The idea here is simple and can be described as follows:
Document >>> Create >>> Listen >>> Create >>> Distribute
It is a loop going from Documenting to Distribution. Here is what happens in each of those stages:
In this phase, you create the major cornerstone piece of content. If it is a video it could go on for hours. If it is an article, the limit to the number of words can only be set by you but longer is better. The same goes for podcasts.
Once you have documented the long-form content and posted it on one platform – could be your channel or blog – you go to the next phase of creating multiple pieces of little content from the pillar content. This could be in the form of videos, images, rants, short podcasts, remixes, shorter articles, videos, quotes, images, memes, or GIFs, etc.
These little pieces of content are then distributed to all social media networks from Facebook, to Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, etc. You also get them onto platforms like Quora, LinkedIn, and Medium among others.
Now is the time to pause your content production and listen to what your audience is saying. This is feedback regarding your now distributed content and the cornerstone piece posted on your channel or blog. There are several ways to listen but one of the most important is comments and reactions to the content. Some platforms that enable users to upvote or downvote content also allow you to follow the best-performing pieces. Platforms like Facebook where users can share videos, like, or comment on them help you to know what your audience thinks about the content.
Take all the insights collected from your listening and use them to create more little pieces of content for your audience. The listening part was integral because if you were keen there, your audience told you how to get them to share more, comment more, engage more, and bring your brand to the world using the content they liked. From memes to GIFS, videos to podcasts, quotes to articles, the data you collected has all you need for your content marketing success. Gary calls this community-driven content.
Again, distribute your community-driven content across all social media platforms and content-based sites like Medium and Quora. Using the content pyramid strategy, Gary was able to get 35 million views in total on all his little pieces of content based on this cornerstone video.
5 Important Traits of an Entrepreneur
Knowing how to make a sale is Gary’s most important trait. If you cannot successfully sell something, then entrepreneurship cannot possibly be your forte. Whether it is a physical product or a service, your selling capability defines whether you will be able to make the first sale and more, or not.
Something to prove
If you were born and grew up in a background of poverty, you might be driven by the desire to change that and make a better life for yourself and your family. If you were born into a rich family, people probably think you are a spoilt brat. However, if you do not want any part in your family’s riches and would like to form your own path and be self-made, then that becomes another driving force. The bottom line is that you need a driving force, and it mostly has to be related to personal experience to be enough of a driving force.
Do you rely on your own decision making or are you one to make decisions based on other people’s choices? If you are independent in making decisions and taking chances, you are most likely an entrepreneur by heart rather than someone who just follows where the wind blows.
Gary gives an example of Mark Zuckerberg as one entrepreneur who has instinct when it comes to understanding what direction consumers are moving in. When he saw that photos were becoming a proper thing, he acquired Instagram before it got to half a billion users. He did the same for WhatsApp upon realizing that messaging through the internet is becoming crucial and so many people were conducting business through the app. An entrepreneur has to be able to read the market and know to which side they are moving.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurship is not an easy road. Everything takes time. Years and years of commitment will finally give you much-needed success. If you are not a patient person, you are most likely to give up much earlier along the way. Being an entrepreneur is all about patience and believing in the process. Eventually, it all works out.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s PR & marketing strategy
Having defined the traits of a successful entrepreneur right from Gary’s playbook, let’s focus on the right public relations and marketing guide according to Gary:
1) Be practical with your money
We’re in an age where startups are burning through money like no one’s business, and so many founders are focusing on the next seed round rather than turning a profit. Entrepreneurship is slowly being watered down to cheeky and blissful tactics. Gary disagrees with this way of running startups. Startups need to treat their money practically. How much do you spend? How much do you make in return? What losses do you make? Or what profits do you make? At launch, you need to focus on income generation and turning profits. While venture capitalists have given so many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs a cushion, not many entrepreneurs have that advantage. You cannot run a business that is not making money and then expect to attract a venture capitalist who wants to heap a million dollars on you.
Entrepreneurs need to understand the real cost of the business, and it won’t come if you are burning $150,000 a week. You have to know how much of your capital is left to run your business and how long you can stay afloat. It is about being practical with your money. This allows you to build up the real muscle for your business to generate revenue. The positive side is that you are generating revenue and making a profit from day one. If you keep growing it is always on a profit basis. The growth is organic and you eventually get to the goal. Additionally, you won’t need investor funding and you won’t have to sell your stake. Your company won’t need to shift its goals, mission, and vision to align with those of your investors.
2) Commit, commit, commit
Gary talks about how much time he had to commit in the first year to get all his ventures to take off. Commitment is unquestionable in an entrepreneur’s world. Your commitment is probably what will keep the business afloat way after the motivation and initial excitement wears off. Putting in the hours every day counts and it’s ultimately what will make the difference between a failed business and one that flourishes.
3) Keep your word
When he started selling wine in his father’s business, his dad told him that if he ordered 500 bottles of wine he couldn’t cancel the order a day before because then he would have to drink all those bottles. The cost to the business would be dire. You have to say something and follow through, you will build a personality that people trust. You will grow to become a reputable entrepreneur. Promise to meet a deadline, and do everything it takes to meet it. Go to great lengths to build your company with honesty and discipline. This makes a person. Your previous clients will only refer you if they can vouch for your dedication to making your word your bond.
4) Start hustling
Many people get ideas, some very worthy of following through. However, most of them just sit back and hope they will get time to start working on those ideas. Sadly, people like those achieve none of the ideas. Actually do something. Start hustling. Get up from your bed every day and put in a shift on your idea. Leave your commitments that take so much time and start building on that dream. The only entrepreneur that achieves their dream is the one who is actively working on it.
5) Do not do it to buy stuff
We all want fancy cars, jets, houses, and posh lifestyles. But do not get into entrepreneurship for that. The goal has to be bigger than that. Aim for something more worthy that will push you from your comfort zone every day to actually do something. Gary can afford all these things, but he says he didn’t become an entrepreneur because of that. Material desire has never been his driving force. Don’t let it be yours because it is so temporary.
6) Zero entitlement
No one in the world owes it to you to buy your product. As they say, “the world owes you nothing.” And it is true. If you are getting into entrepreneurship, understand that money won’t come easily. No one will give you their money just because you wake up every day and work 18-hour shifts. That is a good thing. When people owe you nothing, they tend to underestimate you.
You are building something from scratch and you’re the only one who can see the goal. Therefore, most people will either not understand your vision or they won’t believe you can make it. Gary moved into the digital agency market when no one knew him. Yes, he had helped scale his dad’s wine business but that is all the experience he had. No client. No connections in the industry. He says it excited him because nobody thought he would build a successful agency. That lack of entitlement helped him push the boundaries from the very first client to the next one.
7) Aim to build a legacy
Does your business have a vision of what it wants to achieve? What problem are you solving? What legacy do you want to leave behind? Gary says he is always worried about what people will think of him in the long term. This has helped him stay on track to remain disciplined in his dealings. You might do something for short-term gain that jeopardizes your business in the long term. It pays to constantly worry about your legacy. Worry about the stories that will be told about you. Image is important. Especially online.
8) Always be on the offense
Never allow yourself to be caught out in the defense as an entrepreneur because that means you are now playing catch up – you are not the leader in your field. Always move with speed, and be on every social media channel before your competitor gets there. Innovate and stay ahead of the game. Lead the pack. Always aim to win. The thing about business is that if you let your guard down and begin to chase the pack, you might be lagging behind forever. Don’t allow that.
9) Do not bother about what your parents or teachers think
Sometimes people are used to living in a comfort zone. They do not want to try something new. They are in a state of comfort because everything works just fine at that point. Entrepreneurs hate being “just fine” and sometimes our parents or teachers might not understand. They might criticize or shut your entrepreneurship dreams down instead. Don’t listen to them. Just go for it. If you fail you learn, and you can go on to the next idea. If it works out, you win. Also, just because you might fail doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it.
Inspiring Gary Vaynerchuk quotes
Some of Gary Vaynerchuk’s quotes have been shared widely across the internet. Here are some you might enjoy;
Winning is not defined by me, by your parents, or even the market. It is defined by you.
Losing your focus?
I don’t care what anybody else has. I’m focused on my business. Start focusing on your business.
Actually do it
If 1 out of 15 of your ideas succeeds that’s better than 99% of your friends who never act on a single idea.
It is not about how much sleep you get. It’s about what you do when you are awake.
The rough road
Eat bad food for 24 months & eat caviar for the rest of your life.
Take the shot
Roll up to that attractive woman in the bar and ask her out. Roll up to that good-looking dude and ask him out for coffee. Roll up to your business idea and make it happen. Because being 50, 60, 70, 80, or 90 and regretting the fact that you didn’t swing that bat is the worst regret of them all.
Work. That’s how you get it.
Forget yesterday, last week, last month, that girl, that boy, that boss, that time. Let’s go. All this looking back is messing with your neck.
Most people lack the skill or ability to build multi-million dollar businesses. Entrepreneurs find a way to shake things up by doing the things we believed to be most unlikely. It is not the value of the business in monetary terms that is important, it is the impact it creates in society. Traveling down the path of an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but if you do it right it’s all worth it in the end.
How Pressfarm can help you push your venture to success
Are you part of a startup that is launching a new product or service? Just imagine how amazing it would be to let someone else worry about generating publicity for your startup, while you focus on perfecting your product. With a team of professionals who have experience working with brands from different industries, Pressfarm can do that for you!
Pressfarm provides personalized public relations services that will help you tell a memorable brand story that will capture media attention and inspire your target audience. We have experience writing press releases that will win journalists over and feature articles that will excite your target audience. We’re also skilled at designing media kits that showcase the unique personality of each brand.
On top of taking care of your content creation, we’re committed to helping you find the perfect journalists to cover your story. For this reason, we give all our clients access to our media database of over 1 million journalists across different niches. With this database, you can forget about having to comb the Internet for journalists every time you have a story to pitch. Check out our packages and let us help you tell a brand story that moves your target audience and inspires action.
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