Gary Vaynerchuk (also known as Gary Vee) is arguably the most influential thought leader in the marketing industry at the moment. He built up his success through hard work and hustle, using the power of the internet to grow his father's wine shop into a multimillion dollar business before launching his own successful marketing agency and making a career as a keynote speaker and entrepreneur.
What makes Vaynerchuk interesting is how open he is with his career. He releases daily videos on his YouTube channel, which has over a million subscribers, and he uses his platform to take followers behind the scenes to show how he makes his decisions.
The chances are that if you're reading this then you already know who Gary Vee is and so we're not going to spend too much time summarizing his career to date. Instead, let's dive right in and take a look at what we can learn from him and how we can apply it to our marketing campaigns.
1. Don't make excuses
One of Gary Vee's current favourite questions is simply, "And?" The point that he's making is that even if people rattle off a long list of complaints about their current conditions, it ultimately comes down to, "And what are you going to do about it?" When you find yourself in an unfavourable situation, you can either complain about it and do nothing or you can try to change the situation you find yourself in.
From a marketing point of view, you can take this attitude and apply it to your campaigns. If something doesn't work as well as expected, don't waste your time playing the blame game. Instead, focus on what you can change and get cracking. After all, what's the alternative?
2. Hustle, hustle, hustle
Hustle is one of the most important elements in the Gary Vee philosophy and it's pretty easy to see why. When Vaynerchuk talks about hustle, he's talking about the need for people to put their all into something if they want to make it happen. So if you're working 9-5 and have kids to look after as well, hustle means getting on the computer at 10 PM and trying to follow your dreams by launching a business, learning a new skill or doing whatever else it takes to get you to where you want to be.
From a marketing point of view, hustle means continually trying new things and working hard when everyone else is taking a day off. When Oreo went viral with their "Dunk in the Dark " tweet, it was because a group of their key employees were hustling by watching the Superbowl from a special "war room" so that they could react to it as a brand in real time.
Vaynerchuk constantly teaches his followers to know what they're good at and to follow it through to its logical conclusion, and there's no reason why you can't do the same as a brand. After all, that's basically what Red Bull did. They specialize in extreme sports, which is why they sponsor events and athletes, share footage and even pull stunts like their epic space diving project with Felix Baumgartner.
He's not saying that you and your brand should look to space, though. If you're a finance company then perhaps you can specialize in mortgages or if you're a business consultancy then you could focus on management. Make this focus the basis of your content. After all, Vaynerchuk himself first found fame as "the wine guy". Why can't you do the same in your industry?
4. Jab Jab Jab Right Hook
This is the title of one of Vaynerchuk's many thought-provoking books, and this one focuses on a concept that helps you to soften up your audience before you hit them with a sales message. The idea is that your approach to marketing should be a series of jabs in the form of entertaining or educational content before delivering the right hook and hitting them with a call-to-action.
This is particularly relevant to content marketers and digital strategists because it requires a fundamental rethink. Perhaps instead of putting all of your webinars and whitepapers behind data capture forms, you should give some of them away as a sign of goodwill. Focus on hitting people with a series of jabs before you try to land that right hook and get people to purchase your product.
5. When you get knocked down, get up
Not all of Vaynerchuk's business deals have been a success and he makes no secret of that fact. He often says that he secretly hopes that he loses his empire just so he can build it all back up again. He's not saying you should go out there and deliberately scupper your business, but he is saying that when things do go wrong, you need to get back up and try again.
This is particularly relevant for modern marketers because not everything works. That's why we measure our analytics. Sometimes things go so drastically wrong that all you can do is pull a campaign entirely and start again, just as McDonald's had to do after their epic #McFail. What else can you do? When you're McDonald's, you can't just give up.
One of the biggest lessons that Gary Vee can teach us comes from a recent video in which he told the people who'd come to see one of his keynotes to leave the room, go home and start working. Ultimately, blog posts like these are a great way of finding some inspiration and picking up on some practical tips, but that's not going to do you much good unless you actually use them.
So go ahead and start working. Get your hustle on and put these tips into action. Thanks to the internet, there's never been a better time to get your voice out there. Start by positioning yourself as an authority on whatever you're passionate about and focus on your jabs so that when you're ready to deliver a right hook, people respond to it.
Above all else, remember to stay true to yourself and to play to your strengths. Work for what you want and don't make excuses. You'll be a success in no time.