If you've ever stepped foot into the marketing world, you've probably heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, a veritable business tycoon. In just 10 years after founding VaynerMedia, a full-service global agency, he grew to almost 1,000 employees.
Of course, Gary didn't start there. As a Belarusian immigrant to the US, his first business successes came as a kid, selling lemonade and flipping baseball cards. The major turning point came as he identified the Internet as a golden opportunity in the 90s, transitioning his father's liquor store into one of the first e-commerce platforms, and growing from $3MM to 60MM in sales.
In today's world, where advertising mediums are over-saturated and user attention is wearing thin, the strategies he used in the 90s can't be copy-pasted, but the core lessons remain the same: Put out interesting content, be valuable, and have empathy. And he walks the talk, pumping out a massive volume of content like a podcast, video series, daily vlog, and several books along the way — not to mention his extremely high engagement on social.
Basically, he's the guy to listen to when it comes to getting your shit together in marketing, sales, and everything digital. If you think those aren't important to you, then you've already lost, because no one cares about your product. Let me repeat that: No one cares about your product. They care about the value it brings to their lives. So if you're new to the game and don't have a huge existing user base to tap into, you need to figure out the attention game fast.
Here is Gary's Best Advice for Tech Startups
At the core of Gary's advice is work ethic and patience, basically putting in the grind and watching it play out in the long-run. He wasn't looking for shortcuts when he grew his father's liquor store for years, and he's not handing out advice to those looking for a quick-fix. Actually, a metaphor he uses is that you gotta "eat shit."
1. Don't Be Romantic About Your Tech
What's even more true than the fact that people don't care about your product is that no one cares what tech you're using. This is especially important for the hundreds of startups touting their use of a hype technology like blockchain or AI as if it adds value. Using tech is not inherently valuable, so stop pretending it is.
When you get attached to using a certain technology, you take the focus away from the user. Before Pokémon GO, Gary said this about Nintendo:
"[Nintendo was] being romantic about console video games and that they could dominate the app market if they actually went for it."
Far too many tech startups are "romantic" about the way they handle business. They favor using a certain tech, like blockchain, without first questioning if that's what the market cares about (hint: they don't).
2. Attention to Your Product is Key
You need to bring attention to your product in the form of people who care about what you're doing. As Gary writes, it's about attention, not impressions. Countless tech startups boast about their accolades, PR features, or ProductHunt metrics, but what matters at the end of the day is a single question: Are people paying attention to and using your product?
A great way to do this is with a rock-solid content marketing strategy. And by "rock-solid," I mean a massive amount of content. Gary has put out an amazing content model for you to follow.
3. Make Your Product Better
A lot of wantrepeneurs can't take feedback, their ego won't let them. That's a problem, because that means their product will be shit, and, as Gary puts it, no amount of marketing can save a shit product. I wrote about this recently as well: Feedback is key, and if you don't take it you're a bad entrepreneur.
4. It's Easier to "Close" New Client Deals In Person
Gary is a bigger evangelist of digital than anyone, but even he recognizes the huge importance of trust and relationship building, which is best done in an offline setting. He recommends hosting events (through the help of ads and "raw" video) to bring together potential clients, making you like the "popular kid" at school. Gary calls this the "High School Party" strategy.