5 Ways Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is Social Media’s Success Story.
#1. He’s An Immigrant:
Born in Babruysk, Belarus in 1975, Gary Vaynerchuk was destined to stay in the USSR where immigration was tightly restricted. Without the former Soviet Union’s need for American wheat, Gary may have never reached the shores of the United States. At 3 years old, the Vaynerchuk family qualified to emigrate to the U.S. under the SALT 1 agreements in which Russian Jews were allowed to leave the USSR in exchange for wheat imports. Here’s a link to a 1981 Times article on the Cold War treaty http://www.nytimes.com/1981/02/22/opinion/what-price-a-soviet-jew.html. Once in the U.S., Gary and his other 8 family members shared a small studio apartment in Queens where Gary’s father worked at Shopper’s Discount Liquors, a family member’s liquor store in New Jersey, but eventually he moved the family closer to work in Edison, New Jersey and recruited Gary to work in the store for long hours and little pay.
#2. He Found Success At A Young Age:
Gary’s first entrepreneurial venture was pulling up yard flowers and selling them right back to their owners at age 14. Salesmanship ethics aside, young Gary obviously had the business drive he evangelizes today from the beginning. Moreover, Gary developed his trademark sales charm. Presumably being a cute, young kid helped too. Still in his teens, though, he managed to capture his local baseball card market. Gary made $2 an hour bagging ice in the basement of what was then his father’s liquor store, while he consistently made thousands of dollars on weekends selling baseball cards. The trick was having the expertise to know which cards were most valuable, and how best to sell them to the appropriate buyers.
#3. He Combined Internet Tools With Expertise:
Gary soon realized that baseball cards wasn’t the only market in which expertise made the difference between large and small profits. With his liquor and spirits background, Gary began meticulously reading up on the complex market of wine. He turned to the experts and thought leaders in the wine industry like Jancis Robinson and the Wine Spectator (#ASKGARYVEE). With the advent of the internet, Gary realized the marketing significance of online presence and created a website for Shopper’s Discount Liquors. After college Gary took over daily operations at Shopper’s Discount Liquors and changed the liquor store name to Wine Library. Using Google Ad words, Gary combined basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Wine Library with other marketing tactics like flash sales and email marketing. With time, online sales far surpassed in-store sales, and he knew the internet had more opportunities waiting for him. In 2006, Gary started the YouTube vlog Wine Library TV. This was the first wine vlog on YouTube (#ASKGARYVEE), and common content was wine tasting, and suggestions about which wine to pair with what food. Gary was drawing on years of wine sales and personal research. Wine Library TV aired for approximately 20 minutes an episode for 5 years and a thousand episodes. Gary’s knowledge of the world of wine was impressive, and was a big factor in the success of his family’s wine business, and social media attention. He knew the internet was becoming the biggest avenue for successful marketing and sales. In his first Wine Library TV episode, Gary said “I really think this is going to be an integral part of the way people buy wine, and everything in the world.” You can find this iconic debut video here: https://youtu.be/5Vo0nykupIo.
#4. He Started Small And Grew:
Since taking over his father’s marketing and sales, Gary grew Wine Library from $3 million a year in sales to $60 million in 5 years, but Gary didn’t want to capitalize on only some of the internet’s marketing benefits like website sales and email marketing. Despite existing for more than a decade, the internet was still young in 2006. Video content did not yet reign supreme like it does today, and video production/editing technology was not what it is now. So with a shaky, fuzzy Flip cam in a fluorescent drowned room, Gary aired his first Wine Library TV vlog episode. It was February 21, 2006 and despite having a hunch for the internet’s potential, Gary had no idea how much video blogging would affect the course of his personal and professional life. Wine Library TV started with absolutely zero followers. Gary’s expertise was amazing, but the video’s picture and audio were atrocious and in such a new field, internet perusers were skeptical of YouTube and vlogging in general. It was Gary’s energetic but focused energy that shined through the pixelation. It wasn’t just Wine Library TV’s followership that grew, it was Gary’s. Gary was the personality that impressed upon people.
#5. He Wasn’t Satisfied With Just One Success:
In five years, Wine Library TV exploded in popularity. But this was all still relative to Gary. March 14, 2011 was the last day on which Wine Library TV aired. On the very same day, however, Gary launched his next vlog, Daily Grape, a successor to Wine Library TV. Daily Grape though, was completely optimized for mobile and the modern internet age. Gary developed an app,website, and YouTube channel for Daily Grape. Even this venture was not enough to satisfy Gary’s entrepreneurial appetite, and after 89 episodes, Daily Grape came to a close (#ASKGARYVEE). Two years prior to retiring Wine Library TV and launching Daily Grape, Gary and his younger brother founded a social media agency called VaynerMedia and wrote his first book: Crush It! which rose to a #1 Amazon Bestseller spot. Gary was doing what he loved, writing and speaking about pursuing your passions, while doing it himself. Since 2009, Gary has written 3 more books. After Daily Grape, Gary has started 4 other critically acclaimed vlogs. Ultimately, Gary succeeded because he rarely squandered opportunities, and wasn’t satisfied with early success which was impressive by anyone’s standards. Since his monetary success, Gary has been an angel investor for Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat and other companies that started small and grew exponentially through hard work and creativity, just like Gary Vaynerchuk.