Gary Vaynerchuck – From wine retailer to social-media guru

Does paper speaks to the heart? Science says it just might!
June 1, 2017
Sales Trends 2017 [Infographic]
June 16, 2017

I’m here to tell you that you can. That I believe in you”

Gary Vaynerchuck, entrepreneur, self-made millionaire, self-styled social media guru.

An early web pioneer, Vaynerchuck’s success has drawn to him millions of followers and major brands – all keen to learn from his business-transforming social media skills.

His approach favors one-on-one communication, doing what you love, proving you care, and telling your story effectively on social media.

The Power of Acknowledgement

Like many self-made entrepreneurs, Vaynerchuck’s story begins with tales of lemonade stalls and early promise. His twist is a game-changing wink from his favorite baseball star, Rickey Henderson, when Vaynerchuck was just ten years old.

Vaynerchuck’s father had taken him to his first baseball game, so the story goes, and on the way back to the dugout, Henderson made eye contact with young Gary, and winked at him. It inspired true fandom; collecting cards, jerseys, and telling the tale.

The power of this small acknowledgement also made a lasting mark on Vaynerchuck’s approach to the power of social interaction.

He’s said:

“Engagement is key to building real relationships with the people you do business with. People want to be heard and feel like their opinions matter.”

Wine Library

Vaynerchuck had an opportunity to put his ideas into practice when, having graduated from Mount Ida in Newton, Massachusetts, he began working full-time in his father’s liquor store in Springfield, New Jersey.

In 1997, while still at college, Vaynerchuck had launched a website – His father bankrolled Vaynerchuck’s experimentation with new online tools like Google Adwords as well as more traditional media. His success – when few wine stores had a web presence, let alone were advertising and selling online – was phenomenal.

Vaynerchuck’s social media strategy helped him grow his father’s wine business from a $4m to, by 2003, a $45m business – an impressive growth rate in just five years for a young man fresh out of college.

His father’s shop, “Shoppers Discount Liquors”, was rebranded Wine Library.

Social Media Guru: Vayner Media

Having successfully ridden the wave of Web 1.0 – and survived when many hadn’t, Vaynerchuck was also early to hop onto the next wave. In 2006, he launched Wine Library TV – a viral, irreverent wine appreciation show which drew 100,000 viewers at its peak.

Vaynerchuck has said:

People think I’m a huckster, but with my show my intent isn’t to sell our wine. It’s to educate people about wine. There’s a big difference. Too many companies think they want to do a video blog to sell merchandise, but if you turn your site into QVC, you lose. I have an audience that trusts me. It’s about building a global brand – not selling four more bottles of Pinot Grigio.

With so many followers, and dispensing advice as much about branding and online marketing as wine, Vaynerchuck’s celebrity identity began to garner attention. A ten-book publishing deal in 2009, six-figure-sum speaking engagements, and an #AskGaryVee social media profile based heavily on short video tips followed.

Then, in 2009, with his brother AJ, he launched the digital agency, VaynerMedia. Seven years on, the agency now employs more than 500 people and turned over $67 million in 2016.

He is keen to emphasize the business is about more than him alone:

Of course, I may be the gateway drug to opportunities,” he’s said, “but we wouldn’t be where we are if I was the be all and end all.

Celebrity Entrepreneur

His reputation as a leading marketing expert has opened up new doors. The latest being the forthcoming Apple show which is being trailed as somewhere between “Shark Tank” and “The Apprentice” for app developers.

Vaynerchuck is now on book four of his ten book deal. Along the way, he has become an investor in new technology businesses, and has co-founded the Vayner RSE fund. Although his self-promotional style has raised eyebrows in some quarters, he has argued:

I never actually set out wanting to be a personal brand, leveraging that to sell my own stuff. Instead, it’s how I learned my craft. here

Read more: