Better Business Through Social Media

Gary Vaynerchuk re-branded his family's wine business in New Jersey, calling it the Wine Library and building a loyal clientele with his high-energy online videos on wine. Host Scott Simon speaks to Vaynerchuk about his new book, Crush It, a guide to using social media to build a business.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Late on holiday season, Gary Vaynerchuk realized his nationally famous New Jersey wine shop had mixed up a simple order of white zinfandel for an older woman who lived three hours away. She wasn't a big customer. Gary's time in the busiest commercial season was precious, but when he discovered the error, Gary put a case of the wine in his trunk and drove six hours round-trip to deliver it.

Why, Gary?

Mr. GARY VAYNERCHUK (Author, "Crush It: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In On Your Own Passion"): 'Cause caring is the differentiator in business.

SIMON: That's our friend Gary Vaynerchuk, who joins us every now and then to talk about wine, sports and other human spirits. He joins us now to talk about his new book, "Crush It: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In On Your Own Passion." Gary, of course, is the man who's turned wine green by comparing certain wines to the hind quarters of a sheep and recommended the right wine to serve with Cheerios.

His wine library TV blogs made Gary into a national brand name so he could kevel and kvetch about the New York Jets. Gary, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Scotty, thanks for having me again.

SIMON: This book isn't really about a wine, is it? It's about passion though.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Yeah, it's about why I was able to build my brand, monetize it to, you know, seven figures plus, and all I did was talk about the one thing I loved the most and why I know the kind of listeners you have right now love cooking, love gardening, mountain biking, parenting. And they could do the same thing 'cause the world's changed.

SIMON: Now, you think the sluggish economy notwithstanding, that business has never been more open because social media has opened up so many routes for people.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: The cost of creating your voice over the thing you're most passionate and knowledgeable about is zero. I mean, that's crazy, Scott. I mean, you know, the fact that you can create a blog or a community for zero, you can put out videos for zero, and now because of things like Twitter and Facebook socialize and network, you know, kind of like working a cocktail party, build your business.

Word-of-mouth is how all the businesses have always been built anyway, and that costs zero. Well, now it's time. Now it's no excuses. Put down the Nintendo Wii paddle, stop watching "Lost," it's time to build a brand around yourself.

SIMON: Well, what did you learn from your baseball card collection when you were a kid?

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: I learned a lot of things.

SIMON: I mean, you'd get a pack of baseball cards with some - let's put it this way - with some players that, you know, weren't the most promising or most sought after.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Uh-huh.

SIMON: I'm going to assume a lot of them were Cubs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: And Yankees in those days.

SIMON: Yeah�

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: During the bad Yankee years.

SIMON: Okay. All right. Cubs and Yankees. And you figured out a way to make people want them.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: What's storytelling, right? So potential in athletes is always exciting. You know, so everybody wants to buy Ken Griffey, Jr. and Frank Thomas. I made a big bet on a guy by the name of Kenny Lofton, who ended up becoming a pretty big star. So you know�

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: �you've got to look in different places. You have to fish in different ponds. Right now everybody's so focused on Twitter and Facebook, but what about Tumblr and what about Daily Booth? What about these different platforms and playing fields? They're out there.

SIMON: You have a stunningly practical bit of advice for people who are interested in building a brand. You say: use the predawn hours.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Scott, do you know how many people complain or are worried or not happy? A lot. You know, if you're really not happy, I just don't understand why you wouldn't get up at 6:00 a.m. and hustle and do a couple of hours of community work, meaning Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, all that stuff, around your passion and then go to work. You've got to pay your dues, do your thing.

But slowly but surely, you know, if you have eyeballs, advertisers and marketers and businesspeople are going to come to you. Opportunity comes. Everybody says, how do you monetize? Don't worry about monetizing so quickly. Get the 100,000 listeners, get the 30,000 listeners, get the 20,000 viewers, and you will be stunned how many brands are going to want a piece of that.

SIMON: We're big into some of the social media platforms, as you know.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Yeah, those are great.

SIMON: And, you know, we hear from people who are uncomfortable with that.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Listen, I don't want anybody to do anything that they aren't good at. You know, you read the book. I scream about owning your DNA. If you're not comfortable and you don't like people and you don't want anybody to know anything, well, then this is not for you. You know, I'm not going to convince you. But I feel like even if you're an introvert, you know, it's not something that you need to stay away from.

Don't forget: you control the message. You put out what you want to put out.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Right? I mean, well, I don't want anybody to find out. Well, don't say it. It's not very difficult.

SIMON: You're quite open in this book about declaring that you want to make enough money to one day buy the New York Jets.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: I've been pretty open about that statement my whole life.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, but, you know, now you're, I think you're on a route as a matter of fact. I have a memory that you weren't a big Mark Sanchez fan when (unintelligible)�

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: That is correct, that is correct. I booed on draft day. Now�

SIMON: And we'll explain to people, I mean, he's had a sensational rookie year with the exception of last week.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: I did boo the pick prior to knowing the details of the trade. But by then the television images and the damage has been done.

SIMON: Television images of you, right?

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: Of my booing, yes.

SIMON: Yes.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: That's correct.

SIMON: You get back to a bit of very fundamental advice, which is love your family.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: I just think about everything from the basis of I'm 95 years old and I'm laying on my deathbed. Am I thinking that I wish I made more money? I want to live my life in a way that I look back and I'm proud of it. Legacy is greater than currency, and that's just kind of how I live it.

SIMON: So what wine is best for serving with Cheerios?

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: You saw that. Yeah, so recently I did a Wine Library TV where I paired wine with cereal. The great, great combo out there is Riesling with Cap'n Crunch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: You know, if somebody's got some Cap'n Crunch right now, go grab a Riesling.

SIMON: Gary, always a pleasure to talk to you. I hope you can come back soon.

Mr. VAYNERCHUK: I appreciate it, Scott.

SIMON: Gary Vaynerchuk, his new book, "Crush It: Why Now is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion."

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