SXSW: Gary Vaynerchuk and The Thank You Economy

I will tell you straight out that I have a fan-girl crush on Gary Vaynerchuk. I find his enthusiasm infectious, and I agree with his perspective on a lot of things. Particularly on the value of hard work and on how you treat customers. I don’t know where you live, but everyone doesn’t value those things.

Quick backgrounder: Vaynerchuk was born in Belarus and moved to the United States with his family when he was a child. His father owned a liquor store, and Vaynerchuk had the entrepreneurial bug from a young age. He went into the family business but soon saw the potential to turn it into something much bigger than a local liquor store. He rebranded the store as the Wine Library and launched a retail website for the store in the late 1990s. Several years ago, he started producing a video blog about wine, Wine Library TV. He’s written two books about business and social media: Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion and The Thank You Economy.

Here we go. He’s appropriately starting out by thanking the audience for being here. And he’s going to try REALLY hard not to curse as much [big laugh from audience]. Lots of the session will be Q&A. This guy is really funny.

Calls himself “obnoxiously practical” — was alarmed when people read Crush It and emailed him to say they’d quit their jobs. Says he’s all about business…Zen and butterflies are nice, but he wants to make money.

He’s talking about his flight to Toronto that was canceled last week. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could have texted him to say, “We’re sorry”?

“If content is king, context is God.” Love that.

Cites’ Google’s Eric Schmidt who recently said, the same amount of content that was created from beginning of time til 2003, that same amount is now created in 48 hours. Vaynerchuk says, that’s why context matters.

Taking the room to task on customer care: Big companies are bad at this, but startups and tech companies are bad too. No one cares about the end user. Attributes his success to really caring about the customer.

I’m not sure he’s making good on his promise to curse less.

He’s got a big new customer in Chicago who’s a big Jay Cutler fan. They found him on Twitter and discovered he’s a huge Jay Cutler fan. They’re getting him a signed Jay Cutler jersey, not a nice bottle of wine or a free shipping code.

Brands and businesses that figure out how to impact the customer at the point of sale are the ones that will win. He believes we are on the verge of the “humanization of business.”

Talks about the change in the way pets have changed since 1950s. In 50s, dogs lived outside. Now lots of dogs live inside, sleep in your bed, eat better food than you do. Next we’re going to humanize brands. For the last 100 years, marketing has been push. Talks about how we’re ruined email. Remember how excited you were when you got your first couple of emails? Now everyone hates email, because marketers are drowning you. With email, marketers do all the talking. You’ve got to give first, not talk first. And stop trying to close so fast.

The world is a cocktail party. Your social street cred is critical. The context is critical. Vaynerchuk says, I can outcare anyone. I will win.

“There is no such thing as a social media campaign.” It’s the human equivalent of a one-night stand. You’ve got to build a relationship. Slams Old Spice for its heavily-lauded campaign last year: They don’t talk to anyone. They pushed media for 6 months but never talked to anyone. No one wants to follow someone on Facebook so they can push their commercials on us. Old Spice is the perfect example of what not to do.

Some rapid-fire thoughts:
Stop retweeting people who compliment you! You’re bragging! And stop trying to collect followers to donate money to charity! Content calendars suck. And can we please stop filtering people? Don’t pick who you’re going to respond to on Twitter by how many followers they have. And don’t throw a Twitter and Facebook logo on your TV commercial — that’s like throwing up a telephone logo. I need your number!

Your grandparents are far more prepared for what’s coming than you are. They understood the human connection, small-town rules. People who worry about metrics and ROI and not human connections are going to die.

He’s doing a great rant on traditional media metrics…they are no better than social/web metrics.

People are going to start battling on the care front.

Now he’s going into the audience to talk to a woman who thought the internet was a fad.

The internet is not a fad. Social media is not a fad because it’s @#&ing human. Caring is scalable now.

Only reason to spend more money on an equivalent product: Convenience and relationships.

In response to a question: Doesn’t think it’s in everyone’s DNA to be nice. In business, you are forced to care. Says it’s exhausting to care as much as he does, but that effort is grossly underestimated.

Update: Guy just came to the mike and gave a numerical report on the number of specific curse words Vaynerchuk has used. One of the biggest applause moments. His response: Getting better.

Update 2: At the tail end of his presentation [after I posted this], Vaynerchuk offered a deal on 5 sample bottles of wine from to everyone in the room, for 2¢. [Why not free? Liquor laws.] I took advantage of it…because how cool is that? So, just full disclosure on that point.