The Gary Vaynerchuk Guide to
Enthusiastic Copy

Gary Vaynerchuk

Raise your hand if you know who Gary Vaynerchuk is.

For those of you with non-elevated arms, Gary Vaynerchuk is the host of Wine Library TV, a daily online video show on wine that serves as a promotional tool for the local and ecommerce wine business he’s involved in. Gary’s web fame has landed him in The Wall Street Journal and Time, and he’s appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen.

So what’s the big deal?

New York Magazine refers to Gary’s style as an “unpretentious, gonzo approach to wine appreciation,” with an emphasis on gonzo. Vaynerchuk’s unabashed enthusiasm would prompt Sonia Simone to lovingly refer to Gary as a wine dork. Check out his latest show below for a taste.

Here’s the deal. How would you translate Gary’s enthusiasm into textual content?

It would be tough, right?

Maybe use exclamation points, big bold language, red headlines and subheads, colorful highlighting techniques… I think you see where I’m going with this. To translate Gary into text without losing his enthusiasm and passion for wine, you might well end up with the type of copy that marketing narcissists and sophisticated net heads routinely turn up their noses at.

And yet Gary has tons of those types of hype-adverse people among his loyal fan base. So what’s going on here?

Well, I think Gary makes a good case for the expanded use of video and audio for content and message delivery. It’s a whole lot easier to get across enthusiasm with voice inflection, facial expressions and body language. Try to do it in text, and suddenly to some you’re not innovative, you’re a cheese ball.

Keep in mind, however, that as popular as Gary is, not everyone digs his style. Plenty of people are likely turned off, with wine traditionalists lamenting Gary’s use of what they view as an infomercial style for wine promotion.

Doesn’t matter. Gary has the courage and the good sense to be truly unique, and to attract the audience that’s right for him. As the good Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

The bottom line is this: Gary’s gonzo style isn’t a good fit for me to use, and it might not be right for you. But if you don’t find a way to get your authentic enthusiasm across, you’re not going to achieve your online marketing goals.

And if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’re doing, why do it?

Photo Credit: Erik Kastner.

About the Author: Brian Clark is the founding editor of Copyblogger, and co-founder of Teaching Sells and Lateral Action. Get to know Brian better by following him on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. I am humbled by the focus on what I am doing, you are doing amazing work here and I have heard nothing but good things about you from peeps that know you/your work! Thank you and I hope we can cross paths soon. Oh and though not everyone might get it, my mission to meet all the peeps in the world and get them to know me is in place~

  2. Hey Gary, thanks for stopping by. I’ll look for you on the book tour (congrats on that, btw). :-)

  3. Ha, I love it! Yeah, I would def. call Gary a “wine dork” (and Gary, that is a big compliment).

    Not only does it make commercial sense to let your enthusiasm rip, but I think it’s apparent from Gary’s show that it’s also a lot of fun.

  4. Interesting advice from a copywriting blog: give up and use video and audio because text copy is actually a little limited in communicating enthusiasm. Go figure.

    Why not open it up? Set readers of this post a challenge: How would you communicate this same level of enthusiasm using text?

    This is exactly the kind of challenge professional copywriters get from clients – so why not have a go?

  5. And if you think Gary’s style comes through in video, just wait to meet him in person. Enthusiastic is the understatement of all understatements.

    Brian, you’ve hit the nail on the head–be authentic and stay with it and you’ll attract the people who appreciate your style. Gary doesn’t dumb it down or soften the edges, he’s real and transparent and that’s why he may even have a chance at buying the NY Jets someday (his dream).

    Thanks for sharing this Brian…I think all of us have a lot to learn from Gary. I’ll be thinking of this with writing…

  6. Kenobi, two things.

    First, nowhere did I advise anyone to “give up and use video and audio…” I said it’s difficult to express enthusiasm without being accused of hyperbole and cheese (and from of some of your past comments, I suspect you’re one of those who’s quick to judgment in that area).

    Second, what do you think the basis of audio and video content is? It’s copy, not thin air (check the Ira Glass post just before this one).

    In fact, we’ll be exploring copywriting for audio and video quite a bit. Just in case you remain unconvinced. :-)

  7. Gary, I’m a true wine dork. I stand in the isles of the beer store trying to learn more about wine; more than the countless bottles of Boone’s Farm during college afforded me. I will watch your videos and hopefully be an enthusiastic wine dork that knows exactly which isle to go down from then on.

    Buck

  8. You know, the working definition for “copywriting” has been “salesmanship in print” for ages now. I think it started all the way back with Caples. Only recently have I started to hear copywriters start changing that definition to fit the use of audio and video.

    Probably the best definition I’ve heard is “multiplied salesmanship.” Because really, that’s what it is. Instead of selling one person at a time, you’re pitching thousands or millions of people at a time. The medium doesn’t really matter — all of the same copywriting principles like research, catching attention, building relationships, handling objections, etc. still apply.

    But not many people are talking about how to make the transition to new forms of media. It’s a shame. I think you’re right about the marketplace being much more receptive to video than they are to print. By not making that transition with them, copywriters are violating their own rules.

    You know, someone should do a course on multimedia copywriting. It would probably be a huge hit :-)

  9. @ Jon – I think Darren Rowse is doing something like that on ProBlogger with the Web Video University.

    @ Brian – ah com’on. I’d love to see you in a video like this talking about how excited you are about “this headline.” ;)

  10. Great article — he is definitely a good example to use in this piece. We also love Dr. Suess’ quote… very true!

  11. Hey Gary, props to you for letting your personality shine through. Isn’t that the great thing about the Web?

    I think you and Jim Cramer might be cousins. Just make sure you don’t flip out like him in front of the camera. :P

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOVXh4xM-Ww

    J/K, you’re much cooler than Jim Cramer.

  12. I came across this site today, and just wanted to offer my thanks. You guys are posting some great info here, and I plan on checking often.

  13. It’s all in the delivery, really.

    My first job out of high school involved writing radio spots for a tiny local station. You can write with unabashed dorkiness and personality, but it’s ultimately up to the “talent” to convey genuine passion, or canned-on-demand enthusiasm, to the audience.

    The delivery of an underqualified general manager with all the personality of a can of potted meat can ruin even the most sparkling copy. But I digress.

    Conversely, a poorly-written script can hobble even the best delivery.

  14. Excellent points, Kat. I think the ideal social media content producer writes her own material to match her own delivery style.

    But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Tony Clark and I work well together with my writing and his voice over and visual production. It’s all about making a good match.

  15. charles Bayer :

    Man, you’re way behind the times — I talked about GV in my first ever blog (bayer12.blogspot.com) which I posted in March ’08 about “Arnie” going AWOL at the NADA Convention in San Francisco — regs Charles Bayer; bayercharles@yahoo.com

  16. @ Roland- Thanks for that clip. Loved it.

    The links to the very cool and fun Gary would not work for me. It could just be traffic.

  17. Brian,
    In listing Gary’s media exposure, you forgot my podcast. :-)

    As Gary would say, you have to embrace your personal DNA. Gary does what Gary is. That takes courage and that’s why he’s so popular.

  18. I am reminded of a number of people who have come before Gary with his particluar “in your face”style but that is by no means a detraction. What makes him stand out is passion for his subject and his delivery. If only there was more of that out there.

    Rick

  19. I’m really looking forward to a bit of Copyblogger treatment applied to video. That would rock. Most of the video I’ve done hasn’t been scripted (copywritten), but you are waking me up to this possibility.

    The boys at StomperNet and a few others are doing this very well. I’ve noticed some of the things they do, how they apply marketing and copywriting techniques to their videos. In some ways, it’s masterful, but in other ways, it’s a lot of Cheez Whiz. But they know their audience. And it’s not themselves. :)

  20. Writing for the pleasure of writing.
    Writing what you like and think and want.
    As if it was enough to be enthusiastic to write well.
    Of course some enthusiasm adds to what you write, but being a good writer is also being able to write what you are not so enthusiastic about.
    Let’s say, you are a good writer if you can become enthusiastic about what you write. Let’s say there is nothing really boring, but there are things you know and things you don’t.
    And usually you know the things you like, and you know them well.
    But my personal experience is that if you go deep into the matter you have to write about, then you usually begin to like it.
    There is always a good side on everything, that is explainable by the fact that there are so many matters and the tastes of the people are so different.
    Is there something that wouldn’t find a follower?
    Well, being a good writer is also that: finding followers for a subject nobody is interested in.
    Lighting the good sides of it, making them alluring, waking up curiosity.
    That begins with the title.
    A good writer knows what to say to wake up curiosity.
    A good writer is the one who makes you clicking and wanting to read more…
    And the magnificent writer is the one who is able, beside making the reader reaching the end of the post, making him happy to have read it.

  21. I completely agree, let it out!

  22. Dear Brian,

    Your point is well taken about matching your message with your medium. Using Gary V and “enthusiasm” as an example of your theme is inspirational.

    I am a Copyblogger and wine enthusiast. I am a frequent visiter to the Wine Library. Gary V’s innovative approach of combining wine education, an exciting in-store experience for his customers and a wonderful web site is the gold standard for the industry.

    I enjoy Gary V’s unabashed, enthusiastic broadcast style. It suits him well because he is authentic.

    You possess a marvelous ability to convey your enthusiasm and emotions in your writing. You are an authentic copyblogger.

    Would your readers prefer to watch you on a video? Would you be able to convey the same edge visually and verbally? I have watched and listened to authors I love to read, and have been disappointed.

    Thanks for the thought provoking, enjoyable post

  23. Lawrence, every time I speak at a conference, I lead off with a joke… which is essentially after I speak, you may wish I’d stick to writing. :-)

  24. Hey Gary,
    Video is an absolute great way to get your point across, but what about Doodles and call-outs for direct mail pieces. This might be the exclamation points of print you were looking for. Check out a quick review on my blog http://vtmiller.blogs.com/webinfarmation/2008/04/copydoodles-is.html

  25. Brian,

    Thank you for another great post – I’m looking forward to future dialogue about copywriting for audio and video. I’m becoming an awfully big copyblogger fan despite my best cynical efforts. Keep up the good work.

  26. “if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’re doing, why do it?”

    Because they’re paying me.

  27. “if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’re doing, why do it?”

    Because they’re paying me.

    Well, this is saying the most with the least.
    The point is not doing it, it is doing it well.
    And certainly you are enthusiastic of doing something if they pay you well, or if they pay you little, but you need that little.
    It really doesn’t matter what, but if.
    The reason, whatever it can be, is ALWAYS a good reason.
    I can be quite enthusiastic if the reward is a good one, because I try to do my best and trying to do your best is a way of being enthusiastic about it. Isn’t it?

  28. The level of enthusiasm may not be right for everyone, but you can’t argue against being passionate about what you do and write about.

    Gary is clearly passionate about wine and that is infectious even if the expression of that passion turns some off.

  29. For an example of really good, really enthusiastic copy writing check out IttyBiz.com. I am not affiliated with the site, just a loyal reader.

  30. @James- I am chuckling, enthusiastic…she’ll love that.

  31. Enthusiasm is what gets you noticed…

    What happens afterwards is up to you.

    Props to Gary for keeping it going!

    For sure, resonance factors in quite heavily. This type will turn some people away, but the ones that stay will be telling their friends about it.

    Organic — viral — current.

    Can’t ask for much more than that in the overall marketing recipe.

  32. wonderful discussion you guys are having. I agree that possibly some new techiques need to be taught in terms if copy-meets-video, but if the main message is compelling enough, wouldn’t ANY medium work?

    Technology gives us more message delivery choices but the messages haven’t changed at all. We’re all still trying to be noticed, from the printing of the very first books ever to the latest viral video.

  33. Hi Lawton,

    I agree with you on how best to navigate our way thru copy-meets-video. (great term, btw!)

    Yes, the very basis of the main message needs to be compelling. But we must recognize that “compelling” requires a bit of a mind shift from what the old copywriting masters taught to what’s going on right now.

    I’m not inferring that you personally follow the old masters, it’s just that the term “compelling” tends to be misconstrued as “hype”.

    Imho, there are soooo many markets out there where the ol’ hit-em-hard-and-often doesn’t work like it used to. As consumers, we’ve gotten jaded. We’ve seen it all, been there, done that.

    Our copy needs to have more finesse. That’s not to say we don’t “sell”, it just means we need more skills in our writing arsenal.

    Compare copy to today’s sports. There’s a lot more competition. The stakes are higher. The athletes with that “extra edge” will be the ones that succeed.

    Indirect Persuasion. rhythm and cadence, speed of the read, headline triads, respecting the reader, etc…

    All these weave together to form a beautful effortless crescendo to the moment of desire (aka known as making the sale).

    To convey these onto video, just look at some of today’s best speakers. To name some of my favorites…John Childers, Shaune Clarke, Ellie Drake.

    They’ll blow your mind as far as being smooth and conveying the true sense of today’s copy into a different medium.

    So sayeth me! :-)

    I’m always looking for ways to improve and transcend copy above the noise out there. Please forgive me if I went on a bit too much at length.

  34. Enlightening post about an effective web video marketer. Audiovisual content is a great way to engage an audience. Scripted audiovisual content can be incredibly powerful at eliciting an action. Marketers who are ignoring the benefits of video are missing out on an effective way to engage their audience. I am looking forward to more dialogue about scripted video.

  35. Reminds me of Joe Pesci for some reason

  36. It’s his own style. I have seen his show.

    He is FULL of energy and his ability to describe wine is outstanding.

    I got the chance to see him speak and He is passionate and most definitely a go getter!

    Go getter and passion = money.

    David

    http://Davidbeking.com