Gary Vaynerchuk’s Secret Ingredient
(And Why You Might Not Need It)

Gary Vaynerchuk

A lot of golfers envy Tiger Woods. And a lot of bloggers envy Gary Vaynerchuk.

But is that a good comparison?

It may well be, because Gary has used social media to rocket his company to fame (and reasonable fortune). And he’s done it mostly through blogging and social networking.

So does that mean Gary Vee succeeds purely on the basis of his enthusiasm, content, and consistency? Of course, all of that counts.

But there’s another hidden reason. And this other reason has very little to do with delivery or content.

It’s got to do with the fact that he sells and discusses wine, and we love to drink wine. If he sold tuberculosis kits, he’d never have the following he has today. Understanding this concept is important.

Humans seek pleasure, fun, and entertainment more than anything else.

You can work the heck out of your articles, blog, website, or videos, and never reach the super-popular level, simply because people are always going to be less interested, less likely to watch, less keen to concentrate on work and business… rather than seeking fun and entertaining diversions.

  • Gadgets
  • Celebrities
  • Music
  • Film
  • Humor
  • Politics
  • Video Games

You get the idea.

These are fun and downright compelling topics. So people visit in droves (look at the top 10 blogs on Technorati and you’ll see what I mean). The stuff that’s not fun, and more work related, gets a niche audience.

And of course, here’s where the crappy luck gets better.

Because though you get a non-popular/more niche audience, your audience is willing to pay a lot more for your products/services than they would for the popular stuff. So they’ll pay you $700 without blinking, but try selling them wine at that cost, and the vast majority of people balk.

You’re not Gary. You may never reach that level of popularity. And the reason is that your product/service isn’t in the same ‘popularity’ category, and it may never be.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a niche audience that hangs on to your every word. And that doesn’t mean you can’t have customers that buy everything you sell.

Popularity is somewhat a gauge of your success. But it’s not the only gauge (and often is not the most important). So the quicker you understand why some things are more popular than others, the more likely you are to get a niche that works for you, and works well.

And in the end, that’s all that matters.

About the Author: Sean D’Souza offers a free report on ‘Why Headlines Fail’ when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Check out his blog, too.

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Comments

  1. Excellent post and very true. I love that his enthusiasm comes across in every video, but at the end of the day he promotes something that a lot of people love.

  2. I think that finding a large niche (like wine) often does not work because there are too many competitors. Instead, finding a small niche and developing it will can actually work better.

    Thanks,
    Nate

  3. Good thoughts Sean. People seem to look for connecting points, mutual interests, and humanness. Yesterday my wife noticed that Chocolate Chip Cookies had nearly 800,000 fans on Facebook. People connect with the things they enjoy. They connect with people that bring them value, enjoyment, or information on thinks they simply like hearing about.
    Not every business or person with a blog or online profile will earn the popularity of Gary Vaynerchuk or Chocolate Chip Cookies. Thanks for the reminder that popularity is not our only gauge of success.

  4. I want to start with the fact that I read CopyBlogger regularly and take some things away from it from time to time, but this time you missed the boat completely on the “hidden reason”.

    It’s not because of the wine and Gary will probably be the first to tell you the. It’s because of his LOVE for wine and not just that alone! If Gary were selling TB kits he’d still be just as big because he is becase he’d LOVE it AND he’d still bring out his love for family, his love for the Jets, his love for people!! And he’d hustle his “FACE OFF” launching TBTV and coming out with wristbands. He’d have leveraged the non-profit world and hit up shows like Anderson 360.

    Gary said something interesting at SXSW Austin this year. He said, “watch my first 50 Wine Library TV episodes. I was scared.” And he was. I watched the first 50 and a few more recent ones and I can tell you it had nothing to do with wine. Sure he can bring wine to a party and he has access to some vino and peeps like that. But the wine wasn’t the answer. If I took free TB kits to an audience that could be engaged and activated (or energized as Seth Godin says) that shit could be monetized.

    The secret SAUCE is HUSTLE. Find your passionate about and you monetize it and build the so called popularity you speak of.

    People need to spend less time envying Gary and more time focused on their own shit. I think the “hidden secret” being wine and wine only would make Gary throw up “directly into his own mouth.”

    Thanks for letting me comment. Keep up the great work.

    Thanks,

    Vik Duggal

  5. People will follow you if you talk about something that people like to follow year around. Not something like a sickness where they will only look at your information once.

  6. Agreed, great post especially for letting us down easy that “popular” is a varying barometer of success depending on your niche. I love the point that people will pay more for a niche product that meets their needs perfectly even if it is not popular — in fact, probably BECAUSE it is not super popular. Value is in the eyes of the beholder, and keeping an eye on your audience is crucial!

    That said, we can all improve upon what we’ve experienced to date, even if the “carrot” at the end of it is different things to different people.

  7. The subject one blogs on is of course important. If your aims are to gain a large following than only those topics that have wide interest have hope.

    One area that I think really has very little potential these days is blogging about blogging. This is for a variety of reasons. But really, it seems that there comes a time that regardless of emerging technology, there just isn’t much left to say anymore and it would be time better spent to hang out at a blog that focuses on copywriting.

  8. If Gary were selling TB kits he’d still be just as big because he is becase he’d LOVE it…

    Vik, forgive me, but that’s silly. No one creates a market out of passion or personality… people want things or they don’t. Passion and personality can only dictate whether they want it from you or someone else.

    No amount of hustle can increase the demand for TB kits. Only a TB outbreak could do that.

    Also, this post is not really about Gary. He’s just a rhetorical device to make a point about mass markets versus niche markets.

  9. Does this mean my idea for a blog about sports bras is doomed to failure? LOL! But seriously…”bounce” is a big concern for active women. So is moisture control. So is looking good at the gym or on the jogging trail. So is achieving one’s personal best, meeting challenges, and honoring / emulating sports heroines / role models. All of this would be grist for a blog about sports bras. Not sexy enough? Please advise. ;) (My boss likes the idea, but now it has to clear a much harder hurdle — Legal!)

  10. I’m trying to imagine TuberculosisKit.TV… :)

  11. Passion for your topic definitely is key! And when you can meld together humor as well, you certainly would have that extra something that boosts you ahead of your competitors.

  12. Brian,

    You have to fish in new ponds. Sure Gary’s a wine guy, but he’s a business guy, and he’s an avid Jets fan, and he’s a family guy, and he loves people, and he’s got ridiculous energy, etc. etc. There are so many demographics that will find him fascinated for different reasons. Being a sales professional, I can say that it’s about finding a reason. People don’t know what they want or don’t want. They may think they do, but they don’t. I bet there are people who’ve known nothing about Gary, but have jumped on his bandwagon because they:

    a) love his energy
    b) love the same sports team he does
    c) love wine
    d) love his passion for business
    e) like his movitation
    etc. etc..

    I don’t really drink and I know nothing about wine. But I love Gary’s passion for people. That’s why I’m a fan. It boils down to LOVE.

    Guarantee you Diane that if you loved your idea and you were passionate about it, and you found every way to get in front of people that would be remotely interested you could create a community and then you could energize that community and you would BLOW UP!

    I didn’t know I wanted to read Copyblogger until I checked it out a few times. I would say you provide content consistently. You and your team of writers produce a quality product. You’ve created a fan.

    Brian – it’s not silly. What do you guys have right now? 50,000 subscribers? IF you wanted to blow up Gary-style you could. I can see 20 ways right now you can double your subscribers, increase revenue through avenues. When you love something you’ll do anything. If you look at what you do day in and day out and you can’t say you LOVE it – you’re not living up to your potential

    Psst – The “hidden” secret isn’t the wine. It’s the HUSTLE.

    Thanks,

    Vik Duggal

  13. I would not under estimate Gary’s content Sean.

    I do NOT drink wine, but follow Gary for his marketing rants and wisdom.

    In fact, the million dollar book contract he landed was not for wine, but for marketing.

  14. It’s a personal branding game folks. Personal branding.

    Brian/Sean – read this post: http://jasonkeath.com/gary-vaynerchuk-the-next-online-media-giant/

  15. Ya is really true, looking at some Singapore personal blogs, it seems their blog traffic and also their popularity is better then most internet marketing blogs out there

    This I can conclude people are likely to get interested in what Sean had outline – Gadgets, Celebrities, Music, Film, Humor, Politics, Video Games.

  16. You’re underestimating being early. If someone else who was just as passionate about wine did the same thing with much the same personality *now* would they see similar success? I doubt it – the exceptional successes are exceptional for a reason and part of that is that they try things early and tend to be among the first. For another example look at, say, Robert Scoble in tech blogging. His blog’s fine, but nothing special really… there are probably thousands of tech blogs at the same basic level. But he was among the first bloggers and also started doing lightly edited tech video blogging very early. If he started doing the same stuff today he would probably get lost among all of the millions of tech blogs.

  17. Oh, damn it. I write about baby boomers. You mean adult diapers and skin tags will never rocket me to fame and fortune?! Cripes. I gotta pick a different topic.

  18. Rhea, if sports bras aren’t sexy enough, you can bet adult diapers aren’t. LOL!

  19. Nice summary Sean. Same goes for business, as per Mr. Buffet: invest or participate in a company that has a solid economic footing in an industry with long-term value (read: popular) — these can be run by less than competent individuals for a time and still do well.

    “Here’s where the crappy luck gets better”… I may ‘borrow’ that line Sean, great transition!

  20. And you didn’t even mention America’s favorite diversion. Sex.

  21. I met Gary. Very cool guy. And I heard his speech at ASW 2009 in Vegas. He spent 8 hours a day connecting to people. That’s dedication. And his business model was offline. Brick and mortar wine store. I’m sure things have changed now. Definitely cool to watch him in action.

    Let’s crush it!

  22. It was said years ago that some people are in the happiness business (wine, food, music), and others are in the sadness business (doctors, funeral homes).

    It’s not a hard sell when someone comes to you for a bottle of wine. They’ve already decided to buy. The question is only which one.

  23. Sean,

    Great article. In all writing, marketing, etc. you need to know your audience. If you can’t identify who those people are that you should be reaching out to, you won’t know how to do it. So what works for wine may not work for interactive lessons may not work for custom basketball shoes, and, fittingly, the pricing scheme is going to be different.

    Focus on who you’re trying to reach, and you’ll be one step closer to reaching them.

  24. Great post. Gary Vee often implores people to find their passion, do what they love, “hustle” and “crush it” and I’m a huge fan of his. However, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard him explain this very relevant difference of measuring popularity vs. effectiveness. For those of us selling less “sexy” products and services the distinction is huge. Thanks for highlighting it.

  25. People will follow you if you talk about something that people like to follow year around. Not something like a sickness where they will only look at your information once