Most of the NBF audience would have been forgiven if their energy levels had begun to lag towards the end of an adrenaline-fueled day, but luckily Gary Vaynerchuk was on hand to plunge our heads under cold water and bring us into the here and now.
In the press room Gary was just as stimulating as out on stage. When asked about how to scale a media startup that is focused on the Nordics he quickly jumped all over the question.
“When you’ve already created the framework for what you cover, you need to think about depth.” He explains that too many media companies think about width and expand what they do rather than focusing on what they are really good at and “going deep”. “ People stretch themselves too thin in media and that’s why so many companies go out of business.”
On social media and the impact it is having on the future of journalism, he had this to say: “This is the biggest problem everybody has in this room, including me. This is the biggest shift in communication in the human race since the printing press.” He admits that the media has been opened up to everyone and everyone is producing ‘news’, but says that “it’s not any one of our choices that the evolution of society is upon us, we just have to deal with it.” Vaynerchuk goes on to point out the other extreme where traditional media used to be controlled by three or four “white guys” who manipulated it for their own ends.
“Do I think it’s healthy for people to throw around every opinion and for it to be treated as journalism? I don’t know, but I don’t think I get to judge, I don’t think you get to judge! But the punchline is this – this is much much bigger than any of us realise.”
The value of direct mail and emailing marketing was brought up and Vaynerchuk puts things into perspective. “Direct mail is incredibly effective – it works. We spent $40,000 last week on direct mail and lots of people came into the store to buy the Bordeaux, the Pinot Grigio and the Champagne we had. We spent $8,000 on a similar campaign as a demo on facebook and had 6 times the return!” The answer to what brings the best ROI is pretty emphatic.
A question on traditional TV commercials was raised and it was suggested to Vaynerchuk that quality commercials could be produced where the advert was worth watching for the interest or benefit it brings in and of itself. He agreed wholeheartedly.
“You’re right. If it’s of good enough quality we will happily let it interrupt what we are doing. The reason why British TV commercials and commercials in 50’s and 60’s American had success was because they made content not commercials.” However he made a very strong caveat to this point.
“Value is subjective to the other person, not you. You and I don’t get to decide its value. We don’t get to decide if the Kardashians are good or bad. We don’t get to decide if hockey or American football is good or bad, it is for the market to decide!”
In regard to the development of social media in countries like China or Iran Vaynerchuk was blunt and to the point. “I don’t think I’m the person to comment on those countries.” Expanding on why this was the case, he referenced the fact that his relatives from Russia had spent 10 years in jail just for being Jewish. He believes any country that oppresses its citizens will have a system where the concepts and strategies he so successfully promotes would be nullified by inherent bias, nepotism and corruption.