“Do you have the ability to market in the year we actually live in?” This was the challenging question posed to the audience by social media brand consultant, video blogger and author Gary Vaynerchuk during his keynote at the Art of Entrepreneurship conference last month in Toronto.
At most of his speaking engagements, Vaynerchuk preaches for about an hour about the power of the Internet and social media to help businesses connect with customers in a meaningful way. This time, he chose to only speak for about 15 minutes and then hosted a lengthy Q&A session with the audience to answer their most burning digital marketing questions.
During the initial 15 minutes, Vaynerchuk was able to impart powerful words of wisdom about why and how marketers need to embrace the latest digital media trends to effectively reach and connect with their target customers.
1. To get their attention, tell them a story.
Vaynerchuck says that businesses need to use storytelling techniques to explain to customers “what you are all about.” He used his own entrepreneurial story – from starting a baseball card business when he was just a kid, to launching a video channel on YouTube to sell wine for his father’s business in a very approachable and human way, to investing in tech startups like Tumblr and Facebook – in order to provide context to the audience on how he became a social media brand consultant, author and public speaker.
2. Stay in your lane.
He believes that businesses need to “know what you are good at and go all-in on that.” It can be tempting to try and emulate what your competition is doing. But that can take you away from your core marketing and business strengths.
3. Be a practitioner.
Vaynerchuk used to share a lot more in social media about his personal thoughts outside of work. But now, he focuses much more on using digital platforms to truly help his customers. He says you need to “go deep into what you do.” And in 2014, “consumer eyeballs are shifting on a daily basis. So, marketers need to get a taste and an impression for every platform that helps to reach your target audience.”
4. A smartphone can reveal so much.
Vaynerchuk jokingly says that he “stalks teenagers at the airport” from afar – to learn what they are doing on their smartphones and how they are interacting with friends online. He explains that “you can learn a lot about a person based on what apps they have on the home screen of their smartphone or tablet.”
5. Social starts with your ears, not your mouth.
Finally, he says that it is so important to first watch what your audience is doing online to learn how best to engage with them. “Respect that audience, take their pulse and understand/grasp the right marketing slang to speak with them,” says Vaynerchuk.
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