Do You Know The Problem With Marketing? Gary Vaynerchuk Does

VaynerMedia Founder Kicks Off Ad Age's Digital Crash Course

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When asked what's wrong with digital marketing, Gary Vaynerchuk poses an even better question: What's the point of digital marketing?

In this, Ad Age's first installment of a four-part weekly series, "Digital Crash Course: The One You're Too Ashamed to Admit You Need," the founder of VaynerMedia says digital marketing has become too separate from sales and offers three tips to boost its efficiency.

Listening to Mr. Vaynerchuk's rapid-fire delivery might make it easy to dismiss his passion for digital marketing as a long-winded sales pitch. But if you slow him down a little bit, his "madness" makes eminent sense.

While in the above video Mr. Vaynerchuk might seem to be embracing caution and testing, he's also a gambler in the digital space. He often brags about how his 500-person agency is winning by pushing clients onto fledgling social-media platforms before they become a sure thing.

His methodology is straightforward; instead of picking winners and losers, he bets on them all. But he says there is more to it than "throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and hoping something sticks." There's a tremendous amount of upside in failure.

Take, for example, SocialCam. Four years ago Mr. Vaynerchuk urged "all the brands that would listen" in his client base to embrace it. "We believed strategically that that was blowing up at the time, so we moved all our brands on there, built content organically and they were winning. But then that faded very, very, very quickly."

But Mr. Vaynerchuk counts that as a win. "Everything we learned on SocialCam allowed us to crush Vine because it was a psychology similar to that play," he said. "My point-of-view is the disproportionate value of moving fast on new platforms, the first year or two, where you're getting disproportionate customer acquisition, disproportionate awareness, you're one of the new players, will always trump being wrong."

Mr. Vaynerchuk says there is a good chance that the newest crop of live-streaming apps like Periscope, Beme and Meerkat will all fail.

"But if anybody doesn't think in 24 or 36 months there'll be a new version that's now ready, and if you actually know what to do with it when it hits," he said. "This is a much deeper conversation than throwing it on the wall."

All you need is one.