When someone unsubscribes from your email list, do you call him in hopes of changing his mind? The team at Wine Library does, which is one reason that the New Jersey liquor store has grown to become a major online retailer with a 250,000-name opt-in email file.
The man behind the phone-back-unsubscribes policy, Gary Vaynerchuk, launched Wine Library in 1997 as the website for his family’s New Jersey liquor store. By harnessing the power of then-nascent media such as podcasts and platforms such as YouTube and Twitter, he was able not only to grow the business but also to establish himself as an ecommerce and social media consultant.
It was in this capacity that he gave the opening keynote at the DMA’s 2011 Email Evolution Conference. Among the highlights of his expletive-strewn but enthusiastically received speech:
* Businesses in general are about to undergo what dogs experienced 50 years ago: “the verge of the humanization of business.” Up until the 1950s or so, most dogs were kept outside and treated like, well, the animals they are. Now, of course, just about the only dogs without their own luxuriously padded beds are those who share their owners’ beds, when they’re not being garbed in cute sweaters, fed fancy snacks, and taken to doggy day care. In short, most dog owners treat their pets like people.
By the same token, consumers are beginning to view businesses and brands as human, particularly when it comes to interacting with them via Facebook, Twitter, and email. “It’s stunning how much people are willing to have real conversations with social media,” Vaynerchuk said.
Humanizing businesses in this way is almost a defense mechanism on the part of consumers, who are overwhelmed with marketing messages. By assigning a personality and voice to a brand, people can more easily differentiate it from the others competing for their attention and dollars.
Businesses, then, need to capitalize on this by emphasizing the personal element of their brand and conversing with their audience. And that means real conversations, not simply pushing products and promotions. Which brings us to…
* “Everybody tries to close too fast. I call it the 19-Year-Old Dude Rule,” Vaynerchuk said. By using email, social media, and other channels simply to thrust yourself at consumers in hopes that they’ll respond immediately, you’re addressing your corporate needs rather than their needs—and consumers don’t really care about meeting your needs.
One way that Vaynerchuk grew Wine Library’s customer base was by searching Twitter for questions about wine, which he would answer <i>without</i> directing people to WineLibrary.com. In this way he established his credibility, not only with his knowledge but also because he didn’t come across as someone asking for the sale but as a human being who genuinely wanted to help people choose the best wine for their needs.
For that reason, Vaynerchuk said, “Search.Twitter.com is probably the most important URL on the web today.”
* “There’s no reason not to layer social elements onto email,” Vaynerchuk said. “These need to be teammates.” This layering should extend onto mass media as well. For instance, because so many people watch TV while surfing the web, advertisers should work to extend the story within their TV commercials online—a trend that many are already grasping.
* “There’s so much of the same s–t going on, there’s no way to break through,” Vaynerchuk said. “The only way to grow is to innovate.”