August 23rd 2017


by Martin O'Toole

Some of you will be wondering why this article has a hashtag in front of the title. Like I'm some out of touch dad, randomly putting hashtags in front of everything to make myself appear more down with the kids. #Nope. No dear friends, this article is a review of the book #AskGaryVee, by Gary Vaynerchuk. More precisely, it's a brief review of the audiobook version.

As an aside, I was listening to an Adam Buxton podcast recently, where he debated whether you could really say you'd read a book if you'd listened to the audio version. For the purposes of this book review, I'm saying I've read it! And I do believe you still take in all of the salient points of a book via the medium of sound. Just so we're clear.

Why did I listen to the audiobook? Because I'm time-poor and it was narrated by the author and I find Gary Vee's saltiness and personality both amusing and refreshing (hence the sweary article title). Plus, he ad-libbed far more content during the recording which you don't get in the book itself.

Who the f*ck is Gary Vee?

There's me rambling on about this guy like everyone knows him and if I don't crack on and answer that forthwith, then those unfamiliar with the bloke will more than likely cease reading; so here goes.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a four time best-selling New York Times author and digital marketing/entrepreneurial legend from NYC. He's also a fantastic speaker on all things social media marketing. He started out in business as a graduate, helping his dad run their New Jersey based family-owned wine shop and famously took the firm's revenues from $3m to $60m (by taking the shop online).

If I'm honest, I'm a bit of a fan fan. You'll either love or hate the guy based on whether you're comfortable with straight-talking and a healthy dose of colourful language. Which brings me onto the book itself...

What's the book all about?

So the book essentially follows the model of Gary Vee's hit YouTube show of the same name. With 800k subscribers and nearly 260 shows on air, it's safe to say it's a relatively popular B2B YouTube channel. The book follows the same Q&A format (on a wide variety of subjects). Importantly, it's also intended to allow him to update his view, change some of his responses, and consolidate a pile of content across multiple areas of business over 2 years of broadcasting. Thus all of that intel is summarised in this handbook for entrepreneurs and marketers.

The whole idea behind the #AskGaryVee show was that Gary realised that instead of broadcasting regular content on topics he wanted to talk about, he (with 1.54m Twitter followers) could interact better with his audience by inviting them to ask questions about marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, or just his take on life in general. He then began answering those questions on the show. This is the beauty of both the show and indeed the book. Gary Vee has a unique way of communicating his values and advice, which is both entertaining and insightful - avoiding any marketing wank or pretentiousness.

He also involves loads of his celebrity business and sporting buddies in order to add more personality and diversity to the content of the book.

Key take-outs from the book

As I've already mentioned, there are 24 chapters in this bad-boy and I'm sure you don't want to read my review of each section. So the key areas covered by the book are as follows:

The clouds and the dirt

Business leaders must be sure to separate the 'clouds' from the 'dirt' ("work on the business, not in it")

Hustle trumps talent

Gary Vee pretty much owns the word "hustle" and says it a lot. His view? There is no substitute for hard work - not even talent.

Value first, profit second

Businesses need to learn how to be valuable to their customers before learning how to be profitable.

You're a media company now

With the prevalence of digital media and mobile consumption of brand marketing, every brand now needs to think and act like a media company.

You don't need a big budget, but you do need great content

Social media and available tech (smartphones, publishing apps etc) allow brands to have a digital presence at a far lower cost than ever before. However, just because you can cut your hair doesn't mean you're a barber. Quality (over quantity) content is king.

Combine jabs and right hooks

You've got to line up a sale before asking for the business. The 'jabs' are the process of creating value in the eyes of your customer (gain permission); the 'right hook' is when you ask for the business. Effective marketing is a skilful combination of the two. I wrote about this concept here.

College (university) isn't the only route to success

With behavioural and tech trends changing at such a rapid pace, higher ed can't always keep up. Is higher education the only route to commercial success in modern business?

The buck stops with the head of the company

Insert cliche about how 'leaders lead from the front' here.

Every business is a media company

This a chunky and incredibly fast-paced book - 24 pages STUFFED with useful information. There is no theory or hypothetical rambling - it's real life advice and examples of how to get ahead in business and marketing - from a multi-millionaire with several successful businesses, as well as advisory roles with/investments in Uber, Birchbox, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, to name but a few. The point being that if you want to learn about digital marketing and business, then it's better to learn from someone who's actually done it - from the ground up.

Gary Vee's fundamental belief is that traditional campaigns are dead and that every brand now needs to think and act like a media company - producing campaigns 24/7. The prevalence of digital now means that brands can never 'switch off' their marketing. That said, brands no longer need a big budget to get their message across to their audience. I.e. social media allows any company to have a voice. Though with the addition of all this online noise, brands also need to consider how best to cut through this pollution in order to stand a chance. So if social/digital is a crucial part of the future of brand marketing, how do brands master tactics and channel nuances in order to be successful? Food for thought.

Anyway, that's quite enough of my unbiased review of this book. Here's the man himself. Prepare yourself...

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