I had such a great time down at the International Franchise Convention last month in Las Vegas. With so much of our work being done through teleconferencing and screenshares, it was especially nice to finally meet some of our customers face to face and share a few laughs. I heard a number of great speakers and walked away with some fresh ideas and new trends in the franchising world. However, there was one speaker who stood out from all the others. Without a doubt, the highlight for me was the keynote speech by Gary Vaynerchuk, better known on Twitter as @GaryVee.
For those who don’t know who him, Gary Vee is a digital marketing expert. Gary moved to the US from the Soviet Union with his family at a young age and eventually became involved with his family’s wine business. He ended up taking over the business and quickly rebranded it and opened it up to online sales. In 2003, sales went from $3 million to $60 million dollars per year. In 2006, he started a daily webcast covering wine. Now, he’s Founder and CEO of Vayner Media and VaynerX, and works with many Fortune 500 companies. He’s also a best-selling author and is wildly sought after to speak at industry events. As you might imagine, it was a real treat to get to hear him speak and share his insights. Allow me to share a snapshot of my take-aways from Gary Vee.
The focus of his presentation was on the importance of brands today and how digital media, specifically voice search and Facebook, play a huge role in growing brands and sales. He was very critical of how budgets haven’t shifted quick enough from traditional media to Facebook.
“I’m stunned by how much money is being thrown directly in the trash,” he said during his keynote speech. “The world is moving. It doesn’t mean that radio or print or outdoor is dead or terrible, but it is massively overpriced. When you start getting into the local level, which is a fascinating dynamic for this room and the franchisees in the trenches, again there is a major misconception about the cost of outdoor billboards or direct mail that is localized vs. what Facebook advertising in a 1 mile radius does for the sales.”
He gave a number of examples of new, disruptive, digital-only brands and how growing your brand is more important than ever. He went on to say that he’s learned why decisions in the room were being made: “What we have is an aging group of marketing executives that are holding onto the past.”
“I’ve never believed in brand more. Brand has always been and will always be such a powerful leverage point. How brand is interpreted and marketed and contextualized and consumed is the delta that everyone in this room needs to think about. We’re living through a heavy technology change. If you’re not in the business of building brand, and I mean yesterday, you’re about to become disproportionately vulnerable in a world that is going to be predicated by voice, not by digital text. “
One of my favourite moments was when he addressed people’s personal biases against Facebook: “Ya Gary, I get it, but I don’t like Facebook. Right, I say – that’s nice, Fred, and it’s nice that you, Fred, don’t like Facebook, right, but hundreds of millions of people a day use it. Gary, Facebook is not cool. That’s nice, Sally, but hundreds of millions of people a day use it.”
He talked a lot about the need for franchises to shift marketing dollars from traditional to YouTube and social media.
“The most practical thing to shift in a 2019 world for this group is marketing dollars. There is nothing comparable – and I mean nothing – that, for this room in February 2019 – to spending money in the YouTube, Instagram and Facebook world and it’s not even close. What Facebook & Google have to their advantage is your ability to do both brand and sales if you actually know how to use it.”
He asked the audience to stand if they had a voice search device at home. When most of the attendees stood, he went on to say: “Over the next decade, if you’ve lost on social, voice is going to put you out. Because if you don’t build brand over this next decade, you’ll lose. The number one way to win in this disruptive shift in the next decade is to build an actual brand.”
With his firm belief in the strength of Facebook, his closing message was about his ongoing challenge with senior executives: “I’ll sit with 60+ year old executives and they’ll scold me for 40 minutes on how Facebook has ruined the American democracy, that this thing Facebook has literally torn down or made vulnerable one of the most powerful things in the world – the American democracy. I then transfer the conversation to our business talk and after I’m done, they look at me dead in the face and tell me that Facebook and Instagram can’t sell makeup or shoes or bread. Ok, so I say, let me get this straight, the platform is powerful enough to tear down our democracy, but you don’t think it can sell a f@&#%ing burger?”