Gary Vaynerchuck Book Review – How to “Crush It!” Online

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck

To say Gary Vaynerchuck is an Internet Marketing success story is a bit of an understatement .

Straight out of college he used social media marketing to take his family wine business from a $3M a year business to a $60M business in just five years.

Now he runs VaynerMedia, an agency that provides social media marketing services to some of the world’s largest corporations. (It’s big – at the time of writing employs 771 people.)

So yes – he’s a success story alright!

Gary has written lots of books over the years, but his first book ‘Crush It!’ is still one of my favourites.

Crush It! was published in September 2013, and although some of the references in it are out of date, a lot of the advice is timeless.

It’s a quick read, and yet contains loads of great ideas and takeaway tactics, so I made the following notes, and thought I’d share them with you.

First of all, the central message of the book is this…

“Any business which doesn’t embrace social media will be dead on their feet over the next few years.”

Now I can’t see that happening for every business. In fact I published a version of this review quite a few years ago now, and some of my own businesses at the time didn’t embrace social media—and to date still haven’t done much social media marketing—and I’m happy to report they’re not dead – very much the opposite.

However, I suspect any companies that did embrace social media years ago to the extent Vaynerchuck talks about could have achieved much faster growth.

This particularly applies to professional service providers, whose ability to attract new customers and clients is dependent on their on reputation, trust and authority. Consultants, advisers, coaches and trainers can all use social media to generate high quality sales leads and expand their reputation and influence.

On page 24 Gary talks about the best types of content to share with your social media subscribers and followers…

“Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill in business.”

And on page 51 he has a great list of ways to generate ideas for social media content. I’ve tweaked them slightly – check out the book to see the original list.

Here they are…

  • Tell me everything about what you offer the marketplace that makes it unique.
  • Tell me a story that makes me care about your product or service as much as you do.
  • Tell me about interesting conversations and events that happened recently.
  • Tell me about the industry trends you’re seeing, and predict how it may change.
  • Tell me about your favourite tactic/technique and the benefits it provides.
  • Tell me about your most interesting clients, and how you helped them, before and after.
  • Tell me your biggest challenges, and how they relate to your customers and clients.
  • Tell me your story… why you do what you do?

Not only are Gary’s ideas great for generating social media content, they’re also great ways of coming up with email content too.

Interestingly, Gary says (on page 72) the best business tweet of all time is “What can I do for you?”

I say ‘interestingly’ because I’ve found that one of the best emails you can ever send your prospects is…

“Tell me your #1 biggest challenge”, or words to that effect. It’s more or less the same question, and it’s super effective at generating sales leads and new business. (Providing you’ve been building an email list – I hope you have because that’s also one of the biggest most opportunistic things you can do online. But more about that i a future post.)

Anyway, on page 74 of Crush It! he also gives us an insight into how he started pre-selling his book, which got to #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list for Web Marketing books within the first few weeks of its release…

  1. He posted an announcement video on his blog about the book and why it meant so much to him.
  2. He gave links to buy his book on book retail websites.
  3. He asked his readers to pass his book on to their friends.
  4. He put a button on blog labelled “Support Gary’s Book” – which linked to a page thanking them for their interest.
  5. He gave them a ‘Widget’ they could add to their own website or blog.

And more. (Again, read the book for the full list. Just a brief summary here.)

However, one thing he said which – for me – raised a ‘warning flag’ was on page 80, where he says…

“Analytics are not important for social media.”

Now I’m a huge advocate of tracking and testing everything I do to market and promote my own companies.

So, to spend a lot of time on social media marketing and yet deliberately not track anything seems like a dangerous activity.

However, I do understand why he says that statistics and analytics can be misleading, and prevent you from ever gaining foothold where social media is concerned.

To borrow a line from The Shawshank Redemption, I know that all it takes to get traction with social media marketing is “pressure, and time.”

However, just for the record, the advice on ‘not tracking stats’ should very much not be applied to standard direct e-marketing, using tactics like e-mail marketing, lead pages, pay per click and so on.

In fact, not tracking your statistics with non-social media marketing is one of the fastest ways to lose your shirt. I’ve heard about people losing a fortune in Pay-Per-Click advertising simply because they weren’t tracking it carefully.

Anyway, back to the book.

On page 99 Gary says…

“The ultimate goal of social media is to get people on to your blog.”

… and that you need to place “calls to action” on your blog to ‘capture’ people when they visit.

Now I’ve talked about this in all three of my books.

Capturing visitors is super-critical, if you want to optimize what the Internet does for your business.

Some of the calls to action Gary lists include…

  • Allow people to subscribe (opt-in) to your email newsletter.
  • Asking people to “Follow” you on Twitter.
  • Asking people to join your “Fan Page” on Facebook.
  • Asking people to “Share” content on Facebook, MySpace, etc.
  • Having a “Tweet This” button for blog posts and other content.
  • Having an “Email This” button.

The fact it mentions MySpace shows just how old this book is! But like I say, ignore the out-dated links and the advice in this book is still golden.

For example, here’s a critical piece of advice from page 95…

“Creating content should be the least time-consuming part of the whole endeavour – creating community is where the bulk of your hustle should go.” 

Gary Vaynerchuck

That’s something I know I’ve got wrong in the past – I’ve spent a lot of time over the years on creating content, and not enough time getting leverage on said content, so that’s salient advice indeed.

Finally, here’s a list of all the steps he recommends, based on the list he gives on page 135…

(Also please note I’ve edited this list to bring it up to date – again some of the references were so old they don’t exist any more!)

1. Identify your core passion. (But see my comment below about this)

2. Make sure you can come up with a list of at least fifty excellent blog topics on the subject.

3. You must be able to answer Yes to the following two questions (1) Am I sure my passion is what I think it is? And, (2) Can I talk about it in a more authoritative and compelling way than anyone else?

4. Name your personal brand.

5. Buy your own name as a web address (domain) in .com and .tv (Gary recommends going for firstnamesurname if possible – like for example.

6. Choose a format (medium) that suits your personal style (audio, video or written). Gary favours video.

7. Start a WordPress or Tumblr account (personally I have both – cover your bases)

8. Hire a designer (I’d add that your need to be choosy and hire a great designer so your websites look truly professional.)

9. Include a Facebook Connect link, Call-to-Action buttons, Share functions, and a button that invites people to do business with you in a prominent place on your blog (p135)

10. Create a facebook fan page (he recommends not using standard profile page – if you have one, put a link on that to Fan page)

11. Sign up for an automatic distribution service.

12. Post your content.

13. Start creating a community by commenting on other people’s blogs and forums and replying to comments to your own blog posts.

14. Search Twitter to find as many people as possible talking about your topic, and communicate with them.

15. Use to find more blogs that are relevant to your subject

16. Join as many active Facebook fan pages and groups relating to your topic possible.

17. “Repeat steps 12 through 16 over and over and over and over and over!” [I’ve left that quote intact – exactly as Gary says it in the book. I get the feeling he wants us to repeat this process?]

18. Do it again…

19. And again…  [Yes, he definitely wants us to repeat the process!]

20. When you feel your personal brand has gained sufficient attention and stickiness, start reaching out to advertisers and monetizing – although he does mention selling your own products if you have any (his books targeted at a wide range of people – not just business owners.)

For me, those are for me some of the highlights of Gary’s book.

I highly recommend it.

Just one thing to bear in mind – the target audience for Gary’s book is ‘anyone’.

So, his advice on things like “finding your passion” hopefully probably don’t apply to you, because given that you’re a business owner, you’re hopefully already “following your passion” in your everyday work?!

Anyway, I hope you found this review useful and I wish you the best of luck with your social media marketing.


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