Wine Library TV’s marketing genius explained

The always fantastic 37 Signals blog has a great analysis of the success of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV.

I particularly love this observation:

5. He’s a sharer. Gary shares all day long. He understand that when you share you get back more in return. But fundamentally he’s not really sharing to get back, he’s sharing because he loves to give. He loves giving his opinion on wine, business, life, etc. He wants other people to be successful.

I’m fortunate to teach and work with many people who Malcolm Gladwell would describe as “Mavens.” That is, people who are deeply passionate about something and derive tremendous joy from sharing the things they’re passionate about; they share not for monetary gain, but really because they can’t not share this information.

In his book, The Tipping Point — which, while several years old, and recently pooh-poohed upon a bit recently (unjustly, I believe), is still as good a marketing primer as you can find — presents the idea that it takes the above-mentioned Mavens, as well as Connectors and Salesman to cause a product/service/idea to “tip.”

The problem with many Mavens is that they’re not natural connectors. You see this in the music business all the time. For whatever reason, people who are passionate about something seem limited to sharing that thing they are passionate about to a small number of people. Hence, the necessity of Connectors; people who derive the same amount of joy from putting together people who share similar ideas/values, as Mavens do from discovering/creating new things. For Connectors it’s all about the moment of finding two (or more) people who value the same things — the Connectors are indifferent to the ideas.

What makes Wine Library TV so interesting is that it epitomizes how technology can come to the rescue of the Mavens, with respect to this connection element. Prior to the emergence of the so-called Web 2.0 tools, which facilitate connection, Mavens without actual people to connect for them really were stuck. The Web 2.0 tools, in conjunction with a powerful Maven, in many ways obviate the needs for human Connectors. Hence, 37Signals’ observation:

2. A master of PR. Without a PR firm he’s been on Conan, Ellen, and Nightline. His video reviews are watched by over 60,000 people a day. A good portion of those people don’t give a damn about wine either. They’re there to see Gary go. He’s talked about at wine conferences, tech conferences, print media, new media, everywhere. This is not an accident.

Prior to these tools, Mavens were completely reliant upon publicists to act as Connectors (oh those were dark days, and I’m so glad they’re coming to an end). Now, with these tools, the Mavens can also act as Connectors.

While I’d be remiss not to mention the third in Gladwell’s triumverate, the Salesman, this role is also in large part being squashed into the Maven. Think about, for example, the success (relative, or otherwise) of gambits such as the Raidohead, NIN, or Jill Sobule, where the fans were predisposed to purchase/contribute because they knew that their monetary participation was going right to the creator (Maven) sans intermediary. Prior to the ability of customers to contribute directly to the creator of the product/service/idea that they cared about, there was the intermediary — in the role of the Salesman — who had to convince those on the fence to contribute. While this role has by no means evaporated, in certain circumstances — such as those above — the role of the Salesman is compressed into the role of the Connector and Maven.

All of this is illustrated beautifully via Wine Library TV, and artists should take a hard look at this methodology.

While I approach wine slightly differently than does Mr. Vanyerchuk, I certainly do respect and admire what he’s doing, and how he illustrates the new methods of marketing.

In case you’ve never seen his thing, here ya go:

  1. Trackback from Wine on May 23, 2008 at 12:59 pm


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