Zen Media Meets Gary Vee: Overlapping Insights for Building Your Brand

At the recent Chase for Business National Conference in Columbus, Ohio, Zen Media’s own Francisco Martinez, VP of Social Media and Influencer Marketing, was honored to be included on the speaking roster with digital marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk.

Vaynerchuk (or Gary Vee, as he’s known), is chairman of media holdings company VaynerX and CEO of the advertising agency, VaynerMedia. Speaking with his usual take-no-prisoners, invective-laced style, Gary Vee shared his thoughts on everything from audience and demographics to new models for reaching connected consumers in the digital age.

Gary Vee also shared many of these insights in his keynote speech at the Adobe Imagine 2019 event, presenting an opportunity for our resident social media expert to highlight areas of overlap between his and Gary Vee’s perspective and to further advance the conversation.

(Click here to see the full Adobe CMO article from which the Gary Vee quotes below are drawn.)

1. Gary: Identify where your audience is and focus your efforts there.

When Vaynerchuk was a kid, he did what every future entrepreneur does: started a lemonade stand. In his telling, he “manipulated” friends to work the lemonade stand while he, instead, spent hours figuring out where would be the best location for the stand.

“Thirty years later, and I am doing the same thing … mapping how to get my audience’s attention,” he told attendees, suggesting they, too, need to find where their audience is and focus efforts there.

Francisco: Yes, and conducting customer/demographic prioritization research is of utmost importance. 

If you don’t know who your primary, secondary, and tertiary customers are, then you can’t possibly know which platform or approach to prioritize.

And even if you do accurately determine which approach and platform to prioritize, without developing clear personas to target using highly tailored messaging, you’ll won’t get much of anywhere.

Just because you identify, for example, which platform your audience is on, doesn’t mean they’re a homogenous group that you should target using the same approach.

2. Gary Vee: Social media know-how is a core competency for succeeding in today’s digitally-driven marketing landscape.

Social media knowledge isn’t just for the social media department anymore. Everyone at a brand, from the entry-level social media coordinator to the CEO, needs to know how to communicate on social channels. Anyone who doesn’t today is “vulnerable,” says Vaynerchuk.

An example of why this matters? An enormous number of executives are making decisions on where to spend, yet they’ve never even run an ad on social media.

Francisco: Yes, and don’t make the mistake of assuming that the legacy social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) are the first, or best, way to reach your audience.

For all you know, your audience may be most effectively engaged primarily through Pinterest, LinkedIn Groups, podcasts, Youtube, Medium, Snapchat or TikTok, and only peripherally through the channels that might first come to mind.

This also goes back to the importance of personas and the “psychologies” most common to various platforms.

If you don’t know you’re more likely to find a stay-at-home mom on Pinterest than on LinkedIn, or that you’re more likely to find Gen Z on Snapchat than on Facebook, you’ll be handicapping your marketing efforts from the start.

3. Gary Vee: Stop wasting money—make every penny work like a dollar. 

Vaynerchuk told the story of how, in the late ’90s when Google first launched AdWords, he bought every wine term that existed for just five cents a click. This is another example of how he recognized opportunity early on. “I was right about Google AdWords, but I didn’t spend enough money on it,” he explained. “Genuinely, I left millions on the table when I was doing direct mail, [etc.].”

Francisco: Yes, and to ensure the most bang for your advertising buck, map your marketing efforts to ROI.

Data can be deceiving.

Without a big-picture, integrative understanding of your KPIs and how they are (or aren’t) linked to your ROI, numbers alone are meaningless.

For instance, so what if you get 100,000 impressions if you can’t definitively tie it to ROI?

For that matter, so what if you get a half million engagements if you can’t tie it directly to ROI?

When it comes to impressions and engagements, the numbers don’t speak for themselves. It’s imperative to dig deeper and ask critical questions.

These questions include: Did those impressions increase direct and organic traffic? If so, how did that traffic behave? Did the post or campaign achieve its intended outcome? What was the number of brand mentions? How about PR placements, increased search-share with competitors, and general social buzz?

Furthermore, were the majority of “engagements” simply likes, or photo views? Did the audience share the message and promote the message via digital word-of-mouth?

The fact is, all engagements are not created equal, and even well-established businesses and savvy entrepreneurs can spend untold amounts of time (and waste countless amounts of money) chasing numbers that aren’t clearly linked to actual conversions. This is precisely why it’s a good idea to engage a consultancy with expertise in differentiating what works and what doesn’t.

In the end, it comes down to this: prioritize your audience, know exactly where to find them and which channels and messages will most resonate with them, and how to make your marketing dollars count. These are the winning insights from two of our favorite industry experts for successfully reaching, engaging, and retaining today’s connected consumers.


She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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