Every Christmas my family have an almost military approach to Christmas lists - they need a long wish list and need it in September. I on the other hand write a list like a 60 year old who doesn't have anything to add to a Christmas list, let alone being able to deliver one 3 months in advance. So I usually trawl through the 'best of the year' book lists around design and add the ones that appear the most on my wish list. I've just finished reading one of those books, Gary Vaynerchuk's 'The Thank You Economy'.
Author of New York Times bestseller 'Crush It!' Gary Vaynerchuk takes a look at the need for businesses to look after individual needs in the social media era. He discusses how the Internet and social media have changed the consumer landscape back to how it used to be - where customers needs had to be looked after on an individual basis as opposed to en masse.
He refers to how our grandfathers' businesses could fail if they did not cater to each customer's needs - if they didnt, then the whole village or town would potentially hear about it and this could mean the end of that business. Times changed and if someone complained, it didn's matter as there was no platform on which to raise their grievances. With the introduction of social media, the threat of one customer's complaint has returned - one tweet could turn in to global news, seriously damaging a business. Vaynerchuk also discusses why some businesses fail to embrace social media, gives examples of how some fail when they do try, and what failing to embrace social media could mean for them.
What Does Work
From the start, this is the sort of book I secretly love to read, the kind that mixes life skills with business and relates to situations in digital. The author transformed his father's local liquer store in to a successful online business winelibrary.com. He's also being interviewed by the likes of Piers Morgan - not that anyone should consider this to be the pinnacle of their career.
Vaynerchuk is an indemand public speaker at on the subjects of social media, brand building, e-commerce and uses several great examples of social media campaigns to illustrate his points during the book. I thought I had heard about most of the big social media stories, but Vaynerchuk references many great examples I had never heard of.
One example I'd not heard of is when 50 Cent posted a YouTube video hanging out with a teenager nicknamed 'Sexman' after 'Sexman' got over a million hits for his own YouTube video where he accused 50 Cent of being a commercial whore. There was no way 'Sexman' could lay into 50 Cent anyone more now - problem solved using social media. Another example is when a burger restaurant called AJ Bombers attracted 161 Foursquare users to their store (there were only 300-400 Foursquare users in the area at the time) after offering the possibility of a Foursquare swarm badge.
There are many great examples like this and for that reason alone this book is worth a read. Especially when he relates these stories to real business success and failings.
What Doesn't Work
My only real negative about this book is Vaynerchuk's constant reminder to the reader how great he is.I do appreciate that this is his book and so it's his right to refer to himself as much as possible - I just don't need him to tell me he is so great every few pages.
Some of his arguments are also questionable - for example he criticises the failing of TV and Billboard ads as they force an issue on a consumer, but believes that a good social media campaign that is really good will always rise to the top. It might be interesting for him to follow this theory when he promotes his next book.
One Final Point
At the end of the book are a series of book cover designs that didn't make it. Vaynerchuk opened out to his fans the opportunity to design his book jacket. After reviewing his other options I'm not surprised he chose the striking orange cover - the others were hideous. For the record I really like the orange jacket design that he went with. Giving his fans the opportunity to design the cover was a smart move on Vaynerchuk's oart - clearly he knows that those who would know about him would be interested in design.
You can follow Gary Vaynerchuk on Twitter here.
You can purchase 'The Thank You Economy' on Amazon here.
Finally check out Gary Vaynerchuk talking about 'The Thank You Economy' on Piers Morgan Tonight below...