I’ve just completed reading The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk.
The essence of his message to readers is captured in the title of Chapter one, “How Everything Has Changed, Except Human Nature”.
In Part I of the book, entitled “Welcome to the Thank You Economy”, Mr. Vaynerchuk provides the definition of “Thank You Economy” (TYE) and its historical and cultural context.
The premise is that somewhere around or just preceding the middle of the last century our economy transformed from what was almost exclusively a “local” economy of small business whose owners had close relationships with their customers. At this time “word of mouth” had a very strong influence in the ultimate success or failure of any business.
Mr. Vaynerchuk argues that due to a confluence of social and economic factors including the rise of suburbia and affordable cars the economy transformed from a local one to one where the power of “word of mouth” lost its effectiveness and authority.
The emergence of Social Media is seen as a force that brings this cycle back to one of empowering the individual consumer and re-establishing the word of mouth as a vital activity.
Chapter 3 (Why Smart People Dismiss Social Media, and Why They Shouldn’t) is focused on identifying and refuting the reasons why companies use to justify their refusal to fully commit to and invest in social media.
The reasons provided are the following:
- There is no ROI.
- The metrics aren’t reliable.
- Social media is still too young.
- Social media is just another trend that will pass.
- We need to control our message.
- I don’t have time to keep track of what every Joe or Jane says, and I can’t afford/don’t
want to pay someone else to do it.
- We’re doing fine without it.
- We tried it; it doesn’t work.
- The legal issues are too thorny.
- It takes too long to pay off.
- Social Media only works for start-up, life-style, or tech brands.
The refutation of these reasons is both substantive and interesting.
Part II of the book, entitled “How to Win”, is oriented toward identifying a set of approaches and techniques that may be utilized to lead to successful results in the TYE.
A high level list of the techniques include the following:
- Care about your customers, employees, brand, and everything else.
- Be an innovator and early adopter.
- Build a culture of caring that includes self-awareness, authenticity, and
commitment to change.
- Build a sense of community around your brand.
- Nuture and encourage opportunities to extend and have extended conversations (“Ping-pong”)
with your customers.
- Intent matters, approach customer engagement with good intent, aiming for quality
engagements and not quantity.
You can start to get the idea from the list above, you’ll find more techniques
and a full description of each item in the book.
Part III of the book, entitled “The Thank You Economy in Action”, provides real-world examples of companies that have utilized and are utilizing the techniques described in Part II of the book.
Part of Mr. Vaynerchuk’s message that particularly resonates is that success in TYE must be earned and cannot be achieved through shortcuts.
Although Mr. Vaynerchuk’s opinion is never far from the surface, Part IV, entitled “Sawdust”, was the section of the book in which it really shines through.
Several of the insights are listed below:
- On page 202 there is a discussion about context and its importance. IMHO the significance of context cannot be overstated.
- On page 205 there is a quote nice bit of advice. “Don’t be afraid to say what you think. Ever. That said, don’t forget to listen, either.
- On page 206 there is a discussion of the ROI of Emotions and an argument that the TYE will accelerate the “humanization of business”.
- On page 211 there is the always welcomed reference to the Observer Effect as it relates to getting feedback from customers.
- On page 223 there is a reference to the always true statement that “talent wantsto follow talent”.
- On page 224 there is a discussion of how to effectively drive interaction between traditional media and social media.
- On page 226 there is a discussion of Earned Media and how effective participation and engagement with customers using social media provides unique opportunities for organizations to benefit from Earned Media.
- As important as what to do is what not do to. On page 228 is the list of biggest mistakes companies can make with Social Media.
- On page 229 There is a discussion about the opportunity in venues of all sizes in Social Media and that it is just not about Facebook or Twitter.
Part V of the book is a two page summary of the book’s key messages.
I have to wonder if Mr. Vaynerchuk was influenced by The Cluetrain Manifesto. It was one of the first well known expressions of the importance of engaging with customers in an authentic way with an authentic voice.
If you’re involved in a business at any level take a break from your summer fiction reading list, give this book a read, and decide for yourself whether if you believe we’re headed for a “Thank You Economy”.