WALK THE WALK
Gary Vaynerchuk is a co-founder
and the CEO of VaynerMedia,
a digital media agency based in
Ne w York City.
When Do You Really
Need the Next Big Thing?
Surviving the cycle of innovation
isn’t about technology.
It’s about timing
of writing a book, now you publish a blog on
Medium. Instead of appearing on reality TV, now
you vlog on You Tube. Instead of movie stars and
celebrities, now you need Instagram influencers.
It’s just the truth.
As a businessman and entrepreneur, I actually
don’t care what the medium is. I always use
innovative technology to do what I do best—
communicating and executing on the fundamental
principles that hold true. You’re always going
to have customer service. You’re always going to
have new technology. You’re always going to have
competition. You’re always going to need sales.
You’re always going to need to build your brand.
The innovations aren’t what matter. It’s how
you react and use these new tools. Your custom-
ers are always going to need support. Before, they
called a 1-800 number, and now they tweet. Be-
fore, you sent an email, and now you interact on
Facebook. Before, you made a big-budget com-
mercial, and now you advertise on social. Your
strategy hasn’t changed. The media have.
For 98 percent of you, I think your business
case is actually right. It’s simply that your execu-
tion lags. There are two billion monthly users
on Facebook today. There are 700 million monthly
users on Instagram today. There are 1. 5 billion
monthly users on You Tube today. These are the
media you need to engage. These are the innova-
tions. These are the tools. ;
There are always individuals who are too early
or too late. The key to winning a new opportunity is timing. When something interesting
arises, experiment. Try new things; test. Look at your consumers today. How do they behave?
Are they spending 25 hours a week consuming cable television? I doubt it. Are they shifting
their attention and consuming Netflix? Maybe. Are they going home at 6 o’clock and hooking
into VR? Definitely not. ;
The most di;cult thing a manager has to address is when to jump into an innovation. Thank-
fully, the answer is simple. Study consumer attention. If no one you know is spending week-
nights in VR, then the technology is not ready. You’re trying to decide: Is it here today? Will it be
here next year? Will it be here in five years? So many people jump in too early and get burned.
The greatest thing you can do as an Inc. reader is understand that nothing is actually new. You
need to become a much better practitioner of consumer psychology and user history than is
possible by reading headlines that try to predict the future. Focus on consumer attention today
and not on the romance of yesterday. It’s the only key to surviving the cycle of innovation. ;;
continuous process of discovery, incubation, acceleration,
and scaling—there’s something you need to know: If you
remain a romantic, and attached to a legacy technology or
trend, you are going to lose. One reason I’ve been so suc-
cessful in my career is because I follow consumer attention.
I don’t hold onto what got me here. Yesterday, it was ’ 91
cabernet sauvignon; today, it’s rosé. Yesterday, it was the
six-second-video app Vine; now, it’s Instagram.
The fact is, the cycle of innovation is nothing more than a bundle
of fancy words. The term means nothing. It’s a general expression for
the 10- to 20-year market trend in which what’s old becomes new
again. If you are planning to survive the cycle of innovation, you need
to understand something about people.
Which is this: The way humans express themselves has been
the same forever. The fundamental drive to communicate, to interact,
and to tell stories will always remain. It’s the media that change.
Instead of a drive-time radio spot, now you record a podcast. Instead
INC.500 ; BUILD 86 - INC. - SEP TEMBER 2017