Book review of The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck

When I signed up to Shopify they sent two books as part of the deal. One of them, The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck (pronounced Vay-ner-chuck).  I admit to wondering at the value…  But after reading reviews locating his own bio (previous bestselling author and successful entrepreneur from WineLibrary), instilled enough confidence in me to invest some of my rare ‘spare’ time to its 230 pages.  I wasn’t sorry. It was interesting to hear how he applied his ‘thank you economy’ methodology to his own business as well as how it worked in others.  Not just b2c either.  This method allows an interesting competitive advantage to be developed.  After all “there’s only so excellent you can make your product or service … your heart though – that’s boundless” (p.10).  The ability to ‘out-care’ competitors by being authentic, committed and willing to engage surely is compelling to any sized organization?  Perhaps large organizations would even be intimidated – that a ‘little guy’ could steal a customer because they ‘out-cared’ them.  Because the challenge of being honest and consistently in-brand increases with organizational size. Two themes I extracted from Thank You Economy were how this method impacted ‘internal staff’ and the ‘Social Media department’. Internal Staff Vaynerchuck emphasized the importance of being able to trust all employees.  Regardless of their role or level (or lack) of management too!  Every employee needs to be willing to be 100% involved with their organizations mission, and have an interest in solving issues, creatively if need be.  Having employees who are capable of innovating while demonstrating their brand accurately isn’t something you can instill into staff.  New hires need to “demonstrate quick, creative thinking, flexibility and compassion” (p.139).  To me that means each employee needs to be capable of being a brand ambassador in their role from the get-go.  I believe Vaynercheck correctly encourages readers to ensure their employees “have the latitude and resources to solve whatever problems they encounter” (p.91).  Satisfied staff, Vaynerchuck says, pass that satisfaction onto customers.  He illustrates this with Coach Bill Parcells winning streak.  Being able to repeatedly win regardless of multiple variables Parcells says is achieved “through building team morale, hiring the right people and instilling the right culture” (p.24).  Do you agree this is something for team leaders and managers to aspire to irrespective of their industry? Social Media The quote on page 117 “Layering social media on top of traditional media to extend impact” wasn’t Vaynerchucks first mention of social media – but I consider it a critical success factor.  I totally agree, using social media as part of an integrated approach “is most practical, executable and measureable” (p.117).   Companies need to be engaging to the target and across all the multiple social mediums their consumers use.  Cost-effective tools, (like search.twitter (p.9), and Revinate (p.172),), available, surely it makes social media a realistic, trackable and cost effective option?  Social media is relating well to consumers because of its unique ability to influence emotion or enabling brands to be sincerely relevant and transparent.  The later – transparency – scares traditional managers.  But surely, readers are persuaded to agree with Vaynerchuck – “being a part of the conversation is as important as having a website” (p.74).

The results achieved using social media speak for themselves. I particularly liked Vaynerchucks twofold figurative description of the aim of those responsible for social media.  Their first responsibility, to “water as many plants as possible and [secondly to], put out every fire” (p.134).  Managers need to acknowledge that improvising will be necessary and with the right employees, managers can be confident that they will always act in the best interest of the brand they represent.  I liked Vaynerchucks example that having a social media department is like a brand having a faithful Navy SEAL unit.  It enables “small targeted [engagement with customers which is] hugely effective when deployed” with patience (p.80). Implementing a Thank You Economy in organizations is more involved than ensuring employees are polite.  How ‘good old fashioned’ ethics and values can be replicated ‘in-brand’ using new social technologies requires proactive strategy.  Roles in social media are very specialized and challenging.  Because of this, support and patience will need to come from management for the competitive advantages to be sustainable.  However, we mustn’t limit it to just the social media departments!  We all must act as a concierge to each and every customer.  Vaynerchuck emphasizes this point numerous times.  It is critical “every one of your customers feels acknowledged, appreciated and heard” (p.28).  Social media does mean we can care better.  The Thank You Economy shares about how to create opportunities to relate with and find solutions for individual customer experiences publicly.   To see how a Thank You Economy can impact your business, buy your copy now.

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