6 min read
Gary Vaynerchuk built his personal brand into one of the most powerful and well-known in entrepreneurship. Now he's officially doing it for others too.
Vaynerchuk is starting an independent company called VaynerTalent that offers two distinctly different services. One of them is traditional talent representation – signing clients and helping them secure business or entertainment deals. The other is talent consulting – it offers a range of services available for a fee to help someone grow their personal brand or promote a product.
Talent management is of course a crowded market, dominated by giant names like WME, CAA, UTA, and others. But Vaynerchuk says he offers something a little more specialized – and that is the ability to use his company's deep knowledge of internet culture and social media to help build a person's profile and do bigger business. "Do we think we will be able to offer advice on how to go faster on TikTok and Clubhouse and things because that's my 15 years of work?" he says. "We do that. And we think that's really important. "
Vaynerchuk has been on some sort of business start-up lately. He announced an e-commerce strategy brand called VaynerCommerce in April 2020 and a new business advisory service in November. He says this is the result of a broader strategy of bringing new ideas to his media agency, VaynerMedia, and then releasing them when the opportunity is right.
"I'm such a high-energy guy, but the truth is, my executions are much more patient than people think," he says.
In fact, VaynerTalent began life four years ago from a conversation with a colleague named Lindsay Blum.
Blum joined VaynerMedia in 2013 after working at WME and the advertising company Gray Group. She was intrigued to see Vaynerchuk experimenting with his own brand – hiring a team to film him constantly, turning the video into endless social media content, and then viewing the data and refining along the way. In 2016, she and Vaynerchuk had an idea: what if they used this knowledge, combined it with strategies from talent management and advertising agencies, and offered it to others as a service?
An experiment was soon born.
“We started with a small team – me, a videographer, a designer and a community manager / copywriter,” says Blum. “For USD 25,000 per month, we offered strategy and growth hacking as well as the production and distribution of content in large quantities. Insights and analytics for the most important platforms and channels. Essentially, we offered a personal production team to build an individual's content machine. "
They quickly developed a clientele of mostly entrepreneurs, business people, and writers. The results were fascinating: as their customers became more visible, they received lucrative offers to speak, write books, work with brands, appear in other projects and much more. "We passed these opportunities on to agents, managers, internal teams and publicists," says Blum. "We knew we had the opportunity to add a talent showcase to build brands for people."
To seize the opportunity, VaynerMedia acquired some talent in 2018: it bought a leading talent agency called Playbook, and Playbook founder Reed Bergman became a partner in VaynerTalent.
VaynerMedia got an experienced hand in Bergman: He has been active in talent management for three decades and has represented well-known athletes and artists such as Alex Rodriguez, Ray Lewis, Dominique Wilkens and Jim Courier. And in VaynerMedia, Bergman says, he found a necessary new way to serve customers.
“The usual way of doing talent deals is for someone to have a project for you and you either become a host or an actor. You have to fit in somehow, ”he says. “We are actually incubating. We create and bake our own content and then distribute it. So it really turns it around. You take ownership. You finally have equity. "
Blum and Bergman have been developing VaynerTalent within VaynerMedia since 2018. Now they are running the newly spun off company. Bergman is the President and Managing Partner and Blum is a partner. Current customers include the sports channels Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen as well as the journalist Noor Tagouri.
"Our talent becomes the CEO of their own organization," says Bergman, "and we give them the freedom to choose as many different options as they can monetize their celebrity and brand."
This is a powerful time to get into the talent industry, says Vaynerchuk. The media landscape is developing rapidly and creating new opportunities that are easy to overlook. For this reason, VaynerTalent places great value on a service known as "digital advertising". It is no longer about getting traditional media attention for a person or a new product, but about getting attention through online shows (with podcasts, YouTube, clubhouse and more). and to use these appearances as a gateway to even more content.
Vaynerchuk believes influencer marketing is ripe for transformation too. It may seem like the market is already saturated, but it predicts brands are only just beginning to appreciate the power of online personalities.
"If you examine the top 5,000 names in corporate culture, I would argue that 80 percent think influencer marketing is overrated by its business impact," says Vaynerchuk. "And I believe that in 10 years, 95 percent will be fully religious."
For people who want to grab a piece of it for themselves – for example by building a personal brand and getting signed by an agency like VaynerTalent – Blum has some advice.
"The number one thing that holds a lot of them back is the idea that whatever they come out with has to be perfect," she says. "We keep saying that perfection is poison in terms of content."
Instead, she suggests setting up a routine: take five or ten minutes a day to produce content, even if it is far from perfect. "If you don't do the repetitions, it will never be easy," she says. The more someone produces, the more they get to know their audience, the opportunities on each platform, and the best ways to get involved.
And finally, she says: Transparency is the key. Self-promotion never attracts fans – but openness, honesty and real connection always do.
"If you are in the spotlight and want to become a public figure or have ambition, you must own your own narrative and tell your own story or it will be told in front of you," said Blum. “We all live in a transparent world and there is no place to hide. So you might as well take control of your own narrative. "