Inside Gary Vaynerchuk’s Deadly Effective Strategy That Built A 19 Million Fan Empire

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Master Plan Revealed: The most comprehensive breakdown ever of how and why Gary built his 19 million fan empire…And how you can use the same strategies to grow your business and brand.

“We are in the middle of the greatest land grab opportunity that humans have ever seen.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Whether you’re a Gary Vaynerchuk skeptic or a die-hard fan, with a net worth of $160 million and a fast-growing audience of over 19 million fans you would be pretty naive to believe you have nothing to learn from him.

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After spending over a month researching every single strategy, book and keynote Gary Vaynerchuk has produced for the last 20 years, I’m going to show you:

  1. Why Gary Vaynerchuk Might Be Warren Buffett’s Secret Protegee
  2. The Most Powerful Mental Model Gary Vaynerchuk Uses to Understand the Business World
  3. The EXACT Strategies Gary Vaynerchuk Uses To Earn Millions of New Fans Each Year
  4. An Inside Look At Gary Vaynerchuk’s 30 Year Master Plan

Let’s get straight to business…

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Why Gary Vaynerchuk Might Be Warren Buffett’s Secret Protegee

If you are reading this then chances are, you already know who Gary Vaynerchuk is. But if you don’t all you need to know that he is a force of nature.

  • Grew his father’s wine business from $3 million a year to $60 million a year in 5 years.
  • Founded VaynerMedia, a social media focused digital agency with 900+ employees and $131 million in revenue.
  • Recognised as one of the leading business thought leaders in the world, regularly speaking and advising some of the biggest companies and personalities on their marketing and branding.
  • Built an estimated personal net worth of over $160 million, and was an early investor in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snap and Uber.
  • Authored 5 New York Times Best Selling Books, including Crush It; The Thank You Economy; Jab, Jab, Jab, Right-Hook; and AskGaryVee

On the surface, Gary Vaynerchuk the brash jets loving social media icon appears like the complete opposite to the reserved and methodical Warren Buffett.

But look a little closer and you will see that like Warren Buffett, Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the shrewdest value investors in the world.

Whereas Warren trades stocks and bonds, Gary trades “the single most valuable asset in business”your attention.

And unbeknownst to many, like Warren Buffett, Gary Vaynerchuk has built his career on identifying underpriced assets, in this case, attention and going in hard when he finds them.

“I’ve built a career on exploiting underpriced attention. Email marketing in ‘97, Google AdWords in 2000,  YouTube in ‘06, Twitter ‘07, Snapchat…That’s my career.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

And like Buffett, Gary Vaynerchuk has an investment record to match the “Oracle of Omaha” himself. Consistently growing his brand by over 40% per year for the last 15 years.

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In this breakdown, I’m going to show you the exact value investing strategies Gary uses to grow his audience and his master plan for the next 30 years, but first, we need to understand why Gary believes “attention is the single most important asset in business”.

Gary’s #1 Mental Model: Attention Is The Currency Of Business

If there is one principle that defines Gary’s view of the business world, it is that…

“Attention is the currency of business” 

To communicate, influence or sell anything to a customer you first need their attention. Without their attention, your business or ideas are guaranteed to fail no matter how good they are.  

Put another way, attention is the gateway to their wallet.  

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As a result, Gary believes that “attention is the single most important asset” for any business or thought leader. The lifeblood of the online economy.

Reason #1: Attention Is An Asset

Like gold, stocks and bonds, in today’s digital economy attention is an asset. The only asset that Gary cares about.

Today, the net worth of the media industry and many of the worlds wealthiest tech companies (Google, Facebook and Instagram) is entirely based on their ability to capture and monetise attention.

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Once acquired, attention can be grown, monetised with products and services, or sold to the highest bidder.

In other words…

More attention = more money

Reason #2: Capturing Attention Is A Zero-Sum Game

No matter how much money, power, or connections you have, time is the only asset we can never buy more of. Ensuring capturing attention will always be a zero-sum game.

“For the human brain, attention is a zero-sum game: If we pay more attention to one place, object or event, we necessarily pay less attention to others.” – Daniel Simons, Professor of Psychology

If someone spends 5 minutes thinking about your product/service or consuming your content then that attention is lost to your competitors forever. Starving them of their business’ lifeblood.

And like every asset (wealth, land, and commodities), where a small few people control a disproportionately large share of the value.

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Research has shown that attention is no different.

Due to the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer dynamics of every major search engine and social media platform, the internets elite controls the vast majority of the internet’s attention.

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Source – Unequally distributed attention: the top 1% of seed users account for approximately 50% of the total retweets, 60% of the total followers, and 66% of the total mentions.

In fact, the research found that attention inequality is more severe than wealth inequality.

“The attention inequality on Twitter is staggering. The vast majority of users do not receive any attention, and the top 1% of users get far more attention than the bottom 99% combined!” – Quote from the research paper

Concentrating huge amounts of power in the hands of a few corporations and online personalities.

Reason #3: With Vast Attention Comes Great Power

“With great power comes great responsibility” – George Orwell

From Kim Jong Il to Hilter and Sadam Hussain, every dictator derives their power from their ability to influence the views and beliefs of their people.

“They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press.” – John McCain, US Senator

After a lifetime of research, Alvin Toffler, the “world’s most famous futurologist” and one of the most influential business leaders, explains in his critically acclaimed book “Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century”, whilst for most of history, the power of force and wealth reigned supreme, today information is predominant lever of power.

Whilst once it was the role of governments and the mass media to wield this power of the attention of millions, today with the rise of the internet a small few companies and thought leaders wield power once reserved for kings and queens.

With every tweet, video or story shared online they can influence the opinions and beliefs of the millions of people whose attention they own.

Shaping their world view, filtering their interpretation of reality and persuading them to buy their products.

Investing in Attention: Gary Vaynerchuk’s Master Strategy

I’m not ideological about any tactic, I just trade attention on an everyday basis. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Attention, like all other assets, is highly susceptible to the limitations of human psychology.

Due to a whole host of cognitive biases, market participants regularly under and overprice assets in relation to their true intrinsic value. Giving value investors like Warren Buffett and Gary Vaynerchuk the opportunity to acquire extremely valuable assets at way below their true market value.

For me, everything is about under-priced attention and overpriced attention. The way you get those things is when the market doesn’t understand itself. When people don’t understand how under-priced Facebook is, they don’t put money into it, thus, the prices stay down and you get a disproportionate return on your investment. – Gary Vaynerchuk

And as Gary has come from a small business background, where maximising the ROI of every dollar can be the difference between success and failure, he always on the lookout for attention opportunities that allow him to get the most bang for his buck.

The fundamental principle of which is to invest the majority of his limited time, money and resources in underpriced attention opportunities that will give him a disproportionate attention ROI compared to more competitive alternatives.

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What’s amazing about marketing is you can spend a penny and get a dollar, but you can spend a dollar and get a penny. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Here are 4 of the most powerful strategies Gary has consistently used over his 20-year business career to build his 19 million fan empire.

Attention Strategy #1: Platform Arbitrage

Note: Of all the value investing strategies Gary regularly uses, Platform Arbitrage has consistently proven to be the most effective at generating huge audience growth.  

Gary doesn’t care about the future of Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform. All that matters to him is the attention they provide at that moment in time.

This platform ambivalence gives him a distinct advantage in the search for attention.  

Research the history of every communications platform, be it print, radio, TV, Google, YouTube or Facebook, and you quickly see that they cycle from undervalued to overvalued throughout their lifetime.

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Take advantage [of a platform] when it’s under-priced and squeeze it as long as you can. You ride it all the way through. And, eventually, the long tail catches up and it becomes overpriced because companies come in, and it becomes overpriced because of the bidding, and normal people stop paying attention as much. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Despite seeing numerous new communication platforms rise to dominate the market, like financial markets, marketers and content producers often succumb to the “this time is different” mentality.

Believing that this exciting new platform is: “just a fad”, “just for kids” or “no one will ever buy my product on that thing”.

However, in the early days of nearly every platform, the attention they provide is generally underpriced versus the market as a whole. Gradually becoming more expensive as the platform grows, matures and becomes more attractive to the big brands.

Leading to people paying less attention to the content, the organic reach nose-diving, and it becoming increasingly difficult to make a name for yourself on the platform.

A finding backed up by research done by Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and SparkToro.

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Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and SparkToro, explains how the difficulty of content amplification increases as the popularity of the platform increases. Source

However, for a golden moment, the organic reach of these young platforms is huge, engagement is high and there is a huge imbalance between quality content producers and people wanting to consume the content.

Giving early adopters the chance to build huge audiences, by capturing this severely underpriced attention.

“If you play close attention to the people who popped on Vine, or the people who popped in the early days of Snapchat, or Instagram, they all happened to be the Christopher Columbus of their platforms. They were early. So as those platforms took off, they developed disproportionate amounts of followers as new users joined and found them.”

From Tony Robbins (infomercials), Joe Rogan (podcasting), Tim Ferriss (long-form blogging), Brian Rose (YouTube interviews) many of today’s most influential thought leaders got their start on new platforms whose potential hadn’t yet been eroded by fierce competition from other content producers.

Dramatically increasing their odds of success.

What makes Gary different, is that he has taken this principle to the next level.

Instead of just using tapping into a new platform once, he repeatedly leveraged each new platform over the last 20 years to take his popularity to the next level.

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“I’ve built a career on exploiting underpriced attention. Email marketing in ‘97, Google AdWords in 2000,  YouTube in ‘06, Twitter ‘07, Snapchat…That’s my career.”- Gary Vaynerchuk

  • Email Marketing & Google Ads – Gary grew the family business from $3M to $60M per year in 5 years, by using email marketing and Google Adwords when the open rates and CPC were at ridiculously underpriced at 90% open rates and $0.05 CPC respectively.
  • YouTube – Seeing the rise of YouTube in 2006, Gary created a show called Wine Library TV. Which within one year this channel had catapulted Gary to national fame as a wine commentator, appearing on numerous national TV shows, including The Late Night Show with Conan O’Brien
  • Twitter – Again by being early on Twitter and a big advocate, in the summer of 2009 Gary quickly grew his following to 850,000 followers because he was consistently recommended on Twitter’s “People You Auto Follow When you Sign Up” list.

The same pattern can be seen with his audience growth on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Podcasting, etc.

By taking each new platform seriously, he has been able to consistently achieve disproportionate massive audience growth with each new emerging platform.

In a strategy akin to the 80/20 principle, he is constantly asking himself “where will the attention of his target customers be in 18 months time?”, then focusing 80% of his resources on exploiting the most underpriced platform at any point in time whilst constantly testing the other platforms with the other 20% of his time to see if this could be the next big thing.

Attention Strategy #2: Advertising Arbitrage

Like platform arbitrage, when platforms launch new features or advertising functionality the attention they provide is often severely underpriced in comparison to more established options on the market. Creating huge arbitrage opportunities.

A phenom most clearly seen with the changes in online CPC rates over time…

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An opportunity Gary routinely exploits for himself and his clients at Vaynermedia.

The day Google Adwords started, I bought the word wine for 5 cents and owned it for nine and a half months before anybody bid me up. Today, it costs over $3.00. That’s how you win the arbitrage. – Gary Vaynerhchuk

For a number of reasons: 1) skewed ratio of consumers to advertisers, 2) insufficient data to accurately price the attention, or 3) deliberate underpricing of the attention to seed adoption, in their early stages, the asymmetry between the value of the attention being sold to the price being charged by advertising platforms is generally at its greatest.

As the demand and supply of advertisers and consumers changes on platforms, the price of the attention they provide will create momentary opportunities to get a disproportionate return on each advertising dollar you spend.

As of today, Gary believes pre-roll YouTube Ads (based on what they search on Google), hyper geotargeted ads (Instagram story ads, Instagram regular ads, and Facebook ads), and influencer advertising are the most undervalued advertising opportunities:

The most inefficient and misunderstood marketplace, in my opinion, is influencer marketing. Humans don’t know how to price themselves. There are pretty people that have 400,000 followers on Instagram that want $30,000 a post. And there are other people with 5,000 followers who want $40. They are 400,000-follower people that want $100. The inefficiency in influencer marketing is staggering.  – Gary Vaynerchuk

Attention Strategy #3: Language & Location Arbitrage

Arbitrage opportunities aren’t just confined to platforms and features. Often the most consistent and effective strategy is to take advantage of inefficiencies between varying levels of competition in different countries and languages.

Language arbitrage is currently one of the most effective SEO strategies content producers and businesses can use to quickly capture more attention. With digital marketing guru, Neil Patel, ranking it as the current #1 most effective strategy to increase your site traffic.

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The international attention market for content is enormous, but it is highly inefficient.

According to research by W3Techs, whilst English speakers make up just 20% of the world’s population, but 56% of all websites use the English language as their primary language.  

In contrast, Chinese, the fastest growing and second largest internet language with over 860 million users (19.3% of users), just 2% of websites use Chinese as their primary language. Creating a huge opportunity for quick and easy traffic gains for those willing to translate their language into Chinese.

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And as you might guess, Gary is all over it.

Regularly republishing his content in Chinese, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, etc. to capture less competitive attention.

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The same phenom is true of geographical locations, where differences in the sophistication and adoption of new platforms and advertising options regularly create attention opportunities for Gary to exploit.

The sophistication of the media spend on Facebook and Instagram in Asia, South America, UK, is way lower. I mean, I opened a London and a Singapore office because I just can’t believe how underpriced it is to drive business results. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Attention Strategy #4: Massive Content Leverage

In the last few years, Gary has taken these attention strategies to a whole new level.

With changes in how search engines and social media platforms classify duplicate content, Gary has begun to introduce extreme leverage into his content strategy to maximise the amount of attention he captures.

Instead of producing just one piece of content for each channel, he now takes an omnichannel approach. Regularly turning one long-form piece of content (normally video) into 30+ individual pieces of micro-content and stories that 100Xs the amount of attention he captures.

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Using this content leverage strategy, he has created a system that consistently produces 80-100 pieces of content per day and captures enormous amounts of attention with very little effort. Creating a huge time to attention asymmetry in his favour.

Plus, freeing up the majority of his time to focus on exploiting the latest attention arbitrage opportunity, whilst continuing to engage and grow his enormous audience with the least possible effort.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s 30 Year Master Plan: The Race For The World’s Attention

“We are in the middle of the greatest land grab opportunity that humans have ever seen.”- Gary Vaynerchuk

Like the Conquest of the Americas and the Scramble For Africa centuries ago, where European powers captured the human and natural resources of entire continents and became the undisputed superpowers of the world for the next 400 years as a result. Gary Vaynerchuk believes we are currently living through one of the greatest land grabs in human history.

Putting the people who seize this opportunity, in a position of considerable power for years to come.

Despite the apparent contradiction, this is why Gary Vaynerchuk’s strategy of investing over $2M per year into producing B2C content starts to make sense given his business is focused on selling expensive consulting services to large corporations.

Outside his dream to buy the New York Jets one day, Gary Vaynerchuk is playing the extreme long game.

He believes that when looked at through a long-term lens, today’s attention is massively underpriced compared to what it will cost to acquire the same attention in the future. And outstriping the general market inflation.

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Every dollar you do not spend on Facebook and Instagram during this era you’ll regret not spending. They are never going to be this cheap again. – Gary Vaynerchuk

We are entering an era when the supply of content so far outstrips demand, that standing out and capturing the attention will become exponentially harder and more expensive.

In this era of hyper competition, Gary believes that brand is going to be the defining differentiator between businesses that thrive and those that struggle to survive in the future.

This is my whole argument. You’re not gonna beat technology, the only thing that’s gonna allow anybody to survive as things get commoditized and driven down is brand. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Next-generation platforms and marketing channels that only offer a limited number of results to consumers, like voice search, will disproportionately favour businesses and content producers who have emerged as the market winners with strong brands. Making brand recognition vital to organic reach, and your ability to avoid soaring advertising costs.

In a decade, many people will buy their product, goods, and services on a voice-first device. When that happens, you will start realizing how smart the branding strategies of companies like Kleenex, Xerox, and Uber really were. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Making the brand equity built today 10 times more valuable in the years to come.

He believes in this long-term thesis so much that he has begun to target the attention of teenagers as young as 12 years old. Knowing full well that they won’t generate any ROI for years to come.

But by acquiring this severely underpriced attention now, he is building brand equity that will serve him well in the future.

“You might wonder why I, a forty-two-year-old businessman with few ties to the music industry, have any interest in garnering attention on a platform geared toward thirteen-year-olds. Simple: those thirteen-year-olds grow up to become eighteen-year-old entrepreneurs and twenty-five-year-old marketers…Maybe I can help inspire them to get where they want to go faster. Maybe one day we’ll do business together.”  – Gary Vaynerchuk

How Can You Acquire 10 Times The Attention For Half Price?

“Find the attention, bring value, and then everything else clicks.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

If you want to build a business or a personal brand, then attention will be the single most valuable asset you need to own. Without attention, your dead. Simple as that.

Luckily for us, we are in the midst of one of the greatest attention land grabs in history.

If you think like an investor, not just a content producer, you will be able to consistently find sources of attention that have been grossly underpriced by the market.

At its core, the strategy is simple. Ask yourself:

  1. Whose attention do I want to capture?
  2. On what platforms do your target audience currently spend their attention?
  3. Where will this attention be in 18 months time?
  4. What attention opportunities will give me the biggest disproportionate return on my investment?
  5. How can I get the maximum leverage out of my content?

Then hit that attention opportunity hard!

History shows that those who find these attention opportunities before their competitors, dramatically increase the odds of them building a large audience fast.

But these moments of opportunity are only available for a brief period in time before the market corrects and the opportunity becomes saturated with competitors.

Everything for you has to be about building brand in places that are underpriced that you could afford. – Gary Vaynerchuk

If you would like to stay up to date with the latest attention opportunities and how you can apply the principles of investing to producing content then sign up to my email list where I will be sharing more investor inspired content strategies.

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1 Comment

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