• Kathy Capeluto

The Rise of the Digital Guru – And What We Can Learn From Them



If you are on social media these days, chances are you’ve caught at least a glimpse of a video of someone who claims to have figured out how to market your skills, whatever they are, and make yourself profitable. The rise of the marketing motivational guru has been steady for the past five or so years, and it’s yielded some big names and even bigger dreams to match. Their appeal has spread to become long ads on YouTube and they can often be seen communicating with more traditional celebrities, showcasing their achievements in the process. Let’s delve into this world for a moment and see what we can draw from it for ourselves.

Over the past few years, one marketing and motivational guru who has really picked up steam is Gary Vaynerchuck, or Gary Vee. This media mogul appeared practically out of nowhere, having grown his family’s wine business from three to 60 million in just five years, thanks to his visionary approach and use of YouTube and the creation of his Wine Library channel. Gary’s business acumen comes from within, as he remembers feeling his entrepreneurial vein popping very early on in his childhood with the sale and trade of baseball cards. Gary’s academic achievements were underwhelming to say the least, but he didn’t let this set him back. He knew his out would be in business, not via schooling. Today, Gary owns one of the most successful marketing agencies in the world, Vayner Media, with close to 1,000 employees and clients the likes of Budweiser, Pepsi, Hulu, and many other big names.

What’s Gary’s philosophy and what can companies and individuals alike learn from him? Gary has a number of strong held beliefs that he talks about constantly across his social media platforms, but the one advice that can work across the board for everyone is “document, don’t create.” This recommendation from Gary entails that as a growing business or brand, sometimes it’s a struggle to constantly come up with freshly curated content to provide to your audiences. Though most people believe this is paramount to growth, Gary believes that in actuality, it’s better to just candidly document the day to day “hustle” to your audience, which will show your authentic journey and make people gravitate towards you and pull for you even more than with just curated content. Aside from this, Gary also has an eighty-six-page document called the “Gary Vee Content Model” which showcases how to create and stack content across social platforms from one main piece. Gary shares endless resources with his viewers for free, because he believes providing value in exchange for engagement is more profitable in the long run than sales.

Another prominent guru in the market right now is Tai Lopez. His advertising went viral on YouTube, showcasing himself in lavish homes with expensive cars and pretty girls. His business ventures are focused on the social media coaching side, but he also has income from speaking engagements, podcasts, affiliate partnerships, etc. Like Gary, Tai has many business philosophies he shares with his audience, including a list of 67 “micro-mentorship” tips, but the most useful and broad one we can use is “don’t be all things to all people.” Any successful marketer will tell you that you must find your niche audience in order to make things work for your business. When seeing entrepreneurs the likes of Gary and Tai succeed at so many things, people assume the secret relies in being omnipotent and having your hands in every venture and reaching out to as many people as possible. The truth is, the more focused you begin, the better. Industries are oversaturated with competitors, creating a blood bath or “red ocean” of battling to get attention and money. Instead, the idea is to zero in on a very specific niche and serve businesses around your authentic interests, creating for yourself a blue ocean of opportunities instead of competition.

To close off our list, we’ll throw in a handful of the more recent marketing influencers blowing up: Marie Forleo has been around for a while when she went to dance instructor and bartender to life and business coach, and her two main teachings include: 1. delve into all of your passions, because they’ll prepare you for the future in ways you can’t predict, and 2. everything is figureoutable, which is the name of her new book that basically spells out “you can do it” with a set of tools and encouragement to help you do so. Hilary Rushford is a Broadway dancer turned stylist and entrepreneur who has capitalized on her use of social media to help other entrepreneurs use Instagram and other platforms “with intention.” Why just have an account when you can make it work for you? And last but not least, Jasmine Star. This law school dropout followed her seemingly out-of-nowhere passion for photography into a career that exploded thanks to social media. Her mantra? Be in the business of execution, not speculation. Focus on delivering rather than wondering, and the results will be there.

Take all of these gurus’ teachings and run wild with them. The most important thing to remember is that just like they have found their unique offering, you can too. As an individual or business, your ability to market your brand to your niche is what will take you to the next level of success. And if you need any help with your strategy, we’re here for you!