Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Difference Between Selling Law, And Selling Wine

Last night while sitting at the eventual 10 inning Marlins/Cubs game with my Dad (Marlins lost 9-8), I received a message from my friend Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is the Director of Operations at the 50 million dollar plus brick & mortar and online wine store Wine Library

It was a short message, just meant to say "hello." But it was personal and it wasn't from one of Gary's "people," several of whom I also know personally.

I learned about Gary while doing an internet search about "decanting wine," and found a video he had done on the subject. That was my introduction to the daily video blog

I then realized Gary had great deals on wine, and offered a daily special

Now let me tell you about my close, personal relationship with Gary V (as he is known):

I've met him once, for about 2 minutes.

I've communicated with him on e-mail, twitter, and U-Stream maybe a total of a couple dozen times. We've never had a meal together, I've never visited Wine Library in Springfield, NJ, and no, we've never had a glass of wine together.

I can tell you that Gary is married to Lizzie, has a brand new daughter Misha, brother AJ (who just graduated college) father Sasha, an occasional and loved addition to, that Gary is a rabid Jets fan (a team which he wants to buy someday), his favorite wine is Sparkling, and he has an obsession with seeing the previews at movies.

What does Gary know about me? Well, I would venture if you mentioned my name to him he'd probably make some crack about me being a Dolphins fan. The only other thing he knows about me is the most important thing to him about me:

I am his customer.

Am I his biggest customer? Not by a long shot. But it doesn't matter. Gary knows that I buy wine from him, and that I don't have to. He knows I know every wine website in the country, knows that I receive 5 wine emails a day offering me deals, and that I have several wine retailers/wholesalers in Miami that will deliver me anything I want within hours.

Now let me back up. Gary may not know these things specifically, but he assumes them, about all his customers. Gary knows every minute of every day, that every single one of his customers can buy wine somewhere else.He, like an airline, "knows we have choices when we buy wine," he's just a bit more sincere then your average airline about wanting you to choose him.

Gary has two kinds of customers: Those that simply buy wine from Wine Library because they need or want a bottle or two, and those that buy wine from Gary Vaynerchuk.

There is a difference. The first type of customer only needs to meet Gary, in the store or online, to realize that the business, is a person. The second type of customer, buys from Wine Library because Gary Vaynerchuk cares.

"Caring." This is the hokey "oh, c'mon" answer Gary always gives when someone asks this wine retailer with a daily online video show, over 700,000 followers on twitter, a Facebook account that is too full to add any new friends, and appearances on Fallon, Conan, the Today Show, Ellen, to name a few, how it is that he built little Shopper's Discount into the 8 figure sensation that it is today.

"I care."

I love when I watch a video of Gary at a conference giving this answer. The question is asked almost breathlessly: "Hey Gary, how do you, you know, how to you get to, uh, get you?"


This answer is frustrating to most. They see no business model in "caring." It wasn't taught in business school, and all the newly self-proclaimed business geniuses on the internet who will help you make a million dollars in a month working 3 hours a day don't talk about "caring."

If you don't get it, maybe you should.

So let me explain:

Wine Library is a wine shop with a website. They sell wine. Some is red, and some is white. They have sales, wine clubs, and a way for you to subscribe to their daily special via email. When you order wine from Wine Library, it comes in a box. The wine is not "magic wine," and many of the wines are available somewhere else.

They sell wine, and sell alot of it on the internet. Big deal. So do a half a dozen other wine shops on the internet. touts themselves as the #1 wine retailer on the internet. No doubt that's based on volume. Know who the people are behind Me neither. How about No? Me neither.

So here it is:

I don't buy wine from Wine Library. I buy wine from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary Vaynerchuk doesn't sell wine. Gary Vaynerchuk sells Gary Vaynerchuk.

Now for those lawyers who haven't figured out what I'm saying here, let me make the comparison:

You can be a lawyer that is nothing more than a fee receptacle putting on a suit and doing work for a client, or you can start giving a crap about 1. what you do, and 2. who you represent.

When my new clients come in, we don't talk about their case at first. We talk about them. We talk about me. I want to know where they went to school, their family, and whatever else tells me something unique about them.

I want them to leave the office knowing about me, and not just what I do.

I want them to know this is a relationship, not a transaction.

Many lawyers come from the school that you must have a completely distant relationship with your clients. I'm not talking about going to their kid's birthday parties, or drinking beer with them (although those things may eventually happen), or being their best friend.

I'm talking about being real, "caring."

It's as simple as one of my clients who said "you know what gave me a good feeling about you, that you have pictures all over your office of your family."

What you do as a lawyer is not magic. You're a commercial litigator? I know 20. You're a divorce lawyer? I know 30. Don't tell me, or the client that you are a "better" lawyer. They are looking for a good lawyer that they like, and trust. It's the entire package.

Think this is silly? Hokey? "Not a way to make money?"

If your clients think you could care less about them as a person, enjoy representing them in this case. They won't be back for the next, nor will they refer anyone to you.

If, like Gary, you do something that someone else does, you must ask yourself this question:

What makes me different?

Those of you, and there are a lot, who are just in law to make money, are missing the entire point of this. You're also missing the rewards.

While many lawyers are being laid off from their BigLaw dream, or struggling in their solo or small firm practices, remember one thing:

It's not about what you do, it's about who you are.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit



Dr. Leah said...

Nice. Really nice.

Completely agree.

Kristin said...

I am a firm believer in this and my clients know I care about them. Unfortunately, when you care about your clients, you also get burn out. Which I have. The losses to my clients become personal to me. The victories do as well, but the losses are hard to take, year after year.

Anonymous said...

get to work

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right about gary selling gary. I use to work for him for three years, and he is nice until it comes down to money. His father who use to own the store would recieve wine and then promptly load it on trucks to head over to NY where his mafioso friends owned bars and sasha would sell them the booze cheaper than it would of cost in NY. This is all speculation not fact, but i have them from reliable sources. Gary also would ship wine to pennsylvania under the label "Steklyn and Walker" with no refrence to alcohol being inside via a 3rd party shipper. I hate gary bc my gf commited a White collar crime, paid her dues and was on probation, and he waited till she was done so he could drag her back to get more money then she took. HES GOT A 50 MILLION DOLLAR BUISNESS, cut her a break, shes trying to finish college and get her life back on track and he just keeps pulling her back in bc of his greed.

My Law License said...

But at least you get to feel better by searching the internet looking for good posts about Gary so you can anonymously trash him. By the way, most good businessmen aren't "nice" when it comes to money.