Gary Vaynerchuk was a teenager dusting shelves at a wine shop in New Jersey when he heard a formative exchange between manager and customer.
Seems the customer had bought a bottle of Chardonnay for $5.99 a few weeks ago but just got a coupon in the mail to make it $4.99—and wanted to know if the dollar difference could be refunded.
The manager said no, but if you buy some more, we'll honor that price with this coupon price.
The customer, Vaynerchuk recalls to Entrepreneur, said you don't have to worry about it—I'm never coming back.
"I remember listening to the exchange and knowing that my intuition was like, 'why not'? The value of that customer is much greater than this one dollar," he says.
That exchange set his trajectory.
"I live in lifetime value," he says. "I live in what is this customer worth to me forever, not this moment. I live in, who's going to win the war, not the battle."
Winning the war, to extend Vaynerchuck's martial metaphor, is a matter of relationships. When he was building up his name as a Wine Guy back in the mid-aughts, he decided to personally respond to every email—though inbound math has since made that impossible. Still, his Twitter feed is populated with replies. By his over 900,000 followers, he's clearly doing something right.
The Bottom Line: "We're in a context war, not a content war," Vaynerchuck says. "The reason I became successful is that I touched my community. I responded to them. I think that matters."
Hat tip: Entrepreneur
[Image: Flickr user Brenda Gottsabend]