Celbrity endorsements

"Hey, I know that guy. That’s old whatsizname. I wonder what he’s selling?"

A celebrity in your advertising is a great way to attract attention, create excitement for your products and build awareness among your prospects and customers. The celebrity serves as a testimonial – an endorsement for your product or service. That endorsement may be enough to turn a browser into a buyer.
"Y’know, if it’s good enough for whatsizname, it’s good enough for me."
Nike uses LeBron, Tiger Woods, and other sports figures to strengthen the association between great athletic feats and Nike sporting goods.
Consumer attitudes of ,"I wanna be like LeBron" or, "I admire Tiger Woods, so I’ll emulate his behavior," help Nike link its products with winners. That translates into big sales.
You might think celebrities cost a lot of money, and some do. LeBron James earns far more from endorsements than from his lucrative playing contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The extent to which you use the celebrity often determines the amount you may have to pay. There are times, however, when you may be able to arrange a celebrity endorsement gratis, or for a small fee.

1. Borrow one from a supplier – First, check with your suppliers to see if they have any celebrities under contract. Look into any cooperative advertising arrangements or personal appearance opportunities.
If the celebrity attends your next industry trade show representing your supplier, bring along a camera and shoot a few pictures with you and the celebrity. You may be able to obtain permission through your supplier to use the photographs in your advertising and promotion.

2. Talk to their promoters – Contact local entertainment promoters to see if any celebrities are coming to town. Offer to schedule an appearance in order to help promote the celebrity. The promoter may be willing to arrange a brief appearance, especially if the celebrity is selling a product.

3. Donate to charity – Local charitable organizations may have a working relationship with a celebrity. Offer to donate a percentage of your sales to the charity if the celebrity endorses your product.

4. Find one who likes your product – Say you hear of a celebrity who uses your product. Make an offer of free merchandise in exchange for permission to photograph him or her with the products. The idea of something for nothing appeals to everyone, even celebrities.
The late Burl Ives was a depositor at a Santa Barbara bank that was offering free fishing gear with new account openings. The bank offered Ives some gear he admired for the right to use his photograph in its ads. Cost: about $100.

5. The industry celebrity – Your celebrity need not be someone famous the world over. You may have someone unique to your industry, someone whom few people outside your small circle of trade specialists would know, but someone who is revered by you and your customers alike.
An industry celebrity can boost your image of expertise among your prospective customers. Stage a special event around his appearance at a seminar you sponsor; have his picture taken with customers; submit a feature story on how he became an industry authority, along with a few pictures of the expert using your product, shaking hands with your company president or standing on your factory floor.

6. Sports heroes – Sports celebrities are always a hit, but major celebrities can be expensive. Some lesser sports stars, however, may not charge anything at all. Retired professional athletes or former college greats are particularly popular. Coaches from the local high school can even be a big draw, especially in smaller towns.
Celebrities can be used in a variety of situations:
— Signing autographs
— Demonstrating products
— Conducting seminars
— Modeling clothing
— Posing for photographs with customers and employees
— Endorsing your products in advertisements and promotional materials
Latch on to a good celebrity, one who will bring instant recognition, and your product and services can receive the same recognition. Use celebrity endorsements to boost your products’ awareness, your company’s sales, and your bottom line.

Robert Grede, a speaker, author and an adjunct faculty member at Marquette University, operates The Grede Company, marketing and strategic planning consultant. (www.thegredecompany.com).

Jan. 9, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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