Getting the attention of a celebrity or someone relevant in your market can be a huge advantage for your business. I was involved in very competitive high-tech startup companies for most of my career. These businesses were enormously challenging for reasons that would require lengthy dissertations; additionally; they had very long sales cycles. Overcoming these challenges has helped me maintain infinite patience with my own business. This has been critical because my venture as a jewelry designer/entrepreneur also falls into a highly competitive industry.
As a strategic edge to differentiate my collection from what seems to be an endless number of indie designers, I’ve chosen to utilize gifting as a marketing tool for my business. This strategy can be impactful, but it’s not a tool with guaranteed effectiveness. Like all strategies, it’s subject to failure and dependent on preparation, follow-through, product quality, and timing. Here are a few suggestions to help you find celebrity matches for your own product.
The First Step
The first challenge of this strategy is simply getting your product into the hands of current, relevant celebrities. How do you do it? Everyone has heard of seven degrees of separation, and I adamantly believe it to be true. Use the resources you have to make connections; you must do it every day or you won’t succeed. Most people can make a link, even a lightweight link, to someone in the limelight. Whether it’s to a Hollywood celeb, a local notable, or even someone who’s considered a celebrity within the corporate popularity contest, make that connection. These connections become easier as you create your own buzz with other marketing strategies.
Look at your LinkedIn profile and see who you know. Check out who graduated from your university; you have a commonality and a talking point. Find whatever legitimate angle you can and make a connection. Remember to always be honest and sincere – celebrities will spot someone who is disingenuous immediately. Depending on who you’re dealing with, they have people looking to gain something from their fame all the time. The last thing that would be appealing would be another perceived scammer trying to gain access for personal gain, so make it clear who you are and what you’re doing.
How Did I Get Celebrities to Wear My Jewelry?
I was very lucky to find The Artisan Group. This is a curated group for independent artisans who are interested in either directly gifting celebrities or being involved in major luxury lounges. This group was formed by Valerie Guerrero, who was an executive prior to opening a massively successful customized stationery shop. As a result of her ability to win hearts and influence people, she has been able to gain access to celebrity events and gifting opportunities for this group of a few hundred artisans.
Today, luxury lounges are a key part of major awards shows in Hollywood, and they’re a great way to showcase your products. Getting in as an individual company is next to impossible, even if you could afford the high cost. These events are very elite, and not just anyone can bring their products to display. Work your personal angles and your connections to get your products into the hands of the right people. Organizations and networks can be your best friends, but who you choose to affiliate with and who you know will determine the next connection you make. The most important point is to be ready for the connections you’re trying to make.
Getting Your Jewelry Top Billing
Don’t use celebrity gifting as your first, or only, means of marketing. Get your business in order before you attempt this. Your product needs to be perfected before you send it to a celeb. Be certain you have an identifiable presence and a clean, clear website with updated information about your company. Be ready with additional samples or marketing data in the event that you get a call. Be sure you can answer over the phone, in writing, and in person any questions. Have a bio, a fantastic head shot, and a company summary, if not a full press kit, ready to go.
When you do send out your items, be sure to send the best sample you have, along with your business card, company info, and a personal note of thanks for taking the time to accept the gift. Remember that image matters; how you present the item is crucial – even the package and label should be top-notch.
Also, if you are looking for something from the person, ask! If you want a picture of the celeb with your item, ask very, very politely. If you’re hoping that she will consider endorsing your company or product, ask! But be sure to include a high-level summary of what’s in it for her.
How to Gain a Celebrity Endorsement Once They’ve Seen Your Product
Getting an actual endorsement can be very difficult and includes contracts and attorneys who have expertise in this field. Be careful how you post and use pictures of celebrities who are using your products; very often, they’re not available for use in a large marketing campaign, even though it’s your product. You would need a release and consent, in all likelihood, if the celebrity is very popular. You should, however, be able to use a public photo on your website or Facebook profile without too much trouble.
Ask yourself, “Who owns the photo? What is the purpose of the use of the photo?” How you ask for permission will determine the outcome, so think before you randomly send a request. An endorsement is very specific; just because someone is seen with your product doesn’t mean you have her endorsement.
This is your start. Remember to be professional, honest, and polite. Every celebrity gets tons of gifts and requests for endorsements. You not only have to impress them with your product, but with yourself as well!
Christine Lorenzo is a Boston-based designer and founder of SariBlue, an earthy, bohemian jewelry collection centered on the Turkish evil eye bead. As a member of The Artisan Group, her collection has been featured at the GBK Productions Luxury Lounge honoring the 2012 Golden Globes, the 2012 Oscars, and the 2012 MTV Movie Awards nominees and presenters.