Unless you’re living under a no-internet-having rock, you’ve noticed that every big brand is using a celebrity endorsement to market their products. Obviously, this is a fantastic way to quickly pull in a new audience of potential customers off the coat-tails of someone else’s fame, but what if you don’t have that kind of marketing budget?
Paying for a celebrity to endorse your brand is expensive – we’re not going to sugar coat that fact. Even if you wipe out all hope of an A-List celebrity like Oprah promoting your business, a solid B-List option like Jessica Alba can still run you upwards of $30,000 for one social media campaign, which won’t even include a video endorsement.
So what’s a small business to do?
Ultimately you’re looking for an opportunity to put your name in front of an audience that someone else took the time to build. Consider looking a little closer to home when it comes to personalities with a following that can boost your bottom-line.
Split the Celebrity Cost with Other Businesses
If you’re determined to have a celebrity endorsing your business, consider footing the cost with other businesses that you don’t mind supporting as well. Is your shop or office in close proximity to other local businesses that would benefit from a similar style of endorsement? Approach those business owners about each throwing in $5,000 for a celebrity endorsement campaign. Then use the campaign to drive people towards checking out “the many local brands in your town square” or other business coalition.
Research Hometown Celebrities
Did Katie Couric graduate from your local high school? Maybe an early member of Destiny’s Child took tap lessons at your studio? Nostalgia is one of the seven sure-fire ways to move people using content. So what’s next? Do your research; find someone you know that connects you with the celebrity online, and then make a connection with that celebrity’s reps to pitch your idea … which brings up the most important part. Have a few creative (and very original ideas) for how you would like to engage this person in recommending your business. Do not expect the celebrity to do the heavy lifting, especially if you’re looking for a discount on the work.
Local Artists & Actors Promoting Projects
What’s the old saying? I scratch your back and you scratch mine? Musicians and actors want to ensure that the community knows about their upcoming performances, and often come with a very loyal local following. Treat them like celebrities, and approach with a promotional idea that ties both of your goals together.
Comedians & Small Bands Coming to Town
During his 2015 U.S. comedy tour, Marc Marron reached out to the towns where he was performing to find local artists to create a custom tour poster to represent that community. The promotion introduced local artists to a larger audience and gave Marron’s show a boost in ticket sales at the same time. The hardest part about this idea is getting it done far enough in advance to benefit both parties. Monitor Twitter for artists that align with your brand announcing upcoming tour dates. Then brainstorm a way to promote you both in one event or contest.
Top Chefs & Restauranteurs
New and popular restaurants need to keep their names on the tip of every tongue in order to stay busy. While they have the buzz, they need to do something with it. Consider approaching a chef or restaurant manager you know about offering free meals or discounts as an incentive for joint contests to build your audience online. You pay for promoting the contest online, they offer up the yummy prize.
Work with Local Charities
Charities always need help raising money, and you need a reason for people to come out and visit your business. When people feel better about the dollar they are spending, they are much more likely to spend that dollar. Offer a discount on your product or services with the proceeds going to a specific local charity. If the people like what they bought, they’ll be back … and willing to pay full price.
Create a Viral Campaign First
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began with a playful idea to build awareness and ended with nearly every celebrity in the U.S. mentioning the cause online. Get a group of the most creative people you know together in one room, open a few bottles of wine (if you’re over 21 of course) and talk about what would be tastefully funny to see a celebrity do online … or even just to see the members of your community do. Remember, going viral is like winning the lottery. You need a lot of planning, knowledge of the system, and luck on your side.
Host an Event and Invite Local Press
Don’t underestimate the power of free food and celebrity treatment in luring the local press out to your event. While this won’t guarantee that you make the news, if your event is interesting then you’re off to a good start. Also, check into whether the area high schools and colleges have a newspaper you can invite or advertise in – the rates will be reasonable, go towards supporting education, and the kids are the ones with all the money anyway right?
Monitor the Town BUZZ
Sponsoring music festivals, town jamborees, or local radio events is a great way to slap your name on something that someone else is spending the time to organize and promote. Or maybe word on the street is that the next major movie is filming in your town. Could this be your shot to get Julia Roberts to try your gluten-free cupcakes?
Holiday or Seasonal Opportunities
If you can’t jump in on the trend of celebrity endorsements, then try to stay with the trends in other ways. If everyone is talking about the upcoming fireworks display in your town, how can you make sure that your name is attached to that buzz?