Endorsements: If You Build It, They Will Come

June 21, 2014

2:30 pm

Recently, over 20.6 million people tuned in to see if California Chrome would be the first horse in over three decades to win horseracing’s elusive Triple Crown, almost a 300% increase in viewers over last year. That kind of exposure to millions of Americans is precious to advertisers and marketers, and we all dream of a celebrity endorsement.

“California Chrome gets his shoes from a blacksmith. But after his baths this week, news cameras clicked as he was draped in a blue blanket lettered in white with the brand name of the trendy footwear company Skechers. His trainers and handlers wore Skechers cap and jerseys,” according to a report in USA Today.

According to ESPN, the exact financial details of the endorsement deal were not released, but experts estimate that it was one of the largest in horseracing history. Most of the endorsement deals ended with California Chrome’s fourth place finish at the Belmont.

And therein lies an important, and heartening, lesson for startups and entrepreneurs that think of celebrity endorsements as the sure way to elevate their brand: while your popularity may rise with the celebrity, you’ve tied your strategy to a person — or animal — almost guaranteed to make mistakes at some point. Also, who has the financial capital on hand for a paid endorsement like this? Very few of us.

Instead, relying on tested and proven strategies will ensure success of your own making. Employing these tactics will increase your visibility and ultimately make you a market leader —and perhaps lead to that celebrity endorsement after all.

Remember Your Goals

If only One Direction would mention your product…You’d be set for the life of your company, right? Not so fast. What if your target audience is middle-aged or senior consumers who have never even heard of One Direction?

Instead, focus on the goals you’ve set and the benchmarks you need to achieve. Who is your target audience? Chasing a celebrity endorsement can end up being a waste of time, but concentrating on your consumers never is.

Facebook and Google advertising will allow you to focus your audience by location, age and gender, as well as interests like working moms, One Direction fans and avid readers. Targeting your advertising dollars to your exact target audience will build brand awareness and lead to increased sales and conversions.

Start Local

A measurable, effective goal is NOT, “Make my product a household name by the end of the year.” While that is certainly a dream goal for everyone, it is not quantifiable and attainable — except in a select few special cases. Where do you even being to achieve a goal that lofty?

Instead, you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere should be your own backyard. So once you’ve established your goals and target audience, begin advertising in your community and that can lead you to national exposure. What radio program do people talk about the most? Is there a community paper or well-known local blogger? Reaching out within your community will help build a strong foundation.

Ask for Advice

You may be an entrepreneur or involved in a relatively new business, but you are also a consumer. Pay attention to similar companies and their marketing efforts. Who are they connecting with on social media?

Follow up with a press kit, an invitation to tour your facilities and samples.

Build on the Right Foundation

Building a foundation upon strategic planning and goal setting, starting local and building out and asking for advice along the way can lead you to the goal of celebrity endorsements.

Hydrotherapy pool manufacturers HydroWorx built their reputation over many years of quality work and community and media outreach. This strong foundation and clear messaging eventually led to athletes and medical professionals publically recognizing the quality of HydroWorx product. The celebrity endorsements followed, including high profile athletes and ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

The exposure resulted in instant credibility, increased brand awareness and new business from the likes of NASA and Navy SEALs.

Ultimately, focusing your branding and advertising efforts on creating a superior product or service will result in the endorsements every startup dreams of.

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Savannah Marie is a writer and business marketing enthusiast. She writes about tips and tricks in the world of business, online marketing, social media and start-ups. She is the editor of her blog, Mixios, which features content on business, social media, and everything in between.

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