Is it a good idea to use a celebrity to endorse you?

SUMMARY: How much would you pay a famous athlete or movie star to endorse your company? Is it really worth the investment? Are there better ways of spending your money?

Have you ever seen celebrities endorse a company? I’m talking about a movie star or sports figure who is promoting a product or service. Is it really worth the money to pay money to endorse your company? Should you hire a celebrity endorser?

To answer that question, I’m going to ask you a question: There are many weight loss companies. I bet you have heard of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and NutriSystem.

Okay, so which weight-loss company features actress Valerie Bertinelli in its ads? How about Jennifer Hudson? Or Mariah Carey? Or Charles Barkley?

If you have no idea, join the club. That’s probably one reason why Jenny Craig, who used Valerie Bertinelli in its ads, announced they will use her less.

By the way, if you care, Jennifer Hudson and Charles Barkley have starred for Weight Watchers and Mariah Carey works for Jenny Craig. But I bet you knew that already!

Why do these companies, and other companies, pay big bucks for celebrity endorsements? Should you?

Let me get to the punch line. The answer is no. You should not pay celebrities to endorse your products unless that celebrity actually uses your products and endorses your company for free.

Don’t use a celebrity

1) Consumers cannot remember which highly paid celebrities hype which products. Can you? Back to my weight loss example. Who did Joe Montana endorse? How about Steve Young? What about Michael Jackson?

2) Celebrities do not help you sell. Ads without celebrities rate slightly better with consumers than ads with celebrities, according to a recent study by Ace Metrix, a syndicated ad testing specialist.

3) Celebrities can actually cause more harm then good. That’s because celebrities can be very polarizing. Half of your consumers may love the star while half hate the star. So you’re in essence cutting off half your potential audience.

For example, what do you think Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Sarah Jessica Parker? They endorse products. How do you personally feel about them?

4) Celebrities distract from your story and your message. People are more focused on the celebrity than they are you product.

5) Celebrities cost too much money. You are a small company and cannot afford to pay a celebrity to endorse your company. Even if the celebrity was cheap, it’s still a bad investment. There are better ways of spending your marketing dollar.

6) Celebrities attract attention. But they can’t hold it. The only purpose of using a paid celebrity is to attract attention. I believe you can attract attention based on using tried and proven buying motives. Make your product the hero, not some celebrity.

7) Celebrities fade over time. Their star power diminishes.

8) Celebrities can tarnish your reputation. For example, during Tiger Woods’ divorce mess, did Nike want to be associated with him? How about OJ Simpson? Do you remember OJ Simpson as the spokesman for Hertz rent-a-car? Do you think Hertz wants him as their spokesman today?

Here’s my advice: Instead of getting celebrity endorsements, get real testimonials from people who use and love your products. Go out and get testimonials from satisfied users of your products, real people who have sampled your product and have enjoyed the benefits.

Why do you need testimonials?

1) What others say about you is far more important than what you say about yourself.

2) Testimonials make you believable and credible.

3) Testimonials give you and your staff confidence that you can really deliver

Here’s your assignment: Make a list of those people who could and should give you testimonials. You want to get authentic, genuine, real testimonials from satisfied clients. Get as many as you can. Not just one or two, but hundreds if possible. You can never have enough testimonials.

THINK ABOUT IT: Should you get real testimonials or hire a celebrity to endorse your company?

• • •

Emphasize only one message and be overly clear

What’s more important—the design of an ad, or it’s singular message?

Answer: message.

I believe that design is important. Design sells. But if I had to choose between a strong message and a strong design, I’d always choose a strong message. My rule:

Content is king; beauty is queen. Design should never overshadow your message.

Keep your message simple

This ad for Cheer teaches us the value of simplicity.

I’m sure it took hours, weeks, maybe months to come up with this concept.

I guarantee you that the copywriter and designer racked their brains, trying think how to sell cheer.

They probably met with the brand manager who said: “Create an ad that shows we clean better than any other detergent.”

Wow. What a challenge.

This ad is from the February 1960 Reader’s Digest.

I am sure it must have stopped every reader.

And I’m positive the fresh approach must have been startling and beguiling.

There are only two lines of copy and only one word is in color. And no picture of the product!

You cannot ignore the simplicity, can you?

(SOURCE: The Best Advertisements from Reader’s Digest, Random House, 1962.)




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