Marketing Bootcamp

How to Leverage a Celebrity Like Giuliana Rancic to Build a Business

When done correctly, the proper celebrity involvement can propel your company into the mainstream with a speed and exposure that’s almost impossible to attain otherwise. And exposure can do incredible things for sales.

The problem here is that the old model of celebrity engagement, simple endorsements or paid advertising just isn’t as effective anymore. You need to be more creative and celebrities need to be a lot more involved. Just having them tweet about your company isn’t going to do it either.

Enter Giuliana Rancic: an Italian-American E! News host with exceptionally devoted following.

Rancic and I connected to talk about her new passion project and company named Xo,G, mirroring her social media sign-off. Xo,G was created by Rancic through a partnership with Stack Wines. The product separates the contents of a full bottle of wine into four individual shatterproof and vertically stacked cups. Rancic says, “The packaging was perfect for Xo,G because there are so many situations when a whole bottle of wine, in glass, just doesn’t work.”

She shared with me how this opportunity with Stack Wines came about. See if any of these steps might work for your company. 

Related: How Scoring Celebrity Clients Can Take Your Business to the Next Level

1. Find the right channel.

Stack Wines enlisted the help of public relations firm Fingerprint Communications. Many small and growing businesses forgo this type of opportunity or commit to it well after they should.

This type of public relations involvement might sound expensive but when considering the potential exposure and access to celebrity relationships (that could lead to deals just like this), the cost doesn’t compare with the opportunity. Do yourself a favor and have these conversations early in your company's lifespan. I bet you’ll be surprised by what a public relations team might be willing to do to have the chance to work with great people and brands.

2. Be sure there’s a fit.

So you’ve developed a new dating app that you think might derail the behemoth Tinder. Are you going to solicit a list of married celebrities to partner with you and your company? Of course not.

In this case there was some alignment: Rancic had an enormous female following and, she says, “saw an opportunity to offer quality wines to women at an affordable price.” 

Although you might not be fortunate enough to locate someone like Rancic to start a company and partner with you, you might find a prominent individual who can have an impact on your business through his or her following. Figure out what the person's audience is like and if your product line is a good fit with it.  

Related: What to Do When the Big Fish You Hired Roils Your Startup's Small Pond

3. Facts tell. Stories sell. 

Rancic remembers seeing on the wall of her now husband's former office a quote that went something like this: "Facts tell. Stories sell." What's key is creating an emotional and personal appeal to the celebrity approached. (Actually this applies to all sales.)

Suggests Rancic: “Get the product in [the individual's] hand with a personal note attached to the product that is from the heart. Tell the story of how the product or company is your passion. It’s your baby.”  

She cautions, “Do not solicit," adding, "Give them a lot" so this person will "share it with ... friends, which will result in the feedback" needed.

In this case, the creation of Xo,G resulted from the impression made on Rancic, when received a case of the wine. It solved her problem: craving a single glass of wine but not wanting to open an entire bottle. So she posted a picture of the product on her Instagram account.

More than 10 percent of her 1 million followers responded, she says. Many of her followers shared comments indicating their wishes to have such a product.  That's a high conversion rate and she immediately knew that she “had something huge,” she says.

Although Xo,G is a young brand, it’s already secured a major retailer. The product will be offered in 1,200 Walmart stores nationwide for less than $10. Stack Wines offers an example of near perfect startup and celebrity integration. 

Related: How to Succeed at Product Placement Without Celebrities