Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

How to Leverage a Celebrity Like Giuliana Rancic to Build a Business Finding a brand advocate who's well-known and with a tremendous following can give your startup a tremendous lift.

By Adam Callinan Edited by Jason Fell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

Adam Callinan

Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Adam Callinan is a founder at BottleKeeper, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries. Callinan is also a founding partner at Beachwood Ventures, a Los Angeles-based early-stage and non-traditional venture-capital firm at the intersection of technology and entertainment. As an entrepreneur, Callinan has spent over a decade building small businesses in and around technology, medical devices and consumer products, which most recently includes an exit in 2013. Callinan lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Katie.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Now that OpenAI's Superalignment Team Has Been Disbanded, Who's Preventing AI from Going Rogue?

We spoke to an AI expert who says safety and innovation are not separate things that must be balanced; they go hand in hand.


What Franchising Can Teach The NFL About The Impact of Private Equity

The NFL is smart to take a thoughtful approach before approving institutional capital's investment in teams.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Beyond the Great Resignation — How to Attract Freelancers and Independent Talent Back to Traditional Work

Discussing the recent workplace exit of employees in search of more meaningful work and ways companies can attract that talent back.

Business News

Scarlett Johansson 'Shocked' That OpenAI Used a Voice 'So Eerily Similar' to Hers After Already Telling the Company 'No'

Johansson asked OpenAI how they created the AI voice that her "closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

Business Ideas

Struggling to Balance Your Business and Your Relationship? This Company Says It Has a Solution.

Jessica Holton, co-founder and CEO of Ours, says her company is on a mission to destigmatize couples therapy so that people can be proactive about relationship health.


Marketing Campaigns Must Do More than Drive Clicks — Here's How to Craft Landing Pages That Convert Clicks into Customers

Following fundamental design principles will ensure that your landing pages lead potential customers from clicking on an ad to completing a purchase.