Celebrity brands have a lot of power, and if you can get one on board with your business, there are serious benefits.Established celebrities have an existing base of maniacal fans and a massive promotional platform to leverage.
Lee revealed how he got celebrities on board with his business plans on a panel at Business Insider’s Social Commerce Summit 2012.
Celebrities aren’t easy to approach. They have PR barriers and frequently they just don’t have to time to listen to a lengthy business plan.
“It’s not easy to get a celebrity to attach themselves to something,” said Lee. “You have to build a relationship.”
That’s what he did when he co-founded Legalzoom with celebrity lawyer Robert Shapiro (of O.J. Simpson fame).
Shapiro immediately shot him down. The first thing he said was, “I’m not interested.”Lee called Shapiro’s number at 10:30 at night, identified himself, and simply said “I’m calling for Robert Shapiro.” He had his message all written out, and told Shapiro that he had a business idea to run by him.
But Lee pressed on. “You’ve got two minutes,” Shapiro said. That’s when Lee was in, and had the opportunity to tell Shapiro his business model.
After that, they scheduled another meeting over lunch. Eventually, LegalZoom was born, but it took a healthy amount of relationship building to do so.
Kim Kardashian is the big-name celebrity that worked with Lee to start ShoeDazzle. She has also taken the role of spokesperson in ShoeDazzle’s advertising, leveraging all that fame (and the millions of fans that come with it) for the brand.
But he wouldn’t have gotten her on board without having that initial relationship with Shapiro. Why? Shapiro had worked with Kardashian’s father on some projects, so when he approached her, it was much easier to break through the barriers. The networking paid off, far beyond the first collaboration with Shapiro.
Now, he has a third startup with a celebrity. The Honest Company is a project with Jessica Alba that sells non-toxic, chemical-free baby products on its website, Honest.com. And yes, Alba’s image is splashed all over it.
What did it come down to? Panel moderator and SAI editor Alyson Shontell asked Lee if it was all about hustling.
“Absolutely,” Lee said as he turned to the crowd. “You should all hustle.”
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