Top 3 tips to make a talent equity deal work
Sandbox Studios has seen over 95 talent-led startup brands raising capital in the last quarter alone – and this is only increasing. More brands are realizing their business plans are increasingly under pressure to perform having been too reliant on skyrocketing paid advertising costs with Facebook and Google. Brands are being forced to think outside the box to acquire new customers, and talent is an easy solution.
Or so it seems.
Just because the talent in question may have millions of followers, does not mean that the partnership will add value to the business’ bottom line. Typically, it is a nice to have and can help with awareness – but not necessarily conversion. One fundamental aspect to whether talent can convert customers to their brand is authenticity. Simply stated, does the celebrity in question actually care about the brand they are promoting, or is it just a paycheck?
The unfortunate truth is that it is just a paycheck for most. But do not let that deter you.
I have worked with some of the biggest stars in the world – not all cared about the brand that they were fronting, but that didn’t mean the partnership didn’t work. It just meant I had to work harder to make it look like it was a match made in heaven. Startups do not have this extra resource let alone the expertise, so entering a partnership with talent who truly love the brand is critical – or the deal will fall by the wayside as so many do.
Here are my top 3 tips for making talent care:
- Align Values: The great thing about social media is that you can see what everyone is interested in because they post about it for the world to see. This is no different for celebrities, and although they might get paid to attend a party – it doesn’t mean their posts don’t skew towards their interests. Look closely – are they typically outdoorsy or would rather be sipping champagne? Images tell a story, so start by trying to understand what they are into.
- Align Content: Visual alignment is also important. Celebrities with content that has a consistent style and that is similar to your brand style can make a world of difference – especially for the talent who may not always have your product front of mind. Similarly styled content captured on the go by the talent in question can save time and money on editing and studio fees.
- No Idea is a Bad Idea: People in entertainment tend to be creatives, and this can add a lot of value if you are open to their ideas. If your celebrity co-founder has an idea, you should be the first person to champion it. Don’t expect them to be master marketers because they don’t have the experience, but nurturing ideas will enable more engagement with them. Help them feel part of the brand, even if they only have a small percentage because 5% of a unicorn is nothing to shy away from.
In my experience, talent love to back great ideas and great people but often get pulled in so many directions making it hard to focus. Brands must capitalize on the limited time they have. Make the most of it – because an effective talent partnership can truly propel a brand beyond what is capable on typical DTC channels alone!