Celebrity endorsements can amplify a brand’s message to a significantly larger audience, earn trust and credibility with consumers, and even propel sales. According to BurstMedia’s Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report, in 2014, advertisers received $6.85 in earned media value for every $1.00 spent on influencer marketing programs.

More than ever before, marketers are placing emphasis on leveraging influential celebrities in brand marketing. To accommodate the increase demand, these endorsements have become more obtainable for brands of any size than ever before.

In recent years, social media marketing has become an integral piece of the marketing puzzle for brands big and small. Influential celebrities and athletes have large, loyal, and engaged social followings, making them the perfect partner for forward-thinking marketers. While celebrity social endorsements can range from $100 to over $100 thousand depending on the celebrity, marketers on almost any budget can find influencers who will effectively and price-efficiently distribute an endorsement to their trusting audience.

When it comes to securing a potential endorser, there’s no single method. Many strategies can work, though some are more reliable than others. The bottom line is that you want them, and many athletes and celebrities will happily work with your brand. They just need to be convinced. Here are five proven ways to get a celebrity to endorse your brand:  

1. Give ’em the goods

Who doesn’t like free stuff? If your organization is lacking the cash to pay for a celebrity endorser, try giving your gear to a potential endorser for free. There’s a saying, “If it’s free, I’ll have three.” Celebrities, especially athletes, love receiving free stuff. Target a specific celebrity who is right for your brand and your brand’s target audience, and then send your product to them. If your targeted celeb is seen using your brand, you will essentially get an endorsement for only the cost of the sent product. Many celebrities will even give a free endorsement on social media thanking the brand for the gift.

Thank you, Chipotle! If you catch me there in 2013, burritos are in me. A photo posted by Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) on

2. Offer equity

In order to preserve cash and increase buy-in from celebrity endorsers,, companies can offer company equity. Plus, offering equity as part of an endorsement deal gives the celebrity an incentive to keep promoting your brand.   However, equity doesn’t just have to refer to company ownership. Equity can also be offered in terms of goods or services in return for an endorsement, rather than cash or stock ownership.

In 2010, Under Armour signed Tom Brady to an endorsement deal that included an equity stake in the sports apparel company. Five years later, it’s safe to say the endorsement has worked out for both parties. Under Armour has grown to become the second largest sports apparel company in the United States and Brady has only grown more successful, though his public perception has taken a hit following Deflategate. As a bonus, Under Armour added Gisele Bunchen, Brady’s wife and The world’s first billionaire supermodel, to its influencer roster in 2014.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

This deal helped Under Armour land a high profile athlete while saving money up front and giving Brady an incentive to continue promoting the brand.

3. Align with a cause

Aligning with a charity or non-profit is a win-win. Not only does working with a cause create a positive image, it also offers a chance for brands to find common ground with a potential endorser. Many celebrities work with charities and are open to partnering with brands for a good cause.

New Balance establishes a charity component into each endorsement deal they agree to with Major League Baseball players. Each athlete spends a certain amount of time and money serving underprivileged communities; in return, New Balance provides them with a separate fund of money and merchandise for the charity of their choice.

One of baseball’s biggest stars and two-time AL MVP winner, Miguel Cabrera, endorses New Balance. In return, New Balance contributes a donation, including cash and gear, to the Miguel Cabrera Foundation, which is dedicated to youth development and leadership programs in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

4. Adjust Your Target

Chances are you’re not representing a Fortune 500 company and your business doesn’t want to drop $130 thousand for LeBron to send a tweet endorsing your brand. That’s okay. In fact, rather than chasing a big name, now you have the opportunity to be more selective.

The more specific your goals when identifying an influencer, the better. Trying to reach consumers in a specific city or state? Consider targeting influencers with deep ties to the area — think former stars from a nearby college, celebrities with local roots, and current athletes or celebrities that may have more influence locally than on a national level.

For audiences to trust the message your celebrity endorser is sharing, the partnership needs to make sense. Choose athletes truly that connect with your brand, product, and message to avoid overspending on a big name while ensuring a connection with the audience.

In general, athletes and celebrities who reside below the “A” List are both easier and cheaper to earn an endorsement from. These celebrities have fewer opportunities than Beyonce and often aim to maximize their earning power. By setting specific goals and identifying the right match, you will not only set your sights on a more obtainable endorser, but you can more effectively reach your desired audience, too.

5. Contact their agent

In today’s world of celebrity representation, there are numerous agents, managers, and friends who play a strong role in the decision making process for athletes and celebrities. Be prepared to work through a handful of gatekeepers before reaching the celebrity you’ve selected.

“Agents will be very protective,” says Nick Rines, of career development agency MR Communications. “Do not try and get around them and do not be pushy. You have to sell to the agent. Without their buy-in, you will not go very far.”

Still not sure how to contact an agent? No sweat! More information about contacting agents can be found here.

Get a celebrity endorser for your brand

Celebrity endorsements are a great way to raise awareness, boost brand affinity, and deliver an impactful message to a large audience. Now that we’ve laid out five proven ways to get celebrities to promote your business, you have the tools to get started.

Are you ready to explore athlete endorsement opportunities for your business? Great. Schedule a discovery call with one of our endorsement experts.