Why Celebrity Testimonials Don’t Always Boost Sales — Biz Coach

Celebrity testimonials have been common throughout marketing history. Some testimonials, work, but some don’t.

In local or regional markets, your company doesn’t have to have a large marketing budget to attract celebrities to be your spokespersons.

Many athletes love to be seen as spokespersons on TV. Often, it’s possible to have a famous jock to do your testimonials for a nominal rate.

As a Seattle Mariner, Ken Griffey, Jr. did TV testimonials for Chevrolet dealers in Washington state. His only remuneration was the use of two sport utility vehicles.

When his father, former Cincinnati Reds great Ken Griffey, Sr. played alongside him in 1990 and 1991, he joined him in TV commercials.

Despite their immense popularity, the testimonials didn’t boost Chevrolet sales.

So while it’s an ego-boost for a celebrity to offer testimonial services, it’s not always a good idea. That’s right. Celebrity testimonials don’t always work.

Here’s why: Success depends on the product, the celebrity, and choosing the right media for your target audience in creating the right impressions to motivate people to buy.

Buying perceptions 

In tight marketing budgets, it’s important to understand why people will buy from you – remember it’s always an emotional decision.

Admittedly, about 18 percent of customers – blue-collar and professionals, alike – will only buy if you’re selling at the cheapest price in the marketplace.

Assuming you’re selling products of value, avoid those people. They are the most troublesome.

Even if they buy, they’re more likely to show up the next day demanding to return their purchase. Even if they keep the purchase, they complain the loudest and longest.

For the best results, focus on people who are motivated by value. That means using the right celebrity.

My firm’s research shows the five value perceptions of what your customers sub-consciously think in motivating them to buy from you:

Spokespersons and employees – 52 percent. The key characteristics are integrity, judgment, friendliness and knowledge. Remember, about 70 percent of your customers will buy elsewhere because they feel they’re being taken for granted by your employees. And customers normally will not tell you why they switched to your competitor.

Image of Company – 15 percent. They are concerned about the image of your company in the community. Cause-related marketing is a big plus in forging a positive image. So is cleanliness and good organization.

Quality of Product or Service Utility – 13 percent. The customer is asking the question – “What will this do for me?”

Convenience –12 percent. Customers like easy accessibility to do business with you. That includes your Web site, telephoning you, and the convenience of patronizing your business.  

Price – 8 percent. Price is important, but it’s the least concern among the five value-motivating perceptions.

For more information on this data, see What are the Secrets for Success in Advertising? Creating 5 Perceptions.

Meantime, a Canadian company, Signarama (signarama-toronto.ca), has created an interesting infographic on the successes and failures of celebrity endorsements:

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“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

-Mark Twain


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.