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3 R’s for Choosing Marketing Spokespeople

By Heather Mangold

For years, marketers have used spokespeople to humanize their company, product or service. These “third-party” endorsements help consumers to relate to the company and can even lend credibility if the correct representative is selected. Whether you are representing a big consumer brand or positioning a small service organization as a leader in your marketplace, appointing a strong personality to your brand can be a great marketing tactic. Consider some spokesperson success stories:

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, appeared in more than 800 television commercials – more than any other individual in history – bringing the fast food chain to the third most popular in the nation!

Mike Rowe, spokesperson and blue-collar advocate, quickly escalated from opera singer and sales pitchman to the voice of the Discovery Channel and the spokesperson for Ford Motor Company, Lee Jeans and Caterpillar.

And, just recently, Jennifer Lopez was named spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club of America. As a former clubber herself, Lopez joins Denzel Washington as the faces for this 104-year-old youth organization.

But what qualities make these individuals marketing worthy? And how can you apply that to the voice of your small business? Selecting a spokesperson and evaluating testimonials for your organization is an important decision. To help you weigh your options, here are 3 criteria to watch for:

Relational

One of the most important criteria in selecting a spokesperson is the relationship he or she has to your organization. Whether you are considering an employee, a client or a community member as the face of your organization, ensure there is a solid foundation for the relationship and longevity for the future. Wendy’s approach of “owner as spokesperson” is almost always a safe bet, and, as rags-to-riches Boy’s and Girls Club stories, Washington and Lopez have amazing levels of gratitude to the organization. While employees and clients can be a great voice for your company now, a sullied relationship in the future means a new search and added marketing expense, so take care to ensure the relationship is solid.

Reputable

Tying your brand to an individual opens the door to error of human ways. Choose an individual whose personal ethics, morals and mission correlate closely to the ways of your organization. Consider the woes of super-star athlete endorsements.  Tiger Woods? Brett Favre? What seemed like a good idea a few years back has certainly come under recent fire. And if you will rely on this person for regular engagements, public appearances and references, look for a history of reliability as well.

Relatable

People need to relate to your choice of a spokesperson for making testimonials. Take Mike Rowe’s recent success with Ford. As an opera singer, Rowe would have made a poor voice for an American-made, trades-focused truck line. But, as the host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and now blue-collar advocate, Rowe has become one of the most relatable celebrities in that market. Choose a testimony source or spokesperson that your audience can relate to by closely examining your target, their characteristics and influencers in their market.   Whenever possible, disclose the identity of your supporter rather than using a generic description.

By applying these criteria to your testimonial and marketing spokesperson selection, you can help build a strong personality for your brand!

Oak Hill Business Partners’ Growth Management Services will work with your management team to devise and execute an overall strategy for growing your organization.  Whether it’s a refined marketing strategy or improved communications with your target audience, we have the expertise to support you so you can focus more effort on your core expertise.   For more information, Contact Us today.

Heather Mangold is a Strategic Partner of Oak Hill Business Partners, specializing in branding, strategic planning and project management in various media.

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