By Susan Gunelius
When we think of celebrity entrepreneurs, names like Paul Newman and Oprah Winfrey typically come to mind, but today, an entire new generation of celebrity entrepreneurs is making strides in the business world. These celebrity business men and women have something in common. They all benefit from instant name recognition and brand awareness, but they don’t all follow the same path to attain success in business.
I’ve always been a proponent of taking a page from celebrity marketing plans for brand building, and we can do the same with celebrity entrepreneurs and business development. Following are 5 marketing tips you can learn from celebrity entrepreneurs who are finding success not just in the world of entertainment but in the world of business, too.
1. Go with what you know.
P. Diddy knows hip hop music. He turned that knowledge into a hugely successful record label, Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide, before branching out into other media endeavors with television shows like Making the Band and Run’s House. P Diddy knows more about hip hop music than just making it and performing it. He also knows the culture of the hip hop audience and extended his business to a fashion line (Sean John), fragrances, and a high-end liquor (Ciroc vodka).
In 2010, P Diddy told a CNN interviewer that he wanted to start a business school in Harlem. He explained, “I want to have an academy that’s known for building leaders. I feel that’s one of the things I can have an impact on.” It’s safe to say he’s not done building his business empire which is rumored to be estimated at $400-$500 million.
2. Focus on your strengths and passions.
Gwen Stefani loves music and fashion. When she decided to start a fashion line with a alternative pop-inspired style that would appeal to her existing female audience as lead singer for No Doubt, she chose the brand name L.A.M.B., an acronym for the title of her first solo album, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.”
Stefani’s business has expanded to other areas of fashion and accessory design to include a children’s line, and a brand of bags for Apple devices, Harajuku Lovers. Her passion for music and fashion helped her build a brand that brings in $90 million each year.
3. Recognize and respond to demand, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles, designed all the costumes for her daughter’s music group, Destiny’s Child. It seemed like a natural progression for the two women to team up to launch a fashion brand, and House of Dereon was born. A less expensive junior line, Dereon, was launched later by Beyonce and her sister Solange Knowles.
In a September 2011 interview with CNN, Beyonce explained that the fashion line evolved in response to consumer demand, “I grew up in a fabric store. Unfortunately my mother would say, ‘Come on let’s go to the fabric store,’ and she would make all of these beautiful clothes for myself and the other ladies of Destiny’s Child. After so many years, my fans said, ‘We want to buy these clothes somewhere,’ so it was a natural thing for us to do this line. It’s so great for us to be able to do it together, number one because we get to spend time together and two because we have such respect for each others’ tastes.”
4. Leverage brand extension opportunities.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Kardashian sisters have built their boutique clothing store, Dash, and the Kardashian brand into a business empire. They did it through brand extensions. Not an opportunity goes by for a brand extension that the Kardashian sisters don’t take (or at least consider). From television shows to fragrances and clothing lines, the Kardashian sisters follow the celebrity promotion edict that no publicity is bad publicity.
Of course, this isn’t a business strategy that every entrepreneur should follow. There is such a thing as over-saturating the market with a brand. With that in mind, weigh your long-term business goals against brand extension opportunities to make sure you’re heading in a direction that’s appropriate for you.
5. Diversify your business ventures.
Justin Timberlake may have started his career on the Disney Channel, but today, he’s a successful business owner. His diverse business ventures include the William Rast clothing line, 901 tequila, several restaurants, and the eco-friendly Mirimichi Golf Course in Tennessee for which he received the Futures Award at the 2011 Environmental Media Awards.
Timberlake’s business strategy isn’t a new one, but it is a solid one. Diversification insulates the business owner from macro- and micro-environmental events that could negatively impact a specific business or industry. It’s a growth strategy that all entrepreneurs should consider. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.