Devin Graham (centre) could be the next Rachael Ray.

In my last two posts, I explored why inauthentic endorsements from big name celebrities mean nothing anymore and how the future of all branding is people-powered.

What does this mean for you, the marketer? It means you need to start thinking like a talent manager.

It’s simple really. If a content creator already authentically endorses your product or service, the larger their audience gets, the more you sell.

Searching for Rachael Ray

Entertain me for a few seconds. Let’s go back to 1997, a time when there was no social media. A time with no YouTube. A time when you had to rely on traditional media to access an audience.

Remember those days? Now, watch this video:


That is Rachael Ray. The very same Rachael Ray from the Food Network’s mega-success 30 Minute Meals.

Today, more than a decade after that video aired, Rachael Ray has a media and product empire.

Who discovered Rachael Ray? It wasn’t the Food Network. It wasn’t even the Albany television station (WRGB) who started airing news segments featuring Rachael’s 30-minute meals.

Rachael Ray was discovered by a local gourmet grocer in Albany called Cowan & Lobel when she was working as the grocery store chain’s head buyer and kitchen manager.

Today, Cowan & Lobel is no more. It closed the very same year that Rachael Ray first appeared on the Food Network. But what if the team at Cowan & Lobel had been thinking like a talent manager?

It’s never been easier to find talent

Panini Happy is a food blog created by Kathy Strahs.

In a digitally driven world, it’s just so easy to find talent that increases demand for the products you sell. If you sell panini presses, check out Panini Happy. If you sell cameras, check out Tom Guilmette. If you sell activewear, check out Devin Graham.

None of these people monetize their content with cheesy affiliate links, though Guilmette and Graham get paid to create authentic content with very little oversight from the brands they feature.

Some of the manufacturers whose products Graham has featured have seen a 300 percent increase in sales the day his videos are released. With ROI like that, who cares how many people “liked” the video?

These people aren’t celebrities. Chances are you haven’t heard of them. They don’t have their own television shows or best-selling books. But, there’s no reason they couldn’t, and there’s no reason why your brand can’t help them get there.

The business of talent management

Talent managers guide the professional careers of artists in the entertainment business. Talent managers think about the long-term growth of the talent they serve.

They’re not after the biggest paycheque today (like talent agents), they’re after consistent performance over time. Traditionally, talent managers collect 15 percent on all the income their talent earns – that’s how they make their money.

In short, a talent manager is interested in consistently growing the reach, power, and impact of their talent’s work to ensure an ever-bigger payday tomorrow. Isn’t that what you’re trying to do for your brand?

Is Panini Kathy the next Rachael Ray?

If you manufacture sandwich makers, why not sponsor Panini Kathy’s blog? Why not underwrite the publishing and distribution of her panini book? Why not act as her talent manager and get her on the Today Show?

Whether Cowan & Lobel knew it or not, hiring Rachael Ray and encouraging her to incubate her 30 Minute Meals concept as a way to promote its gourmet grocery store was sheer genius.

But what if Cowan & Lobel had actually invested its resources in Rachael Ray’s concept in exchange for 15 percent of the income from her 30 Minute Meals empire over the long term?

What if Cowan & Lobel had asked Rachael to write her first book on company time and leveraged its market budget to promote it? What if the brand produced the pilot of 30 Minute Meals?

Who knows, Cowan & Lobel might be a national gourmet food chain.

Ask yourself…

Who inside or outside of your company is creating valuable content with a smart hook? Who’s already garnering an audience (no matter how small) for the content they create?

Why aren’t you thinking like a talent manager?