Ex-barber thriving as social media-fueled brand builder
After listening attentively to customers’ life stories and daily adventures during a decade-plus stint as a self-employed barber, Robert Courtney has ditched the clippers to help corporations tell their stories on social media platforms.
The Romulus native’s impressive professional transition could be summed up with two emojis: wow and love.
The founder of downtown Detroit-based Robert Courtney & Associates, Courtney’s expertise in brand building has become so respected he is regularly asked to speak at conferences and mentor business owners at workshops across the country.
“When we started out doing social media management, we worked with a lot of small- to medium-sized businesses,” Courtney said. “The last couple of years, though, we’re working with more medium- to million-dollar-plus companies.
“A lot of the business owners we’re helping were used to relying on the older advertising platforms like TV ads and billboards to build their brand. We’re showing them there is greater opportunity on social media.”
Courtney has worked with national companies like Dell and Murray’s Pomade, a beauty-enhancing company that was established in 1925.
Barbershop experience was invaluable
He said his experience working in a barbershop for several years served as training for his current profession.
“To be a successful barber, you have to be able to relate to people after knowing them for just a few minutes,” he said. “That skill set of being able to relate to a wide range of people — talk to them, make them feel comfortable — has translated across every industry I’ve worked in.”
Courtney, who played basketball his senior year at Romulus High School and currently coaches Woodhaven High School’s junior varsity boys basketball team, said business owners seeking to ramp up their brand’s popularity should not lock into just one social-media platform.
“We emphasize versatility,” he said. “If you look at the numbers, Facebook’s top demographic may be the 50- to 60-year-old age group; let’s say that’s around 40% of their users. But that means another 60% of their user demographics are younger, so you can tap into that, too, if that’s what’s best for your particular business.
“What we do is help people understand the social media landscape better and find the right fit most-effective strategies for them.”
Courtney and his staff of six full-time employees (he also utilizes freelance social media experts) are monitoring social media “24/7” to learn what is working and what isn’t.
What platform’s for you?
He said TikTok is currently the hottest, fastest-growing platform and the most-popular among organically-growing brands. While known best for its relatively short, humorous videos, TikTok is quickly becoming a top how-to platform similar to YouTube.
Courtney said he strongly suggests companies work with steady, established social-media platforms.
“For example, Mark Zuckerberg has run a well-oiled machine (Facebook) for 20 years,” he said. “Facebook is kind of like General Electric or GM — you know it’s not going anywhere. There are some other platforms out there whose ownership is a little less steady at the moment and you might not want to put a lot of stock in them. I like consistency..”
Courtney said his professional goals include becoming the No. 1 brand-building firm in Michigan.
Given his history, relatability and work ethic, he’s well on his way to a meeting or surpassing those goals — one click at a time.
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