What your barber can tell you about content

Barbers have always fascinated me. Not only do we entrust them with a very important feature of our identity –our hair– but we also surrender into the barber’s seat with no phones, no gadgets, and absolutely no distraction from being completely immersed in the moment.  They are one of the last remaining places where we truly disconnect from technology and pay attention to what’s going on around us.

The barber is multitalented. He’s required to deliver a great service while keeping you entertained throughout. Because of this, they know a thing or two about good storytelling and what makes people tick.

That’s why, when it comes to creating good content, we could all benefit from a barber’s experience. Here are a few things a barber knows that we should keep in mind.

You wouldn’t go to a barber who gives everyone the same haircut.

New to Dubai, I asked my friend to recommend a decent barbershop. So he took my brother and me to one in Tecom where the three of us had our haircuts that same day. At the end of our visit, all three of us had the same exact haircut. It was bad barbering.

Why would we expect everybody to react the same way to the same content? Like barbers, we have to start thinking on a more personal level when creating content, and we can no longer get away with serving a one-size-fits-all solution to our brands.

It’s more than just a haircut – it’s an entire experience.

Imagine this: You walk into a small barbershop, there’s a single chair, surrounded by white walls, no television, no radio… and the barber greets you with a depressed nod, draws the cape over you and begins to cut your hair in complete silence. What a dismal experience.

A big part of how you feel about your haircut is what happens around the haircut itself. By the same token, think beyond the piece of content – what is the experience around it that people will interact with? What will they feel, think and remember after watching/reading? Don’t be the barbershop above.

The barber is a master, but he works for you.

You trust the barber enough to give him your hair, that’s a given. But if this barber did not ask you about the minor details, you would lose your confidence in him. “How long do you want your sideburns?” “Should I use a razor on the back of your neck?” and a crazy “Should I trim your ear hairs?” These small questions make you feel less like a passive victim and more of a participant in getting your hairstyle.

We are barbers in a content shop. We work with our viewers; they will leave their feedback on our content, sometimes too honestly and aggressively. We can’t ignore it. We have to take this feedback and work with it in real time while developing our content.

A barber would say that’s one of the easiest ways to show respect to your customer.

Anybody can cut hair, but only barbers can make hairstyles.

Everybody is creating content these days. Ad agencies, media agencies, production houses. My grandma. There’s no lack of people who can put something out there in the world, so who do you work with to create your brand’s content? Someone who knows their stuff, obviously. Find someone with the right tools, data, insights, and analytics. And make sure they didn’t lose their art in the process. Find the creative scientists.

Happy customers means more business.

Almost self-explanatory, but I should add that no one can promise you virality. As the barber works for word-of-mouth, your content should do the same. Design it for shareabilty and laugh in the face of anyone who says they want to make a “viral video”. Please laugh in their face.

It grows back.

I have insolent hair. Nobody has been able to tame it. Getting haircuts is like playing the lottery for me (in the sense that I‘ve never won). But the good news is that it grows back and I get to try my luck the next month.

Social content is a budding field, mushrooming faster than the speed of think pieces and white papers. Mistakes will be made, so stay agile. React fast, learn faster, and keep in mind that what worked once doesn’t mean it will work the next time.

Happy haircut.


About Author

Rami Salame

With over eight years of experience in the advertising industry, Rami manages content investments for OMD's clients, starting from strategy all the way to ROI evaluation. He combines this with a broader media investment remit to ensure clients’ budgets work to the fullest.

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