IN THE MEDIA
At work Courtney Buzzell is the owner of Proximo Marketing Strategies, a full-service marketing firm based out of Yorktown and serving clients all across the country. She also works as adjunct faculty member at Thomas Nelson Community College, educating students on best practices for marketing in the 21st century.
Home and family She is the proud parent of a spunky social butterfly and attributes 110 percent of her personal and professional success to her faith in Christ.
Volunteer activities Buzzell has a passion for connecting and empowering entrepreneurs and business owners on both a local and national scale, and serves on the boards of several organizations including Peninsula Women’s Network – the longest consecutive running women’s networking organization in the U.S. – as the current president. She also has a heart for giving back, working as a board member for various organizations that focus on children, including The March of Dimes, Kiwanis and Communities in Schools. A firm believer that knowledge is power, Buzzell works within these organizations to develop programs that include a strong educational component, and empower members to grow professionally.
Advice for women in business Build a network of other strong women to lean on, in life and professionally.
Professional goal in five years Buzzell is co-authoring a book, “Brass Ovaries: Own Yours,” which features a collection of interview-style stories from highly respected women of diverse generations, industries, and backgrounds and locations. The book is inspired, like many of Courtney’s endeavors, by a passion to empower other professional women to “Own Their Brass,” and rise above the fears that hold them back from fulfilling their purposes.
What really gets under my skin “Seeing people buy into the lies that they aren’t good enough to achieve their goals. This world is changing, people are breaking free from their chains, and I am determined to be a part of that change!”
Region’s biggest asset Our military, hands down.
The one thing I’d change about Hampton Roads The traffic.
I am a partner and marketing consultant at Proximo Marketing Strategies, where my main area of focus is business in-house marketing strategies and communications, as well as developing cooperative marketing efforts and quality customer service. I also oversee the social media department and head up my firm’s keynote presentations.
Home and family:
I am the proud parent of two social butterflies and attribute my personal and professional success to my faith in Christ.
I serve on the board of several organizations, including Peninsula Women’s Network, as president-elect and programs chair. I am also a second-year committee member of the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction Committee in Williamsburg and serve as the membership chair for the Kiwanis Club of Toano. I volunteer at the Merrimac Detention Center, mentoring the teens in the facility, I read to the students in the Head Start Program at JB Blayton Elementary School, and participate in a variety of other community outreach efforts as part of my Kiwanis club.
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, with my parents both owning several businesses, including a building and construction company, residential real estate company and building supply distribution company. When the housing market crashed in ’07, I saw the dreams that my family had worked so hard to build crumble in their hands. I feel called to a career that enables me to help other business owners achieve stability and success.
Advice for Young People:
Network. Network. Network. But do it genuinely, developing lasting relationships that will follow you through whatever career and life changes may come.
Professional Goal in Five Years:
This. Just better. And on a larger scale.
The One Thing I’d Change About Hampton Roads:
I’d like to see our communities less segmented, and working more cohesively. We should recognize our cities’ individual strengths and weaknesses, and collaborate with the surrounding cities to fill in the gaps.
Region’s Biggest Asset:
Our military! Hands down.
I’m a beach girl to the core. Born in Duck, N.C., and raised on the Rappahannock River, sand, farmer’s markets and fishing poles are necessary tools.
What Really Gets Under My Skin:
Conceited people. And unfortunately there are plenty of them out there.
Proximo Marketing Strategies of Yorktown is again participating in CreateAthon, a 24-hour national and local blitz to provide creative marketing services to nonprofit organizations.
The best part of that: It’s on a pro bono basis.
Proximo, a digital marketing agency founded in 2012 by Courtney Buzzell, recently relocated from Williamsburg to Yorktown. This is the fourth consecutive year the company has participated in the event.
Local nonprofit organizations in Hampton Roads can submit applications by Oct. 24. Organizations selected to receive CreateAthon services will be announced by Nov. 2. The event will be Nov. 14 and 15. To apply, go to proximomarketing.com/createathon. For more information, call 757-745-4063.
“Hampton Roads is our home, and these nonprofits are out in the field working tirelessly to make our home a better one,” Buzzell said. “This is our way of doing our part to help them further their reach and make an even bigger impact on our community.”
According to CreateAthon’s website, createathon.org, the nonprofit has generated $24 million in pro bono marketing services for more than 1,300 community organizations since its expansion into the national market in 2002.
Since Proximo Marketing Strategies became a CreateAthon partner, it has donated services including marketing packets, strategies for fundraising events, animated videos, websites and logos to 10 nonprofit organizations, producing a total of 19 projects. The total value of that work is estimated at more than $23,800.
“CreateAthon continues to be one of the things we are most proud of at Proximo,” said Drew Faithful, the company’s lead digital strategist. “Nonprofits typically have a huge hurdle to overcome when it comes to budget, but their work is so important to a lot of people.”
Buzzell said last year’s response was huge. The company will bring in more creative partners this year to help more organizations.
Kodi Fleming, executive director for Communities in Schools of Hampton Roads, said the organization was thrilled when it was among the selectees for last year’s CreateAthon.
Communities in Schools, a national nonprofit, focuses on surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
Proximo revamped the Communities in Schools website with new videos, fresh content and information.
“They really worked with us to make sure the website displayed what we wanted to say,” Fleming said. “They helped us to get up to speed as a nonprofit and help us to do what we want to do for kids. And we had other groups see our website and reach out to them for work.”
That conveyed the real win-win-win for all involved in the CreateAthon event.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to help organizations that focus on helping so many others,” Faithful said. “We can’t wait to go through the submissions and choose this year’s finalists.”
Williamsburg Community Foundation was thrilled to work with Proximo Marketing Strategies to redesign their website during the 2016 CreatAthon, a 24-hour blitz where the firm provides creative marketing services to nonprofit organizations on a pro bono basis. 2016 was the fourth consecutive year that Proximo has held this community service event. Proximo did a complete re-design of the Foundation’s website, giving the site an updated look and making it more user-friendly for Foundation staff and volunteers to manage in the future.
“We are so thankful that Proximo Marketing supports local nonprofits like us in this way,” said Foundation Trustee Rick Nahm. “The Foundation has served greater Williamsburg since 1999, providing grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students. As we look forward to our 20th anniversary in just a few years, we want to increase our grants to meet the changing needs of our area and make an even greater impact.”
In 2016, Foundation grants supported free mammograms; arts programs in local schools; programs that make mental healthcare more accessible to low-income families; weekend field trips for local high school students to learn about the ecology of the James River; transportation for women who are coming out of abusive relationships and trying to get to work and appointments; and many, many more. In addition, the Foundation awarded over $55,000 in scholarships to deserving students from Williamsburg-James City County public high schools.
“Refreshing our online presence is just one aspect of our overall VISION 2020 initiative,” said Nancy Sullivan, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “We have also started six new funds that allow anyone to make a gift of any size to an area of interest that they are passionate about – the arts, scholarship, environment, children, seniors, or health and wellness. We hope that people who love this town, and want to see it thrive, will think about investing in Williamsburg for the long-term.”
A Grafton-based digital marketing firm run by millennials is growing as it attracts even international clients.
“A lot is happening,” said Courtney Buzzell, 31, of Gloucester. “We’re so busy.”
The idea behind Proximo Marketing Strategies was to give businesses a way to outsource their digital marketing with access to various skill sets so they didn’t have to hire someone in-house or contract with various folks for multiple needs, Buzzell said.
Proximo started in 2013 and operated on McLaws Circle in James City County before moving into the York County Chamber of Commerce building along Route 17 in January 2016. Now, the firm employs seven people and is looking to expand more this year, she said.
In the latter part of 2016, Proximo began attracting clients that had a presence in Europe and Canada, Buzzell said. Much of that attention can be attributed to Proximo’s online and social media presence in addition to Buzzell’s networking and relationship-building.
Buzzell hasn’t been shy about her faith and believes God has steered clients toward Proximo as well. Rather than trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” Buzzell said she would rather be authentic and open while sticking to her values.
“In business, the biggest key is having people trust you,” Buzzell said. “We are all about authenticity and faith in God.”
Buzzell got on the marketing track while working for dentist James A. Burden’s practice in the Williamsburg area. She joined a local Business Network International group to network as a representative of the practice and kept running into other business folks who asked if she could help them with marketing as well.
After watching the charismatic and high-energy Buzzell interact with patients, Dr. Burden’s office knew she was the right person for the job, office manager Amy Eveland said.
“She helped us really launch the marketing in our office,” Eveland said. “We were able to get our practice out in the community and a lot more exposure to the office through her.”
Buzzell had outsourced some of her digital work while at the dental practice to Will Melton, an owner of Computer Concepts, and they later teamed up to form Proximo. Melton left in November 2015 to pursue marketing in New Haven, Conn.
Buzzell witnessed both the business success of her real estate broker and contractor parents as well as their struggle during the Great Recession after the housing crisis.
“I don’t want businesses to fail,” Buzzell said. “It’s not just a business. It’s somebody’s dream — there are people behind that.”
Still, Buzzell wasn’t afraid to take the risk to change course and branch off on her own. In 2009, the single mom changed her mind about attending law school to focus on providing for her son, who is now 12. Law wasn’t something she truly wanted to do so much as wanting the prestige of it, she said. Buzzell finds that keeping it real is empowering to the folks she meets.
Now, Buzzell is finding a voice in motivational speaking after sharing her story in various presentations, including for the Peninsula Women’s Network, of which she is now president. Shelley Smith, former president of the network and owner of the Premier Rapport business consultancy, recalled when Buzzell cried when telling the “why” behind what she does.
“The success of her business and the success of any business is predicated on your ability to connect to people and be your authentic self,” Smith said.
Proximo lead digital strategist Drew Faithful, 29, said the firm kept its focus on taking care of clients instead of how it was going to grow with the faith that growth would come naturally. Fortunately, it did, he said.
And in terms of Buzzell’s leadership, Faithful said, “She is somebody that leads the way and makes you want to go in that direction.”
Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at TidewaterBiz.com.