X-raying the Prospects of Digital in Nigeria #SpotOn

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You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.― William Faulkner

I guess it’s not too late to wish every one of us a happy new month.

In this edition of #SpotOn astute and brilliant IT professional who is presently redefining, exploring and pushing the frontiers of Digital in Nigeria, has shared some really salient points as to the future of digital in Nigeria and how young minds can leverage on this relatively new trend.

Olusegun Martins who is the Head of Digital and Technology in arguably Nigeria’s largest Advertising agency, Insight Communications, has really taken his time to provide success nuggets for Digital natives whose disruptive culture and insatiable urge to break free from the norm and build a viable enterprise keeps them mobile. Personally I think this is the most honest and sincere advice for Nigerian start-ups.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

  • Are Nigerian brands really exploring the opportunities Digital offers? 

I think a number of Nigerian brands are beginning to embrace digital in a way that wasn’t happening just a few years ago.

When I look at digital I tend to look beyond digital marketing alone. I look at digital from the way businesses are able to use digital technologies to enhance their business offerings and customer experiences. An example is how all the banks have embraced technologies like ATMS and online banking. How Insurance companies are now offering services online that you can pay for with your ATM card. How traditional retail outlets are expanding to offer online access to their inventory like what Yudala is doing. How businesses can leverage on this fast changing trends that technology has made possible.

Digital marketing on the other hand is simply a subset of digital. It is however the subset that most brands/companies choose to focus on. From the work that I do daily, I see brands that historically spend 100% of their budget on “traditional advertising” making shifts of as much as 60% – 70% to digital already, I mean these are brands that you would consider “safe” and “traditional”. And I am talking both big and small brands. Digital is extremely flexible and brands are beginning to see this. One good example is Pepsi’s Long Throat campaign which arguably was the biggest digital/integrated campaign in Nigeria in 2015, the Pepsi team got it right with that campaign, it not only translated to increased conversations around the brand but incredible sales increase too. Several new mobile phone brands are entering the Nigerian market these days and solely advertising online.

While digital is cool, what you really want as a brand is focus on the consumer if your consumers are on mobile, if they are on social networks, if they are online then you should be using digital channels. My advice is not to do digital for digital sake but to focus on the customer and have the right mix of channels to ensure your message gets through all the noise out there.

 

  • Where do you see Digital Marketing (Nigeria) in the next 5 years? 

In the world of digital 5 years is a long long time but I will risk some educated guesses based on current trends. In Nigeria, I think it would be fully led by mobile and social media. It’s really a no brainer. As much as 80-90% of all web traffic in Nigeria is already from mobile devices.

Facebook recently released data that shows 100% of their 16 million users from Nigeria, is from mobile. Nigeria and by extension Africa is a fully mobile continent and in 5 years I expect to see mobile taking a significant share of advertising spend. While the focus is more on browser based mobile ads right now, in app mobile ads will be big in coming years.

We spend most of our time on mobile devices within chat windows like Whatapps, BBM, Facebook messenger, I expect instant messaging to be a big marketing channel in not just Nigeria but emerging markets too.

The concept of the digital agency will also begin to vanish as they get swallowed into “agencies”, what we will have, will be more of technology driven digital production houses. Globalisation would fully have taken its course in Nigeria as brands will be able to work with the best talents from across the world via the internet. Agencies and brands who do not innovate will struggle at this point.

5 years is a long time in digital so no one can say for sure, imagine getting into an Uber in future and you get a screen within the ride that re-markets to you based on your online browsing habits. Things like Virtual Reality, Autonomous Cars, IoTs will always be in focus but I doubt they would be fully adopted in Nigeria in 5 years but then again, you never know

  From the work that I do daily, I see brands that historically spend 100% of their budget on “traditional advertising” making shifts of as much as 60% – 70% to digital already

  • Your background (Education) is in sharp contrast with your present interest (Digital Marketing). Where was the tipping point? 

lol. You know how the education system is in Nigeria. Let’s just say my focus then was to become a graduate quickly. Knowing what our education system is like, I knew I had to do something on the side that would guarantee me a good life in future. I focused on technology and went all out for it. In-between classes in UI (University of Ibadan), I taught myself everything I know in the technology space.

It was still a relatively virgin territory then so I was able to stand out. I proceeded to validate my technology knowledge with relevant certifications and the rest is history.

Over the last couple of years I have been able to work in both technology and digital marketing capacities. I have been fortunate to head technology and digital for some of the biggest businesses in Nigeria within that period. So it’s not really about what you read in school, that’s just a paper, at the end of the day it comes down to passion and perseverance, you get to determine what you want to do with your life.

 

  • What can you say has been your drive and motivation over time?

Having to study education in school, I knew I had been dealt a very tough hand and I would have to work extra to succeed so while others partied after classes, I focused on learning new skills. I am like a sponge, I read and learn just about anything. I often kid my friends that give me a month and I can be decent in any profession. Lol.

  •  What was your most challenging project executed? 

As head of technology for 8 multi-billion naira companies in Nigeria, project comes by the dozens. I am currently working with my team to fully integrate digital into everything we do at Insight, so far it’s been a fun project that is already recording huge successes.

 It’s not really about what you read in school, that’s just a paper, at the end of the day it comes down to passion and perseverance, you get to determine what you want to do with your life.

  • Your top three most inspiring books would be? 

This is going to be a tough one because I read a lot of books. Some of the top ones that come to mind for me now are

  1. Paid to Think by David Goldsmith – A real gem of a book
  2. How to build a billion dollar app – George Berkowski – Priceless book, I am always referring to it.
  3. The new IQ – Tracy and Ross Alloway
  4. And a bonus one – Spreadable media – Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green

 Having to study education in school, I knew I had been dealt a very tough hand and I would have to work extra to succeed so while others partied after classes, I focused on learning new skills.

  • What’s your advice to young start-ups moving into the digital space?

  Most of the young lads I get to encounter these days don’t care much about the 9 to 5 and understandably so, technology and the internet has empowered us. Some of them that do have a 9 to 5 job are seriously disengaged and their bosses are struggling to understand why.

My advice is if you feel so passionately about your idea, before you go all in, validate it. Validate it beyond your family and friends. Don’t start building an app because your mum and sisters say they like the idea, go beyond them. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people about your ideas.

It’s extremely though to start and manage a start-up, you need a lot of passion and perseverance to make it. If you are in it just for the money, you are most likely to abandon ship early at the signs of struggle.

Pick a mentor(s), intern where you can get some experience, spend loads of time on Slideshare, Quora and YouTube. Read, read read. I can’t even say that enough. Read books about founders and writers in the start-up space that snipers you, learn from their mistakes.

Nigeria is a bloody tough place to start a business, it’s not for the faint of heart. You practically have to provide everything yourself so it’s tougher to start-up from here but several people are doing that. At this stage talent simply isn’t just enough, passion and perseverance is key, staying power.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help too. Meet people, network, mix with other start-ups and learn from each other. While many of the start-ups in Nigeria are playing in the ecommerce and retail space, it really would be great to see solutions that solve real Nigerian problems like malaria, traffic, bad roads, power and related things. Don’t be too quick to get funding, bootstrap as much as is possible

Olusegun martins writes at www.martins.com.ng

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs at the comment box.

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