"The only advice I consume is from my audience. Watch consumer behaviour and read the comments on your social content to understand what the market it saying."
To find out more about the online and the offline marketing scene in Nigeria, we spoke with Samuel Ladapo, a digital marketer from Osogbo. Samuel has over 7 years of full stack experience, and now works on a primarily freelance basis.
He considers himself more of an entrepreneur than a full stack marketer, but has many insights to share when it comes to digital strategy and paying close attention to your audience.
Name: Samuel Ladapo
Location: Osogbo, Nigeria
Occupation: Digital Marketer
Could you tell us a little bit about your background, and your career in marketing so far? What led you to joining the FHG Organization, and then opting to pursue freelance work?
I am from Nigeria and I studied at marketing at Adeleke University. I have been working as a Digital Marketer for seven years now, although it has not always been easy. There are many challenges all the way, and I hope to get to a higher place in the future.
I applied for a job at FHG Organization and when they saw my credentials, they were moved to choose me. I knew very little about online marketing up until one year ago, when I first starting to think about freelancing. Which is funny, because I spent four years “studying” marketing at Adeleke.
But, for the last eight months, I'd say 83% of my free time went to learning digital marketing through self-education and experimentation. The reason why is important. I believe if you can master marketing, you’ll never be broke in Nigeria. That’s how I got into it, and how I recommend you get into it too!
What was your first job? What did you spend money on back then?
I was 14 when I first got a job. I worked in a family run breakfast shop, 5 minutes away from my home. I loved my little job, I'd work weekends from 7am in the morning till 2pm, as I had school during the week. I spent the money I earned on new things I wanted. Mainly this consisted of clothes, hair products and cigarettes. My first ever wages went on new clothes. As I got older I still had my job at the breakfast shop, I saved for my holiday, and used to go partying at the weekends. I'd still turn up on time for work the morning after partying! Haha. I kept this job until I was 19 years old.
Prior to freelancing, you gained a considerable amount of experience at the FHG Organization, working across various roles in marketing and sales. What are a couple of key things that you learnt during this time, which transferred over to your freelance work?
On my first day in field (marketing people would understand what this means), the company had set up a competition between its two branches. I had just been transferred to my new branch, covering half of Delhi-NCR, including its most difficult areas around Old Delhi, which comprised of around 60 executives. The contest was that whoever helps to bring in the most orders on day 1 was going to be feted/recognised by the top management. Right from the start it was very competitive!
I could make a list of thousand things, however, the important point would be that the employee should be respected. If employees are not respected for their work, time, and efforts, then that company does not deserve them.
I got a lot out of my work experience, in terms of technical, interpersonal, and soft skills, which helped me become a fairly successful entrepreneur. If I do say so myself. But more importantly I learned the importance of responsibility and punctuality. I am not talking about keeping to a 9 to 5 schedule, but meeting deadlines effectively and not making people wait when you have a meeting.
Meeting expectations and fulfilling goals promotes stability in any company and that is very valuable. It means that the company is stable, and a stable company is worth more. The things I learned in my work experience at the FHG Organization, are now the things I seek from the people I work with.
Did you always want to work in marketing? What made you fall in love with the world of digital and pursue it as a career?
Freedom to choose different roles: if you're a digital marketing specialist, you have choice to be SEO specialist, social media marketing executive, or you can be a PPC expert. You can fit into any role at almost any company.
Tell us about a company whose marketing strategy you admire and why?
One of my favourite campaigns is not entirely digital. Eve Mattresses run an ad campaign on the London Underground that was considered to be of the most iconic in British history, and led to one of the fastest IPOs. I interviewed the founding partner who was kind enough to send me the alternative versions of the ads that were never used.
But I think there is no standard marketing strategy for business in the era of accelerated innovation. There are many stages when it comes to identifying your marketing and your sales strategy. Thus, to determine proper marketing strategy or business strategy in general, you need to depend on the product and service your company wants to market. To identify the right approach, you should carry out situational analysis (market growth, strength, weakness, demographics, competitor analysis, opportunity, threats regarding cost structure of production, market stability and market exit) all backed with reliable data.
What’s the best marketing advice that you’ve ever received?
The only advice I consume is from my audience. Watch consumer behaviour and read the comments on your social content to understand what the market it saying.
What does your typical work day look like?
When I worked in an IT startup, which had a B2B marketing product, we wanted to do lots of things with minimum resources and the least amount of man-hours. So mostly my work at that point was to find the best possible solution for every problem. Everyday I had to spend most of my time learning new skills, which will get job done with minimum expense.
It's tough job, and sometimes needing to maintain the quality of code is was a big challenge. Other times we got the most boring work which never ends, and sometimes we got very innovative work which seemed to end before you'd start. By the end of my time there, I was spending the entire day trying to achieve a balance between my job and my interests.
Now, I check my emails and messages first thing. I try to communicate with clients as quickly as possible, and also take on extra work through platforms such as Fiverr. Then, my day could be a real mix between SEO, content, social media, email, and affiliate marketing, depending on the needs of my clients.
Tell us a bit about your martech stack. What couldn’t you live without?
Excluding Encharge (the tool that I use for email marketing automation), I’d say the marketing tool that I can’t live without is Ahrefs. It's highly useful when it comes to content marketing, and it's the bread and butter of many of my link building and content promotion efforts. I often use it to execute the Skyscraper technique by Brian Dean.
What do you think are the three main components of a successful inbound or digital marketing strategy?
It depends on the market and the product. For consumer markets, word-of-mouth remains the most effective strategy, but for new products this can be long, hard, difficult, error-prone and expensive to achieve. After that, Facebook advertising tied to usable content. The cost per engagement and the relatively accurate audience targeting is cost effective and delivers. Less so with Twitter, but their audience is very different, with different attention spans and attitudes.
For B2B, content + SEO marketing is likely the best (though I lack stats to back this up). B2B buyers are hunters, and actively looking for information. Executives on a mission to solve problems turn to the web before engaging their own teams.
What is the biggest digital marketing challenge many of your clients face?
Again, understanding their audiences' needs, creating the right product/solution, creating effective content that helps to solve their audiences' problems, and being available for them when they want to get in touch. I often try to explain [to my clients] that they should focus on being available. Think what being available can mean, and then you might understand the challenges and the opportunities.
What does data-driven marketing mean to you? How do you leverage data to inform your decision making?
Data-driven marketing is process which uses customer information to create more effective sales and marketing campaigns. You gather data through whatever sources you have and then you analyse it, so you can plan your campaigns and target the right audiences.
How have you structured your work since the COVID-19 pandemic?
For me, there has been little difference as I normally work from home. In Nigeria, there have been many difficulties and also a few opportunities. One of my clients is a small electronics firm. The manager wanted to sell at a convention this weekend. No one else could/would go. It's understandably hard to spend a weekend out of town if you have kids that are home from school for 2 weeks. So he loaded the truck, drove six hours there, set up and sold. Two thirds of the sponsors and sellers cancelled at the last minute. But around 40% of attendees were there. He even attended several scheduled talks. Then he came back, having done all that work himself.
In terms of the recent shift towards working from home, do you think this is long overdue for many organisations or unsustainable in the long run?
I think many organisations will likely expand their home based teams. I have been largely home based in the last twelve months, but I think that companies are starting to realise that they don't need the expense of having regional offices for a lot of roles. Allowing contractual working from home means they can not only expand quickly without having to rent or buy large offices but it also means they can recruit talent from across the country rather than just within a dozen or so miles from their office.
What are some digital marketing trends that you believe we should watch over the next 12 to 18 months?
I think content with exact match keywords will be the next digital marketing trend in the upcoming year. Content with an exact match KW will win because now all are using mobile apps for all the things, like ordering food from Zomato. So the search queries are reduced in length, but users will still expect the exact result that matches their search. That and the future usage of mobile apps, which is only set to rise.
What advice would you have for young professionals working in marketing?
Learning marketing skills should not be a difficult decision to make. As long as there are companies, multinational or small to medium enterprises, operating and running their business for profit there will always be marketing departments. The need for marketing positions will always be there.
I have 7 years of experience in this field, based on which I can only advise one thing, to never stop learning. Digital Marketing is evolving almost everyday. So you need to be aware of new platforms, new contents, new strategies all the time. Also, you need to understand that to crack this field you need to be willing to put in lots of hard work.
Marketing is not like coding, where you know what your final outcome will be. You will need to learn from 'trial and error' to succeed in this field. On the technical side of things, learn and be very good when it comes to digital analytics. You should be sure with numbers. The better you are when it comes to analysing the data, better you will be in crafting an effective and useful marketing strategy. It's a wonderful niche and this is the best time to be in digital marketing, so go ahead and explore the all the opportunities that this field has to offer. Good Luck!
In the ever-changing digital marketing environment, learning is a constant cycle. Which websites, blogs, and/or courses, are your go-tos when it comes to staying up to date with industry developments?
Feedly and the Ahrefs blog.
What are you currently reading? Are there any marketing books that you’d recommend to someone fresh out of university?
Petit traité de manipulation à l'usage des honnêtes gens by Beauvois Joule. The title translates to a Brief Treatise on Manipulation for Honest People, in English.
What do you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone? What did you learn?
You can learn to live really. If you stay in your comfort zone your days, your weeks, and your years will be the same. Have you ever thought to change things? To become a better person? To make more money? Go outside your comfort zone and take all the opportunities available.