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‘Through Forza Digital, we hope to empower businesses to provide valuable industries for coming generations’

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Seye Bandele is managing partner at Forza Digital Media. He specialises in marketing and sales with interests in business growth, development and technology, heading teams across Yesmobile (acquired in 2016), Yudala and Konga. During his time in e-commerce, he presided over the execution of cumulative marketing budgets of approximately $5 million over 5 years. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he speaks on how Forza Digital is helping connect clients to the audiences. Excerpt:

Since you set up, have you been able to get as many clients as you expected?

In the time that we have set up, gracefully, we have been able to amass a good number of clients, chief of whom are Coscharis Group, Flour Mills and a number of other smaller entities that we are servicing.

What are some of the challenges you have experienced since you started operations?

Our biggest challenge is customers not fully understanding what their problems are and thinking that they can just recommend to you what they want you to do. For instance, if a customer has a product and the product is not selling, they think the problem with product is that not many people know about it and that is why they are not buying. When you engage us, first of all we try to look at the bigger picture. If a product is good, no matter the number of people you have channelled your communications to, you will see some level of engagement, and then you realise that if you speak to a larger number of people, sales could go up. So there could be many things wrong with a product. It could be the way the brand has been designed; it is not connecting to who you want it to connect to. Or maybe the product is not actually solving a real problem. So, we try to ask those questions and give very strong recommendations on what needs to be done. Customers come to us and say ‘Please just help me package this,’ you can’t really package your audience or market. A product needs to be solving a real problem and you now boost it with marketing to get the profits or the business that you are trying to create.

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Secondly, Nigeria is a very peculiar environment. Unfortunately for us, we are a country with a very large population but a large number of that population is extremely poor. By extension, if the people who make up a country are poor, then it means that we have a poor country. So, as rich as Nigeria may appear on the outside in terms of resources, the people are inherently poor. We are also not a producing country, so you who have a product have likely created that product using foreign exchange because it was created outside before it was brought in. So, for it to make commercial sense to you there is usually a range of costs associated with your products. Before you can achieve a large number of customers for your product which will give you the volumes that you are looking for, you need to find a specific area of the market where their disposable income is enough to buy your product and become an active user of your product. With this in mind, the market now becomes a little bit small depending on the kind of product you are trying to sell. You also have to be deliberate in your communications, know who you are targeting, ensure that you have done customer profiling so that you know that these people can afford the product that we are trying to sell to them. The billionaires in the country today are selling very basic things which are survival items like sugar, salt, food, oil, kerosene, petrol amongst others. This is because we have a large number of people who buy these things. If you are providing some level of luxury or semi-luxury products, you may struggle. That is a challenge. We need the economy to be buoyant enough for the people within to be making meaningful income so that they can spend again and grow at large.

How do you strike a balance between making revenue and ensuring the right steps in providing the right services for your clients, even if your customers think otherwise?

By virtue of our business, we are a boutique agency and what that means is that we are not looking for thousands of clients. We are looking for very deliberate clients who value the quality of our work and who will be patient for us to do proper work for. There is a big element of our offering called the Strategic Consulting Arm. This means we sit with the customers and identify the problems before we proffer solutions. It is easy to market ourselves as a solution-focused agency but we even identify your problems for you before we proffer solutions. We work with people who value the advice that we give, who value the insights we are able to expose them to and who are willing to work with us to create these impactful solutions in the market that we are trying to create. At the bottom of it all, what is important to us is that we want to create an enabling environment for those who are coming after us. We want a Nigeria that we look back in the next 30 years to be the Nigeria where because of the work that we have done, these opportunities are now available.

Digital marketing as it is today is an industry that did not exist 50 years ago. So, what has happened is that a new industry has been created and there aren’t a lot of core professionals in that industry. There is nobody in the industry today that has studied Digital Marketing for 20 or 25 years. So you can’t say someone is a veteran of Digital Marketing for 25 years. So because of our environment, we are trying to create that deep expertise in this field so that we create solutions that solve the problems in our locality. Many of the things we enjoy today are things from industries that have been created over time. So we also want to create a valuable industry for the younger ones and be able to impact our society.

What is your role in Forza Digital?

I am the co-founder of Forza Digital, a digital marketing and growth focused Communications Company, powering medium to large scale businesses to make the quantum leap into new frontiers. I work as the managing partner. From the way we are set up, it is a team of partners. It was set up by me and co-founder, Chikodi Ukaiwe. We then got a couple of other partners to join us. So each person has domain expertise in all of our pillars and offerings as a business. I am in charge of brand management, daily operations, managing the partners and the business.

What does Forza Digital stands for and how does it operates?

In Forza Digital, we help connect our clients to the audiences that they are looking for and they want to connect to. Marketing agencies have suffered quite a lot of misconceptions. Advertising agencies are seen as a marketing communications business. So, we say exactly what we stand for. Our process is very result-oriented and it is very data-led. So, we question everything. Rather than the conventional method of marketing where people say they want to get their message out to certain number of people, we will only recommend to you based on the kind of offerings you are serving, the channels, techniques and different types of methods that will get you the kind of results that you are looking for and everything that we do is led by data. We never do anything from history or what we think works. If the data speaks differently, whether it is empirical, survey or sample data, we try to use data to inform our decisions, no matter what it is. No matter what it is; whether it is using certain colours for designs or selecting billboards whether digital or analogue; all these must be data-led decisions.

How long has Forza Digital been set up?

We are just over a year old now. We started very early last year but I and my co-founder have been working together for a very long time. While he was in commercial operations, I was in marketing and when we eventually left e-commerce, we decided to do this. During our time in e-commerce, we were able to create brands that didn’t exist before and build an industry that didn’t exist into the market. Technology has brought a new advent of possibility into our environment, so everybody had something that they wanted to do or create and who better to talk to than the guys we have seen do it before. We had a lot of people talking to us such as young start-ups, wristwatch makers, even medium to large scale companies; and several people who just want to create a brand and engage fresh audiences. We then and we now decided to set this up as an entity to help these people to launch their products into the market and that was how Forza Digital came to be.

How is your business faring in this COVID-19 period?

Obviously, it has been very tough. The outbreak of the pandemic was characterized by serious financial losses that nobody could have predicted from January 1. However, without any disrespect to people whose families and personal lives have been negatively impacted or disrupted by the pandemic, COVID19 has also presented some semblance of a silver lining. Businesses are now forced to innovate and think quickly about how to reposition themselves for maximum benefit in the face of today’s realities. We are now very busy engaging with clients all over the world, who want to recreate many of their business offerings in a much more optimized way that gives them superior advantage in a new, distributed yet connected world.

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