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Why major focus in business is now on customer satisfaction – Oyefeso-Odusami

Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami is currently the head, Marketing and Communications for Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc. She is a multi-faceted marketing professional with more than 23 years of global experience in brand strategy, sponsorships, digital marketing, data analytics, and all communications elements. She has a proven track record in running internal and external corporate communications and products Integrated Marketing Campaigns (IMC) across various countries and sectors, including aviation, financial services, and non-governmental organisations. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, she speaks on opportunities in the marketing space. She also shares some lessons from her book, ‘Built for the Storm’.

Share with us your journey as a marketing professional.

I think my journey as a marketing professional has been quite interesting. It has been a journey of growth considering how far I have come. From being a call center agent, I stepped into marketing and by honing my skills; I grew into the opportunities that every level presented. I have worked across diverse industries: Airlines, NGOs, and Financial Services. I worked with Aero contractors, British Airways, Change the Life Foundation and First Bank of Nigeria. Currently, I am the Head of Marketing and Communications at Stanbic IBTC while also serving on the board of various NGOs.

What informed your book ‘Built for the Storm’?

Ten years ago, my husband suffered a stroke. I had to leave everything and rush to his bedside in London. It was a trying period for me and my family. I was thrown into a storm that I thought would drown me but somehow, I got the strength to pull through.

I decided to write this book, not only to share my experience but to also inspire people that their lives can turn out fine despite the hurdles life presents ─ because hurdles are part of life.

While you cannot tell what the future holds, you can be prepared for what life will throw your way; you can handle life’s curveball in ways that will not leave you in jeopardy. This is the essence of the book, ‘Built for the Storm’.

In your 23 years of practice in the marketing world, how would you evaluate the space?

In my 23 years of practice in the marketing world and assessing its evolution, it is evident that marketing has moved from focusing on products marketing — selling to the consumer — and has evolved into the new dynamics of the environment. Customer experience is at its peak right now; this wasn’t the focus in the earlier years of marketing.

Today, it is more about what the consumer wants and not what you want to sell. You want to sell something but the most satisfaction you will get is from ensuring that the clients are satisfied with your product. It is no more about the brand, it is more about the consumer: listening to the consumer; ensuring the consumer’s expectations are met; and keeping your promises as a brand when you sell your products and services.

Where we are right now, consumers are truly kings. Marketing has always been about them but today, there is heightened awareness. Thankfully, social media, technology evolvement and data maximisation has helped communications with consumers easier. Their needs are better understood because there is data to tell you where they have been, what they are doing, where they are spending their money, and what their lifestyle preferences are.

Technology empowers the consumer as well, to do things themselves; to express their displeasure using the various platforms that are readily available to them through their phones and tablets.

In a nutshell, that’s how marketing has evolved from mere selling to ensuring that you are listening to who you are selling to and making sure you are selling right.

Marketing and writing, how are you able to marry these. What endeared you to publishing your first book?

To be honest, it was just truly inspired by God. I was thinking, ‘What do I do differently for my 50th year?’ That’s how the journey began.

I am not a party person but I have been invited to speak on various topics in diverse communities — large and small — and I always shared so much about my life. I know how much I have grown through my life experiences, from when my husband had a stroke to today. So I thought to myself, ‘There’s always so much to share; why not write about your life’s experiences?’

It was not a dream that I nursed from time immemorial, it just sprung up that day last year and I thought, ‘Celebrate your birthday differently, share your story, inspire others, raise funds to help other families through the sale of the books’ and that was it!

Thankfully, I found SW Advantage Resources to support me on the project, alongside a couple of friends who are good at reading and editing. And the rest, they say, is history!

What key messages should readers take from the book?

In chapter 13 of the book, I listed about nine key messages that I would like people to take out of the book.

One of the messages has to do with purpose. No matter what the circumstances might be, there is always purpose in pain — you just have to look a bit deeper. Ours was a health incident but for other people, it might be anything else: it might be loss of a job or the passing on of a dear one; it might be many things or anything. However, in all these circumstances, though there is pain, there is always a purpose in that pain.

The need to be patient in pain is another lesson. One must understand that even though we all get wounded, we all heal differently as well. As individuals, our threshold for tolerating pain differs, and how we heal also differs. For physical wounds, your skin type can determine how long it takes for you to heal. With emotional pain, how much care you get amidst the storm will determine how quickly you will heal.

Considering this, your level of patience will differ from someone else’s. So don’t wish the pain away quickly, it would heal in its own time because you are different. Clarity may not come all at once but as circumstances and scenarios unveil, you will begin to see clearly and you will learn from the pain of growth.

I want the readers to know that it is important to take care of themselves so that they can remain sane when they are going through their lives’ struggles and storms. It is only when you have taken care of yourself that you can then take care of other people or be there for other people. In the book, you will find that I didn’t begin taking care of myself early enough. I have always been a selfless person, so I threw myself into taking care of other people till I got to a point where I could barely recognise myself. I think that was the point where I woke up and decided to deliberately focus on myself.

The fourth lesson I would like the readers to take away is the value of having the right support system — this cannot be overemphasised. Relationships are diamonds; good relationships are very rare and it is important that when you do find the right relationships, you appreciate them. Know that once you have the right support, you can survive anything because they would be there to help you keep your head and ensure that you keep your eyes on the goal.

Finally, I want the reader to remember that God remains. No matter what it is, God remains who He is. People may walk out of our lives temporarily or permanently. We might get ill and eventually get better but one thing I find constant is that no matter how I feel, God is still there. Sometimes in the middle of all the noise, He is the quiet whisper you don’t always want to hear. Sometimes when it seems too quiet and He wants your attention, He screams through various means — scriptures and other people speaking to you. God remains through all seasons, and I would just like everyone to know that.

With the current situation in the country especially as most people are gradually adjusting to Post lockdown/Covid, what message does your book bring in these changing times?

I think that COVID-19 has taught us a lot of things: to value the things that are more important (relationships and our health) than the things we were chasing as individuals.

So I believe that the message my book brings is inspiring. A lot of people who have read and reviewed it, have tagged it as that. Some other people have tagged it as very faith-filled.

I know that the book brings a message of healing, determination and strength, and I think that anyone who reads it will find something that inspires them to have courage amidst the storm.

Would you say writing this book has brought you fulfillment?

The sheer joy of reading the feedback, the reviews and comments from people who had read the manuscripts and people who have bought the book and read, and are encouraging others to own a copy! That is extreme fulfillment.

I have gotten to that place where I found healing from the burden that I have carried for so long and I can talk about it so openly. Even though I wasn’t the one who had the ailment, it was someone I love deeply: my husband. I pray that the fulfillment I found from just sharing and pouring out, others may also get to experience the same.

Someone said to me, ‘This is a book you pick up once a quarter just to remind yourself.’ I think that feedback alone — people telling me they shed a tear when they read the book, by just putting themselves in my shoes — defines fulfillment for me. I pray that through it all they find healing themselves.

What values do you live by?

Openness, optimism and respect. Those are my key values. I think I am authentic, brave and full of wisdom. Growing up, I wouldn’t say I was very wise but as the years went by, I became wiser. I am also big on generosity. I never get tired of that core value of just wanting to share.

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