A pioneer in the Nigerian digital space, Williams Popoola is the founder of Wow Effect Communications, a leading marketing consultancy firm in Nigeria. In this interview, he talked about emerging technologies, the digital marketing space, and other issues. Nosa Alekhuogie presents the excerpts.
What makes your digital agency different from others?
I would say our customer-centric culture. We’re not saying we’re the oldest or the best. On the contrary, we insist that our clients be the best in their field. And in the success of our clients’ business, lies our success. I think customers see it and appreciate it. We also have a rare combination of creative and technical abilities and our obsession with data and testing.
What is your take on the 5G global war with the United States of America and China?
5G technology is a quantum leap from 4G and the endless potential applications of 5G make it a big deal – everything from the interconnections between the billions of things that make up the Internet of Things (IOT) to artificial intelligence (IA) to transportation within and between cities.
Whichever country takes the lead in 5G will be positioned for global digital dominance, which will likely equate to global technology dominance. Thus, the 5G war between the United States and China is understandable.
But talking about the adoption of 5G in Nigeria, I think it will be very minimal. This is mainly due to the high cost of deploying 5G technology and the higher cost of 5G phones.
What are some of the projects you have worked on?
This is a very difficult question because there are so many projects. But I will say that I’m most excited about projects that have huge social impacts. Our cancer awareness campaign in Africa for HCG Oncology of India, Covid 19 awareness campaigns for many Nigerian organizations and then currently I am really excited about the work we are doing to bring digitization to many Nigerian schools through Google Workspace for education.
What business advice can you give to startups?
They should pay attention to the suitability of the product for the market. No matter how good or far-sighted your idea, it won’t be sustainable if it doesn’t match the market.
I mean, startups fail because they try to build a product for customers that don’t exist. After adjusting the product market, I will advise them to take marketing very seriously. A lot of startups seem to believe that “if they build a better mousetrap, the world will blast its way to their doorstep.”
Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. If you don’t market your product, you won’t reach your audience. If you don’t reach your audience, you won’t have customers. If you have no clients, your startup will fail.
How will AI affect businesses in the future and how can leaders prepare for it?
From smartphones to chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) is already pervasive in our lives. For businesses, the role of AI is to automate routine tasks and make decisions like a human would. Additionally, AI can solve complex problems, make predictions about business metrics, and help businesses go digital.
I think the impact of AI on business will generally be positive. This will allow machines to do things that allow human beings to do even more rewarding things.
So how are companies preparing for it? I say retool in skill building, it’s about having the right skills in your business.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
To be honest, it’s been good for business. Many businesses that had never taken their digital presence seriously suddenly realized its importance. So, on that side, it was good.
A lesson I learned again from the Covid19 challenge is that people and organizations are adaptive. Many companies have implemented new ways to engage with their customers through digital channels and new ways to operate internally with a remote workforce within weeks. I mean, before, such big changes would have taken years.
What are recent business milestones for your agency?
Well, in addition to our Google Marketing Partnership, we also got the Google Cloud Partnership. Next, we strengthened our security offerings by partnering with Appsco of Norway and Dataguard MEA.
Then, we have just finalized the opening of our office in East Africa.
In the next three to five years, how do you see the social media space evolving? How do you see brands using this medium to increase awareness or engage consumers?
Regulations will be strengthened, particularly in terms of privacy. Platforms will also become tougher when it comes to content filtering, we’ve seen it with the banning of presidents on Twitter, the removal of the Sugar Daddy app from Google Play, and more.
As a futurist, how do you think marketing technology and data will come together to deliver better personalization?
Advances in technology, data and analytics will soon allow marketers to create much more personal and “human” experiences across moments, channels and stages of purchase. The common thread of this transformation will be the amazing power marketers will have at their fingertips to create, experiment, analyze and innovate like never before. Invariably, when you personalize your marketing, you send the right message to the right people at the right time.
How does Wow work with other niche marketing agencies and services? How does this add to your agency’s capabilities and make you an industry leader in your area of expertise?
So we work with many traditional marketing agencies. This happens in two ways, some of our clients require offline engagements and as these are outside of our own areas of expertise we have a list of traditional agencies to which we refer these projects. Then, when those agencies receive a digital brief, they contact us and we work together to deliver great service to their clients.
How did your company become the digital marketing agency that attracts enviable major accounts?
Honestly, I do not know. But I think one thing that probably contributed to that was our ability to relate our work to how the C suite makes decisions. You know – profits, revenue, leveraging existing assets, return on investment (ROI), customer acquisition, etc. It’s different from the natural language a digital marketer will speak – rankings, canonicals, engagements, CRO, etc.
Looking back, over this seven-year period, how would you quantify the impact that digital innovation has had on the business?
I guess the ubiquity of this is obvious.
What new technology are you most excited about (if any)?
I would say quantum computing. While I don’t pretend to say that I understand how it works in detail, I do mean that it will require a solid background in linear algebra, which I obviously don’t have. But I’m excited about what’s possible with quantum computing.
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