Ajibola Olayiwola The Marketing Connoisseur
Ajibola Olayiwola is a career marketing professional with over eight years of experience working at some of the biggest global media agencies in Nigeria.
He had previously led the digital discipline for WPP/Group M (Mediacom, Mindshare, Maxus) in Nigeria and a few sub-Saharan Africa markets under Algorithm Media.
He had a chat with the Guardian Life team about his growth and successes in the business world.
How have all your work experiences contributed to your success today?
My experience includes a variety of marketing, public relations, and advertising opportunities. I am a career marketing professional with over eight years of experience working at some of the biggest global media agencies in Nigeria. I previously led the digital discipline for WPP/Group M (Mediacom, Mindshare, Maxus) in Nigeria and a few sub-Saharan Africa markets.
I have also led and supervised a number of award-winning digital media campaigns for a number of local and global brands like P&G, Heineken, Nokia Mobile, British Airways, Lufthansa Air, NBC Universal, Canon, Friesland Campina WAMCO, Shell, Facebook & more. I will say I am lucky to have worked with over 70% of the multinationals in Nigeria, directly and indirectly.
All of these I’m proud of and they have carefully put me in my current career position.
What influence does your upbringing have on your career journey?
I believe ambition can be inherited. I am from a very honest and decent background. A family of 2 children and many cousins…so growing up was quite eventful and educative. I had so many teachers and I was smart to learn one or two things from all of them. My education was super-fast…I finished University at 20, started my career immediately, bagged a number of industry-acclaimed certifications very early because I got all the deets and tricks early.
My dexterity in managing relationships with my elder ones early in life quickly positioned me with the bigwigs and respected in the industry. This has easily dashed me so many juicy slots and positions throughout my journey. I have an outstanding relationship with many major media and marketing professionals/vendors/influencers in Nigeria and the world.
My major influence was my mother…I learned a whole lot from her. She worked really hard and always put in a lot of extra hours on her job, and worked really hard…I’m not surprised I do the same. Other things I got from her – being very helpful without expecting any returns, setting people and things up for greatness, willingness to take up people’s problems, the ‘keep believing’ spirit, failing forward, open-mindedness, dedication, and the never-say-never spirit. I owe my growth and position today to God and my mother.
All of these have molded and shaped me into a leader and data-driven assertive marketer.
What challenges do you face as a Marketing Head vis-à-vis Nigeria’s economic troubles?
I think that standing out from the competition, coming up with new and effective ways to market a product in a tight and highly competitive economy is a big challenge and customers have more power and control more than ever. Marketing initiatives have to meet these new customer trends, demands, and give the customer what they want – customer centrism. Also, there is enormous accountability to ensure that your executions are efficient and cost-effective. The silver bullet is showing how your marketing spend translates into revenue and profitability for the company.
Additionally, there is pressure to keep up with tech and how to use it optimally to deliver success.
Why marketing, considering the fact that you studied Zoology?
I’ve been a marketer all my life. I grew up in a small family but a super-large extended family and all the time it’s pretty much about you making your voice heard and is the largest. This comes with a lot of politricks and mind-games just to give an opinion, create a perception, or establish an impression about a certain person/value/product/service. This dogfooding approach has helped me all my life…you experiment with your small clan and then once you succeed you blow it open out there in large proportion.
Zoology was a course I enjoyed studying at that time especially the environmental biology unit, I just didn’t see a career in it. I might do full-scale farming much later. I am a marketing alumnus of Salford Business School, Manchester, The United Kingdom.
What has been your greatest achievement through your career and why?
I will say I have many of these at different stages with different brands and times on this journey. Over the last 8 years, I have worked closely with a minimum of 30 multinationals and local brands and we have made tremendous achievements I wouldn’t want to say here because of some non-disclosure agreements and policies. Easily, I started and positioned many brands in the global digital space today.
Let me say these, for over a year, I managed the largest digital advertising budget by anyone/agency in Nigeria steadily on a quarterly basis. I’m talking about over $500,000/quarter. I participated in and won a number of pitches during my agency life. This journey has still only just started…more and more to come.
If you could change something about the business ideology in Nigeria, what would it be?
One thing I will say is for the government to create an enabling environment that will empower Nigerian entrepreneurs across the board flourish in business and economy.
My focus will be the marketing space – the ideology change will be the famous marketing mix – the 4Ps. I know it might not sound so appropriate…I don’t think they are valid anymore.
The digital world is quick evolving at an extremely quick pace and if brands don’t follow, they will just lose. The 4Ps should now be replaced with the 4Es. This embodies Engagement, Experience, Exclusivity, and Emotion. Let’s face the truth people don’t buy products anymore, they buy experiences and emotions instead.
What has been the biggest hurdle for you to cross so far?
This easily will be leaving brands I love to new brands. I always get emotionally attached to these brands that I don’t want to leave them then the brands leave me…agency life. LOL. I put my all on all the brands I have worked on and work on and this shows heavily in terms of results.
What have you done differently as the Marketing head of Konga?
I think this is a continuous action but I can tell easily from the aura I bring to every team or anything I get myself involved in. This aura oozes success, positive energy, and results.
What are your daily routines?
Quite boring LOL. Wake up at 5 am, step out of bed at 6 for light cardio…do 30mins on the treadmill then I get ready for work and finally before leaving the house, I take my tea/coffee.
At work, first thing first, draw up a plan for the day then I do general monitoring of my brands across all channels then I have mini-engagements with my team. Sometimes, I have one or two strategy sessions with the different units on the team and sometimes I go for lunch. I spend an average of 2 hours 30minutes on the road daily so on transit I jam new songs, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, the bounce of ideas on the phone. I also spend almost 2 hours on phone calls daily, cumulative. My days can be super-smooth and sometimes with a lot of bricks.
How do you keep healthy physically and mentally?
I’m naturally an extrovert…I love the activities. I balance my physical and mental state with a good mix of events and personal time. So, I will say thinking (I do this a lot), checking out new spaces, slaying owambes, and light workouts.