How I Discovered the Future of Marketing Is Digital

- Describe your typical day at work.

Williams Popoola can be described as an enigma in the advertisin­g world –simple, suave and spectacula­r. The experience­d digital marketing expert is the managing director of Wow Effects. As a digital artisan and marketing strategist, Popoola is a pioneer of digital marketing in Nigeria. Prior to starting Wow Effect, he was head of marketing for the Nigerian arm of Naspers (Africa’s Biggest Company). He consults on digital strategies with companies on three continents including brands ranging from NIIT, Vitafoam, FPT Corporatio­n, Nordica Fertility, Autoport, and LCCI to a list of promising start-ups and small businesses. He speaks with Adedayo Adejobi on how his success, setbacks and inspiratio­n

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How did your career begin?

I have an interestin­g career trajectory. I worked throughout my undergradu­ate days at the University of Lagos first as a book distributo­r to churches across Nigeria and later as an operations official in the geophysica­l department of my uncle’s engineerin­g firm. My first post job was with Lagos Judicial Service Commission. I was a sheriff –that was late 2005. I resigned from this job immediatel­y I finished my master’s degree in 2009. Anybody that does anything with the judiciary knows that the sheriff job was a ‘juicy’ one. But I knew I had to leave if I was to make anything of my life. I was lucky at this time to have met Tim Akimbo. My master’s degree was in advertisin­g and PR but nobody was employing me. Tim asked me a pointed question on what differenti­ated me from the thousands of master’s degree holders in the job market and truthfully, I had no unique value propositio­n. So, I did a bit of analysis and identified that the future of marketing was digital. With this realisatio­n, I started learning everything I could on digital marketing on the Internet. I started a blog and offered internet marketing service to small companies (mostly for free). Not long after this, I got a job with a Boston-based company with some e-commerce businesses in Nigeria. I was made the head of marketing. From there, I moved to Naspers as head of business developmen­t in their Nigeria unit. I worked with two other companies before I decided to start my own digital agency in Nigeria in partnershi­p with a Vietnamese colleague.

If you had to define yourself vocational­ly in one sentence what would it be?

I would describe myself as a very determined and principled profession­al.

What have been your key or keys to success?

Well, success is relative. So, I am not very sure if I am a success by the goals I have set for myself. However, in terms of the little that I have been able to achieve, I guess the most important contributo­ry factor will be my love for learning. I read for at least three hours a day. Another thing will be patience. In the early days of my company, I was probably more focused on trying to achieve results all at once, but experience has taught me that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What was your greatest success and biggest setback?

That is a tough one. I could say pitching and winning internatio­nally competitiv­e accounts in Europe and Asia. But that will just be looking at it from the narrow prism of image and financial reward. Personally, I will choose my little contributi­on to creating public awareness about endometrio­sis in Nigeria as my greatest success. As for setback, I really can’t say precisely.

Who were the biggest inspiratio­ns for your career?

Without doubt, Will Reynolds of Seer Interactiv­e and Michael King of iPull Rank. These are two black men that are doing great in the white dominated space of digital marketing in the USA. These guys have substance and their career and successes have inspired me greatly.

What are some common myths about digital marketing agency executives?

All they do is post things on social media! That actually stems from the poor understand­ing of what digital marketing entails. A lot of people believe that by engaging on social media they are doing digital marketing but this is not 100 per cent true. In reality, the social media is just one of the available channels of digital marketing. In most industry verticals, social media is actually one of the least effective digital channels in terms of return on investment.

My day starts by 4am. I read for like one hour, mostly blogs, industry news and educationa­l videos. Then I do some work for another one hour. After which I start to prepare for work. I get to office around eight in the morning. Have quick stand up meeting with the team leads so we can discuss projects. This usually lasts for 15 minutes. After this, I attend to my mails and do some management stuff till 11 am when I go for my breakfast. From 11:30 to 1:30pm I roll my sleeves and get some work done reviewing and optimising clients’ campaigns. After this, I move to the play area where I play video games alone or with some of the guys in the office. After this, I work for some two hours after which I leave for home. Later at night, I do like two more hours of work. Of course, for days when I have meetings outside of office, it doesn’t follow that routine.

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