Olanrewaju Adebayo is the CEO of Techinnover, a Lagos-based digital marketing agency. He disclosed to TOMINA EGBOKWU, in this interview, some secrets of his firm’s survival and plan for the future
What about Techinnover?
Techinnover is a digital marketing agency with passion for helping businesses grow, using technology-driven marketing solutions. We come up with innovative and exciting ways to help our clients to better reach and communicate with their target audience.
How long has the agency been in business and what has kept it going?
We have been in business for six years. The beautiful thing about digital marketing is that your growth as a company is dependent on how much value you offer clients. What has kept us going as a company is our ability to positively impact any company we have had the pleasure of working with, regardless of the size, from multinationals to small and medium-scale enterprises.
What is your job as the CEO?
As the founder of a rapidly growing digital agency, I am constantly wearing different hats. It is my responsibility to make sure the company’s efforts are optimal across board – marketing and operations.
Most importantly, I create an environment where people can be as creative as possible, removing all obstacles on the way. It’s about helping them attain their maximum potential by giving them the right nudge here and there.
How do you see digital marketing in Nigeria?
Digital marketing in Nigeria has seen more advancement in the past three years. In as much as I believe that digital marketing in Nigeria is still at developmental stage, especially when compared with international standard, I am very optimistic about the future.
Do you think government policies are friendly to business owners in Nigeria?
I believe that our governments can offer a lot more than they are doing at the moment. A few people like Omobola Johnson have been able to move the needle positively for young business owners in Nigeria, but business in Nigeria, most times, feels like everyone is out to frustrate you and every government official is out to extort you. Our government is doing the barest minimum. Regardless, we thrive.
What challenges have you faced?
It’s been challenging building the right relationships to get a foot in the door of some of our target companies. To avoid an avalanche of requests, a lot of decision-makers reach into their immediate network for referrals of possible agencies to partner with before granting an opportunity to pitch. This means, as an agency, you have to be part of that network. Almost every time we are given a chance to pitch, we make the most of it. But we need to create more opportunities.
It is also difficult getting and retaining good talents (employees). The whole world is interconnected; so you find yourself competing with companies at home and abroad for talent. To make matters worse, our schools don’t adequately prepare our graduates for the digital marketing job; so you invest a lot in training.
Regardless, I welcome these challenges, the greater the challenge the greater the opportunity for growth.
What strategy do you employ to drive innovation and new product cycles?
I encourage all our employees and management to freely express their ideas, opinions and anything they feel can help improve the company’s bottom-line. I listen closely to clients’ feedback and pain points and try to come up with innovative solutions to address them. A lot of our ideas come from trying to solve a client’s marketing challenges.
Also, having passion for what I do makes it easy for me to stay on top and keep tab on trends and innovation in the industry. A lot of the hobbies I have are also closely-related to the work I do – going for events, meet-ups, reading books and hanging out with friends and colleagues in the same industry.
What is the most critical initiative you are working on and how do you plan to achieve it?
These are truly exciting times, and we are glad to be at the forefront of marketing innovation nationwide. Through leaderboard.africa, a product we developed in-house, we are concluding some very exciting digital solutions to help our clients create more personal connections with their customers. The future of marketing is a lot more personal, so our solutions create a unique and personal connection with every customer our brand interacts with.
What are the unyielding changes you would like to see in the industry?
I would love to see brands more open to adopting innovative strategies in deploying marketing campaigns. Our digital marketing industry is way behind in terms of innovation, and I would like to see it take giant steps in catching up. The future of marketing is technology-driven and a lot of our audience is technology-inclined. Brands need to take advantage of this to better communicate with customers.
What qualities helped you in your career?
I am inquisitive. I am an avid reader and I listen to a lot of podcasts. I don’t limit my pursuit of knowledge to just my industry; I like to know what’s going on in every sector. This has helped me relate with clients on a more personal level, completely understanding their pain points. Clients like to go with companies that show understanding of their sector/industry.
I consider myself very stubborn in pursuit of my dream. Also, my passion for digital marketing and brand building keeps me going when things are not exactly rosy. I consider Techinnoveras a global player in the digital marketing space, and the dream remains to be at the forefront of marketing innovation on a global stage. We press on regardless of obstacles.
Do you have any plan of empowering Nigerian youths?
Yes, I do. While hiring in Techinnover, we place your willingness to learn and grow personally as a key factor. In several cases, we get people with minimal technical skills and groom them into authorities in their chosen field.
Few things give me more joy than watching current and past interns and employees excel. Some have even come back to do some awesome referrals and lend a hand in various ways towards the growth of the company.
In the near future, I plan to open up internship opportunities to a lot more youths with minimal experience in the field. The goal will be to train them to be authorities in their chosen specialties by working closely with our experts in similar fields.
Your big break.
I don’t feel like I have broken through yet, but few moments I have found noteworthy are when we moved into our own office and won our first pitch for a multinational client. These are giant steps that happened early in the business and, for me, they are subtle indications that we have come to stay.
What important lessons have you learnt in business?
Take advantage of the good times to grow. A business, like most things in life, is filled with the good times and the bad. A lot of people only think about growth during the bad times. They never want to experience such times again, so they start actively strategising how to grow or get themselves out of that situation. Then when things are good, they feel it was completely as a result of their good decisions and will last forever, so they carry on the same way. The irony is that the good times can’t last forever, and the best time to grow is when things are going great. This is because then the resources at your disposal are at the maximum and you can make better decisions because you aren’t under any pressure to get out of your current situation. In summary, the saying ‘make hay while the sun shines’ has never been truer than in business.
If you were to assess your performance so far, what would be on the scorecard?
I don’t know why I find this question so difficult to answer. I look back and it is quite impressive how far we have advanced in a few years. Yet, I look forward and see a world of opportunities yet to be explored. So, if I had to answer, I would give myself a generous nine out of a possible infinity.
In what other areas are you hoping to achieve more?
I am looking to strengthen my managerial skills even more to enable me take the company to the next level. I am also looking to expand our presence to other African countries.
What legacy would you like to leave in the digital marketing industry?
Digital disruption and technology advancements don’t just happen; the drivers of these changes are humans looking for better communication, convenience and ways to stay connected. Techinnover is pioneering some very innovative services for our clients. We want to be seen as the company leading technological advancement in Africa and that is the legacy I would like to leave.
Who are your role models?
Ije Nwokorie, the first Nigerian CEO of Wolff Olins (which by the way is the company I admire the most), is a senior director at Apple. He blew the doors of opportunity wide open and reached back to help several fellow Nigerians achieve similar feat. And of course my parents who encouraged me to choose my own path and supported me every step of the way.
What do you do for fun?
I seize any opportunity I have to rest and clear my head. I like a day at home to myself probably reading a book or watching a movie. Then sometimes I go for a run, which also helps me to clear my head and stay fit.