Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet Modupe Sanni – Running a Digital Marketing Agency in Nigeria during a pandemic.

Today we have selected Modupe Sanni to take her interviewShe is the Founder of Digital Square Ltd

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

At the moment, we are doing okay. That wasn’t the case in the first and second quarter of 2020 though. Like everyone else, the pandemic really hit us hard and it took a while for us to adjust to the new normal’; setting up virtual work systems, managing the team working remotely and effectively, etc. We really miss office interactions though. As creatives, our workspace and in-person interactions promote creativity and team bonding, but I am sure the team enjoys the flexibility that working from home offers and quite frankly, so do I. So, I am definitely not complaining much. The traffic in Lagos is renowned and not having to deal with that daily is something I’m truly thankful for.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company.

From a young age, I knew I wanted to run my own business. My career has spanned across different sectors, but most people don’t know that I started out as an actress and even featured in a few movies. A few months into my acting career, I started to crave more. I needed something that would allow me to explore my creativity; something to challenge me to be better, study harder and learn new things (you could say I’m a sucker for knowledge). I wanted a career that would be versatile, giving me the knowledge, tools, and resources to come up with creative solutions to problems around me. I found that in advertising.

Once I realized that Advertising was what I wanted to do, I started teaching myself Digital marketing skills, taking several courses online as well as in person. I went to an APCON certified advertising school (O2 Academy, Lagos), gained experience by working for different brands, and eventually started my company called Digital Square – A Digital Marketing & Advertising Company focused on solving marketing and communications-related challenges for corporate organizations.

What I love most about this industry is the fact that I get to work on different projects and that makes me fulfilled. The look on the client’s face after proffering a solution to them is very fulfilling to me. Taking on new projects means a lot of time spent researching and studying industry trends which we use to come up with solutions tailored to the project. It can be very challenging but I love challenges.

How does your company innovate?

We operate in a space that is constantly evolving – the digital space. To play in this arena you have to be creative and on top of the pulse of not just businesses, but their target audience. We have built up a culture of living and breathing in the digital space as individuals and as an agency. This allows us to react very quickly to even the most imperceptible of shifts in the different markets that we operate in. In our business, speed, relevance and responsiveness are key.

How did the Coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?

The pandemic affected us as a company and as individuals. We were all forced to deal with living in a pseudo-isolated state while learning to work in new and unfamiliar ways. A few of our clients were hit hard by the pandemic and started withdrawing; others stayed on but couldn’t pay for our services. We lost some of our clients, which was difficult, but we understood that we weren’t existing in a bubble. Many brands were forced to cut their marketing budgets. We however realized that our clients in e-commerce were not as hard hit and even had more demands. As a company, focused on being flexible, innovative, and creative, we pivoted, shifting focus to e-commerce businesses and bounced back after a few months.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

We had to make really difficult decisions. The toughest decision we had to make was to cut staff wages. It really hurt to have to do that because I’ve always believed that it’s very important for my team (and creatives in general) to worry less about income so they can focus on the job and being creative. I tried to absorb as much of the impact on my team by taking the larger chunk of the pay cut.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We use Zoom for meetings, Slack for office interactions, Google Questionnaires for intel gathering, and consumer feedback, amongst other project management tools.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Well, there are many people and companies operating in the internet market space right now and to a large extent, I feel it is healthy competition because it drives my team to innovate. The world needs more creatives; People who have a passion for solving marketing-related challenges which are never-ending. Brands in alignment with our vision and mission will always find us. Every day we set out, challenging ourselves to research, remain flexible and focus on solutions rather than capital. This team wants to solve problems.

Final Thoughts

As Marketing specialists, our job is to help brands grow. We do this by creating brand awareness to drive engagements, ultimately increasing sales. With the devastating effect of the pandemic, we feel that we can do more to not just help our clients, but to help others as well, through practical skill acquisition and other development tools. This is why we have decided to start the DslAcademy; an arm of Digital Square that will offer training in Digital Marketing to new entrepreneurs, small businesses, and students interested in pursuing a career in the Digital Marketing space. It’s a way for us to give back while doing our part to invest in our community, our industry, and our future.

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