The advent of digital marketing in Nigeria has made some brands started talking from a story telling perspective. Consumers want to be engaged and interact to be able to tell a story of every brand. In this interview, Streettoolz, a digital marketing agency spoke through its Chief Marketing Officer, Jerry Oche who gave insight on how digital marketing has helped to building brands in its short period of existence in the country. He talked about how the agency has grown very fast to become solution provider in digital marketing to clients and other issues. Excerpts….
Kindly tell us the concept behind streettoolz?
Basically, Streettoolz is all about digital marketing agency that was set in 2011. The dream is to change the face of marketing from what we used to have in advertising to more of engagement activities. That is why we try to play our own role by telling people that the reason why we form Streettoolz is just to change the form of advertising and marketing to interactive and engagement set of marketing. So, basically that is what we do for clients. We do more of interactive and engagement not just marketing. We all know the advent of digital media, social media for instance, people don’t like the whole idea of just selling anything to them. People want to be engaged, they want you to tell them your story. They want to know your story, so that they can equally tell your story in their own way too. So, digital marketing is more of storytelling on like before that we have all about advertisement. The advent of digital marketing has made a lot of brands started talking from a story perspective. Not just telling people to buy or advertise to them, but to make people engaged and know the story of a brand. You might be wondering why the name Streettoolz, and why the words ‘’same rules, new toolz’’. These are the questions that people want to know and that is a whole lots of story to tell. You could image a product or brand that actually wants to sell to people, it must converse through storytelling. Basically that is the reason why we formed the agency in the first place to tell the story differently from what people use to know.
How would you assess Nigerian digital marketing environment?
Personally, I think that the ecosystem is growing with the elections are over now. We are very hopeful that the system will open and investors will come in. Infact, it is already happening, we are seeing foreign digital agencies coming into Nigeria trying to acquire some of us. Though that is what we expect to see because Nigeria is a very strong market. Nigeria is the eight largest internet users in the world. We have about 80 million Nigerians on the internet. To me, Nigeria is a huge market bigger than Portugal and UK put together in terms of internet usage. It is a huge market and our strength in internet usage is equally growing by the day. There are lot of changes coming into the country now where people mostly use smart phones. I am sure we all know the number of people using smart phones in Nigeria presently. There are more telephones than tooth brushes. Some people have two or three phones that they use regularly. So, it means that the market is opening and internet connectivity is huge on the mobile. We are hoping that the ecosystem will grow and also hopeful that brands will begin to appreciate the use of digital more than traditional media.
Who are your target audience?
For us at the agency, one key factor that differentiate us from every other agency in Nigeria is the way we operate. We have a system where we operate differently from other agencies in terms of business we do and the kind of client we work for. We have a system that builds companies. Our service is not about clients alone. For instance, we have a site presently where we do price comparison, it’s a start-up and we just launched it. We also have Host Tractor which deals with internet related activities. So, we build companies not just conversing for clients. We want clients to see what we can equally do for ourselves. In the course of giving solutions to clients we equally provide solution for ourselves and clients can actually benefit from that process. So, that is what makes us different from other agencies. Secondly, we are starting up training in digital marketing. What we intend to do is to teach people digital marketing, mobile marketing, search marketing, strategy and surf marketing and of course, we will issue certificates. As a matter of fact, people will start resuming as from next month for the training. There are different sessions; we even have for journalists. What we are trying to do is that people working with traditional agencies and those working on the client side don’t need a digital agency to create ad on facebook or anywhere for them. They can do those things themselves through the training. Though we have all sorts of small businesses that are doing social media strategy and they happen to be our competitors, but what we intend to do is to invite them for the training. We don’t need you to come and give us any brief. The only way we want to be focused in what we do is by coming up with big strategies. When we have big companies what we do is to create the direction, we tell them the way and means to go. We give them direction and they will go and do it themselves. That will even reduce cost because the industry is changing. Brands and companies these days don’t want to keep agency on retainer anymore. Because keeping agency on retainer you pay seven million to ten million monthly. But with this system now, we will just show you how you can set up your own little in-house team where you can begin to do your stuff without coming to us and say, I need a facebook ad. What your team need is empowerment and strategic document. We will teach them how to tell the story and give them the direction to go. By the time we do that, we believe it will change the old face of marketing. Things have really changed in Nigeria and agencies too need to change. At the moment, the biggest challenge companies have is that many people are unemployable, even the existing ones that are working in companies that have twenty to thirty years experience don’t understand digital marketing. They see digital marketing has something strange to them. It is not a conventional way of doing the TVC, radio or newspaper ad. What they are looking out for right now is how to reinvent themselves and come back to reality. About 85 percent of marketers are finding it difficult to reinvent themselves. About 65 percent of marketers in the next five years will lose their jobs because companies now want people that have digital marketing skills. How do you get these skills? Then, you need to be trained. We all have facebook, twitter and other accounts but the strategy behind these pages you need to know. How do you tell the story? How do you respond? How do you measure? How do you know what people want? How do you know the kind of audience you want to talk to? These are the things that form the strategy. So, for us it is a huge market, the opportunities are so enormous. We are even late to start because people are really waiting to have that kind of training. Instead of going to the UK to get that kind of training you can have it here with the same certification. It is coming home this time. As a matter of fact, the UK companies don’t like universities to train their staff they prefer digital agency that has the structure where they can do practical. For instance, we have a live brief from Coca-cola, we need this strategy for this campaign, you as a student you sit down with an agency staff, you do the strategy and you understand how these things are done, definitely you will have the knowledge first-hand. So, we have built the market and it’s already there. All our clients are subscribing to the package. In fact, the issue we have right now is that we don’t know whether they will have to come here for the training or we have to go and train them in their various companies. If we have certain number of companies, we can decide to go and train them in their companies if they can cover the cost. The market is ready available.
Who are your major clients?
Like I said, because of digital marketing is still very new in Nigeria. The years of existence of the whole digital agencies in the country cannot be more than five years old. It’s quite new in the country and people are beginning to appreciate that. We still have the issue of client accepting digital marketing. They see digital as an after-thought. They see it as facebook and twitter thing; they don’t understand that it’s far more than that. So, getting full time client for retainer is difficult. But at the same time, we have clients on a project basis that we work for. We have clients like Union Bank, British Council, UAC and others. We have partnership with several advertising agencies in the country. If they have campaign they call on us we give them strategy. We understand that whether we like it or not the traditional agencies still have the clients because the clients give them the big brief. Some of these agencies have global affiliations but they don’t have digital capabilities. And again, clients are beginning to understand that you being a traditional agency doesn’t qualify you to have a digital skills. So, what you need to do is to have a full time digital agency that can do the job. Some of them have small units not a full time digital unit that does little things on facebook and twitter. But the clients also understand that because it is not your core so you cannot compete with a full time digital agency. The clients will advise them to give the brief to a full time digital agency. They will tell them, you have the brand, get an affiliate to digital agency and let them handle digital aspect. Let them give you that support since the account is a global account we can’t take it away. We do that for a lot of agencies and it has worked out for us. We have worked on lots of campaign with agencies.
What is your projection for streettoolz in the next five years?
We are not just a digital agency we are start-ups and we build companies that is what differentiate us from others. What we intend to do basically is to have a lot of start-ups coming up. Our focus is not just to be a digital agency but to transform to become a technology agency where we offer solutions. It is not about doing client-agency relationship, it is about being a technology company where we can offer solutions, develop applications for Nigerians to work with and appreciate.