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‘I Am Out To Help SMEs Build Great Brands’

Sayo Odunsi, young, vibrant chief executive of 360Degrees Concepts explains how she is redefining the practice of marketing in Nigeria in this interview with OLUYINKA ALAWODE
Business
360Degrees Concepts is a strategic marketing firm targeted at small and medium enterprises. We develop marketing strategies that help SMEs achieve high visibility and profitability. Our vision is to build SMEs into global brands through effective marketing principles. We started operating formally in November 2007.
Inspiration
Marketing is really my first love. It is about creating value and enhancing people’s lives. There was not a significant marketing firm focusing on SMEs when I started. Most of the agencies in the market are marketing communications (advertising and PR) firms targeting big multinationals. I realised that it would be an exciting and rewarding challenge to build brands from humble beginnings. It takes a lot of creativity, problem solving and strategic thinking to develop winning solutions for SMEs with limited marketing budgets. Therefore our focus is on delivering measurable results in terms of sales and visibility for our clients and not just creating hypes.
Need
Marketing is a pivotal process and base for any successful business venture, however most small businesses lack the skills and resources (information) to execute effective marketing that will translate into increased profits. In our local context (Nigeria), marketing is often confused with “Sales” which is only an end result of the marketing process.
Marketing is about solving problems. People pay money for your product/service because it addresses a need that they have. It is about creating value and building long-lasting relationships with your customers. You should focus not only on attracting customers but also on keeping them for life if possible. Think of marketing as a courting relationship in which your mission is to ‘woo’ your customers into a life-long relationship with you. You will have to devise various strategies to get your prospect to pay attention to you in the first place by studying their likes and dislikes so that you can make an offer they cannot refuse relative to other suitors (competition). Even after the prospect has said YES, you need to constantly find innovative ways to keep the “spark” alive and not take the relationship for granted.
Starting out
I spent a few weeks pondering on what to do after I left my last job. I wanted to do something that would have a significant impact and would allow me to pursue my love for marketing. I would say it took me about a month to start off initially. I started by identifying a few people within my personal network that I could offer my services to. I offered free trial sessions for people to experience the value I was delivering. As a result, I started getting contracts through referrals.
Challenges
The challenges have been many and not different from what other entrepreneurs face. They are mainly finance and staffing. Not having sufficient capital base to start off sometimes stifles productivity and the ability to deliver consistently. Also, finding the right people to work with is a constant battle.
Prospects/plans
I am out to help SMEs build great brands. Our long-term vision is to showcase Nigerian SME brands to the rest of the world. We want to be the number one firm for SME Marketing Services in Nigeria. Therefore, we are translating our clients’ entrepreneurial dreams into realities.
Advice
Discover your passion, do everything it takes to be the best at what you do and have an action plan for achieving set goals and objectives. Do not waste time on unimportant activities. Our time is our life. The future begins today. There is need to have respectable mentors/advisors that can add value to one’s business. Also, the business owner must be accountable to at least one person on the business goals. It may be a board, advisors, friends or family.
Staff management
My philosophy is to recruit people who can be better than me. It makes the management process easier. We have put structure in place to help us maintain a professional standard.
Background
Olusayo studied Marketing at the University of Portsmouth and was awarded a distinction in her thesis on “Strategies for Ethnic Entrepreneurship in the UK”. ‘Sayo is particularly strong in the areas of Marketing, People Development and Strategy. She has over eight years’ experience in Marketing, Sales and Account Management related disciplines. Sayo has worked professionally for clients such as Yahoo! HSBC, Accenture and Unilever.
Her previous assignment was as a PR consultant on Unilever brands in Nigeria developing and implementing strategic PR campaigns for Omo, Close‐Up, Royco and Pears before launching 360Degrees to empower SMEs to build great brands. She has developed strategies for Mouka Foam, Diamond Bank BusinessXpress, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Medplus and other SME brands.
She is a UNDP Certified trainer on entrepreneurship development and a recent alumnus of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women Initiative on Entrepreneurial Management at the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan African University.

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