Ized Uanikhehi is the CEO of Loose Media Limited, an experiential 360° marketing, and technology company agency in Lagos, Nigeria.
With over 13 years of experience, Ized has led and served variously as Director of Marketing, PR, and growth at Metro Africa Xpress (MAX), Social producer at CNN Africa bureau, and Head of digital at Indigo Arya. She has worked for and with multi-billion naira brands, international and local, developing and working on a number of creative digital and offline marketing strategies to propel their brands forward. In 2019 she co-founded TORA Africa, to recruit, train, verify vehicle drivers for businesses. TORA was short-lived, as government policy changes and the pandemic effectively upended the TORA business model and market.
In this interview, Ized shares her thoughts about the digital revolution in marketing, and why marketing professionals need to embrace both the tools and leverage professional networks to grow. Here’s the full interview with Ized
BB BUZZ: Everyone talks about how COVID-19 changed something or accelerated something. In marketing and communications, what is the pandemic’s lasting impact? Is there a significant new normal for marketers?
Ized: Digital transformation is the new normal, Digital transformation is the utilization of technology in all aspects of your business thus changing the way the business is run, whether it is marketing or operations, this requires a culture shift and this is the gift the pandemic has given us, accelerated digital transformation and this is the new normal.
BB BUZZ: One last question. After your “encounter with Binomo investment guys” have you met similar attempts? And how did you spend the “flipped cash?”
Ized: LOOOOL, I have no idea what you are talking about oh, BBbuzz, you guys want them to beat me on this Obasanjo’s internet. It was a one-time event, a lot of people didn’t believe it until I showed them the chats and alert, technically it was my cash, not flipped cash, these guys were value-driven and delivered on promised KPIs. I am still grateful, LOOOL. It has been a while though I cannot remember how I spent the cash.
BB BUZZ: Ized, you’ve had the opportunity to work in different roles with different companies and different settings. Which role was your most challenging experience?
Ized: Every role has its own sets of challenges, to be very honest, I am not certain now which one was most challenging because, at every point in every role, every challenge seemed like a lot. But if I had to pick, I would absolutely pick being CMO of TORA, the informal sector is a royal mess though, the challenges were new to me and different from what you would find in a regular corporate environment and it didn’t matter how much you prepared and then fixed it, chances are the next day came with an entirely different set of challenges, I still get panic attacks thinking of constantly dealing with Okada men.
BB BUZZ: What does it mean to be a values-driven marketer?
Ized: To be a value-driven marketer means that you have a set of values that are really important to you especially in how you deliver on your job, some of which is ensuring that you give meaningful value to clients, as agreed with them, above and beyond in some cases, it means that it is important to you to ensure the clients’ satisfaction, make your clients’ money, save their time and thus make them loyal ambassadors of your brand.
BB BUZZ: You’re a big evangelist for networking and you’ve described it as “critical”. Is the marketing industry doing enough sharing and networking?
Ized: No, the marketing industry is not doing nearly enough networking, but the truth is it keeps getting better with each passing period, so that’s a good thing, we may not be doing as good as we should be doing but we are definitely improving in the networking efforts with each passing year. Communities like DigiClan are making this an easy-to-do thing and I am really excited and happy about that.
BB BUZZ: When or where should a line be drawn in “networking” in the marketing and communications space? When should marketers keep their cards close, or is it unnecessary?
Ized: I don’t think it is necessary to “tight anything to your chest,” yes, being a sole (or one of the very few) expert(s) at a certain role gives you leverage because you are the one every goes to for that task ensuring that you are making more money but the truth is there will be other things or skills you don’t have but that can help you drive value to your clients and you need other people with those skills to help give that value. Any way you look at it, Networking is and will always be necessary.
BB BUZZ: Marketing, especially digital marketing has attracted a lot of attention and is being disrupted daily with new marketing tech tools. What are your thoughts about this?
Ized: Digital transformation is getting critical, marketing shouldn’t be as manual as it currently is, especially in Nigeria and these tech tools are a welcome development, I think that the fear for most people is that these tech tools will replace their jobs and their roles will not be needed, but these tools have actually opened the market more and these tools require skills and strategy to be utilized, marketing becomes very value-driven, and data-driven, and easier to achieve with these tools but that also means that there is a need to constantly stay educated and abreast such that you remain relevant.
BB BUZZ: You’re our first feature on CMO Digest, and we’ll like to set the tone and probably make this first question a tradition. So, how did you get your job?
Ized: I love the question! But I can only give you the summarised version because it is a really long story- It all started when I went to pitch for another project for another company I had co-founded that was dying out and I was seeking a lifeline, I didn’t get the lifeline but I figure that I made a good impression because it then became a conversation that led to a couple of other conversations that led to me being CEO/CMO of Loose Media.
BB BUZZ: I know you studied Biochemistry, but here you are, killing marketing. I also know you get this question a lot, so here’s the twist. Why didn’t pursue a career in Biochemistry?
Ized: The honest to God reason? I was never going to really pursue a career in Biochemistry in the first place, I wanted to study Medicine, I got admission to study Biochemistry instead, so I figured- finish biochemistry and then go back to study medicine, so I passed my courses very well and got the admission to study Medicine but then I met a boy and fell in love and started to rethink the whole medicine thing. LOL, I started to ask myself whether, at my age, I really needed to study medicine also then I had already gotten bitten by the Marketing bug, and everyone used to say I was such a great sales-person / marketer, so it felt like the path to pursue. I actually started with traditional marketing and evolved to Digital.
BB BUZZ: You were CMO and co-founder for TORA, what lessons did you learn that you think is important for CMOs and founders in Nigeria’s bustling startup space?
Ized: When I co-founded TORA we got a lot of great startup advice that we worked with but that didn’t stop a policy change from crushing our business. We became statistics, three out of four businesses die in their first year, suddenly we were in the majority, It did not matter that we had done the best we could given what we had to work with, a simple shift in government policy was enough to end the business. So recently my new advice to founders and CEOs playing in the sector such as I was playing is to constantly engage the government, understand these policies, have insights before it happens so you can pivot quickly and save your startup. Collaboration is great too, that’s my constant advice, leverage collaborations and partnerships with startups that are doing great, that helps a lot.