Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami: Outstanding Brands & Marketing Amazon In The Banking Sector
By Azeez Disu
Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.” Hillary Clinton once said.
With the above quote in mind, there exist many women breaking the glass ceiling and changing the industries where they operate. Similarly, in the field of marketing communications, there exist exceptional individuals and game changers who are changing the narrative.
In the country’s marketing communications space, one of the amazons changing the landscape with her expertise is Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami, Head, Marketing and Communications at Stanbic IBTC. Her story is that of hard work, professionalism and dedication. Currently, she is one of the most respected marketing communications practitioners in the country.
With the philosophy to always “Do all you do with all of your heart and never stop learning” she is contributing immensely to the growth of the marketing communications community and her company, helping it to build long term brand equity and financial success. Also, she has equally helped the organisations she had worked with in the past to grow tremendously.
According to her, “One of the philosophies that drives me is: ‘Do all you do with all of your heart and never stop learning’. With every job I’ve taken, I work like I own it. I also learn from everyone knowing that every human being has been gifted with something unique. With these, I have grown and weathered many storms.”
Before joining Stanbic IBTC, she worked in many companies such as British Airways Plc, Aero Contractors, Change-A-Life Foundation and FBN Holdings Plc.
Specifically, while at British Airways, she was the Sponsorship Marketing Coordinator, Southern, Eastern and Western Africa before her exit from the company; she also worked at Aero Airlines as Marketing Manager; Change-A-Life as Executive Director; and FirstBank Nigeria as Head, Sponsorship and Event.
“I have worked in the following places; Magnificent Travels and Tours Ltd., British Airways Plc, Aero Contractors, Change-A-Life foundation, FBN Holdings Plc and of recent Stanbic IBTC, a member of the Standard Bank Group. I must say that each one of the organisations have been suitable for me at every progressive stage of my life’s season, equipping me and grooming me for my next level,” she stated.
Challenges In Her Career
The popular quote of Eleanor Roosevelt which is “A woman is like a tea bag-you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water” explains that challenges help people to become better.
Bridget has undergone series of challenges in her career and has overcome them. Disclosing some of the challenges encountered, she said “The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) world is an interesting one. So, what one may consider as challenges, I see as being imbedded with opportunities for brand promotion. I will group the challenges into internal and external. Internally, there is that old issue of legitimacy; business managers are quick to wonder what value we bring to the table. In this light, brand or product marketing communications spend has become increasingly shrinking – except in a few cases where the essence of IMC is fully understood – even as business managers demand more in terms of ROI. From my experience, and sadly so, the marketing communications budget is usually among the first line of budget the business cuts.”
Meanwhile, according to her, “Another internal challenge is the fact that the marketing communications expert is often not involved at the developmental stage of a product or service, yet he or she is expected to come up with effective marketing communications plan that will help contribute to the overall ROI and brand growth. A typical attendant result from this trend is that with the increasing upgrade in technology, products and services are churned out really fast these days that the marketing and communication unit is often stretched with the responsibility of ensuring maximum coverage for all”
In addition, she added that “Externally, especially with an
understanding of consumer insights, the effect of technology and digitisation
are constantly redefining how we engage with the tools of the trade. The
engagement channels are becoming increasingly complex coupled with the fact
that consumers are highly mobile and highly time conscious- the concept of time
here however would speak to the need for a deployed creative content to ‘make
sense’ in its first few minutes of contact with its targeted audience. On
social media, for instance, it’s a myriad of platforms from Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram, Periscope to LinkedIn, YouTube, and SnapChat, among countless others
that must be deployed for effectiveness of a campaign while outdoor has since
moved from the static boards and lamp posts of the past to LEDs, and other
interactive tools. Consumers are no longer your typical sit-at-home parent,
student or the conservative executives. Do you know that market women have also
now become highly exposed and informed? Not just about local issues but also
global developments. These are interesting times, indeed.”
Strategy That Works
Deploying the right strategy overcomes challenges, for Bridget it is the same. In her words, “By adopting technology and becoming more creative. The marketing and communications professional must work a lot smarter now to achieve results. Consumers are now highly sophisticated and well informed about developments both locally and globally. So, the average consumer is about convenience and benefits derivable from pitching his tent with your brand as against another similar brand. Because of this and the fact that you are constraint in terms of spend, it becomes imperative to be deliberate and concise in your communication efforts. Your communication must literarily hold a consumer by the hand and help them navigate the clusters around the buying process. As such, messaging must be about the benefits to the consumer; it must be easy to consume; it must be adaptable to the channel each consumer is comfortable with; it must be consistent across all the different channels that consumers interact with your product/service. For instance, your communication on OOH, online platforms, traditional media, experiential, etc must all reinforce a single messaging. That is the whole essence of the much talked about ‘The Big Idea’ in integrated marketing communication. If a product/service is about convenience, then that should come out strongly in your copy across all the channels, so no matter where the target audience interfaces with it, the one thing he keeps hearing or seeing is the convenience.”
She added that “The deployment of technology has made it
easy to be specific in your marketing and communications efforts. Data
analytics helps professionals to truly know their consumers: their demography,
their interests, their consumption pattern, their favourite communication
platform; how and what media they consume, etcetera. What this has done is that
data analysis has helped professionals to cut through the clutter and be
deliberate and targeted. Energy is no longer dissipated on marketing and
communication efforts that may not resonate with the target market. This also
helps us maximise our shrinking budget.
Furthermore, she stated that “Increasingly, I think managers are beginning to see the clear link between marketing communication and product performance or brand acceptance. Competition is so steep now that brands must be very good at capturing the eyes and minds of consumers. The only way to achieve that is to develop consistently effective communication. I think I have been luckier than most to work for brands where marketing communications efforts are fully understood and appreciated. At Stanbic IBTC, for instance, one of the leading end-to-end financial services institution in Nigeria with very strong international root through its connection to Standard Bank of South Africa, the role of marketing and communication is well defined and we have the support of the board and the management as well as availability of cutting-edge technology that we can deploy as we strive to project our core values as a brand.”
Winning In Men Dominated Industry
Rising to the top in men dominated industries is challenging for most women but for Bridget, it is not an issue.
“As earlier mentioned, I work for one of the best organisations in the country today. At Stanbic IBTC, every employee, male or female, has equal opportunity to build a rewarding career and achieve their career goals; it is an equal opportunity employer. The females have as much chance as the males to attain leadership roles. We have many female employees who rose through the ranks in the company to become chief executives, leading some of our subsidiaries.
You can grow as far as your talent, education, experience, hard work, and desire will take you at Stanbic IBTC. The company equally provides you with the necessary tools and support to excel in your role. Knowing that the company has my back, provides me with the right tools, and will support my growth in the business gives me the zest to be at my best always,” she explained.
Amazingly, she has received series of awards and recognitions for herself and her organisation, speaking on this, she said, “Permit me to say that the achievements recorded, and awards won, would be as a result of the platform each organisation gives, the products marketing teams are given opportunities to promote and the support of each business team within the organisation to make success out of every single task. Most importantly, all abilities come from God who crowns our every effort with success.”
Dearth of Female Professionals In IMC industry
The dearth of female professionals in the IMC industry is a major challenge. Proffering solution, she said “I think stakeholders, particularly the government, can do a lot more to strengthen the space, in terms of policies and infrastructure. Let us start with training. I don’t know that there are many educational facilities in the country where people can receive qualitative training on marketing communications. I doubt if we have up to five institutions, including universities, where one can receive formal training in integrated marketing communication. I know the University of Nigeria Business School has an MBA programme in marketing communication and I once saw IMC advertised by the National Open University.
“Usually, what you have is that IMC is an elective course under mass communication. Even the IMC offered in schools, is the syllabus robust enough? Due to an increasingly highly competitive business environment, marketing communication has assumed greater relevance to help give the brand a voice above the din. Coupled with that is the fact that IMC is a broad field. As such, I think IMC should be offered separately as a degree programme in the universities not just as an appendage to other courses,” she advised.
She added that mentorship is important and that would help women greatly, pointing that she look up to some mentors for inspirations, “Folake Ani-Mumuney is an exaample. Over the years, she has proven to me through her words and actions that it is possible to be a professional, say what you mean and do likewise, work hard, impact lives positively, coach serious minded individuals (not everyone can withstand pressure) play hard, balance home and career whilst growing at a steady pace not compromising on standards and staying full of energy always,” she explained.
Give Back To Society
The importance of giving back can’t be overemphasised, for Bridget, she mentors women and embarks on community engagements.
“Mentorship is key for continuity and preservation of industry best practices. I am passionately involved in this mentoring the old, young as well as my peers. In ensuring I remain full enough to pour out, I have reverse mentors, peer mentors and the power mentor whom I draw from.
“My main community engagement is ministering to widows in
Northern Nigeria in partnership with missionaries, passionate about impacting
lives in every dimension (this I do daily with everyone whom I encounter). I
also volunteer my time outside work on boards of a couple of NGOs.”
Maintaining The Balance: Personal Life vs. Career
Balancing personal life which include managing the home successfully and having a successful career is challenging for most women.
Addressing this, she said “One key learning for me has always been apportioning time for each person, thing and situation.
“For example, when it is rest time –
take it, family time – spend it well, study time to boost your career path –
find the time to make it happen etc. Staying true to your commitments and
giving no room for excuses. Having the right support system also makes the
balancing act easier. I believe they go hand in hand and flow into one another,
with one fuelling the other and giving it room to flourish.”
Advice To Younger Female Professionals
“Let me use the analogy of the sponge here. The sponge absorbs liquid until it becomes soaked. Young female professionals should deliberately seek out learning/mentorship opportunities that will boost their knowledge and self-confidence. Self-development is equally crucial because of the ever-changing marketing communications landscape. Self-development equips you with new skills, latest trends, and necessary tools to help you remain relevant in the industry. Of course, one cannot overemphasize the place of hard work, diligence, and focus,” Bridget advises young female professionals.