Editor's Note: In this exclusive interview with Legit.ng, May-May Ogoigbe, Chief Marketing Officer at The Fifth Alley, shares insights on the startup ecosystem in Nigeria and her journey as an emerging leader set to disrupt the marketing space in Nigeria.
The Fifth Alley is a Digital Marketing and Creative Agency providing innovative marketing solutions for SMEs.
Before starting The Fifth Alley, her own company, May-May has led digital marketing initiatives for small businesses and established organizations.
"My long-term vision has always been to contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, working with businesses to achieve long term success," she told Legit.ng.
Who is May-May Ogoigbe?
I am an ambitious and energetic marketing professional, born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I have spent the last 6 years working in a marketing background, leading campaigns for local and international companies. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and an Executive Certificate in Leadership & Management from the Chartered Management Institute, UK.
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I am a member of the Future Females Business Programme, a Career Influencer by the Workbooth Magazine, an Alumni of the Atlas Corps Virtual Leadership Institute and a Business Mentor at the Tony Elumelu Foundation, where I help ambitious founders achieve their business objectives.
Currently, I am the Chief Marketing Officer and Lead Trainer at The Fifth Alley, one of Africa’s fastest growing marketing agencies – focused on helping businesses grow in impact and revenue.
Tell us your journey into digital marketing; what do you enjoy the most and fear the most about your profession?
My journey into marketing has been filled with learning, growing and adapting. It all started with my love for computers and the internet as a teenager. Fortunately, my first role in 2016 was a marketing role and I’d say it was exactly what I needed to launch my career in marketing.
What I enjoy the most in this profession is working with businesses, executing campaigns and achieving expected results. When everything works in synergy, marketing can be so much fun. Although, what a lot of people in my profession fear the most is the ever-changing world of marketing and technology trends. Most of the things we know today have a 90% likelihood of changing tomorrow – those who do not keep track of these trends will definitely find themselves living in an outdated space.
Does digital marketing really work? Should SMEs prioritize digital marketing over other forms of marketing (e.g. TV/Radio adverts, billboards, etc)?
Digital marketing works for sure. As a matter of fact, it is a necessity for forward-thinking businesses. SMEs who prioritize digital transformation and drive technology adoption in their day-to-day operations will improve their performance tremendously. Digital marketing for SMEs is no longer a choice, it’s a must. And sometimes it is deeper than ATL forms of marketing as you mentioned in your question – Digital Marketing for SMEs is really about using technology to improve customer relationships, improving processes, systems, and ensuring employees are fully equipped for creative ideas and execution.
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Are SMEs really important in Nigeria's economy? Do they play a key role? If yes, what are the roles?
The SME sector is an important contributor to economic, employment and GDP growth in Nigeria. Playing a significant role in these key areas has led SMEs to become the bedrock of this country.
Did you know that SMEs in Nigeria contributed about 48% towards national GDP in 20217? Almost 50%!!! That is simply huge! With the right governmental support, more could be achieved in this sector.
Beyond capital, What are the top challenges facing SMEs in Nigeria?
I’d say that a clear lack of basic infrastructure like constant power, water supply, and good road networks is a hindrance for business growth. Insecurity is also a major challenge in this country, as we’ve seen several businesses shut down due to lack of safety. I mean, you can’t do business where there’s civil unrest. SMEs need an enabling environment and access to basic amenities to thrive.
Is FG/CBN’s interventions enough to help SMEs in Nigeria? What is the most important way FG can assist small businesses?
There are a lot of ways the government can support small businesses. For example, the government can provide seed capital and funding, or small interest loans and grants to help businesses scale their processes. Another way is through the provision of basic infrastructure and lenient policies. Helping small businesses to succeed is a win-win benefit for the economy.
Twitter ban (recently lifted), did it have adverse effect on SMEs growth?
Twitter has been such a useful platform for businesses. Since its launch over a decade ago, Nigerian businesses have leveraged so much on twitter to grow their audience, share relevant resources and connect with their customers.
Of course, the ban came as a huge shock, considering that Twitter has also been useful to the government in their political campaigns and outreaches. Every hour since the Twitter ban, business have lost and are still losing revenue.
A lot of businesses have shut down, and many more will do so if the ban isn’t revoked. We seriously need to consider the businesses that are hugely affected by this ban and find amicable ways to solve certain issues, one that doesn’t pose a threat to business owners.
How do you plan to disrupt the SME sector in Africa?
The short answer to this is through The Fifth Alley. We see a massive opportunity serving the undeserved. SMEs contribute immensely towards economic growth and stability just like any other sector. We want to make sure they have the right marketing initiatives, technology and support to achieve this – The Fifth Alley will provide the much-needed digital transformation that gives SMEs the platform to attain profitable heights. When SMEs succeed, this can be felt in the economic standpoint of any nation. At the moment, Africa is poised for growth – more than ever before - the world is starting to pay attention and SMEs are the green light leading Nigeria, and the whole of Africa towards a digital-first market.
What makes The Fifth Alley different from other marketing agencies?
We deliver extraordinary services, we don’t compromise on our values, and we build memorable relationships with our clients. These are a few reasons why businesses chose us again and again. We don’t just tell clients what do – we show them ¬¬– we address their pain points – we do all the heavy work for them, alleviating their pain and allowing them focus on other action plans while we take care of marketing. When you work with The Fifth Alley, you get a marketing partner dedicated to seeing your business succeed no matter what it takes. We are also utilizing a knowledge-as-a-service approach to help business owners become empowered so that they can take certain businesses decisions with little or no guidance. This is how we change the narrative; this is how we build for impact.
What is your future plan? Any project in the works?
A major project we’ve been working on is the SME Growth Lab – a digital accelerator program to provide trainings, mentorships and support to SMEs in Nigeria. This would be a cohort-based programme, to enable us focus on each group as keenly as possible. My idea for this initiative is simple – empower SMEs with the right digital skills to scale. The more we teach, train and mentor business owners, the more empowered they feel, the more ideas they are able to generate to grow their respective businesses. SME Growth Lab will become a thriving community for business owners, not just in Nigeria but across Africa.
Your advice for small business owners?
Be confident in your approach. Know why you are in business. Focus on the audience you genuinely want to serve and give it your best shot. I’m rooting heavily for you, and someday you’ll become the big business you’ve always aspired to be.