I’m bringing Feranmi Ajetomobi to Centre Stage because I admire how he expertly combines analytical thinking and empathetic storytelling to help Cowrywise achieve its goals. He certainly has a unique approach to growth and leadership– an approach that is useful to aspiring product marketers.
“So, what does the day-to-day of a product marketing lead look like?”
My conversation with Feranmi Ajetomobi begins with this seemingly simple question. In the background, coffee cups clink, plates rattle, and waiters call out orders in strained voices.
Feranmi leads product marketing at Cowrywise; a wealthtech and personal finance startup founded by Razaq Ahmed and Edward Popoola in 2017.
Feranmi: If you asked me this question two years ago, I wouldn’t have known how to answer. [laughs].
“What has changed since then”
Feranmi: I started off in Cowrywise as a social media handler. Then I moved on to become the Brand Storyteller before settling into my current role as Product Marketing Manager.
“Have you always been about growth and numbers? How did you transition from being a social media handler to product marketing?”
Feranmi: From the get-go, I had always been focused on ensuring that whatever we did positively impacted our bottom line. I’m interested in engaging customers and keeping them connected to our brand. An engaged customer will always spread the word about your product.
“When it comes to running campaigns, what should people in your field keep in mind?”
Feranmi: [laughs] This is a dicey question because campaigns have different objectives depending on the marketing team’s goals. But I’ll stress the importance of keeping what you want to measure in front of you. It doesn’t make sense to run one campaign with multiple goals at the same time. I recommend starting with one goal and working to tie it to the bottom line. A bonus answer is: implement fast.
I might need to re-think the number of goals I added to a campaign document I worked on last week.
Feranmi: You definitely should. The truth is, focusing on one goal allows you to under-promise and over-deliver.
Customers love when brands exceed their expectations. You cannot exceed a customer’s expectations if you are juggling too many goals.
Feranmi: Exactly. One goal keeps your customers excited about what you are building to meet their needs.
Studying Economics, writing classes, and a toolbox full of skills
“What skills did you already have in your toolbox and how did they help you become successful at your role in Cowrywise”
Feranmi: I took creative writing and poetry classes when I was in primary school. Interestingly enough, I grew up wanting to be a doctor but ended up studying economics at university.
Feranmi: [laughs] It’s a long story that involves writing JAMB, applying for pharmacology, not getting in, re-writing JAMB, dropping out of some pre-med courses because of a problematic lecturer and re-routing to economics.
Studying economics helped me think analytically about numbers and growth. My writing and comprehension skills enable me to break down complicated financial jargon into easy-to-understand articles.
“Fascinating. What skills have you learned on the job”
Feranmi: Learning how to write emails in HTML and deepening my understanding on website and product analytics.
The subtle art of asking questions, listening and paying attention to small details
“What motivates you to stick with a company”
Feranmi: A strong and supportive team is a big motivator for me. Not a lot of founders will risk hiring someone who doesn’t have a suite of impressive skills from the jump. Cowrywise is a space where I can learn and grow within my role and the company. I’m also motivated by the company’s vision. Cowrywise is interested in providing investment and wealth creation opportunities to Africans wherever they are in the world.
“What would you say to aspiring product marketing professionals”
Feranmi: Successful product marketing managers must have sharp social listening skills. You need to be able to gather information about how people interact with your products and brand. Next, you need to be intelligent about the way you see and address your competition.
“What makes someone a great leader?”
Feranmi: I don’t send angry emails during a heated moment. I may write my thoughts out and save them in my drafts, but I’m unlikely to send angry emails to my team members. I ask questions before I make assumptions about delayed work or missed deadlines. Being a good listener is a non-negotiable leadership skill. Listen and pay attention to your team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Where do your team members like to eat? Can you tell when they are having a bad day? How quick are you to offer them support? Ask questions, listen, and pay attention to the little details.
Women, financial exclusion, and the future of wealthtech
“What have you discovered about financial exclusion where women are concerned?”
Feranmi: Firstly, let me say that financial businesses that aren’t chasing the inclusion of women are sleeping on a horse. Secondly, a lot of Nigerian women are victims of financial abuse in their own homes. Women who live in rural areas can’t even access the money they earn from working petty jobs. Finally, the road to accessing credit in the informal sector is a long and bumpy one; particularly for women.
“What kind of recommendations would you make to conventional banking executives”
Feranmi: Most of these women have feature phones but they aren’t literate enough to navigate USSD prompts. I recommend that banks and financial institutions use robocalls to communicate with women in rural communities. They can take it a step further by providing instructions on how to access credit in their local languages or dialect.
“What do you think is the future of wealthtech in Africa? What do you think is possible”
Feranmi: I wake up every day thinking about endless possibilities in this industry. Wealthtech companies are going to help future billionaires grow their money. There’s a common myth that wealthtech products help people make money – that’s not what we do. We help you grow the money you make, legally. Adoption is moving at a snail pace but with consistent financial education, we’re going to see more Africans gravitate towards wealth management services. I’m hoping that more Nigerian wealthtech companies will invest in creating resources and content to promote financial wellness.