Gabriel Gab-Umoden is group marketing head at The African Talent Company.
He is a seasoned marketing professional and has played pivotal roles in the transformation of First Bank’s operational model, as well as the development of the Konga brand, both revolutionary in their respective sectors in the Nigerian market.
Explain your job to a five-year-old.
I help people and companies understand how best they can benefit from each other and ensure they trust each other enough to keep doing business together for a long time.
What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your career/life?
If it is not going to affect your life in 2 years, do not sweat it. Focus on the big picture.
Is marketing a career you decided to go into? Or did you stumble into it? What else would you do, if you could?
I am an engineer; I studied computer systems engineering for my first degree. I figured I wanted to do something else, so I took some courses in e-commerce, worked in sales for a bit, and then completed a master’s in strategic planning and investment.
Afterwards, I worked in strategy for a while with First Bank of Nigeria, then got into Konga Online Shopping as a marketing analyst, and that’s where I dived fully into marketing. I went on to do some great things with Konga and my other companies since then, Suburban FiberCo and Ringier One Africa Media.
In the future, I would like to explore mentorship and become a business/life coach. My why? is to help others achieve their full potential; It is something I love to do and one of the things that gets me excited every day.
As a marketer, what’s one misconception people have about your job?
That what I do is all subjective.
Yes, there is a fair amount of subjectivity when it comes to communication, as different people interpret things in their unique ways. However, there is a scientific and heavily analytical side to marketing that ensures you are saying the right thing, at the right time, to the right people.
This preciseness comes from well-analysed data and tacit experience, and it plays a role in every marketing decision I make.
What’s the one thing you think African startups need to know about marketing? And what’s the one thing they should steer clear of?
Data is king. All types of user data.
Do your research, understand your customer, measure your channel effectiveness, iterate accordingly, and repeat. African users are unique, and established marketing models do not always work, hence the sentence above.
Stay away from shortcuts that give you easy access to verified and ready-to-buy customers; you will still have to do the work to profile, segment, and tailor to your business.
In your experience, which marketing hacks actually work, and which are pure scams?
Carrots push users over the fence. It is important to understand your purchase funnel and place the right carrots for those around the consideration/trial stage. This is the greatest driver of user acquisition and conversion.
Also, content is king. The right segmented content strategy will help push users down the purchase funnel efficiently. Testimonials, how-tos, product overviews, reports give the user enough information about what you do, so they can make the right decision.
As long as you can measure it, it is not a scam, but rather a learning opportunity. Scams happen when you are either unable to measure, or when you can measure, see no improvement and continue.
What (singular) achievement are you most proud of?
There are many, for each company I have worked in.
However, my biggest achievement has been the number of marketing professionals I have helped develop over my time at the different companies I have worked in.
A lot of them have gone on to do big things and deliver huge impact in their endeavours, and I am proud that I played a small role in their development.
I hope this is something I can continue to do over the next few years.
What’s something you love doing that you’re terrible at. And something you really do not like doing that you’re great at?
I like doing creative and graphics design. I enjoy providing the creative direction, not so much the execution on Photoshop etc. Powerpoint and Google Sheets are a piece of cake.
I don’t like doing marketing analytics, but it is necessary. It’s like trying to be fit and healthy—you have to eat your veggies. However, I am good at it, because of my background as an analyst.