INTERVIEW (Shileola Ibironke, Executive Director, Micromedia Marketing Limited)
Women in Business: Key Insights on How to Carve your Niche in a Crowded Market Space
The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme organized by Fidelity Bank Plc to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. The interactive radio programme features subject matter experts and model entrepreneurs as guests on a weekly basis to share their insight and unique success stories. In this interview, Shileola Ibironke, Executive Director, Micromedia Marketing Limited gives valuable insights on “Women in Business: Key Insights on How to Carve your Niche in a Crowded Market Space”.
Q: What is MicroMedia Marketing all about?
Shileola: Micromedia Marketing Limited is a broadcast content company. By broadcast content, I mean we produce and distribute television drama series across various media platforms. That is through terrestrial TV like Silverbird Television, cable TV like M-Net, and video-on-demand like Netflix.
Q: How Did You Transition from Paid Employment to Becoming an Entrepreneur?
Shileola: In the year I left paid employment, I was nursing my first baby and I began to notice so many things and realized there were gaps in the industry and needs that were not being met. I identified the opportunity, stepped out, took it off the line, and went all the way with it.
Q: And Since Then It Has Been 10 Years, Congratulations- How were you able to raise your initial start-up capital?
Shileola: There was no funding and starting up was really based on promises with the television stations. Our only funding was used to get the content from the South African company, M-Net. We met up with stations on promissory notes, that once we start the broadcasting, we would pay. As a marketing executive, I went round to get sponsorship, but they were on paper and not in cash. Silverbird was the only station that listened to us – and till date I am really grateful to them, they accepted us without any fund and we made good on our promises.
Q: Many believe that the media industry is dominated by big companies and large corporations & that it’s hard to break in, what else made you get a foot in the door and keep the door open?
Shileola: I would say it was my understanding of marketing – the trends, the sustenance, and the burst season (when there is higher demand for content). I had been in the industry preceding that time- for about 10 years, so I already understood what it’s like to speak to the clients, to get them to come on board, and the best time for broadcast season, which is also the best time to chase the clientele.
Q: Who are your customers and what is your business model?
Shileola: Our customers are any brand existing within and outside Nigeria. More than often, we have brands that create TV commercials that they want to put on television and we approach them to compute a package where they can come on board. I would not want to go too extensive on this because it is proprietary information for my company.
Q: What are some of the trends around MicroMedia marketing & media content placement?
Shileola: I believe media content has become so diverse now that television is not only conveyed through the basic means of viewing and by television, I mean the tube itself. We have IGTV (Instagram Television) which is all the rave now and the exciting thing as social media has taken over a large space of what television used to offer. We also have people coming up with short skits that are becoming content created on daily basis, so the space is getting more exciting and also difficult for that media creator who used to sit in the office before, because it is more on the spot now. And that is exactly what we at Micromedia Marketing have tapped into and made our brand – we are dynamic, evolving, and make sure to attend and react to all upcoming trends. We also try to respond to the market and create the content the market really wants.
Q: If i have content to advertise, what is the cost to me and how do I weigh the cost of TV against social media?
Shileola: More than often, value is what determines cost – the value offered to a client will determine what costs will be paid for your product.
Q: What then is value & how do you determine what is quality content?
Shileola: Value would be first of all an engaging content. You must understand what the average consumer, that is, your viewer wants to see. For example, sports may be the biggest deal to an average young male, but it is not the same to a young boy of about 7/8 years’ old whose own viewing pleasure may be animation. The same goes for a woman who may be more interested in drama series or entertainment lifestyle shows. Therefore, you have to be able to create content for the average individual – who is our target audience. We go after all their entertainment needs and that’s what we create at Micromedia.
Q: How do your clients measure that value creation – is it in sales upstream or awareness of the names?
Shileola: For us it is about leveraging, using your platform for the client to achieve their own objectives. Viewership is quantified in different formats – either through monetary report or the gross rating point (GRP) that measure how many viewership at a particular time your content attracts and that’s determinant to the value the clients passes on to you. It is a bit scientific and may be quite confusing to listeners.
Q: How have you grown your business over the last 10 years and what are the strategies that have made you successful?
Shileola: I would say it is our intuitiveness and attentiveness to understand what the market needs. When we were moving out of the Nigerian space to broadcast on different platforms in other African countries; it was more of the quality of what we had created that opened the doors for us. We created content that was not only targeted at the Nigerian market, but for any black person living in the world. We know that there are more territories that have not yet seen our products and we are looking to reach that space by creating value that will appeal to them, understanding our consumer needs and making sure we meet those needs at all points.
Q: How have you been able to manage employees across different regions, build your sales, and ensure profitability?
Shileola: At Micromedia Marketing, we have and advise that entrepreneurs create a cell unit mode of business management. At concept creation phase, we understand how many people are needed to work and at different stages, we never have more than 25 people cell unit working at any particular time. Each of these 25 people cell unit may then further create their own small unit cells to work with. I have a team that I work closely with and I don’t exceed that so i can easier manage them. Every concept we want to develop comes with a specific budget and allocated time, so we use the necessary people who will enable us achieve that. We have a limited span of control which helps us not to over extended ourselves. As a business owner, you are responsible for a whole lot, so more times than often, if you can outsource some tasks, and still achieve your goals, it is advisable that you do. Also train your nucleus team to be very independent, create a work flow plan where there is an operational circle that everyone fits in – that is, a round peg for a round hole and each member of the team is aware of what they need to do to feed the circle. Take the easier route most times and outsource where you can and engage contract where you can.
Q: What about the concept of profitability?
Shileola: Business cycle means that you have to rotate your income and earnings. If you are quantifying you r business today based on your current income, then you are going to fail in the long run. You must quantify your business based on your current expenditures and your past income. The entrepreneur should understand that the present funds the future and as life rotates so does profitability and your earnings.
Q: How do you manage risks given the uncertainty about the future?
Shileola: I am a risk taker – started out by taking risks. So I get inspired by taking risks and to take risks. I would also state that I have been hurt more often than not, but I have also stood up and regained my balances to keep pushing on. My mantra is that I just have to do it because only then will I be able to achieve what I want. I have been a risk take and thankfully my risks have proved profitable, even though not all the time. The most important thing to watch out for when taking risks is to make sure your psychology is not affected because that will affect your reality – just keep going.
Q: Are there opportunities in this sector and what should entrepreneurs do if they want to get into the space?
Shileola: There are certainly vast opportunities for entrepreneurs to tap into, but the entrepreneurs themselves need to be inspired, have the passion and understand the market of the avenue they want to pursue a business in . Quite a number of a people go into territories they do not understand and that one of the contributing factors to failure. An entrepreneur should have developed a bit of apprenticeship in the market they want to venture into to help avoid failure.
Q: For creatives themselves who can create content, what opportunities are there for them?
Shileola: In my organization, conceptualization of most of our drama series comes from me because I have taken my time to understand the market and what viewers may need. Then se spend time with creatives who the develops the lifestyle bibles of all the drama characters.
Q: What is your most successful series from the consumer perspective?
Shileola: Our most successful series till date is Taste of Love – consumers just love it. From my perspective, however, I love Oghenekhome because it took me over 12 weeks alone just to do the research into the plot. I am not from the south-south and it is a story focused on the Niger-Delta and I literally know nothing about them. I was inspired to develop the concept of Oghenekhome by 2 editors, while working with them one late night shared their story about the Delta region to me. I was so interested in that I began to develop a whole lifestyle for all the characters – Ramsey Noah played a lead actor role and performed beyond our imagination. For me that’s the best story we have written, but for our consumers, it is Taste of Love.
Q: Consumers are really excited about foreign content that is encroaching into our own media space?
Shileola: They are called telenovelas and we also create such content.
Q: Yes, but these foreign Telenovellas are broadcast more than the Nigerian ones in public viewing spaces, ow can we change that trend?
Shileola: Most of the content we create at Micromedia Marketing actually measures up to what the foreigners have created. And most times in these foreign stories, during the scale of the story, the plot line gets dry right in the middle of the story and viewership reduces. Most of the more popular foreign telenovela, like the Indian ones are very engaging because of editing and pitiful ploy twist styles. Taste of Love is actually our own adaptation of an East European drama series, which if you recall, is the gap analysis I spoke about earlier. Once more Nigerian based content begins to appear for mass viewership in the market, naturally demand for them will naturally take over the foreign content.
Q: How do you protect your intellectual property?
Shileola: In Nigeria, one cannot protect intellectual property as of right now because the copyright commission, I believe, has not really done much to protect the IPs of content creators. What we currently do is that we trademark of all title names, scripts, so that in event of copying, our Legal team can take action.
Q: How can we make the Nigerian entertainment industry more profitable for entrepreneurs?
Shileola: The Nigerian entertainment industry consists of different categories so which one, movies & music? Music is more profitable right now because of a variety of reason. Music is universal and can be perused on-the-go. On the other hand, one has to take their time in selecting a movie then dedicate time to watch it. Profitability is relative and it depends on the quality of content. Great quality is King and by quality, I mean both visual and technical quality.