Covid-19 has fast-tracked the adoption of technology among individuals and companies. For small business, they have been advised to opt for online spaces as opposed to the ‘brick and mortar’ to online engagements and do deliveries. Some of them viewed it as cumbersome and argued about the costs and risk involved.
On the corporate side, employees were encouraged to work from anywhere rather than clocking in daily. These concepts and ideas have been pushed into reality; remote working, tele-meeting, video conferencing and the list goes on.
John Ssenkeezi, a digital enthusiast and marketer, recalls a case while at QG Group where they recommended one of the breweries to use their distribution network to have customers order beer online and deliver through their resellers. The message didn’t sink in.
In 2020, the same beer company launched a web portal where a customer buys beers and they are delivered to them. Covid1-19 has accelerated behaviour change that was prompted prior.
An accounting and finance graduate broke a family record heavily anchored on accounting to join the digital industry. The dream started at a tender age.
“I had an entrepreneurial mindset and was fascinated by digital at an early stage. I used to handle all computer repairs in the neighbourhood in Kireka, one of the suburbs in Kampala. I would fix old computers like Pentium 2 and 3.”
While he still followed the family doctrine of Arts, in Form Six vacation, he worked at the former WBS television which exposed him to a lot of technical works. Content generation stood out for him since it enveloped documentaries, adverts, television programmes that were not marketed heavily on digital but had some presence at the time.
His determination to specialise in digital marketing was sparked off after attending a G- Uganda conference organised by Google. The entire experience graced with great developers and digital marketers opened his eyes to Application development, advertising, content which he was already familiar with and strategy.
His attention towards digital was heavily skewed. He immediately pursued certification in line with digital after university. The 10-year digital voyage commenced at Nation Media Group, where he manned social media management for five entities. This was a big step in the right direction and he has never looked back. He has worked with big industry players like Saatchi & Saatchi now QG group, J.Walter Thompson, Vodafone Uganda, and Airtel. Currently, he is the digital supervisor at the National Social Security Fund.
“Digital is quite interesting, dynamic and it gets better the more you get your hands dirty. It is one thing to get certified and another to practice because much of the content available to us online is not really Africa centric. So, you need to prove certain theories by trying out what will work and what won’t work. That can only happen if you engage in projects,” he admits.
His kind of work revolves around media buying, strategy, content creation, reporting and analytics and community management. He lives for growing businesses to realise business value from their digital marketing effort, beyond the vanity key performance indicators like reach, engagement, videos and others.
Fortunately, the technopreneur says having worked with companies fronting digital gave him a head start in terms of exposure and experimenting. However, he keeps on his toes by refreshing knowledge on the digital space because it is a fast paced industry.
“If you stick to the old techniques, sooner or later, you will find they are outdated neither driving value for you hence the need for change. Driven by passion aligned with exposure to personal, work projects and reading quite a lot has kept me at the peak. On top of that, being certified by Google, Facebook, Twitter, you are guaranteed updated content on the trend in the market.
Before Covid-19, digital was looked at as an add-on to other communication touch points hence slated for a low-budget unlike television, radio, print considered for a biggest share of the marketing budget. These unprecedented times have changed the norm and tuned the shift to digital. It is time to prove value as digital marketers to sustain the trend.
“Digital marketers need to stay certified. There are so many digital marketers without any certification under their wing. Notably renewed kinds of certifications keep one updated on new trends. It is time to get their hands dirty either on pro bono projects or sharing knowledge to get challenged. It all revolves around activity to help one identify areas of weakness, strength and act accordingly to it.
The future of digital is gradually growing through smartphone penetration, affordability of data albeit the digital enthusiast is uncertain of the future of the core digital aspects like social media marketing. Currently pursuing courses in big data, Ssenkeezi has realised an untapped opportunity for people to use big data.
“I think that is where the future is. Companies are getting better at their Client Relationship Management, Know your Customer’s databases; have all these pieces of data that are not put to use. I believe an individual who can unlock this data to derive actionable insights is the next big thing. I would like to shine with that big thing when that moment arrives.”
Besides his known job, he hustles like any other to provide for his loved ones. “At any time, I choose having disposable income since I have witnessed the extremes of money and felt the bite of poverty at one point in life. I rarely spend on myself as an individual but am very happy to see a loved one happy or have their problem solved,” Ssenkeezi heartily shares.