1. Hello Simba, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello there and to your fellow readers. Firstly, I am the Pied Piper of digital marketing not because I am super awesome, but because I stand on the shoulders of marketing giants, the folks and guys who paved the way long time ago. Secondly, I want you to know that although I work in digital marketing, I am an entrepreneur at heart. It started when I was four or five years old, seeing my dad do business, that’s when I decided to get some fruits from our back garden that no one in my family was eating and started selling them locally. My siblings, except for my younger brothers, laughed at me – how can a son of a wealthy businessman sell fruits on the side of the road plus I won’t make money. By the end of the day, I had more money and had fun! My older brother came begging for money from me for his Gameboy.
So from a young age I caught the bug of wanting to sell, but as I grew up I realized, I had a deeper desire to serve, to find solutions to peoples problems. This desire to want to fix things made me want to go into politics so much so that while in the UK I studied Politics and later on at university I read Law. The realization that I could not change the world as a politician made me just give up. So I dropped out of university, started doing business, e-commerce and anything I could find with my uncle. I felt that it was hard to do business in the west because of lack of capital and any other excuses I could make up. Then I tried doing business in Africa and I lost a lot of money there. Then my Pied Piper moment came. I abandoned my first love – entrepreneurship. I got a job in insurance and put my head down to work hard. But deep down I knew the career life was not for me, I was not bothered about career progression at all. I do not even recall what we discussed in my appraisal interviews!
I had abandoned my dream of being an entrepreneur and now I was frustrated with a corporate career. So I decided to go back into the entrepreneurship game, but I forgot one important thing. The world had moved on and this is coming from a young guy like myself. At the time I did not know, but every business idea, was good at the beginning, I would feel pumped up and then I hit a brick wall. I talk about this in the book and liken having a business idea to having a set of keys, but a key is useless unless it opens a door! And I could not find the door, the door being the market, the customers for my fantastic ideas. Me and my friends took business loans and pored them into business ideas and nothing came off it. So I decided for the last time to try the entrepreneurship or else I was going back into a secure corporate environment. I moved from Guernsey where I had spent 6 years in the insurance industry back to London. I set up a Cybersecurity training firm offering e-learning. I received a loan from the UK government via Tim Campbell’s, former contestant and winner of the UK Apprentice, Bright Ideas Trust. I thought I was well on my way to being an entrepreneur. I poured all the money into the product trying to create the best and most entertaining e-learning course. You can see a video here of a preview of the course – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U72AKKx230.
In the news, it was all about hacking and issues with cyber hacking.But the business failed, myself and my business partner just could not get the customers. Many showed interest but never bought. Instead of quitting and going back to the corporate world, I decided to go into marketing. I touch briefly on this that the failure of my last business opened my eyes and took me back to looking into marketing. I read and read loads of stuff online and offline. But I was not satisfied until I came across direct marketing. The stuff was golden and were answers to my prayers. I remember going back to Bright Ideas Trust for an event where entrepreneurs who received money would come to discuss their progress. I had not made much progress with my business, but throughout the day, I had many entrepreneurs coming to me asking about marketing. I seemed to have all the answers, and one of the female entrepreneurs there who had started a beauty business said, “Gosh, you should really do marketing!” I was offended at the time because I wanted to be recognized as an entrepreneur and not just some briefcase marketing person. Then I went back to university to study computer science, and the schools recruitment service, BirkBerk talent, helped me switch careers into marketing. I joined Asus, a global laptop company and had big responsibilities from day one. I managed a multimillion dollar budget marketing laptops in the UK. Even though I did not have a degree or a marketing background, the manager at the time, John Swatton, believed me – he felt that I would be a breath of fresh air and would challenge and do things differently. Within two weeks of joining I had a challenge, how to sell the world’s thinnest laptop and still compete with Apple and the Dells/Lenovos. To make matters worse, I could not change the images or much of the text on the advertisement. I could only change the headline. I could have just given up, but direct marketing had taught me better. I sat down heard all the wonderful technical things about the laptop. Trust me it was an awesome laptop! Asus wanted me to sell it as the world’s thinnest laptop at 1.2kgs. I thought to myself, I don’t even know how much 1.2kgs weighs and I have no time to check if truly you are the world’s thinnest laptop! So I observed people who buy laptops, I also took out the laptop and spent time with it. The thing was surprisingly light! That surprise element is what I captured when I wrote the advertisement as, “Can you hold your laptop like this?” Someone wrote about the ad (http://idleadvertising.blogspot.com/2015/10/can-you-hold-your-laptop-like-this.html ) and people responded. We worked with Exterion media who enabled us to advertise on the London Underground which sees billions of passengers each year. Shops reported increased visits and people asking to see the laptop. Sales increased. But what excited me was people came back online, especially on Facebook and Twitter pages challenging us if it was true the laptop was that light. What they didn’t know is that, I had actually tested the lightness of the laptop with my marketing colleagues, so I just got it done again, took a picture and posted it on Facebook and Twitter. The internet responded, some started trying balancing their irons on pens, the cats etc…Because we had done the marketing campaign using billboards, a traditional marketing channel, I really could not measure the impact of the marketing campaign this frustrated me.
That is where I started to go more into digital marketing. I think like an entrepreneur, and not being able to measure the return on investment pained me. So I started doing more digital marketing as I could see the results and prove my worth to the company. Two years of marketing with Google and Facebook opened my eyes to the world of digital marketing. I had found my true calling, helping entrepreneurs and businesses with digital marketing. So I just recently quit my job with Asus to set up a digital marketing agency that helps entrepreneurs and businesses all over the world find and keep customers online.
2. What are your focus areas and why?
I focus on Digital marketing. The world has become global and only digital marketing helps you compete globally. For example, getting someone in the UK to do a book cover design will set you back a couple of hundred dollars, but I used a freelance website, Fiverr.com and found someone in Germany willing to do a great job for less! Digital marketing gives you access to services and customers from all over the world and not just your local area. That is a big deal that most entrepreneurs and businesses are not aware of or taking advantage of.
3. What influences your work? What makes you want to get up every morning?
I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs and businesses. When I gave up on a career in politics, partly it was because I realised that what really makes the world go round was not politics, but business! Entrepreneurs come up with the business ideas, employ people, and create the wealth of nations. This is exemplified in the USA, especially Silicon Valley. Facebook, that started as a social network for students is now a 100 billion dollar global company. It’s used by over a billion people. In the process they have created wealth for America via corporate taxes, and indirectly from income tax! So I want to help create wealth for nations by helping the wealth creators, the entrepreneurs and businesses find customers online, solve their problems at a profit.
4. What is your primary focus in terms of self-development at the moment?
Digital Marketing is such a global phenomenon I am considering brushing up on my foreign language skills. Meine deutsche ist nicht sehr gut! I will brush up on my German language, then learn Swahili, Mandarin and possibly French! I also want to take some time understanding artificial intelligence and see how it can help entrepreneurs and businesses with digital marketing. (programmatic)
5. Where do you think you are making an impact?
I will have the greatest impact and contribution by consulting and helping entrepreneurs, businesses and public governments in Africa. They have fantastic products/services (natural resources, tourist destinations, etc) and so much potential, I just have to help them unlock the global markets with digital marketing. For example, I have visited Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World in Zimbabwe, my home country, twice! The place is amazing! A few days ago I visited the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. That was also amazing but, although biased, it comes nowhere near the beauty and wonder of the Victoria Falls. However, if you google for holiday destinations the Grand Canyon is better marketed on the internet. You have the price, packages, the TripAdvisor reviews, Blogs, Videos you name it – so much information that makes you feel confident to want to go visit the Grand Canyon. I touch on the importance of information on the internet in the book.
This is not case with my beloved Victoria Falls! The information is lacking I do not know where to start! Probably folks over there assume that because it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World, people will just come. Yes, Will Smith recently visited the place, but the exposure was just limited to a few Facebook posts and that’s it. We are talking about the one of the Seven Wonders of the World, People! Victoria Falls, a holiday destination, has to compete, not only with 6 other wonders of the world, but other tourist destinations all over the world! I can see myself doing such work across the whole of Africa. Helping African governments attract foreign investment by marketing their countries online, helping tourism and hotels in Africa market themselves better online. But also help the entrepreneurs and businesses that have good products/services.
6. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself helping businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa because that is where I will make the biggest impact. There was a Tedx talk by Vusi Thembekwayo, a South African entrepreneur and motivational speaker, titled, The Big Lie of Small Business. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBDfJY-xZw ) In the video he essentially challenge African entrepreneurs and businesses to think big, and to think globally.Thinking big and globally is the default way of thinking on the internet and digital marketing is best placed to help reach global consumers. Most people do not know this but, John Zimmer, the founder of Lyft, one of the largest ride sharing companies in the USA, once gave an interview to Techcrunch, that after his visit to Zimbabwe inspired him to start Zimride (which became lyft)! (https://techcrunch.com/2014/08/29/6000-words-about-a-pink-mustache/ ) Ride-sharing is not new to Zimbabwe, or across Africa, but as Vusi laments about thinking small, no single African thought to take this concept to the world! Uber Pool, a new popular service that I have been using during my stay in Las Vegas is not a new concept at all! So next five years I will be working with entrepreneurs and businesses in developing countries to help them expand regionally, continentally and globally. Because I am comfortable on the stage, I will champion entrepreneurship and digital marketing across the African continent.
7. Can you tell us more about your new book?
Absolutely. Because I found my true calling with marketing, and had been helping friends and entrepreneurs with their digital marketing efforts, I decided to write a book to speak to the world about it! But the thing is, digital marketing is boring and complicated! Unless you are already known in the marketing world, a book about digital marketing will just fail. So I decided to re-write a favourite classic tale of mine, the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Firstly because, my coming back to entrepreneurship parallels the need for the Pied Piper to redeem himself by helping the town of Hamelin. How was he to help Hamelin, by helping the fishermen! The fishermen are entrepreneurs and businesses of this world, and I feel like I am contributing to the creation of wealth by helping the businesses find new customers.
But also, I like to teach using analogies, so I use the story to teach digital marketing principles. Essentially it is a 2in1 book, and yet folks will pay for the price of 1.
8. What can you tell young people who are pursuing their dreams?
The world is truly global now. You no longer have the option or need to think small or be frustrated with life. You can be anything you want just find the right information from the internet and you are well on your way to achieving your dreams. Dream bigger because the internet is for those who dream big! With YouTube you could start sharing your story with the world just from your phone. With Facebook live you can captivate audiences from all over the world. Before you had to wait for your time before getting to pursue your passion – not anymore.
The internet is a level playing field for everyone, you could be a woman, you could be Asian, disabled, blind – it do not matter, with the internet it is what you make of your life and the opportunities. Just thinking about it, I have not come across many good websites for the blind people? Google search is the best search engine for those that see but not for the blind? Why don’t you build the next best search engine for the blind? You think my idea is crazy? Well thanks to digital marketing, before I sell my house, or quit my job, I can test out to see if the idea works. I talk about this in the book that the power of digital marketing is being able to test and validate ideas before going all in!
9. What are you most excited about at the moment?
Just being able to now go out there into the world and be a champion of digital marketing and help entrepreneurs and businesses all over. And my help and impact will be measurable, that’s the beauty of digital marketing. Real help not some wishy washy help…10. The last word or final thoughts?
10. The last word or final thoughts?
My last words will be to your readers. They might never buy the book, or work with me, and I respect that. But if they should take anything away from this is simply this – your customers, just like the fish in the Pied Piper story who swam away to the Invisible Ocean, have all run off to the internet. They will never come back! No matter how many motivational videos you watch, or books you read, and how much money you have – digital marketing is the only way you can reach out to your potential customers! In fact, digital marketing is your only tool to help you be a doer and not just a follower. It turns you from a wantrepreneur to an entrepreneur. Think globally, think digitally and you will do just fine.