This week on ADMARP One-on-One, we had the great pleasure of hosting mentor, author, public speaker, and group head, mobile financial services at Interswicth Group, Lanre Basamta, whose career trajectory spans almost two decades of professional experience in business, marketing, strategy, and financial technology amongst others.
ADMARP: Did you choose marketing or marketing chose you?
Basamta: I think the universe conspired in my favour because I studied political science. I knew about marketing, but I never considered marketing as a course or career in any ways. And so I wouldn’t say I chose marketing in that sense, because it wasn’t intended in any form, and I wouldn’t say marketing chose me either.
I was fortunate after school to be pencilled down for a role in a marketing agency by someone who at that time felt I was more “marketing” than I knew. And so he recruited me to a marketing agency as a traffic executive to start with, and then I transitioned into copy assistant, then copy executive over time. It was great because he trained me, sent me for a few training sessions; and so over time it grew my mastery with marketing. I should say that I have the instincts for marketing, content, consumer perception, creation and management and the likes; I’ve always known about that, I have always understood at the very banal instinctive level what differentiates products and brands and how they are positioned in the market. I have always known all that without really studying or being taught. But I will say really, the universe conspired in my favour.
ADMARP: What is your greatest weakness?
Basamta: Ooops. I don’t know, but I would say maybe connecting with people on an emotional, personal level. I mean, by virtue of what I do, professionally, and also on a personal side, I meet with tons and tons of people, and I make friends quite easily; but many of these friends that I make, they turn out to be acquaintances because we don’t develop that personal, intimate relationship; and I will say it is a fundamental weakness.
I look at the size and stature of the contacts on my phone and wish I could translate this acquaintanceship into friendship; so, I would say cultivating friendship on a personal intimate level is maybe one of those compelling weaknesses that I have.
ADMARP: What is the idea of you people have that is quite contrary to who you really are?
Basamta: People think I’m a social butterfly. I was in marketing for many years and as part of being in marketing I needed to host events, attend events, gauge consumer perception. So I’m mostly at events. Quite a lot of it are professional-social events but I also have a personal interest of speaking, teaching, training; so usually, im either at social events, professional events, or personal events where im speaking; because i also do a little bit of public speaking and event anchoring, i’ve had to anchor weddings, social events, and a lot more.
And when I’m out with friends, I’m probably one of the loudest voices, cracking a joke here, patting backs there, and people assume that I am a social butterfly when I believe I am not. I spend tons and tons of time with myself, hours and hours everyday where I just want to be in my quiet place. My best pastime is to read; if I’m not reading I’m thinking, if I’m not thinking, I’m writing. And those are the three top things in my life that I enjoy the most; those things you’ll do, typically you do them alone, when you are by yourself. So, because people see me out most times in different places, they assume I’m a social butterfly, the life-of-the-party kind of guy, but I’m not, and I’m sure this will be a surprise to many people that think they do know me.
ADMARP: What can you describe as the most groundbreaking moment/period in your career journey?
Basamta: The most groundbreaking moment in my career was when I was head of brand and marketing at Remita SystemSpecs. The federal government adopted Remita as a payment gateway to power the treasury single account initiative of the fed govt. So, for the first time in my career, I was to manage a brand that had gathered national significance.
I remembered a particular incident, we were trying to rebrand and we had just designed the new logo, we wanted to upgrade the channels, we were working on the new Remita sites, improved it and it was good, and then i went to Abuja, the things we had worked on in the office, i saw it being used everywhere.
I went to different states and I saw the platform used everywhere. if we were creating anything in the office, i mean, i’ll go to the airport and i’ll see some of my branded items and so it sort of opened my perspective to the scale and size of the impact my brand then was making and it sort of reawakened a consciousness about how impactful my job was, and how of critical necessity i should continue to protect my job.
ADMARP: What is your favorite food?
Basamta: I’m sorry I hate food. Every one of them. If i never had to eat, i’ll never eat till i die. I think it’s a terrible distraction, and I am not big on food. I’m not at all.
ADMARP: Tell us something, an unpopular opinion about marketing that you think people should embrace more?
Basamta: I think marketing people are esoteric. I mean we can think of some pretty outlandish ideas and that is great, but i think the kind of marketing that works is the one that is grounded in the fundamentals of the business, marketing that will deliver actual benefits, not just in terms of business growth but in terms of significant brand, strategic, and other qualitative output. I think marketing a lot of the time feels too qualitative in outlook. Marketing measures a lot of vanity KPIs that makes a lot of interesting sense to the marketing people but not to the business.
We have seen over the years the erosion of the power and impact of marketing, i mean people just tend to see marketing people as good spenders who like a lot of colourful designs but i think truly the marketing that works is the one that is grounded in fundamentals and i think as marketing people we need to start looking inwards, and the more inwards we look, the more we become of better significance to the businesses we serve and the communities that we operate in.
ADMARP: If you weren’t a marketer, what would you have done differently in life?
Basamta: I had an outlandish idea about the career i wanted to go into, i thought i wanted to be a diplomat i actually had aspirations about working in the Nigerian foreign service, i think it would have bored me out generally because now i see how exciting tech and marketing has become and how it’s maybe one of the few sectors that has captured my enthusiasm so i don’t know maybe i would have been there.
I had some inclination to be a manager, maybe a sports manager or maybe an artist manager, maybe i would have done that; or maybe i would have been an author because i love to write, and i wrote quite some books unpublished as a teenager. i would have figured something out, whatever it is
ADMARP: What state are you from?
Basamta: My dad is from Ogun state
ADMARP: What are you afraid of the most?
Basamta: I don’t know. Fear is not something that I entertain a lot, so i really don’t know; even when i worry that i may fail at something, i won’t say it is fear, because i’ve come to learn to embrace failure, you know those little anxieties that come with worrying about how things may not end up as planned, but i won’t say it is fear.
ADMARP: Who is your bestie in the industry?
Basamta: I don’t think I have any. But I’ve got quite a lot of mentors. Idy Enang, Yemisi Adekunle, Lekan Lawal, and a few players in the marketing industry that I really look forward to working with or learning from. In the tech industry, I have Deji Olowe who is a mentor of mine; Deremi Atanda who I worked with and still respect a lot; and of course John Tani Obaro who was my MD/Mentor. But bestie, not quite, as that would be some you hang out with, attend events together, talk marketing with, i mean, like i said earlier, i don’t share that personal intimate relationship. I’d rather be discussing my ideas about marketing on different marketing groups and debating with tons of people I don’t know and then I’m sharing ideas.