[Interview] Abdelaziz Musa, CEO, Sudan Digital
Sudan Digital is a digital marketing agency operating in Khartoum and Dubai while delivering digital marketing solutions for clients across the globe. The company’s CEO and founder Abdelaziz Musa explains.
Tell us a bit about your company?
Sudan Digital is a digital marketing agency in Sudan and one of the fastest growing in North Africa and the Middle East. We are a pure play digital marketing agency, focusing on marketing strategy, and delivering impact to our customers through innovative digital solutions.
When and why was it set up?
Our mission is: The Proliferation of Digital Across Sudan. Whilst the majority of our customers are based in the Middle East, we have a policy of hiring Sudanese Graduates and putting them through intensive digital marketing training for 6 months before they work with any clients. We also hold regular free training sessions for Sudanese students and marketing executives.
What would you say gives your company the competitive edge?
We often win competitive tenders against large international agencies, predominantly because of our exceptional quality but significantly lower prices. Our business model allows us to take advantage of different economic states and globalization making us a cost effective alternative to local agencies in Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Much as India is the call Center outsource hub for the West, we see ourselves as the digital marketing outsource center for the Middle East.
How has the market responded to your services? Why do you think that is so?
We have an exceptional client retention rate, and our clients regularly score us 9 or 10 on the NPS survey that we conduct biannually. Our clients love our attention to detail, customer centric approach and creative prowess.
What are – in your opinion – the dynamics that have shaped the digital marketing space?
The major dynamic that has shaped our industry in our locale is the lack of digital services over the last 30 years. Whilst the world has evolved more in the last 20 years than it did in the previous 100, Sudan has been left behind due to crippling sanctions. However, as of December 2020, these sanctions have been lifted and we are starting to see a boom in demand for digital marketing services.
What can you say about the changes and developments your company has undergone since its inception?
When we started in 2017 we had aimed to work exclusively with Sudanese companies. It was on a trip to Dubai that we won our first international client. It was that client that convinced us that solutions we deliver were in great demand in the Middle East, and that our competitive advantages of being both cheaper as well as dual lingual (English and Arabic) would give us an edge over competitors. That turned out to be the case, and since then we haven’t looked back.
Tell us about your client portfolio? Who are your clients?
We work with a variety of different clients but most recently we have completed work for Hong Kong Tourism Board, Tourespana, and Careem.
How has COVID-19 shaped your business and how have you managed to remain resilient?
Covid-19 has been surprisingly positive for us from a business perspective. The increased demand for digital marketing services has seen a significant growth in our client based during the past 12 months.
How is competition in your industry and how are you weathering it?
Competition is great for us. We love to compete on a level playing field and trust our training, expertise and willingness to deliver true impact to our clients will win out in the end. Ultimately, all of our competitors are pushing back against tradiationa, outdated marketing methodologies, so even when we lose a pitch to a pure play digital agency, we feel like the industry as a whole has won.
What is the greatest threat to your business and industry?
The Status Quo. The biggest threat to us has always been apathy around digital marketing solutions, and a preference to stick to the status quo. We believe that our scientific empirical methodologies offer a significant advantage to customers and we work hard to convince them of that. The moment they start working with us, they tend to understand what we mean as the data doesn't lie.
What are your company’s plans in 2021?
Controlled growth. Our model means that we can only grow at a very specific pace. We have to hire and train our employees a certain way, and this necessitates a controlled growth model. However, we are fortunate enough to be in a position where we dictate which clients we work with and which we choose not to work with.
What does your company need to grow and prosper?
We have everything we need. A great supply of highly intelligent passionate graduates, a market filled with companies who will benefit from our services and clients who love to work with us. The only thing we need after this is God's will and we’re good to grow.
What is the latest news from your company?
We recently signed with 2 UK based companies for the first time. One is in the travel space and one in the corporate services space. This is a great coup for us as we competed against larger agencies from the UK to win this business.