The Chief Executive Officer of A. Sam Productions, Mr Samuel Abu, speaks with INNOCENT ENETA about his nearly two decades’ experience in printing and graphic design business
When did you start A. Sam Productions?
I started out in the year 2000, so I can say confidently that I have spent 19 years in the industry and I am still learning every day.
In the industry, I do command a certain degree of commendation because of the way I handle my jobs. That is why most of my clients/customers always come back anytime they need the services of a brand manager or designer.
As a printer and brand manager, how have you been able to adapt to technological changes?
I am always keen on technology development around me because I studied science in secondary school right from my secondary school days up till tertiary education level – I studied Building Technology at Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State. My curiosity has made me stand out among those I started with in the industry.
Changes in technology have been a welcome development, especially in my profession. I am always on the lookout for innovations and new methodologies in my field of endeavour in order to sustain my competitive edge.
What are the major challenges facing operators in the industry?
The design industry is one that has far too many charlatans posing to be professionals; we need more enlightened people to educate them on how to achieve great brands and sell them to their would-be prospects.
This is one industry I know of where people get in because they need something to do and most of them rush out before long after realising that they can’t cope with the difficulties they see. One of the major challenges is lack of adequate power supply. Power is critical to the growth of any economy; without reliable power supply, it will be difficult for entrepreneur to run their businesses.
One of the major challenges the printing and graphic industry faces is sourcing for materials locally to work with as most of what we use in Nigeria are still being imported and we are at the mercy of the importers, considering the current exchange rate of the dollar to naira.
There are many who would want to expand their businesses but don’t have what it takes to acquire some good and useful machines made to aid the work of a graphic artist. For instance, the average laptop/desktop computer a graphic artist is supposed to work with has to come with graphic cards. Imagine an artist using Corel draw to design a 100-page magazine when he is supposed to use publishing software like InDesign? These computers don’t come cheap; a new i7 laptop with Nvidia cards costs as much as N320,000 to start with. How many young entrepreneurs can afford that to start with? Printing machines, finishing machines and packaging machines are also required.
I have also observed that many graphic design graduates from our higher institutions are not well groomed. How would a graphic design graduate not know what a brand manual is?
How do you attract the right clients?
The world we live in today is more of a network of people and many people have a strong desire for excellence. When people saw the first complimentary card I did for myself, they liked it and wanted to have the same concept done for them.
As I was taught by one of my marketing mentors, you start from the known to the unknown – that is to say, you start your business presentations from your friends, family members, relations and close associates; they are the ones that will sell your ingenuity to others. And the trust that they repose in you has a way of rubbing off on others.
What is unique about your brand?
Every brand has its own uniqueness; I love branding, creating, customising and trademarking.
To sell a brand is not as difficult as many see it today.
First, you must have passion for what you do or do what you intend venturing into.
Secondly, you brand should be 100 per cent your idea of paradise; so, the brand plays a major part in bringing about prosperity for you and the business.
Always have in mind your core values, aims and objectives, coupled with integrity.
How do you cope with competition?
From one of the marketing training programmes I attended, I learnt that it is very important for every business to have a unique selling proposition – that uniqueness in service or product synonymous to you and you only; something that makes you stand out from the crowd. My unique selling proposition is my creativity and promptness of delivery.
Are you planning to scale up your business?
Yes, we are constantly looking for expansion opportunities and we are in the process right now as we speak to move to a bigger space to accommodate more work and activities.
Where do you see the Nigerian graphic design and printing industry in the next five years?
I see greater possibilities and more professionals emerging and really coming up with out-of-this-world ideas that will revolutionise the industry. I believe we will have smaller machines that can do what the enormous ones are doing but faster and with less supervision and technicalities.
What is your advice to other entrepreneurs who want to invest in the industry?
They should always be ready to acquire innovative means to surpass competitors and be always in the know about what is obtainable in the industry. They must be ready to educate themselves primarily through the Internet, print exhibitions, publications and seminars.