Creating a Need For Your Product and How to Keep Your Team Inspired with Darren Needham-Walker

How do you motivate people to buy your product and how to create a need for it? More importantly, how do you keep your team inspired? You’ve got to celebrate success as well as failure. Darren Needham-Walker explains that you’ve got to build up what your product can do for your customer, how it can make life easier and how it elevates them. He also describes that a childlike curiosity is a key to being a successful marketer, that you’ve got to question everything. Additionally, you’ve got to relate to everyone as an individual and recognise and understand who they really are.

Show Notes

Darren Needham-Walker is currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Advanced Mobility Analytics Group (AMAG). They are a digital platform provider for proactive road safety analytics and management.



Simon Dell: Welcome to the Cemoh Marketing Podcast. This is going to possibly be one of the most entertaining 30 minutes I’ve certainly had so far this year. Welcome to the show, Darren Needham-Walker.

Darren Needham-Walker: Hey Simon, how are you?

Simon Dell: I am very well, mate. How are you?

Darren Needham-Walker: Mate, I’m living the dream. Day three of lockdown in Brisbane. We’ve just been extended another 24 hours, but I had a shipment of wine yesterday, so I couldn’t be happier.

Simon Dell: Well, I think we should stress to everybody who watches this that it is a Friday afternoon and being, you do have wine in your hand there.

Darren Needham-Walker: Well, actually I do, but at 3:30 in the afternoon. 

Simon Dell: Well, exactly, exactly. So, it’s the Australian way, is that you should be drinking at this time of the day, shouldn’t you?

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, everything in moderation, please. Everything in moderation.

Simon Dell: So, well, very quickly explain who you are because obviously – obviously, you know, I do need to make the fact that we work with you guys. So, there is a vested interest in this conversation, but – 

Darren Needham-Walker: You should [inaudible 00:03:43] afterwards, then. 

Simon Dell: Yes, we should. You are possibly one of, if not… I’m just trying to think if you’re the most senior marketing person we’ve had on this show, and we’ve had a lot of marketing people on this show. You’re the group director of marketing and communications for TechnologyOne. So, do you want to kind of give us the – explain who TechnologyOne are to the uninitiated out there. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Well, nearly three years ago, I had no idea who they were when I was approached for this job. And TechnologyOne is probably Australia’s first startup, right? Marco started this technology company, software-driven company 35 years ago this coming July, next year. And back when startups just weren’t a thing, and particularly not in tech.

Simon Dell: No. They were just they would just call businesses then, weren’t they? They weren’t called startups.

Darren Needham-Walker: They were, they were. But you know, we market enterprise-grade SaaS delivered software into six industry verticals. Federal government, state government, local government, higher education, financial services, health community services and asset intensive, which is ports, airports and all that sort of stuff. So, financials, HR, asset management, but all one line. And Adrian, when he started the business 35 years ago, had this premise that, “We need to make things simple for businesses, because when you’re in a business, you’re not natively tuned to do the financials and HR reporting. You’re here for construction or delivering an airport or something.” But the back-office stuff needs to be as simple as possible. 

And way back then and throughout the four generations of our software, Adrian’s had us reinventing not who we are, because the premise is still the same, but what we deliver has to be simple and it has to be consistent across the experience. It has to be consistent across all of our industries. And chances are, if you’re in Australia, 73% of Australia’s population in the background are running on TechOne software.

If you’ve got a university or a TAFE degree, 65% of Australian TAFE and universities in this country run on TechOne.

Simon Dell: There you go.

Darren Needham-Walker: We’ve been around forever, but the great opportunity is as a marketer, come in and change that.

Simon Dell: Yeah, and we’ll get to how you do that in a minute. So, I guess, what are we talking here, 35 years, middle of the ’80s? Would that be right? My maths is pretty shoddy, yeah. 

Darren Needham-Walker: That’s why we’re in marketing.

Simon Dell: That’s why we’re in marketing. Exactly, yeah.

Darren Needham-Walker: Yeah. So, it was ’87 when we listed on the ASX.

Simon Dell: Well, okay. 

Darren Needham-Walker: It was actually incorporated. But the interesting fact is that with TechOne, all right, when Adrian had this amazing – finance software was our first product. But he didn’t have any money, right? And he really had an amazing product. And our first customer, one of our first customers, Mactaggart Industries. If you’re ever in Teneriffe in Brisbane, right, there is the Woolstores down there and you’ll see Mactaggarts.

Simon Dell: Yes, yes.

Darren Needham-Walker: So, the Mactaggart family actually invested in TechOne. We said, “You know what? We will back you on this. We’ll give you a few bob, and we’ll give you somewhere to operate out of.” It happened to be a demountable building in the front of their [inaudible 00:07:06] tanning factory in Hemmant. 

Simon Dell: Right.

Darren Needham-Walker: So, it’s [inaudible 00:07:11]. But you know, Adrian heads a couple of butts behind the company and he had somewhere to work from, but not somewhere you’d want to actually take a customer. And even today, Mactaggarts are still on the board, right? So, it really has that bit of a family feel to it.

Simon Dell: That’s probably one of the best investments that they’ll have ever made in their lives. I can only imagine the share price in 1987 versus the share price today, but yeah. And the office is – you’re not in a demountable building in Hemmant anymore, are you? It’s substantially more attractive than that.

Darren Needham-Walker: We have four floors in Wickham Street in the Valley, right off The Emporium. They have state of the art offices. They’re fun. But the beliefs that Adrian brought to the company 35 years ago still exist today. All right, and Edward Chung, our CEO, reinforces this. We have breakfast, so if you like carbs. And I was like, 55 kilos lighter before starting, right. But yeah, we have cereals and breads, and all the condiments that you can have. And Adrian wants make sure that his people are fed and happy. You know, coffee machines everywhere. And we do have fruit now, which is great, but we also, on most levels, like most ad agencies, we have probably enough alcohol to survive the winter coming.

Simon Dell: Yes, I was going to say, if there is a zombie apocalypse, I’m going to camp out in your building. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Mate, I’m already there. I’m already there. I’ve already started squirrelling away the best [inaudible 00:08:38] 

Simon Dell: Before we talk more about the challenges that you have at TechOne, I just want to talk about your background, because we don’t have enough time to go through the brands that you’ve worked with. But I just wanted to reel off before that kind of jumped out at me, which is IBM, Lenovo, HP and Panasonic. I mean, they’re the gold standard of global brands, really, aren’t they?

Darren Needham-Walker: They certainly are. You know… 

Simon Dell: Be careful what you say.

Darren Needham-Walker: Wow, oh my goodness. When did I work for Panasonic?

Simon Dell: That was like – yeah. I went right back there and found that, yeah… 

Darren Needham-Walker: Look, I’m really fortunate in my career, having worked with some amazing brands. Maybe a couple that you haven’t mentioned, but the opportunity in each has evolved me as a person and as a professional in some way differently. At Panasonic, I was a salesperson. I was here in Brisbane and Nudgee Road at their offices on the phone, selling stuff to Retravision.

And I thought marketing were a bunch of… Well, let’s say, wankers, but that gave me the opportunity to actually expand in what my passion was. And at that stage, I was a snotty nose 23-year-old. I had no idea what I wanted to do, except that sales made a lot of money. 

Simon Dell: And you wanted some of that money. When you’re 23 years old, that’s what you think about, isn’t it. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Right. 23 years old. You know, Brisbane ’88… 1988, but I’m not that old. But 1988 with the World Expo that was here, of course I wanted it money. You know, but it actually launched me into my career, and it actually unpacked some latent expertise that I had that I didn’t even know I had.

Simon Dell: When did you make that switch? Because the roles that I saw that you’ve had have been as varied as the companies, but there was a switch obviously within that to marketing, and there must have been a point when you suddenly gone, “Right. Well, perhaps marketing aren’t the colouring in department that everyone makes them out to be. And perhaps I would like to investigate this a bit more.” What sort of triggered that?

Darren Needham-Walker: Look, when Panasonic offered me a role, I had just turned 21 and I was… At Panasonic, they wanted me to go to Sydney to become a product marketing manager, or an assistant product marketing manager. And on $17,000 a year – yes, that proves how old I was. Yeah. And I was fascinated on how we were trying to motivate people to buy a product. You know, to create that need where they would come and buy. 

At that stage, I was in cordless telephones or facsimiles. Faxes don’t even exist now. And it fascinated me, the human psyche. What are we trying to do to entice that motivation? But also at the same time, something that I was horrible at was math. I could not add up. And we spoke about that earlier, but I work with – one of my first managers at Panasonic in Sydney was a Japanese guy called [inaudible 00:11:41]. 

And he goes down, “Darren, you’re looking at it all the wrong way. You’re looking at it, overcomplicating. You let it paint a picture and let it tell you a story.” I was like 25 at this point. And what could a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet on a Dot Matrix printer tell me? And from that day forward, a guy that could barely pass maths in society, which is like, the lowest level. Numbers are now something which is probably one of my greatest passions.

And that’s what drove me in how the numbers helped me drive decisions to be able to make more effective marketing strategies to influence our customer’s behaviour.

Simon Dell: I want to spend most of the time today talking about TechnologyOne because I think there’s a… Let me talk about something else. I don’t know. I mean, talk about the weather? 

Darren Needham-Walker: I don’t know. Let’s not talk about the [inaudible 00:12:36] because we’ve got [inaudible 00:12:38].

Simon Dell: When you arrived, day one, when you walk into TechnologyOne, what’s your first impressions? What stands out the most to you? And from a marketing perspective, rather than from… You know. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, no. I’m going to go with the heat, because I just moved back to North America, where it was just a bit of a blizzard, and I walked into 38-degree heat and 100% humidity in Brisbane. 

Simon Dell: You were in Portland, weren’t you, in North America, was that? Yeah. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Yeah. Portland, Oregon. Yeah. 

Simon Dell: Good beers and breweries there, I’m told. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Breweries and the coffee. The coffee, amazing. Amazing. What hit me the most was the marketing professionals are the brand. I’ve got some of the most amazing staff, but it was a service to the business. It wasn’t part of the business. I didn’t see people holding their heads high, or having that element of fun. You know, we actually can change people’s beliefs, directions and need states. We understand, or should understand people better than they almost understand themselves. But in the conversations that I had and on that day one besides… I had an amazing morning tea. Again – 

Simon Dell: I love – you know, I love that you remember your first day. That’s… 

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, I remember the sausage rolls and party pies. Yeah, but I then subsequently got to know the teams and the people and the passion that they had for the company. And I’m like, all right, that’s the first thing I need to do, is how do we just unlock that? It wasn’t based on lack of skill or lack of motivation. It was, how do I provide a path for them to do what they do the best? 

And you know, as a senior, and I mean that more of a senior citizen marketing leader, that’s my passion, is unlocking that potential. Because I can remember years ago, a manager of mine who end up being the CMO of Oracle actually said, “You know what your problem is? You don’t know actually how good you are at this stuff. If you just get rid of all the crap bits, alright? You’re actually pretty good at this.” 

But when you can see that potential in people and you know that you have the ability to unlock it, it’s motivating. It’s inspiring. It’s what gets you up to be in the office at 7:00AM in the morning. 

Simon Dell: That kind of leads me on to that next question. So then, what impresses you in marketing people that you work with, or ones that you’ve met that are outside of your organization? What stands out? And for anyone that’s going to have an interview with TechnologyOne, they should listen carefully. So, yeah.

Darren Needham-Walker: God help you if you actually interview with me, it’s usually the weirdest environment that anyone will ever get. What you see is what you get, literally. The air of curiosity and questioning, “What next?” You know, almost the so what, that childlike curiosity on, “Okay, we’ve done that. So what? What are we going to do to continue the conversation, emerge conversation? You know, increase the conversation?” 

All right, one of the most impressive, young CMOs I’ve met was Zach, who’s the CMO of Camber. 

Simon Dell: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Everyone knows Camber.

Darren Needham-Walker: Yeah, everyone knows Camber. And him and I were presenting at a conference in Sydney a few weeks back. And he got up on stage and he delivered what he’d learned in going through hypergrowth, going from a company of 5 people to 600 people. And the lessons he delivered, I learned something, all right? 

And it’s through that area of curiosity that I think propels really good marketers. We can’t be complacent. We have to start – have to question everything, including what is our role in this world. 

And by contrast, I guess things that what frustrates you more about the people that you work – or not, necessarily people that you work with, but marketers or… Let’s not make it about the people that you work with right now, but what’s been the frustration of – and perhaps in the other direction as well, people that senior people that you’ve worked with that is perhaps frustrated you in the past?

Look, I think this is something that most marketers will be able to relate to. Armchair marketers, “I don’t like the colour of that ad” or, you know, “Why did you select that image?” Look, everyone has… No, they don’t. Leave it up to the expert. Leave it up to the professionals. That infuriates me. I hate ambiguity. I absolutely hate it. 

You tell me, “Oh, well, let’s do an ad campaign.” Okay, to do what? How do you measure success rate? And ROI measurement, it’s always been the bane of our existence because we say something’s white, the CFO will say it’s black and the CEO will say it’s purple. 

But if we can triangulate around a couple of key success measures, like, not just to prove that we’ve got there, but give us a proof point that we can actually celebrate when we do. Otherwise, it’s an ambiguous goal or objectives that we end up getting to. 

And that’s also – you know, marketers that I’ve encountered over my years is where it’s an ambiguous outcome. You know, I want to celebrate success, and value it for that, and recognize it for what it is. Elon Musk once said failure is the first attempt in learning, and that is so true. And I find that marketers are so often pushed into that colouring in department that failure is a dirty word.

We don’t progress as humans, we don’t progress as a profession unless we prepared to take calculations.

Simon Dell: You’ve mentioned a couple of times, you use the word passion and curiosity and things like that. How do you make software customers in the government and in big organizations? How do you make them passionate about yourself? How does that even happen? Because you can understand it, why people are passionate about iPhones and Teslas and, you know, and chocolate bars and ice cream. But how do you make people passionate about TechnologyOne?

Darren Needham-Walker: It’s the same thing. I’ve been in consumer businesses and B2B business. It’s all about building up what can this do for them. How can this make their life better, and how does it elevate them? You know, we want to do things that are going to make us more successful, make our lives easier. And if you look at the catchphrase for TechnologyOne, you’re transforming business making life simple. That’s it. 

All right. The problem statement that we have is our value prop is way ahead of its time, all right? I think we’re catching up now, but when we started having all these different products that are linked together, you know, I call it to the layman’s terms – because I am not a technical person. It’s like Microsoft Office or Google Docs. They all work together. You can plug one end into the other and so forth. 

In enterprise software, someone will likely be using an HR system or finance system, and they plug them together loosely with what’s called APIs. Ours does it all. So, our finance system talks to the HR system. You know, an example of that is… You know, look at Moreton Bay. They put cameras on the front of the dump trucks, which picks up potholes, which goes up to their asset management system. 

So, we need to fix our mapping system.

Simon Dell: Right.

Darren Needham-Walker: We need to fix this. We need to allocate this team of people, all these assets, trucks and blah, blah, blah. Let’s pick all these people out of the HR system. Bang. We need to buy stuff through procurement, and it’s all done automatically in one system. That is the value. And how do you articulate something as mind blowing as that is that is our opportunity. 

But it’s all about what’s in it for them and understanding what their problem they’re trying to prevent or overcome.

Simon Dell: Well, and I would imagine in situations like that, they probably didn’t even know that that was possible. I bet they didn’t even know that that was a problem, that someone could… Someone could put a camera on the front of a garbage truck and look at potholes.

Darren Needham-Walker: Yeah, but if you look at most of our customers, they’ve have been with us for the entire journey. All right, I was in Canberra a couple of months ago. And some of our Canberra customers, you know, big departments have been with us for 29 years.

It’s the stickiness of the application. And then once they realize, “Yeah, we have 14 products.” Not everyone takes each product. But you know, if you look at our finance system, La Trobe University will be using it one second, Department of Treasury will be using it the next. The same finance product. The data’s over here, but they’re using the one thing in the cloud, so it’s driving those efficiencies. 

But at the end of that, people want to know what they’re buying is fit for purpose. It will deliver on its promise. It’s secure. It’s not going to get screwed up, hacked up or whatever, and it has scalable up and down to fit with the business needs. 

We’ve had customers that came to us and move to the cloud with us just as COVID hit. And thank God we did that. And it was through COVID, we were busy as ever, moving – and we focused not on just acquiring new customers. We actually dialled that down, but actually taking our customers that will still use the service, and picking them up and moving them to the cloud. Why? Because that was what they needed.

Simon Dell: One of the other challenges that I always think about, when I think of TechnologyOne, is this kind of beast of a marketing department that you have, because it’s not just you and a couple of staff. I think, what, there’s 25, 20, something like that. Maybe 25, 30 of you. And I kind of go… The moving parts for that is probably something that most marketing people can’t even get their head around. The fact that there’s all these people doing these, all these things in there. How is that structured and how is that… You know, how do you motivate a team of 25 to 30 marketers every day?

Darren Needham-Walker: The diversity that I have in this team is unbelievable, which actually really excites me because, you know, I have the campaign managers, or we call them industry marketing partners that come up with the strategies on how we’re going to sell to new customers in education, or move them from on-prem to SaaS, or sell them more product across those six industries. 

Then I have a corporate communications that write our messaging and value props and annual reports, website, blah blah, blah. And then I have what we call SP&S, because we couldn’t find a better name for it. Strategy, planning and services. I want to call it Hub. It’s a lot more simple, right? But in that team alone, I have web dev, I have developers, I have content writers. It’s literally our own agency within our business. So, we are fully self-sufficient to run campaigns.

But now, with the scale that we’re doing them at, we leverage companies like yourself, you know, Cemoh, to help us with the flex, as well as other full-service agencies to be able to deliver on the promises that I’ve made to the business. 

But how do you motivate a campaign manager versus a web dev or a design –

Simon Dell: Yeah. Two completely different brain parts that are working in their heads. 

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh my goodness. We won’t go into the [inaudible 00:24:23] and the lizard brain. But you know what? I go from – there’s no two conversations that I will have in any one day within my team that are the same. But also, people are people. People want to be known we’re people. 

We did a recent poll. Every six months, we do an employee survey, and then we look at one of the key things that we want to address as a team for our team to elevate what we think about ourselves and how we think our standing is in the business. 

And I said, “All right, you guys go and focus on that and tell me what it is you want me to do.” And one of the surprising things that I had let go is how much people and the team – when I say people, you know, the broader team. My leadership team, I speak to 100 times a day. But some of my individual contributors, the guys that are working in the teams, the coordinators or the marketing managers, all we want is half an hour of this time.

Can we book it in? I want to have half an hour every quarter, and we’ll just… You know, [inaudible 00:25:25] and just talk about whatever. And relating that everyone’s an individual. That is how you keep people motivated. Actually show an authentic style. And it doesn’t have to be a style, because if it’s a style, it’s not authentic, but engage with everyone as you want it. 

I’ve got, there’s one lady [INAUDIBLE 00:25:43] on my team. Every time I see her, she comes in and it’s a big hug. There are other people on the team you wouldn’t do that to. They’ll probably smack you in the face if you tried. But recognize the individuals and really understand who they are and what they want in our lives.

Simon Dell: If I asked them what they thought of you, what would they say?

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, he’s all full of shit. Darren’s a visionary, do not get him into the detail. When he starts getting into the detail, I’ll just derail things. Because I’ve got a great team, and not just the managers, the entire team. And the belief that I have is you’ve got to let people run it. There’s a natural tendency that you don’t want to see people fail. You don’t want to see people… You know, I’m going to say, fuck up. Obviously, you don’t want to see them do it royally, or you, you want to prevent a catastrophe.

But if there’s a lesson to be learned, the best way to learn it is not me telling, allowing them to experience and find their way out, but be there as a support. And that is… That’s what I love to see, is as these guys move forward, that they’re evolving. They’re becoming better marketers. And in the process, they’re broadening their horizon. And that all comes from the earlier statement. It’s driven from curiosity.

Simon Dell: Of all the marketing that you’ve done in all the years, what still is perhaps the best channel to reach that customer? If you were left with only one choice to do one thing, what would you do?

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, bloody hell. All right, I’m going to offend my friends that are in broadcast media. I’m going to offend my friends. You know what? That’s the great choice. We don’t have to, all right? All right. Stock price of News Corp has just gone through the roof. 

No, because it’s evolving. All right, Facebook used to be cool until people like me got on it, and then kids abandoned it. Through our persona research recently, Instagram is a source of information for CIOs. My younger cousin tells me that’s how they find someone to date, but also CIOs in major corporate environments are using it for information. But you know what? I still, still – if you were to give me one bullet, I still think there is so much room in direct mail. Physical, direct mail.

Simon Dell: Honest to God, you’re probably the third person that said that in the past five podcasts.

Darren Needham-Walker: Really?

Simon Dell: Yeah. Maybe not in the podcast, but just conversations I’ve had, interviews I’ve done on stage. Yeah, just direct mail. And there’s a little ad agency two doors down from us now, and the guy who runs that said to me we were doing something for the Brisbane Business Hub. And he said, “Nobody else is doing direct mail.” He said, you know, “If you need to zig when everybody else is zagging.” And he said, “Direct mail is that.” 

Darren Needham-Walker: And even back in the day when – and look, I still get magazines and direct mail that come in all the time, but there’s nothing that stands out. Back in the day, when direct mail was the key, all right, you still had the opportunity to do things that had a bit of a wow factor. I remember way back when you… I’d send a portable DVD player out to a high value prospect, all right? 

And you know, it would be in there, talking about the company and their offerings and so forth. That would get people on the phone, inquiring for more. I remember there was one article where I actually sent out a shoe. It was a jogger or something. And hey, we’ll give you another one, blah, blah, blah. You know, the fun is in the curiosity of how to do something different.

Simon Dell: Yeah. I used to joke about doing lumpy mail and sending things that – oh, I had a conversation the other day about a guy who did cladding, cladding for the outside of the outside of building. And he’s invented this fireproof cladding. And he said there’s only about three companies big enough in Australia to distribute this product. And he said to me, “How am I going to get through to the CEO?” And I said, “What size sheets does this cladding come in?” And he’s like, “Oh, big A0.” I said, “Can we cut it down to an A4 sheet of cladding?” 

I mean, it’s still like that thick. And he said, “What are we going to do with it? I said, we’re going to send it in the post to everybody in these three companies.” And he’s like, what? I said I guarantee you’ll get a phone call afterwards. I said, “Someone’s going to call you and want to know about this cladding.”

Darren Needham-Walker: One hundred percent. You know, it may be, you know, Australia Post, [inaudible 00:30:21

Simon Dell: They’re not going to be happy with you. Absolutely. Yeah.

Darren Needham-Walker: No, but the magic is surprise and delight. 

Simon Dell: And curiosity, yeah. 

Darren Needham-Walker: And a lot of people will say that, you know, “Oh my God, it’s impossible to do that.” That’s another word to never use with me. “It’s impossible.” It’s only impossible because you haven’t done it. Let’s find a way, all right? 

But yeah, I think some of the best marketing has yet to happen. And I love working with the creatives as much as I do with the strategists. I’ve reviewed two strategies over the last.. One today and one in the UK a week ago, where I can actually sit there and read a marketing strategy and go back and I said, “No need for a formal review. This is approved. Go.” 

When it comes together – and I explained to the team today. It’s like, when you see the orchestra all come in and they’re fumbling around with their instruments, and then it just comes together and there’s this beautiful classical piece that comes out. 

And I’ve been fortunate enough in two and two weeks, that’s pretty good going.

Simon Dell: Last question for you today. Outside of TechnologyOne, outside of your industries, your favourite brands? Your favourite, whether you buy them or don’t buy them, whatever they might be om whatever channel. What do you look at and go, “That’s a fantastic brand.”

Darren Needham-Walker: So, there’s two that I’m going to rate. Number one is Nike. I think… They’ve always… I believe that they’ve always stayed true to who they are, and unashamedly proud. And they’re not afraid, in recent years, to choose a controversial topic, not the media game, because it actually adhered to their values. And I find that really powerful. 

Brand trust is the most volatile and probably at the lowest it’s ever been. But when you stick to a brand’s values and adhere to it, even if it makes you unpopular with certain sets, I think that’s really powerful.

Simon Dell: And it’s – I mean, just on that note, I mean, I watched a couple of their TV adverts in the last couple of years. And I’ve actually been emotional experiences, for what is… For a shoe brand. And the story is good. I don’t know whether you… Have you read the book the Shoe Dog book, the story of Nike? If you get a chance, that’s… I mean, most business books about the stories of businesses aren’t great, but Phil Knight, who was the founder, who actually wrote that book. It’s a really good book. 

Just… Yeah, it’s just that it’s really nice to see the way that company evolved. And when you read that and then see who they are today, you kind of go, “It’s amazing how it stayed with them all that time.” So, anyway, sorry. The second one?

Darren Needham-Walker: God, I can’t remember. The other one that I -. 

Simon Dell: That was going to be awkward.

Darren Needham-Walker: Really… Yeah, that’s going to be a bit awkward. No, everyone loves Apple, right? And I love the simplicity that Steve did. And he delivered for that brand through the trials and tribulations. And yeah, simplicity can be beautiful. But I think a brand that has really evolved on that, on that pace is Audi, a car brand. 

You look at the experiences they’re delivering on the web. Their experience – you know, if you look at the whole brand experience in its totality, they’re living the persona that they want to build. That personality around the brand, end to end. 

You know, it is… I think it’s something that they have evolved into. They were not always there. They were trying to find their way, particularly as they entered the Australian market. I think they’ve done a really good job across all customer touchpoints.

Simon Dell: Do you think just going back to Apple… And again, when I ask this question, Apple always comes up. Do you think the brand has the same spiritual value that it has without Steve being there?

Darren Needham-Walker: There is… Apple was always the product that was for… I’m going to say the alternate set. You know, this is an IBM guy that PCs was, you know… My growing up in the IT world. I think it will still definitely survive. It’s got a hard challenge. Tim Cook’s got a massive challenge in front of him. Steve was a very, very powerful and imposing figure, not only within Apple, but driving the industry, and unashamedly bringing it back to that core, like you just mentioned with Nike. 

As Apple evolves, it will find its new feet. And you know, it will find its direction, but it has become more mainstream now to see someone walk around with… Oh my god, the Apple phone and iPod. iPod, if anyone remembers what they were. It is a mainstream brand now. 

So, how does it go from being… Maintain its brand integrity as something to the alternative, to now, something for everybody? It’s in a very interesting place, but I guess it will evolve and it will move forward. I think Tim’s doing it great.

Simon Dell: How does technology want to do that? What’s next for them in the next 10 years?

Darren Needham-Walker: Funny enough, we’re going through a piece now, and it goes back to the same thing, going back to the values, the same values that Adrian installed in the business 35 years ago. Not making them relevant, because they are relevant today, but how do we make them front and centre?

Now, if you go to some companies like AWS, they have their 14 key values. We could go around to take one and the older staff would know what they are, but the newer staff don’t. But they are still relevant and valid in how we operate as a company, as a family, as a constituent that supports a lot of bloody big business. 

So, we’re going back to basics and realigning on why the hell are we here? To serve the markets that we participate, and to deliver simplicity so they can make their businesses better. 

Simon Dell: Wonderful. Mate, it’s been exactly as I predicted it would have been. Entertaining… Entertaining and educational were the two words that I’ve written down here thinking, “I hope he is these two things,” and he was these two things.

Darren Needham-Walker: Thank you, Simon. I really appreciate it.

Simon Dell: Mate, we joke about it. It’s genuinely lovely to talk to you just about, you know, career path and what you’re doing there. And it’s been 37 minutes, and I suspect it could have been 2 hours. I wouldn’t have even noticed, but you know, people will have switched off at one, and they don’t want to listen to us too anymore.

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, I’d want to listen to you, though. For sure. 

Simon Dell: No, no, no. We kind of found 30 minutes was a sort of sweet spot where everyone, they, you know… I think there’s something to do with the commute. That’s like an average commute time, and people will listen to it through their commute. Anyway, there you go. Thank you very much.

Darren Needham-Walker: Hey, if any of your listeners want more, maybe Simon and Darren, we’ll do a [inaudible 00:37:42] series.

Simon Dell: Yeah.

Darren Needham-Walker: Mate, thank you so much for the opportunity.

Simon Dell: Have a good rest. And I hope we will get out of lockdown soon because I can’t keep drinking this much. It’s not good for me.

Darren Needham-Walker: Oh, I’m going to give it a try.

Simon Dell: Thank you.

Darren Needham-Walker: Thank care, mate. 

Simon Dell: That’s pretty much it from the Cemoh Marketing Podcast this week. We hope you enjoyed it. And we look forward to seeing you tune in next week.

Featured episodes

Government Grant Podcast


How to Get Free Money for your Business

On Episode 79 of the Paper Planes Marketing Podcast Simon chats about the Small Business Digital Grant released by the Queensland Government and how you can get free money for your business.

Listen Now
Andrew Birt podcast


Andrew Birt

Simon chats with Andrew Birt, Product Developer at Mosaic Labs.

Listen Now
Scott Jeffrey Miller Cemoh Marketing Podcast


A New Approach to Marketing with Scott Jeffery Miller

Capping a 25-year career where he served as a chief marketing officer and executive vice president of business development, and fellow podcast host Scott J. Miller joins Simon Dell to talk through new approaches to marketing. They discuss how the change of the world is creating new marketing strategies; they touch on Scott's interview with Matthew McConaughey and the new release of Scott's book "Marketing Mess to Brand Success." If you are looking for an entertaining episode on how you can approach marketing differently, then take a listen.

Listen Now