Jamming brand and books.
SCOTT OXFORD: 00:01 G'day, I'm Scott Oxford and welcome to Brand Jam. The podcast where we jam about brand because brand is our jam. Today, I'm jamming with Steffen Daleng, chief marketing officer at Booktopia. He's a veteran of eCommerce and online retailing, having founded and sold companies in Denmark, Italy, and Indonesia. And Steffen, by veteran, we don't mean old we just mean old in digital years, hey? Steffen's been named in 2021's top 15 people in eCommerce and holds broad experience in global eCommerce strategy and digital marketing for both B2B and B2C. Prior to arriving in Australia, Steffen founded an online electronics retailer in Denmark back in 2006 and later a digital agency that helped more than 300 SMBs to grow online. And it's always interesting where people like Steffen get started. He began his eCommerce journey selling his girlfriend's used jewellery in online marketplaces in 2005, presumably with her permission, and he discovered he had a knack for selling online and built that electronics business within a year to over 8,000 SKUs stocking Apple, Samsung, and other high-end electronic brands.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:10 And now, it's books. And for anyone who's been living under a rock, Booktopia is a pureplay online book retailer that sells an item every five seconds. Ships more than 5 million units a year, and quite a few of those have been delivered to me and my family, can I tell you. Booktopia is Australia's largest online bookstore with over 150,000 items in stock and access to more than 6 million titles. They ship to every corner of Australia and New Zealand. Employ over 250 staff across their locations. Started more than 16 years ago on a budget of just $10 a day, Booktopia is a true Australian success story and has developed into a highly-awarded and well-regarded eCommerce business in the Australian corporate space. And we're going to explore a bit later some of the very cool philanthropic things that they do too. So we're talking to their CMO today. Steffen, welcome. Thank you for joining me.
STEFFEN DALENG: 02:00 Scott, what an intro. Thank you very much. An absolute pleasure to be here with you today.
SCOTT OXFORD: 02:05 Yeah. And I was going to say, your girlfriend at the time must have been one heck of a jewellery-- she must have had a jewellery addiction if there was that much to sell.
STEFFEN DALENG: 02:18 I did have permission. Yeah. She worked as an assistant in a jewellery store in a small city. Well, probably the fourth or fifth largest city in Denmark. But yeah, I did have permission, and there was a steady supply of inventory coming from her.
SCOTT OXFORD: 02:32 Yeah. Because they get special discounts and they need to wear the product, don't they?
STEFFEN DALENG: 02:34 They get discounts, yeah.
SCOTT OXFORD: 02:35 And so they load it up and it's got to be fresh and keep it. Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful. It sounds like a win-win all around.
STEFFEN DALENG: 02:41 It was. And look, I think there's this serendipitous moment that many entrepreneurs kind of stumble over and it was never really by design that they end up where they were. They were testing something out or playing around with something and then all of a sudden lightning just hits and they get this epiphany. You hear that from many. And my journey was certainly the same.
SCOTT OXFORD: 02:59 Yeah. I think that's it. And look, as we keep hearing and keep seeing in memes constantly, the meaningful business memes that actually make sense, the difference is whether you answer that call, isn't it? The lightning strikes and 9 out of 10 or 99 out of 100 people don't answer that call and it's the one that does. And gosh, what an interesting situation if more of those people had. And I wonder just how much success there would be, so.
STEFFEN DALENG: 03:27 You're spot on. But I think for me personally, it was always about just following my heart in good and bad and taking a bit of a leap of faith. You don't just abandon the country that you were born and grew up in without having something in your heart that really propelled you forward. So yeah, I think that was probably the common nominator for every choice that I made in my life personally.
SCOTT OXFORD: 03:45 Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. It's a fascinating journey. And I want to explore-- throughout this episode, I want to talk about online retailing. But we need to start with Booktopia, I think. It's a brilliant name. The utopia of books. An invended word. The URL was obviously available. But tell me, how does the Booktopia brand fulfil what it essentially a brand promise built into its name?
STEFFEN DALENG: 04:09 Yeah. That's a great question, actually Scott. I think what we were really trying to double-down is just focusing on books. It's easy for a lot of bookstores right now to divert out into different categories. And if you go into a physical bookstore today, you'll see a lot of different merchandising options to add on and get extra sales and have a relevancy across different verticals and categories than just books. We focused a very long time ago on just being the best at books. And as we grew the business, and of course you grow market share in selling books to regular consumers, business to consumer, you have new opportunities with business-to-business and focusing on that, as we've been doing for the last many years, but we've also taken a big play in terms of becoming one of the larger distributors to other bookstores. So we have a business to business to consumer division that's called Booktopia Publisher Services that is now also one of the major distributors to all the independent and local bookstore chains here in Australia as well. So that's, again, just cementing the idea around focusing on books and doing that really, really well. There's nobody better in the country at choosing and buying and storaging and shipping out books here in Australia than us. So using that knowledge and all that technology to also help other retailers out in the environment has proven a great play. And of course, owning a bit extra of the entire supply chain doesn't hurt the operation model either.
SCOTT OXFORD: 05:28 No. The bottom line.
STEFFEN DALENG: 05:30 And on top of that, we also went down and opened up a division that's called Booktopia Publishing. So we are also now publishing our own books and our own imprints that we've been growing as well. So we've assimilated with another publisher called Brio Books here recently, which basically means that we have our own imprints, and we also have Brio Books, which is another publisher that comes with an existing stable of both books and authors in their remit. So focusing on the entire chain of books, all the way down into actually being the agent that holds the licenses with the actual authors going out and publishing and printing the actual books, to storaging and distributing those books. And yeah that's, of course, a 360-degree focus on books and nothing but that.
SCOTT OXFORD: 06:12 Yeah. And again, that's your gradual fulfilment of that brand promise. And it's interesting, I don't know why I remember this, it's got to be 15, 20 years ago, I was at a conference and heard a futurist talking about the advent of online retailing and the changes it would make. And it didn't necessarily mean the end of the local bookstore, it just meant that that bookstore had access to all of the titles. And for someone who liked to go in and have a chat and the like, they could order through an online retailer, the book would be delivered to them, and then that person could come in, have a chat, have a coffee, do book club, whatever, and maintain that experience. And I did not know that about you guys, until now, until you just told me. And I think there's just something, it's a beautiful tribute, I guess, to the traditions that went before you in terms of book retailing and doing that and in keeping that aspect of the experience of buying and browsing books alive.
STEFFEN DALENG: 07:08 I completely agree. I absolutely love going into a physical bookstore. And I do that myself. I buy physical books in physical bookstores whenever I can get away with it, if it's convenient. The typical place for me to buy books in probably in airports, I think, funnily enough. I'm more of a reader of non-fiction books. Things that can help me grow as a professional and as a person as a human being is probably my area of content that I like to consume. But there's something around the convenience. And for me, that's always been my focus. It's also how I operate in terms of the business with Booktopia. I focus on the customers and having this obsession about making things easier and being more convenient and being relevant in all the right moments that really matters. And having this honest approach to it that, I don't believe that online retail has to be the primary retail. I don't believe that that needs to be the case. I really believe it's about the right brand being in front of the right customers at the right time. I hate to be jargony here, but it really is true, and it really is an element that we all need to understand as retailers. It's easy to pit it up against online retail and physical retail. It doesn't matter. It's all retail. And I think the sooner we all kind of come to terms with that and play to the right strengths, I think the customers are better off.
SCOTT OXFORD: 08:21 Yeah. That's a really interesting way-- t's almost like it's no longer a new or emerging way to buy anymore. It's just a part of life, and it's part of that fabric of it. And it's like the advent of computers was printing was dead. Paper was dead. We weren't going to ever print anything anymore. And I've got a note here. Is it ironic that you're an online retailer selling traditional, physical books? But I think you do eBooks too, don't you?
STEFFEN DALENG: 08:50 We do both audiobooks and idiobooks. [laughter] eBooks and audiobooks. Yeah. Look, we do anything. And for me, it's again, back to I try not to think too much about format. I'm probably well-known in the business for throwing around the term format agnosticity, which what I mean by that is that I consume different kinds of content. I listen to your podcast. I read physical books. I read journals and academic papers, and I consume a lot of different kinds of content. What kind of content I consume depends on a lot of different parameters. So I was listening on your podcast here on the way to work here today in the car. And again, the common nominator is that-- and it was all about choosing the right content to the right time. And it was all a matter of convenience. It's not like I'm reading a book when I'm driving a car. And I think, as a business, it's critically important for us to really have that focus on content and format agnosticity and making sure that we're focusing on any kind of storytelling, whatever format that it might exist in, so that we can have something ready and be relevant for everybody no matter how they prefer to consume their preferred content. And we'll probably touch on this a little bit later in the podcast as well in terms of what this means for our brand and how we're playing around with that, but we really do need to think completely agnostic around how people consume content and be ready for that and have a play in that. And what that looks like in the future? I don't know. There's many different technologies that's coming out. And I think it's important for us to really be at the forefront of how people are consuming it. I keep my eyes on TikTok and what's the other one, with the club? What was it called, the new emerging one with Sound Club or something? Audio Club? What was it called, the new social media where everybody could come in on their own [crosstalk]--?
SCOTT OXFORD: 10:25 Oh, yeah. Club House. Yeah.
STEFFEN DALENG: 10:27 Club House. There you go. See, it's forgotten already. [laughter]
SCOTT OXFORD: 10:30 I'm not sure it's making the splash they wanted it to make. We'll see.
STEFFEN DALENG: 10:34 It had a great curve, didn't it? But again, that's again an example of just keeping your eyes on the different kind of formats and the way people are consuming content, even though it might be just be a fad. Because there's something about fads. There's something that taps into a need that people have, or a need to explore something different and different ways of consuming or being part of content creation or content consumption. I don't know how I ended up in this segue here, but at the end of the day, yeah, we do have many different kinds of formats. And I think it's important that we keep our eyes open on how people prefer storytelling. And at the end of the day, that's what we're doing. We're the curators of storytelling and knowledge. And with almost six million products on our website right now, I'd like to think we're pretty close to having the combined human knowledge pretty close to our fingertips, which is a big responsibility at the same time.
SCOTT OXFORD: 11:15 Yeah. It is. Well, as the biggest sort of online bookstore, you must be sort of nudging at the offline bookstores as well in terms of size and the like. But I want to pick up on what you said there. All of what you just said was really about the customer at the centre. And so much of what we talk about on this podcast is how to understand the needs of customers. And also, what you're talking about too, is about you're staying in your lane in a way that's not-- you're staying focused. You're doing what you do best and really focusing on that. But not in a greedy way that just wants to sort of snavel up everything else. And I think that's where brands start to upset the apple cart a bit by getting greedy. There's a lot of dialogue around at the moment about Australia Post doing car insurance or particularly these supermarkets just getting greedy, greedy, gobble, gobble. Taking every possible thing they can. And that's probably me getting a little bit political there, but I'm not meaning to. It's a brand going outside its lane. And it makes people scratch their heads in wonder.
STEFFEN DALENG: 12:24 Yeah. I think it's a tricky one because I think they really legitimately think they have permission to play in those verticals. And they're looking at their brand DNA and go, "Oh, we're all about discounts. We're all about providing cheaper something, something." And as such, you see Coke and go out with Coke and mobile. I'm not trying to bash Coke and all respect to that, but insurance and mobile, and etc. And I can see how they internally argued that. Yeah. We're all about creating the disruption and making everything cheaper, and changing what people think is normal and giving cheaper options for everybody out there. Why should it be the four big banks? Probably that's coming next, right? [laughter] Why should it be the four big telcos and all of that or broadband and all? It's typical disruption areas also because there's so much white labelling in that industry anyway. It's ripe for entry point for any kind of brand with strong equity and a strong user base. So I kind of get why they're ending up there, but I also get your point that it does come across being somewhat greedy. And I think there's definitely going to be a dilution of the core customers that just chooses to say, "Nah. I've had it. This guys gone too big. It's gone too much." But I guess I can see how the internal executive team came up with, "Yep. That's spot-on with our brand. Disruption. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Yep. That's us."
SCOTT OXFORD: 13:33 Yeah. Yeah. So Booktopias not the only online bookstore brand, but it's the one that seems to have endured when others have fallen away. And again, I can't recall whether you acquired them or whether they simply lost their relevance and they just didn't stay as connected, but why do you think Booktopia succeeded where other online book retailers sort of have come and gone?
STEFFEN DALENG: 13:58 So we have acquired a few brands with time here. One of them was actually my first company when I arrived in Australia seven years ago. So I've been selling books in Australia for around seven years or something like that. When I first arrived after a company exit in Indonesia, I got an opportunity come forward to me for a company called the Co-Op. The Co-Op sold university textbooks on campus grounds. It's an old-school cooperative that was founded by university students back in the day, around 70 or something years ago. At its height when I came into the business, it had around 75 physical stores, I believe it was, and than an online presence. And I was brought into the business to grow all the digital or all the online areas. The then board and the present CEO back then had a high-growth expectation, and really wanted to disrupt the market. It really wasn't the client, even though that wasn't part of the early conversations. But it was physical textbooks were in decline as more and more universities were trying to find different ways of creating learning and creating content, as they should. They should keep inventing and pushing technology forward to create better ways for students to learn, absolutely.
STEFFEN DALENG: 15:01 So what was my point? Yeah. My point was that, again, on-campus stores across the entire country - that's 60 to 75 depending on what year you're looking at - it was in an environment where a lot of people had a hard time letting go of the physical stores. And while there was an understanding around what digital really meant, I don't think there was a big enough emphasis over, "Let go of some of the-- let get of the stores that really aren't operating. Stop trying to make it turn around. It is in decline. There is a shift here." And, in particular, textbooks were one of the major verticals that had a massive online penetration. Before COVID, we had an online penetration of retail of around 9% according to NABs index. Here, after COVID, it's around 13.4%. That means that 13.4% of $1 spent in retail is spent online right now. Textbooks, even back then, back in 2016, was around 30%. So we're talking a massive difference in terms of how many people are actually buying online. And there was this relentless focus on not giving up on the stores. And I can see from a lot of different areas there's a lot of great arguments and a lot of great internal debates around brand presence and making sure the brand is present in university environments, etc., etc. But common for that business, and for Angus & Robertson, which was a brand that we acquired the digital assets of as well, common for all of them-- hindsight is everything, right? So it's easy to sit here years later and say, "This is what everybody did wrong. And had it been us in the business, we would have done different." But it's always easy to look back on things and really see things, right?
STEFFEN DALENG: 16:32 But looking at things now, it really was too little too late in terms of figuring out and getting rid of some of the physical footprint, some of the physical stores, and just accepting that there was a higher need for online and becoming better online. And again, you can tie it all the way back up into the macro level, which is customers. Talk to the customer. Stop talking to the execs. Go out and meet your customers. Figure out what it is that they need and what it is that they want, and stop being so fanatical about the channels or the platforms or the formats that you personally love and you want everybody else to love too. Go out and see what the market wants. So I think there was probably a little bit of lack of customer centricity, even though everybody would say, "Absolutely not. We always set the customer apart." Well, if that had been the case, the money will follow.
SCOTT OXFORD: 17:17 And the funniest thing I remember about the Co-Op bookshop, when I got to uni in first year back in 1990, walked into the Co-Op bookshop and it was not a browsing bookstore. It had piles and piles of books, and I had to go around and essentially fill a cart. That's all it really was. There wasn't anything else. And I know that with my own children's school textbooks, the moment I got to just order them and have them all arrive in a box, was the best moment because that whole walking around, essentially like you're going shopping for groceries, it made no sense. So as you say, the biggest challenge is keeping up with where the world's going. But to stay tapped into customers, I think you can get an early warning, when you have a really great way of communicating with your customers. And that's not necessarily-- you don't need a physical bricks-and-mortar shop to do that because you rarely get to have those very honest conversations, anyway. As a good brand marketer, it's about knowing how to stay connected. How do you, as an organisation, stay connected to your customers?
STEFFEN DALENG: 18:21 I talk to them all the time. We make sure that we're out, and we're part of the dialogue. We focus and double down on creating community. And we're creating community to connect both authors and publishers with their readers. So us really spending a lot of time on facilitating these communities, building them up, and sometimes even handing it over and say, "You run with it." But also, to constantly host events and host things and focus on being part of that community, it's where you hear everything that's going on. And that's what's critically important, is to keep your finger on it. I have this bad habit of putting everybody that I meet that I talk to, I put them into socially awkward situations. That if I make an introduction when I meet new people, and they say, "Oh, I know Booktopia. I love Booktopia." I make an awkward question, "Why?" [laughter] And it kind of stops people in their track for a second and forces them to actually think. And I've never heard any of the things that I would have liked for us to be recognisable forever. Ever. Ever. Some of the typical ones that I always get is comments like, "Well, you were there when I was looking for books." Oh, so convenience? Okay. So again, back to brand saliency and making sure that we have that physical and mental awareness and availability when you're out searching. So I can kind of tap in and rationalise what I'm hearing. But it's never the things that you want your brand to be known for. Not really. And it's always such a humbling experience every time, even though I make people feel a bit uncomfortable in a second. [laughter]
SCOTT OXFORD: 19:45 Do you find it gives you the cues, though, for the future in terms of, "Okay, if I really want to be-- we want to be known for this," it definitely helps you understand that you have to include that in your message somehow?
STEFFEN DALENG: 20:00 I think [it's cool?].. And I think all marketers, in our self-aggrandised thinking of ourselves and our industry and what we can accomplish and how we can persuade the entire world to do our bidding, we just, I don't know, change our local front or something like that. I think you've just got to get the nuts and bolts right first. You've got to create great product that just resonates, that's relevant. And you need to be able to get that product or that service out there. Do that consistently. Show up every single day and do the work. Show up, do the work. Do it consistently. You're not going in the door of a gym and then going out the other end as say Arnold Schwarzenegger the same day. Consistency. Keep at it. Keep pumping. And the same with everything else that you're doing around making sure that the product and the service is both predictable and relevant. And again, like I said, predictabilities one of the biggest ones. Make sure that you're there. That you're showing up.
SCOTT OXFORD: 20:59 It's funny, I remember when I placed my first order, going back quite a few years now, I remember when one of your founders, I'm pretty sure it was Tony, reached out to me on LinkedIn just to say, "Hey, thanks for buying one of our products. And if you ever need anything, let me know." And I just remember that made a huge impression on me. Because it's going back a while now, and I couldn't tell you when, but yeah, the fact that you sort of still—
STEFFEN DALENG: 21:24 And you still remember?
SCOTT OXFORD: 21:25 Yeah. Absolutely. And I think, for me, it solidified something there. It gave me that human connection. And I think that's a good segue into this next-- my biggest thing around brand and connection is that it needs to work its hardest before a human being talks to a human being. And in a lot of cases with an online interaction, there can be no human-to-human contact. So obviously, you've talked already about how you build connection by creating events and doing all of those things. What are the other ways say online businesses can build that kind of connection?
STEFFEN DALENG: 22:00 That's really, really hard. And it's one of those things that we're relentlessly focusing on. Trying to figure out, "Well, how can we build that experience that we all love down in physical bookstores?" Because everybody that sits out on our floor here in the office, they all love bookstores. They will all go into their favourite bookstores as well. We all love it. And they all want to be part of that, and they all want to create that. So there's this constant pursuit on trying to replicate some of that experience that we know that people really love there. But at the same time, also being the difference. That there is a reason why people choose to do it online. It is because they don't have time to say, "No, I'm just browsing. No, I'm just window shopping. I do not need help. I know exactly what I'm looking for." And there is that clear differentiator with online as well. It's great for that tactile, commoditised experience that you sometimes want. And then other times you want that very personal, that very private, and that very curated experience.
STEFFEN DALENG: 22:49 And I think trying to bridge the curated experience has to tap back into some kind of advice. You need to find a way to make sure that you're showing that subject matter expertise somehow. And the way that we're focusing on that right now, it's a bit random that I have it in front of me, but we're working on Christmas catalogues right no. So while our listeners can't see this, I'm going to show you a sample and talk about it. So our Christmas catalogues is with our actual category buyers that actually shows up on the pages in the actual catalogue and talk about their favourite books. And then we're adding that sweet flavour of digital nativeness by having QR codes in the physical catalogue where they can scan that. And they come in on a curated landing page where, again, you will see that same book buyer sit on a landing page on our website and talk about their favourite books for Christmas, if you prefer a category of books over another. And we have that all the way through the catalogue. So my point with that was to say that we constantly try and build that personal experience into it and that curation element into multiple touchpoints. And yeah, we do physical catalogues, even though we're on an online store as well because we do understand there are a lot of our very, very-- well, it's a no-brainer, isn't it? If you want and sit and read a book, you probably don't mind sitting and reading a catalogue. So there's an element there where we're tapping into some audiences and some cohorts that will have that particular interest, and they do want to see the face behind the screen.
STEFFEN DALENG: 24:06 So that's how we're trying to tap into it. Then, we have chatbots on the website tried to connect it there. We actually have people sitting here on location. We have a local customer service team sitting together with everybody else here in our combined office and distribution centre here in Lidcombe in Sydney. So we try and put the face forward. Try and make sure that the humans are getting promoted and getting put forward to our customers and our partners. We're doing something similar on LinkedIn as well, where we're creating new streams of content that sits on LinkedIn that's called Behind the Books. That just shows that human element of all people behind Booktopia. All the people who are working here and their everyday lives. There's nothing new in this. It's often what's going on right now on LinkedIn. It's great for employee value proposition building. But at the same time, it also just builds that more human connection.
SCOTT OXFORD: 24:53 Yeah. And look, the internet is awash with online businesses that do dropshipping, which the idea that-- I don't know that the customer, in most cases, really understands the difference, but it's really clear when someone has packed your product with care and somebody is actually interacting and caring about you and they're passionate about it. The place I buy my wine, we'll constantly have phone conversations. And they are passionate. It's not just a, "Put it on for the phone." They can talk passionately about it. So I would imagine that when it comes to books, it's exactly the same. You work in a book retailer because you love books. So it makes sense to channel that. So yeah, excellent way particularly for you to build connection that way. That's a really good segue to brand purpose. And brand purposes is not an easy thing to define. Because often, we have multiple purposes. I know for you as a business, you have a purpose as a book retailer. But certainly, you have some philanthropic purpose as well. So I know, for example, you have some solid social purpose in terms of you've donated over $1 million worth of books and cash to literacy-based projects, including indigenous literacy. You've sponsored writers' festivals, reading conferences, book awards, all of these kinds of things. So how do these fit in with your greater purpose as an organisation?
STEFFEN DALENG: 26:15 Yeah. That's a good point. There's no lack of great causes that we really want to support as well. And we're getting requests and outreaches on a daily basis, and it's always difficult when you need to say no to anybody. We've had to put a line in the sand in terms of where we support and where we put our efforts. That line in the sand has been to say, "Anything that's promoting literature - teaching Australians how to read, helping them how to read - does it support literacy foundations? Does it support people becoming writers? Does it support different ethnicities or different groups of people that might be minorities? Do we help them more? Can we focus on getting them better represented?" So we are focusing across the board around literature and really just nailing that one down. And that's where we're having most of our time and most of our efforts put and put support around that. We've recently launched the functionality on our website where we are allowing our customers to round-up with a donation. And what that means is that, if you're making an order and that order is worth $14.80, then you have a little button that allows it to round it up to $15 instead so that you're providing 20 cents donation to a cause. And that's one of the areas that we've always known that we wanted to be able to support more, but we just couldn't. With this new initiative, we're allowing to crowdsource that, basically, and have users and our loyal customers be part of that journey and help us support these great causes and it's proven a massive success so far. A lot of people really wanting to take that one up. So right now, we've been having it live for around a week or so. So it's still new for us to see how many people are taking it up.
SCOTT OXFORD: 27:59 Yeah. Brand-new.
STEFFEN DALENG: 28:01 But it will mean that we'll need to change what we're doing right now and open up a few different things as we get more funding coming in and we've kind of activated the power of the community to go in and do a difference for all these great causes. So I think we'll see us, perhaps, either spending more money and helping more causes in the same verticals, or might even explore other verticals of helping. But core for them all is that, of course, it needs to support Australian literacy. A lot of great schools and a lot of great libraries out there that could use even more help. So yeah, that's where I would like to see us focus even more, even though we [aren't?] having a deep focusing on it today.
SCOTT OXFORD: 28:39 Yeah. Absolutely. And what we go back to is the brand staying in its lane and staying absolutely relevant to what you stand for and what you're about, but really putting your money where your mouth is. That's a significant contribution so far as an organisation, considering you're not a social purpose business, but you're, I guess-- I hate the phrase good corporate citizen. There's a better way of saying it than that. But you're recognising what it is. And it's a macro version of what I as a parent did. I wanted to promote literacy. And my wife and I decided that-- our children would ask for a lot of things, but when they asked for a book, buying a book for them was always a no-brainer. It was an easy thing to say yes to. We were always going to promote that, as long as they were going to read it. [laughter] But yeah, there's plenty of other things, lollies and clothes and this and that, but a book was always an easy thing-- because, as you say, it's connected to building literacy, which is more than just an ability to enjoy reading books. It's actually building human beings and their ability to interact with the world.
STEFFEN DALENG: 29:43 It is. Great point, Scott. You're either contributing to their imagination and stimulating their imagination, or you're contributing to their life skills that will benefit them in the future to create a better life for themselves. It's so easy as marketers to try and find these glorified words for why we're doing what we're doing. But at the end of the day, I think the only higher purpose is to really get on with life and all of that. And when I was at the Co-Op and spent my time there, it was all about students. It was about making university life easier, faster, hassle-free, cheaper. If we could, if we could find a way to make it cheaper. University degrees in Denmark are free. Me coming out here and seeing everything costs money, and then on top of that, you need to be slapped with $1,000 worth of books that you need to buy to become a lawyer, are you kidding me? Why is that not part of your tuition? So look it was always that grand idea of, "What can we do to make it-- what can I do to contribute to make education cheaper for Australians?" And over here, it's the same as well, What can I do to help distribute the knowledge, the wealth of knowledge and potential future lives? Being able to work on yourself and grow yourself to a better craftsman, better skilled, or a better human being. A more, all-rounded human being in person. All these things provides a way for a better world, I think. And I think that's probably again, where, personally, I try to tap into the big end of why we're doing this.
SCOTT OXFORD: 31:03 Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I think it's just reminding me what a precious thing books are for us in terms of, there are plenty of things you can buy online, but they're pretty multifaceted, so—
STEFFEN DALENG: 31:17 I guess everybody says they're saving the world though, right?
SCOTT OXFORD: 31:19 Yeah. Yeah. I think we all have to remind ourselves some days that we're not saving the world just so that we can chill out a little bit. Modern life is pretty mad and intense. But yeah, what I love probably most is the fact that when I'm reading a good book, I tend to talk a lot about it to people and they want to read it too. And in this day and age, I can basically take a quick photo of the cover, send it to someone, and they can jump on your website and order it, and it'll be delivered very, very quickly. That, in itself, is actually about-- there was a time when we would lose-- where we wrote down the name of it and just never connect with that piece of literature. So it's not just-- you haven't just replaced-- not replaced, or just added on to physical bookstores, you're actually making things accessible that weren't there before. And the customer wins, absolutely. And authors win. And publishers win. So lots of wins. Obviously, any sort of start-up is performance-driven. You've built some brands in that particular space. Obviously, you've had a lot to do with the Booktopia brand. But outside of that, what would you say that the challenges and the tips and the keys around building a brand in this performance-driven sort of start-up culture?
STEFFEN DALENG: 32:32 Yeah. You touched on it before. You still remember when Tony went out of his way to do something for you. And I think that's what disruptors are disrupting. It's really going out and doing something different to what everybody else is doing. The power of not caring if it scales, there's something unique about that when you're going down and looking at just trying to create that one fan. I just need to have one person loving me or loving the company. Just one. Tomorrow, I'll create one more of those. And the next day, I'll create one more. I can make those small baby steps of just-- like we talked about early on, show up. Do the work. Just don't work too much on the grand things always. Focus on doing the best every single day for just one person. Just get one person or two people or three just absolutely madly in love with your brand. Ambassadors.
STEFFEN DALENG: 33:25 And that's one of the core reasons why a company like Booktopia has also been able to succeed in an environment where everybody said, "Oh, you're too late to the party. Amazon dominates. You can't create a bookstore now. It's way too late." In despite of all of that, we kept growing and kept growing. 2016, the company was trying to IPO. Amazon then announced that they are landing in Australia. Everybody backed off the IPO, and then said, "You can't grow that business when Amazon is in here. You're kidding me. Got no way of doing that." And we keep growing 30% year over year over year. The key thing is have a consistent service. Have a consistent focus. Be relevant with what you're doing, the products that you're selling. And stand by something. Keep standing by that. We didn't divert into all these other categories. We didn't try to become the marketplace like basically every other large retailer with a large platform out there. We didn't do that. We didn't go out and focus on those elements. We focused on customers and creating a library and a bookstore that people can easily find and buy books that they need and want. And we just doubled down on that and kept focusing on the customer and answering those questions around, "How can we make it easier? How can we make it faster, more convenient, more explorable? How do we do all that? How do we give you a better experience?
But most and foremost, how do we keep the service consistent as we scale and as we grow?"
STEFFEN DALENG: 34:46 And a good example on that, and it talks to brand and how much I'm willing to do to protect the brand, and we all are in the business. During COVID, the book industry and the content industry were the beneficiaries of growth in those particular periods. And it was a bittersweet situation to see all of our fantastic colleagues out there in the physical bookstores having to close down. Forced to be closed down. And we were the beneficiaries of that. But at the same time, we had also just invested in a major overhaul of our distribution and warehouse here in Sydney. So we were building new shelving, new robots so we'll be able to really grow how many units we can ship out every single day. Which at that point was around 30,000. Now, it’s grown to 60,000. And we'll be able to ship out our 90,000 very soon. But we had just undertaken that journey of rebuilding our warehouse and our distribution just before COVID hit.
STEFFEN DALENG: 35:42 So when COVID hit, we actually weren't ready to go out and handle all these extra orders that came into the business. And a business that gets too many orders can die just as quickly as a business that gets too little orders. I've seen that too many times. And for us, it was critical that we could then make sure that-- Booktopia is known for speed of delivery. You order a book, you get it quickly. You get it fast. We could not jeopardise that. It's a critical and core component of our brand. The service consistency and the experience, you cannot compromise that. If you're ending up in a situation where it takes longer to get it shipped, the inconvenience of going down to a physical store, you're losing your value proposition. You're diverting it.
STEFFEN DALENG: 36:20 So for us, we actually had to cut a major part of our marketing and constantly focus on, "How do we make sure that we're not getting more traffic into the website that we can ensure we have orders that we ship out? And during that period, we built a brand-new operational foundation and framework that actually means that, today, the marketing team is on the phone with the warehouse team several times a day to hear how many units there is to ship out. So we're constantly on the pulse and making sure that no customer that places an order gets a delay. It has to be shipped out on the time that we promised on the actual page of that product, and we do that. We're constantly monitoring and constantly focusing on that. So that's an example of, we would sacrifice revenue and profit any day of the week to make sure that the customer experience stays intact.
SCOTT OXFORD: 37:00 Yeah. And that's what builds brand trust. And that's a really, really good, I guess segue is to how you build trust. And that's clearly something that you have with your customers, which is why they keep coming back and that deep connection. So I don't need to ask you how you as a brand build trust, but what I would love to do is ask you what's a brand outside of the ones that you work in that you trust?
STEFFEN DALENG: 37:28 Oh, that's a good one. I'm sure you've heard that too many times now, but Apple. And right now, I think-- for all the people who listen to this one in the future, right now, Apple just came out with the messaging around iOS 15 and, I guess, the iPhone 13 coming out the door very soon. And in this environment right now, where ITP has been flourishing and death of the cookie that's happening right now around us, this world that we're living in right now, privacy and privacy is super important. And companies like Apple are doubling down on that. They always have, to the degree where they in a very public forum denied police officials and law enforcement access to jailbreak their phones because of what they knew it would mean to their brand in terms of security and privacy. And the extent that they're going to ensure that their brand around [security?] and privacy is intact is absolutely staggering. In good and bad. There's been some brand disasters around this at the same time. But it just shows that they're brave enough to take the stand because they know how important this is for them and for their brand.
STEFFEN DALENG: 38:35 So I think, for me, I actually trust the Apple brand. And I trust it because every single time I touch an Apple product, it's consistently amazing. Every single time. I have not touched a poor Apple product, ever. So they do not compromise that. They do not deliver a product - go to market with a product - when it's not ready. I have not really seen that. Of course, there's been the Batterygate situations and all those things, but I haven't really seen them go to market with a really, really bad product. So again, the consistency. There's a trust. And you know what? I don't care if my insurance is X amount a week or whatever it is. I know they're delivering great products. There's absolutely no way I'm getting a product that's not absolutely mind-blowingly amazing because I know that is who they are. That's their DNA. They will not let anything slip through the cracks, unless it's absolutely ready and they will delay it until it is.
SCOTT OXFORD: 39:21 Yeah. Or not even bring it out. There was a couple of very highly speculated on products that have just never arrived because they never got it to the standard they wanted it to be.
STEFFEN DALENG: 39:32 Yeah. And that's a great point. I wonder how far they came with the Apple Car? [laughter] But a great point, Scott. And so for me, I think Apple is just one of those that comes easily to mind right now because it's always that consistent ecosystem, consistent experience. It's just so easy. And I like to think the reason why they-- the reason why they've won me over, is for reasons that they don't even advertise or really tap into. Everybody says that there's one thing in life you can't buy, and that's time. Bullshit. Apple found a way to sell you time. They made everything so easy that it goes so much faster. They are selling me time. Every single time I'm using an apple ecosystem, I shave off minutes and hours of my day of work. They sold me time. So look, for me, that's probably where [I realised?], and I think that's one of the amazing things that they've been tapping into. They should probably talk more about saving time, though, but.
SCOTT OXFORD: 40:24 Yeah. Well, it's no surprise that they're one of the biggest brands in the world, so. If—
STEFFEN DALENG: 40:29 Yeah. But consistency, though. A great product, great service. And there's an old saying, right? Again, to fluff a bit of jargon here, but great marketing skills bad brands. And the opposite it true too. Build a great product, be consistent with it, bring it to market, then even bad advertisement will still do the job. [crosstalk].
SCOTT OXFORD: 40:46 Yeah. And it's amazing. You see proportionately very little advertising from Apple at all. There's very, very little that they do. I occasionally see bits and pieces. I'm seeing a little bit around Apple TV at the moment because they're just trying to build that up and become known for it. But apart from that, there's really not much happening. So yeah, they're pretty darn clever. I want to take you back to childhood as well. You grew up in Denmark. And so there's a good chance we've never heard of the brand, but do you remember as a child the first time you became aware of a brand and connected with it and it meant something to you?
STEFFEN DALENG: 41:25 Lego.
SCOTT OXFORD: 41:26 We know about that one. [laughter]
STEFFEN DALENG: 41:29 And it still means everything to me. There is so much emotion around that brand. So I'm a child of the '80s, and look, it was a fortuitous time period to be born and growing up in because the world was at a different end and people got more money. There was more discretionary income at that particular time. And toys were starting to flourish a little bit more back in the mid-80s. Multiple franchises really flourished. Lego was just one of those things that, it was affordable. So even though I came from probably what would be a way bottom middle class, higher low class, whatever you want to call that - not poverty, not at all, by any stretch of the imagination in international views, but yeah, didn't have a lot of money. Didn't have a car growing up. Those kinds of things. But Lego was always an accessible brand. There was always something, no matter who you were. No matter how much money you had. Didn't know anybody who didn't have Lego. Everybody, no matter station and whatever, had Lego and everybody loved Lego. It transcended station. It transcended politics. It transcended everything. Everybody loved Lego. No matter who you were and how much money you had or where you came from, it didn't matter. You had Lego and you loved Lego and everybody played with Lego. And you could do anything with it. It is the biggest stimulant of imagination I have ever seen in my life. And that's also probably why it's a global phenomenon and it's gone into all these areas of concentration as well as it's been doing.
SCOTT OXFORD: 42:54 Yeah. It is an incredible brand. And I'll admit to the fact that I'm building New York architecture Lego, as my [crosstalk]—
STEFFEN DALENG: 43:03 So does Beckham.
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:04 Sorry?
STEFFEN DALENG: 43:04 So does Beckham.
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:06 Yeah? Well, there you go. I mean, good. Good, interesting company there. But yeah, there is something beautiful and methodical about it. It lacks all of the frustration of IKEA. Putting IKEA together. [laughter] But I love to just as we continue here about the sustainability aspects, the fact that they're building things like antistatic in so that as you walk toward it and some kids scattered it on the ground, it moves away from your foot rather than you stepping on it. As we all know, that's the grand pain in the foot.
STEFFEN DALENG: 43:38 But it's the funniest thing, though, because back then, I didn't know that that was going to happen. But my mum has kept all my old Lego. Still got it. Still got all my boxes of old Lego to hand-me-down to my own son. He's six, and he plays as mad with it as I do. So it's one of the-- and it's one of the best things. Every single Christmas we get a ton of Lego and I spend around 8 to 12 hours on the next day just building Lego with my son. Those moments, it builds those moments. It brings families together. Particularly, fathers and sons, bringing them together with what they're building together and what they're creating together. And there's something about the process of creation and sharing that with other people that's so magical. Actually. Bringing me over to another brand while it's not Danish, Disney. For me, when I was growing up, Disney was also one of the most important brands when I grew up and everything that kind of fell in under that. Donald Duck. I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was growing up and was madly in love with that. I wasn't skilled enough, talented enough, to become anything like that, but I was just fascinated by the sheer talent. It amazed me how a few lines of a pencil could move people. Could change people. Make people look at things differently. Even back - when what was it? - in the '40s where they used cartoons as propaganda. And even Donald duck had some propaganda for Old Germany. And it was used to build emotions and move emotions. And today, I think one of the most prominent ones that's segued and built on that is, of course, Pixar. To make art, to make grown men cry. Pixar is an absolutely amazing brand as well, Disney and Pixar. And they both have that one thing in common. That they have such an amazing talent in the companies that understand humans so well that they can make cartoons that make grownups cry. It's an amazing display of skills and human understanding that I'm in absolute awe over. And yeah, and Disney has been part of my journey and my growing up for [crosstalk].
STEFFEN DALENG: 45:43 Yeah. Two brands that made a massive impression on you, connected in and never let go. And that you've stayed—
SCOTT OXFORD: 45:48 Yeah. Never. Never.
STEFFEN DALENG: 45:50 -- connected too. So what about a brand that you don't just trust, but you actually love? Is there a brand that you love?
STEFFEN DALENG: 45:57 Yeah. That's got to be Sonos. Absolutely converted to that brand right now where I got started with it here a few weeks ago. And while my journey was starting out with that brand was looking [inaudible] need to be something that's easy to move around the house and needs to be something where we can move and it's easy to set up again.
SCOTT OXFORD: 46:20 And beautifully designed?
STEFFEN DALENG: 46:21 What?
SCOTT OXFORD: 46:22 Beautiful to look at as well?
STEFFEN DALENG: 46:23 Yeah. That too. That too. The product design isn't too shabby. But what really got me converted to that brand was how easy it is to use. And as we've been talking about off the podcast here, it's Arthur C. Clark known for the quote any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And I think that's one of the elements where Sonos is just nailed it down. When you start that journey of onboarding yourself and it's finding all the devices, it feels like magic. It feels like it's just doing everything by itself and you don't have to really click any buttons whatsoever and that experience is just so different from anything else that's out in the market, so it starts feeling like magic. And that's where that the brand love that you get and it gets created in that moment is incredibly difficult to erode again unless you really muck it up as a brand and as a company. Very powerful.
SCOTT OXFORD: 47:17 I admire their staying power as well. Because I was in early adopter of Sonos. I had friends back when it was hardwired into their house, so it's certainly been around for a while. But I just love that it hasn't been killed off by any of the Apples of the world who, have certainly-- Apple Watch killed off a bunch of pre-smart watches that I used to wear. And they either get acquired or shut down or replaced. But Sonos have held on. And that magic from that Arthur C. Clark quote I find for me the magic is just when something is astoundingly simple and easy, and that's-- for me Shopify, for all of the questions around its security and privacy issues, I love the fact that I get served up-- I buy way too much off Instagram because Instagram nails me and knows me. And those that are on Shopify, I just put my mobile number in and it pre-fills everything else. It's like magic. That purchasing experience is simple and quick and so far, safe. So that's the magic you're talking about. That's what builds love, isn't it?
STEFFEN DALENG: 48:29 Here's another one. Apple Pay.
SCOTT OXFORD: 48:31 Yes! Removes 400 steps from the process. Yes.
STEFFEN DALENG: 48:36 I don't have a credit card anymore. I'm arriving at hotels right now, and hotels are going, "Just give me your credit card," as we're signing in. Like, "My what? I don't have a credit card anymore. You kidding me?"
SCOTT OXFORD: 48:45 Yeah. Well, my problem is I don't carry my wallet anymore, so I don't-- we need a digital license. That's the next step. We need that. But—
STEFFEN DALENG: 48:53 Well, we have that. I just saw that in iOS 15, that's coming out here within the next few months that they've actually integrated in that. Now, if you haven't seen the latest from Apple right now, you need to see it now. [crosstalk].
SCOTT OXFORD: 49:02 Oh, well, hopefully, our governments adopt it because I know that the watch on my wrist that I use to measure my laps and my kilometres has an ability to measure my heart as well, but we're not allowed to turn it on in this country because our government hasn't caught up with approval. So fingers crossed we get digital licenses on Apple iPhones. That would be perfect.
STEFFEN DALENG: 49:25 I think it's interesting though because, while it's one of those scary privacy conversations where everybody is detracted from it, imagine the world that we will live in at some point where you have some kind of smart device that looks at your blood sugars and your levels and all of that. And then instead of people going out and getting their blood works done and going to doctors, etc., and dieticians, you have a device that can just figure out what it is that you need to get your balances and your levels in order. And it just recommends, "Yeah, you probably should getting a little bit more iron. You probably should be getting a little bit more vitamin D." And it just does it automatically and whatever subscription you're using, it just orders it for you. And it's just arriving at home. "Yep. Your levels are down. This is what you need for today."
SCOTT OXFORD: 50:04 Yeah. And that sounds like a Pixar film. [laughter]
STEFFEN DALENG: 50:08 Well, it's coming. No doubt about it.
SCOTT OXFORD: 50:09 It is coming. Oh, man, I feel like we've got-- I always say this, but we've got hours we could talk about. But I have a few other things before we finish though I'd like to chat with you about. What do you see as the biggest mistake that gets made around brand? So not so much marketing, but around brand. We're talking about Lego and Disney, two organisations that have misstepped in terms of that. What do they do wrong? What should they do?
STEFFEN DALENG: 50:37 That's a tough question. What brands do wrong? I think the critical thing is that they don't always listen to their customers. And I think the bigger you get as a company, the harder that problem becomes. There becomes a lot of voices in the business. There becomes, for some businesses, a lot of politics. There becomes a lot of different interests in an organisation to move it forward. And even with the best of hearts and the best of minds, it becomes difficult to bring all the right voices together and making sure that it still focuses on the customer and where we're moving as a world now and as a society.
STEFFEN DALENG: 51:13 And in one of your past podcasts, you talked about the Kodak situation as well and what went wrong for Kodak. And anyone who hasn't listened to it yet should look back in your back catalogue and listen to some of your previous shows. And it's a good example of, they didn't really miss the boat. They still developed the digital camera back in the day. They still sat on the knowledge. They had the keys to move forward in the future, but what they did wrong was that they didn't use those keys. They sat on it because they were afraid of disrupting their own market and cannibalising their own profitability in trade. Then, on the other hand, you have the complete opposite of that. You've got Phillips. The light bulb. And they go out and they produce the LED light bulb. And they go out and they went out and disrupted the entire market. They owned that space. They owned the LED light bulbs, Phillips. So they did the complete opposite of Kodak.
STEFFEN DALENG: 52:03 It's a good example of exactly that. Don't be afraid of disrupting yourself and disrupting your own business. If you can see a need in society for needing something, then go and build it. Get it out to market, get it out there, before your competitors are doing it. And that's probably one of the biggest things that I see with brands is that they often sit on things from fear of disrupting themselves, cannibalising profitability, shareholder, people losing their jobs and all these reasons that make sense for individuals in the moment perhaps to make those choices. But for the brand, it becomes a catalyst to a downward spiral, and that's dangerous. So I think that's critically important. Disrupt yourself. Don't be afraid of disrupting yourself. And if you can see that the world is moving in a particular direction, then keep moving in that direction. Give people what they want. Play with it or try it out, but don't wrap it up, put it away, lock it away in a box. It's a bit arrogant to think that the rest of the world won't think of something similar or come out with something, and you're just sitting and waiting on yourself being disrupted, so.
SCOTT OXFORD: 53:02 Yeah. Brilliant advice. It's just got my head ticking over in that aspect, that whole idea of not being afraid. And it comes back to the big theme of this episode for me, which is staying in your lane. Staying focused. Staying on to that. But when it's clear and obvious to you what someone could do to disrupt you, it's only a matter of time. It makes sense to do it yourself and to get in there and, and own both those spaces, and believe in that. So yeah, mind [inaudible]. Funny little note. I'm seeing my email notifications come up in the corner of the screen and I just got an email from Booktopia. So, yeah. So you guys are reaching out. You must know that we're talking. They must know. [laughter] I want to ask you, it's not to be negative, but we talked about brands before that you love and that you trust and why people lose trust in brands. Is there a brand that has broken trust with you and why did they?
STEFFEN DALENG: 54:05 Unfortunately, it's somebody who works in the same industry as myself. So I'm not going to name them. I think that would be wrong. That would just be flat out wrong. But it was a good example of where customers and we all get annoyed. And I think this is something that everybody can recognise. I was trying to unsubscribe from their email. You just couldn't. I've done it six times now. I still receive goddamn emails from them. I signed up because I wanted to get a little bit of competitive insight from what they were doing and all of that. I just can't rid of it again. I've been unsubscribing from six or seven times. So, yeah. Look, I think the biggest part is-- there's a point with this. You've got to be able to meet your customer's intent and expectations. At a bare minimum, meet them. Best, exceed them. But at a bare minimum, do what you say that you're going to do. [crosstalk].
SCOTT OXFORD: 54:52 Respect them.
STEFFEN DALENG: 54:53 Yeah. Commit to that, at least. Just do what they want to do. One that I do want to mention though is-- because it's a good example of where it could have been disruptive and it could have made them lose their customer, but they didn't. So I'm interested and fascinated in my own reaction to this and why a negative emotion around a brand didn't mean that I stopped using them because it's an interesting psychological effect that I'm pissed off, but I'm still using them. [laughter]
SCOTT OXFORD: 55:20 Yeah. They didn't lose you completely. They just—
STEFFEN DALENG: 55:22 No, no, no. It's a good example of there's something psychological and human that I'm trying to tap into with myself here, using myself as the Guinea pig. Netflix. I know everybody loves Netflix. Everybody loves Netflix. Oh, my. Look, I don't think there's been something particularly disruptive around the idea of streaming and downloading content. I can think of a lot of people who've been doing that for many, many, many years. Napster. Hello! Many, many, many years ago. There's nothing new with Spotify or any of these other things. They found a way to legalise it, and kudos for that. That is absolutely fantastic—
SCOTT OXFORD: 55:56 Getting money to creators, yeah.
STEFFEN DALENG: 55:58 But the world moved in that direction way before these companies came out. That's kind of back into figuring out what the world wants and then move in that direction. Uber wasn't particularly legal either. And the world finds its way. Airbnb, same. A lot of lawsuits. But the world wants to move in that direction, so the world finds a way. And these companies do too. Particularly, with a lot of shareholder money in the bank. Look, for me with Netflix, there's a bit of a love-hate situation here. A lot of great content. I mean, all of the production facilities and what they're doing in terms of pumping out new, fantastic content. The storytelling is top-shelf what's coming out of a lot of the Netflix Originals. But for the love of God, stop changing the darn covers of all the damn shows of all the damn shows.
STEFFEN DALENG: 56:44 The idea that you as a user cognitively and not deliberately goes out and looks at a list of all these things. Nope. Not going to watch that. Because let's be real, everybody scrolls for 10 to 15 minutes before they find anything on Netflix. I have better things to do with my life than sitting and flicking through and scrolling through these same darn shows that I've always said that I don't want to watch. But the tricky thing here is, and that's where I believe that they're onto the wrong thing and not the right thing. Because while they're trying to do it from the psychological aspects of, "Well, you haven't seen this one before, so maybe that makes you click on it." Look, I'm not going to sit and watch a TV show about Barbie, all right? I'm just not. You can dress it up in whatever cover that you want to dress it up with, but I'm probably not going to watch it no matter what cover you use. So there's just something about that user experience right now that I find incredibly manipulating in a very, very disingenuous way to the level where it's borderline offensive. You're never going to be seeing us or seeing me in any way go out and change book covers to try and manipulate it to read content that you're never going to read or never find interesting. I think it's disingenuous. And I think it's actually brand-damaging, to an extent. But yeah, Netflix goes on every single night.
SCOTT OXFORD: 57:55 But yeah, never without frustration.
STEFFEN DALENG: 57:58 [crosstalk].
SCOTT OXFORD: 57:59 And I share that frustration.
STEFFEN DALENG: 58:00 [crosstalk]. It's as simple as that. And that's the thing we talked about before with disruption. I think it's the wrong move from that particular perspective. I wonder how many people feel the same. I know we're not all-- we don't all feel the same. It's a meme now. It's a standing joke how much time you spend on scrolling through Netflix. And it's incredible that they're going out and deliberately doing everything in their power to make it harder to find the right content, not easier. And frankly, every single time my son uses my Netflix profile, it's broken for a week. I get cartoons popping up in my feed constantly. [inaudible]. And then that's where they're going to be saying, "But that's why we created unique profiles so you can have one for your partner." And yeah, I know you use that too, but they just have to use mine once and it's screwed.
SCOTT OXFORD: 58:41 Absolutely. And it's really interesting. I know for me, this is where Apple-- and even Amazon Prime to some degree. Apple, I get free because I buy Apple devices. Amazon Prime is a fraction of the cost of Netflix. And yet I find myself on those platforms, more and more. They're doing just as much, if not more original content than Netflix. Although absolute kudos to Netflix and Stan. These are commissioning local content and the like. But at the end of the day, I can find six things to watch on either of those other and yet Netflix I just keep going back again and again, "Why is this so hard? Why in all of their smarts and all their cleverness in everything that they know about me and the power of data can they not just deliver me the things that I actually want to watch? Because I'm the same." But yeah, we're on our soapbox. We could stay on that soapbox. And it was an excellent segue. We're out of time, but I have to ask you one last question, Steffen. You've worked for some pretty interesting brands, and you're in a pretty amazing job at the moment, but is there a brand out there that you would love to get your teeth stuck into and work for or on that you've never worked with before?
STEFFEN DALENG: 59:49 Honestly, no. There's no particular brand. But there's an industry that I think is really, really, really interesting, which is the gaming industry. The storytelling that's coming out of AAA Games. It surpasses Hollywood quality. The box office money they we're talking about in the gaming industry has now surpassed billions of dollars as well. So the gaming industry is super, super interesting. Not in platform games and stuff like that, but the real big storytelling and the narratives being driven from that, that's now been made into big Hollywood movies as well. So I think the gaming industry and that community is really, really interesting because it just goes across so many different medias, so many different platforms, so many different concepts, interactive storytelling, and it provides it in all these new, very tactile ways that you can engage with it. Everything from virtual reality, augmented reality. It just touches on every single sense that we have. All the human senses. All the human emotions gets activated through those journeys. It is the power of storytelling on steroids. And it will be the future of storytelling, no matter how we look at this. So I think that's an incredibly interesting space to watch.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:00:59 I'm glad you say that because my 13-year-old has her heart set on working in gaming. Working in particularly—
STEFFEN DALENG: 01:01:05 It is the future.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:01:06 --in music and some of those more creative aspects, so—
STEFFEN DALENG: 01:01:09 Well, look at it like this. You had roadblocks, and you had Fortnite that's doing big concerts with Travis Scott. We're talking again, millions if not billions of dollars, that's already going into digital and online concerts now.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:01:21 Yeah. Yeah. I know. The world has changed. And as you say, COVID, for all of the horrible things it did to untold things, there are gifts of COVID that we benefit from. And yeah, it's been awesome to hear just a snapshot of your experience. So much more we could dig into. But yeah, I love those key themes that we brought out today around focus and around trust in the customer. That's awesome, powerful, applicable stuff for anyone listening. So thanks, Steffen. It's been awesome having you as a guest.
STEFFEN DALENG: 01:01:52 Thanks, Scott. It was absolutely amazing. [music]
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:01:57 So podcasts survive on word of mouth, so I'd love you to jump onto your socials and share us around. You can find me Scott Oxford, on LinkedIn, or follow brandjam_podcast on Instagram. And of course, subscribe on your platform to ensure that you don't miss an episode. And as Steffen says, go back and listen to some old ones. There's some absolute crackers. You can also visit brandjam.co. Drop me a line there, or connect me up with someone that you feel would be a good guest. Someone who could share their brand wisdom and the love with us. And to finish off, a quote. I'm going to mispronounce his name. I think his name's Muhtar Kent, and I think this is a really appropriate one. Muhtar says, "A brand is a promise and a good brand is a promise kept." And isn't that the absolute truth? I'm Scott Oxford. Thank you so much for joining me today on Brand Jam.