Create Engaging Customer Video Using Laudable | with Founder Angela Ferrante

Create Engaging Customer Video Using Laudable | with Founder Angela Ferrante

Founder Stories by TeamWave, are a series of interviews of founders of small businesses and other thought leaders who share their practical insights from their journey of entrepreneurship. Here they talk about how they scaled up their company, what challenges they faced during their initial years, marketing strategies that worked to scale up their small business and much more.

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In this episode of FOUNDER SERIES by TeamWave, our guest is, Angela Ferrante, who is the CEO and Founder at Laudable. They produce high-quality video remotely, quickly, and affordably for customer testimonials, video interviews and much more. Laudable makes it easy and fast to get customer stories on video. They film live interviews remotely using the customers’ phones, their recording app, and supplies that they ship. No film crew and no travel. They create authentic, engaging, custom-branded content at a fraction of the cost of traditional video.

Interview with Angela Ferrante (Founder & CEO, Laudable)

Transcript of the Interview with Angela Ferrante (Founder & CEO, Laudable)

Reshmi:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Founder Stories by TeamWave. Our today’s guest is Angela Ferrante who is the founder and CEO of Laudable. Laudable is a company that produces high-quality video testimonials remotely quickly and affordably. Thanks a lot for joining us.

Angela:
Hey, thanks for having me really nice to be here. Yeah, let’s go.

Reshmi:
My first question is, we would like to hear from the Founder itself, what is Laudable?

Angela:
So Laudable is really a remote video platform. We have the technology and we have services that are targeted at marketers. So letting marketers easily churn out human-centric, which is what we’re calling it, video content. So everything from yes, testimonials, but also things like remote interviews, what we’re doing right now in a podcast fireside chat, other things that are sort of featuring people talking remotely.

Reshmi:
Great. And how did you come up with this great idea?

Angela:
Yeah, so I was Chief Marketing Officer at an energy tech company here in DC for about five years. It’s called Spark Fund. And we, when we started out, we were a pretty small team. We were getting customers that were pretty large like we were targeting large and enterprise organizations. And so we would get really excited. The marketing team in conjunction with the sales team got really excited. We’re signing X customer, you know, big-name customer, we’re gonna make the most of this.

And we’re going to tell this story really loud and leverage this and it’s going to help us grow. And then we’d kind of find that we sell that customer we’d win the deal. Then we’d be like, Hmm, no, not twiddling our thumbs, but sort of scratching our heads as to how we were going to actually tell that story and get it out and disseminate it to the, to the world. Like why would people actually care? And we tried so many different things. But we found that the playbook was sort of non-existent or, or certainly outdated. It was like, okay, do some, you know, issue a press release and do some PDF case studies.

And so we did those things. Nothing really felt like they sort of fell into the noise of other marketing. And realized that the B2B marketing playbook is really outdated and, and just kind of dull, right? B2B marketing is not super interesting in general, there are certainly exceptions. So as we started to figure out what we could do to make that story more engaging, we were obviously led to video. And in that process just realized that man getting a video done, as a company is really expensive. It’s really time-consuming and is really inefficient. So we spent about four and a half months, three people’s time, twenty-five thousand dollars.

And we got one kind of long-form commercial-grade video. And it was beautiful. It was really well done, but it just wasn’t suited for how we need to produce content today. And I’m sure other businesses can relate there. Just so many channels that we have to be doing so many things producing so much content, video content. Yes. But other content as well, but you don’t have time to spend four and a half months and 150 hours of your team’s time creating one video.

It just doesn’t quite work up. The ROI doesn’t work out. So to me, that was a really interesting opportunity. Not only how can we make the process of getting video a little bit easier and more streamlined conducive for businesses trying to produce content, specifically customer testimonial content, but also how could we in the process make B2B marketing a little bit less dull? Like how could we tell human stories? Bring those to life so that there is a more interesting way to market to other companies who are real people.

Reshmi:
You had this great idea. So how did you first test it out? What was the initial phase? How did you find your customers? Did you have that gut feeling? Or did you have a testing phase?

Angela:
I love this question because I think there’s a lot out there. You know, startups around, they present it as a binary. Either you had a gut feeling and you just went with it. Or you really tested and built from the ground up. And to me, I think it’s a mix of a little bit of both, right. I had sort of been my user. I’d been my customer as a, as a marketer. And so I knew that, yes, there’s a pain point here. So the exercise for me, this was in summer of 2019. I did do a lot of testing, talked to all of the marketers. I know, some people who call themselves friends. But it’s people who, you know, will talk to you and hopefully who will be somewhat honest.

So I, I talked to other marketers and sort of said, Hey, I noticed I was checking out your website. I noticed you have a lot of case studies, but you don’t have many videos, you know. Can I chat with you about why? And the first thing that was really interesting to me, that, that sort of fed into my gut feeling or my intuition on it was a lot of people in response to that said, Oh my gosh, you’re right. We are so behind on video, Oh, video is the biggest gap in our marketing strategy. We really need to figure that out. I heard that from probably 70% of the first 10 people that I chatted with. And so that was a signal of like, Oh, there’s something here.

Then, as I started talking to them, I mean, honestly, I just started offering, I’d have a conversation with them. And then I just sort of offer up what-ifs and, and see if they bit. So for example, they’d be like, yeah, you know, it’s just really hard. Our customers are located all over the country. We’d love to get them on video, but that’s going to be super expensive.

And I’d sort of say, Oh, what if we could do, you know, a remote shoot where it was only 20% of the cost of traditional video and people were like, yeah, I’d sign and do that tomorrow. And they did. So, so in reality, I sort of had, I made the sales, it’s the first initial sales before I even had a product. And I was striking the balance. I was transparent with them that we hadn’t done it before, but that we would make it right.

Right, instead of saying, look with traditional video production groups, they’d say you have one round of edits. I’d say you have unlimited edits. We’re going to get it right until you’re happy. So find ways like that to sort of overcome the fact that this was really new, that we didn’t have a real product yet, but it really was manually talking to a lot of people being really curious about what their pain points were and then offering up on the fly solutions that felt like they would best address those, those target customers.

Reshmi:
And was it the first time you were venturing into entrepreneurship or did you have past experience?

Angela:
No. I’ve had past experience sort of dabbling. So I think when I was a kid, my dad tells a story where he came home one day, I think I was like nine and there was a money order, a postal money order for $430 that came to me in the mail. And he’s like, what the hell is this? And it was, I was on the TY beanie baby trading post. I don’t even think eBay was very, I don’t know if it existed or was certainly not widely used at that point.

So I was sort of on the TY Beanie Baby Trading Post, I’d make my dad bring me to the mall and buy a $4 beanie baby or whatever it was. And then I’d find all the hot ones. Cause at the time there was, you know, hot commodities and arbitrage with these beanie babies and then sell the beanie baby. So that was me selling like some butterfly beanie baby that was going for $430.

So that was sort of the first for it, I think. And then I’ve dabbled. Like I had side hustles in my early career, so right out of college and never, I think never had kind of the confidence combined with conviction and in the particular business too, plus just the wherewithal of how to actually do it, to jump full time. So this is the first time that it was like going really going for it.

Reshmi:
Okay. So I guess it means you knew from the initial time itself that you would venture into entrepreneurship, right?

Angela:
Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of people have that sort of drive to create something from scratch and wade into the unknown. So definitely had that and felt like it was a matter of, sort of time and figuring out all the pieces.

Reshmi:
Great!! Coming back to Laudable, who are your competitors?

Angela:
Yeah. So I think there’s a couple of ways to answer this. There are several different categories of solutions that could be considered competitive to what Laudable does. I think one would be sort of full-scale video production, right? There are a lot of really great marketing agencies, ad agencies, video production groups out there that can go and do a kickass commercial and have a film crew and get that really high-quality work which is awesome. And I think needed for a lot of things, but we sort of fit in a different category. That works for businesses who need to be more efficient, leaner in their production. So I think that’s one category, the full-scale production.

And then another category is sort of these DIY tools that, that create or help manage user-generated content or UGC. So you see this a lot in B2C, right, where there are influencers or users of the product, you see it with the meal kits, a right. Someone will say, I got this meal kit and here’s my you know, chicken pot pie. And here’s how I made it and blah, blah, blah. And they’re recording themselves, which is also really great. But for B2B companies, you tend to need something that’s a little more thoughtful about the messaging and a little more highly produced.

So we sort of fit in between those two categories. In terms of specific companies, there are certainly a couple that is doing what we do in terms of remote production. I think one, we have a bit of a leg up. We started doing remote video in mid-2019 before we had the head start before the pandemic hit. And before it came, became a sort of more necessary, we also are not very cookie-cutter in our approach.

We really customize everything we do with a client. So we will do the animation from scratch on every single client to make sure they have, on-brand sort of tailored design and video animation. And we really pay a lot of attention to extracting solid soundbites. So we have a live interviewer for our customer testimonial videos, a live interviewer on every single conversation who knows the client business and is really extracting target messaging points. So I think it’s a mix of customization quality and just efficiency.

Reshmi:
How did the pandemic affect your business or did you move to some new trends which were not seen before? How did it change?

Angela:
I think we, you know, I’m incredibly grateful. We’ve been super fortunate in that. Ultimately pandemic has accelerated the demand for what we’re doing. If people had to rethink, they weren’t doing in-person video shoots anymore, whether it was for podcasts or for testimonial videos or, other types of video content. And so that has ultimately made people say, Oh, how else can we get this done as opposed to the traditional way that it’s always been done and that’s benefited us for sure.

I think back in March of last year when things first hit, we saw a huge slowdown. I think everybody sorts of paused and no one had any idea. You know, when I remember when it first came out, I’m thinking, Oh, this will be like maybe one to two months epidemic, clearly that was totally wrong. This is going to be five years. It’s going to be for two months.

And so what I saw the impact on businesses was pause all of the marketing spend, just freeze. We don’t know, freeze hiring freeze ad spend, freeze content creation that people didn’t want to put out content. That was like, our product is so great when, when there’s this really serious pandemic hitting and all communications were around that. So, you know, you remember the “these are unprecedented times”, all of those messages coming from, brands, there was a lot of that.

So I think for about, I would say March, April, may, June things really slowed down and then something happened in July, one hit and everybody picked back up and said, all right, now it’s time to pick back up on our content creation. We need to figure out how we’re going to do video in a world where we’re not going anywhere in person. And then things kind of went bonkers from there. So, so since July, it’s been a really strong demand and we’ve seen, I think that that acceleration and readiness to buy from customers.

Reshmi:
When it comes to using such a video channel. So, which do you think is the best marketing platform or marketing channel, for example, there are many social media platforms, right?

Angela:
Yeah. Yes. So worst answer ever, which is, it depends, but it really does. I think for B2B, LinkedIn is, is solid right now, specifically individual account posts on LinkedIn. There’s a lot out there that you can Google around organic reach on LinkedIn being really high right now, but well, you know, I’ll make a post. I have maybe 10,000 connections on LinkedIn. I’ll make a post that can get between 4,000 and 6,000 views.

That’s really high for the number of followers I have. So people are seeing just a really high percentage of views to followers slash connection ratios, which just shows or which is just evidence of how LinkedIn is is, is a solid platform right now. And specifically, that’s individual accounts, not company accounts for whatever reason company accounts are, aren’t getting as much reach on their, their posts. So LinkedIn is really solid on the B2B front.

You know, you see people starting to in the marketer world starting to say, they’re migrating over to Twitter. Linkedin is certainly getting spammy from we getting connection requests from people who are saying, we can get you, you know, 10,000 leads per month. That sort of thing. You’re seeing some of these new platforms arise like clubhouse, which is audio-only sort of almost on-demand radio shows kind of thing.

I think the the lesson for me is a there’s no best platform and be sort of pick, pick your areas of expertise unless you have a really large team it’s, it would be very hard to be an expert at every single platform. And so you make the investment in one, two, three, whatever you can support, get really good at those. And don’t have FOMO about all of these other platforms that cause you to split your eggs among a bunch of them.

Reshmi:
That’s actually a great message. They should focus on one or two platforms rather than trying to put hands on all the platforms. And well that leads to my next question. People who are watching it, they also might be thinking what are the best ways of creating engaging videos for their business?

Angela:
It depends on the type of video I think, you know, with any video, the one challenge or one, one thing to keep in mind is, is think a little bit outside the box, right? As not just, yes, you can take inspiration from other posts, but don’t just rinse and repeat on everything. Cause, cause as with anything as with any good idea, once it becomes too replicated, it becomes a kind of stale. I think specifically for sort of customer content and customer videos, if you’re trying to feature your customers, the first piece of advice is just kind of ditch the idea of the word testimonial.

I say it a lot, but, but I don’t actually like the word I actually kind of hate customer testimonials. And what I mean by that is if you just get your customer on camera, talking about how great your product is that doesn’t make for an interesting story or an or engaging content, right? That’s just another form, of product-centric content instead. Think about how you can make it truly a customer spotlight. So what story can you tell what human story can you tell about that customer that your target audience would be interested in hearing about? So not just about how great your product is, but it, for example, like a specific strategy, they’ve used to be better at their jobs.

Maybe your product is involved in that strategy. Maybe it’s not, but that can be helpful content that you can push out to the rest of your customers to say, Hey, I understand this aspect of your job, or we understand this aspect of your job. And here’s a tactic that one of our other customers has used that might be applicable to you that that’s really made their job easier or made them better at their jobs. So you’re really coming from a place of like, how can I bring value to my other, my other customers or prospective customers. Another example would be just featuring sort of a day in the life, doing a little more fun type of features, day in the life of one of your customers. Like what does that look like?

There are other, or like rapid-fire, quick questions that are some related to the subject in the content of your product and some totally different, like, what do you like for breakfast, avocado toast or granola, right? That kind of question. There are a couple of companies out there that I think do really good, a really good job of this Gong is one, they have really fun customer compilations and they use social proof in a really organic way.

Copying and pasting or screenshot and emails from customers with their permission, of course, screenshotting reviews, things like that, that keep it a little more interesting and borrow from the B2C playbook. I think, just think outside the box and really feature your customer. Don’t worry so much about, we have to cram in every message about how great our product is into this one testimonial because people don’t, you know, even prospective customers don’t really care to hear, hear all of that.

Reshmi:
That’s actually very important takeaway because I guess B2B companies, they’d rather focus on being more professional rather than taking a fun way,

Angela:
Which I think is, I think that’s melting away. I really do. I mean, there are so many macro factors, it’s like the rise of the personal brand. We see that individuals are more important than companies right now as a number of companies out gravy and Clary and gong are all doing this well, but individual team members have kind of high profiles on LinkedIn elsewhere. And it’s, it’s more informal. I think we’re, you know, we’re working from, we’re seeing everybody else’s homes as we, as we chat with them on video chat, the barriers of, of sort of work self and personal self are breaking down and our expectations about how we engage with companies and the people in them. I think it’s really changing.

Reshmi:
And now I have two fun questions for you. Which is a book, maybe a business book that you would like to recommend to the audience?

Angela:
You know, a book. I think I have it on my shelf over here. A book I really like, and I sort of cringe cause, cause I think it’s from Tim Ferriss and I think he gets coined as sort of the four-hour workweek guy, but he’s a really incredible interviewer and he has two books. One of them is called Tribe of Mentors.

I have it right here and it’s just pages and pages of, of sort of snippets from his interviews with successful is a dangerous word, but just sort of high profile people who have built companies who are great artists who are, you know, whatever, whatever they do have risen to the top of their fields. And he talks about things like morning routines and what would you put on a billboard if you could, and what was his favourite book and things like that. So I find that really, really interesting, you’re sort of able to get in the minds of, of other people.

And the other one, I’ve one other book that I’ll recommend, which is not actually a business book, but I think comes into play in business, which is it’s called Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. She is a wonderful meditation teacher sort of, I don’t know, what noun to use for her, but she’s a wonderful teacher and it is really solid, I think with entrepreneurship or just in business in general, managing your own emotions and energy is really, really important. And so she gets out a lot of things around that that I think is really, really important and has a lot of great guided meditations as well.

Reshmi:
Oh, thanks for that. And the next question. Which is good project management that you would like to recommend? Do you use any?

Angela:
I do use Asana. I’ve heard a lot about Monday.com. I haven’t used it. I’ve seen other solutions out there. I still use Asana just because I think it was the first tech project management tool that I started using maybe seven, six years ago.

Reshmi:
We are now coming to the end of the session. So any message you would like to give the entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs who are watching this?

Angela:
For aspiring entrepreneurs in particular, just start small or anything, small actions compound compounding is a super-powerful force. And if you just start doing one little thing towards where you think you want to go, that’s, that’s how you’re gonna, you’re gonna get there. So I tell myself that advice every day but just starting small.

Reshmi:
Okay, great. It was a very insightful session with Angela and guys she has a very interesting LinkedIn page as well. She always posts something regularly, so you can check that out as well. Thanks a lot.

**In case you are a founder of a small business and want to be featured on our Founder Stories, or if you want to recommend someone for our Founder Stories series, you can connect here.

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