Podcast

Leigh Redman on the power of storytelling and why video is more valuable than ever

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Introduction

Leigh Redman is Sparkol’s Chief Revenue Officer, leading the marketing, sales and customer success departments across all their video products and services, including Scribely

He has over 15 years’ experience leading teams in the rapidly evolving ed tech and SaaS markets in the UK, Australia, the Middle East, USA and Canada. His passion for innovative technology and a perfectly-crafted flat white means products like Scribely can continue to be embraced by more people worldwide. 

What You’ll Hear

  • [1:23] About Leigh and his background
  • [2:48] Tips to stand out in a competitive space
  • [7:18] Why video marketing is so valuable
  • [9:36] How storytelling helps a business to grow
  • [11:00] Using video to help sales and marketing
  • [12:35] Why some businesses are more successful than others
  • [14:42] Leigh’s advice for someone new in business
  • [15:55] Types of animation
  • [18:55] Where social media is going
  • [21:44] The most interesting place Leigh has visited

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 About Leigh and His Background

For most of the last 15 years, Leigh has worked in the education sector – ed tech – working with some of the biggest brands in the world. The software brands he works with will be well-known to anyone with school-age children. 

He says he’s been fortunate to be able to work all over the world, although he’s now back in the UK. Sparkol are based in the video creation sector, particularly animation. 

Their core mission is: “We believe that anyone, anywhere, can create their own videos and tell their own story.” They have flagship software, Video Scribe, which is a video animation tool used by millions of people. Scribely is a cloud-based tool which takes video creation to the next level.

Tips to Stand out in a Competitive Space

Leigh says to never underestimate the power of humility – don’t always assume you know best. Listen to your market and watch it closely. What is it doing, what does it need and where is it going? This may not be the same across the world, so you need to pay attention. 

Really get to understand what your customers want. Leigh says Scribely baked this into the product right from day one. They have a feature right there on the canvas where the user can send feedback 24/7. They can say what they like and don’t like and what features they want to see. 

By listening to their customers, Scribely are able to continually add to and improve the tool. They can also share their plans with the customers so they know that they’re building a product for them. 

Another tip Leigh has is that execution trumps uniqueness. For example, look at Apple. They’re seen as world leaders when it comes to technological innovation, but they’re not inventors. They didn’t create any of the things they’re known for, but it’s their execution of them that is the reason why they’re world beating. 

So, how can you offer a solution that’s unique to your business? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it’s about being unique and solving your customer’s problem in your own way. 

Why Video Marketing is so Valuable

Video is more important than ever, says Leigh, especially as we move into a post-pandemic world. In many ways, the world has fundamentally changed, he says, and we’re just starting to see how. 

Businesses who don’t adapt to those changes probably won’t survive. Video is one of the key areas that’s growing exponentially. There’s been an increase in video consumption of 120% since 2019, and accounts for 80% of all video. 

Facebook say that video has shortened our attention spans, and on average users spend 1.3 second per content piece before scrolling on. But with video, that goes up to 6 to 7 second points – there’s more engagement with video. 

It’s also a brilliant way to build brand trust, whether that’s an explainer video or to show new features. These videos humanise the brand and give it a voice, and leads to increased engagement. 

How Storytelling Helps a Business to Grow

Storytelling is hugely important, but is often overlooked. Sparkol believe that storytelling is a universal power – it’s embedded in our human history. When we say ‘storytelling’ it’s not necessarily fiction. 

For a business, that could be an explainer video, the story behind your brand or even an HR policy you’re trying to communicate to your internal team. Everything has a narrative, and if you can take your audience on a journey with it, that will really help to captivate them. If you can captivate them, you’ll inspire them, and then you can motivate them. 

If you can tick those boxes, you’ll be amazed at how much of your information will actually be retained by the audience, even if it’s just through a short video. 

Using Video to Help Sales and Marketing

People buy from people, not businesses. It’s human nature that we want to see a face. You can use video to give a face to your business, and your customers can see what you’re like. It lets them see the people behind the company. 

Your video needs to talk to your customers in your voice. And get to know your audience – which channels are they on, what challenges do they have and what language do they resonate with? Craft your videos around those, and you’ll see it will generate results. 

Why Some Businesses are More Successful Than Others

Leigh has only worked for a small number of companies, but this has meant that he’s also been mentored by some amazing CEOs, who’ve driven the businesses. They’ve often been with the business since the beginning and grown it from the ground up. 

Leigh has learned from them the power of tenacity – the ability to keep going and fail fast. If you’re building a new product or service, if you don’t realise when something’s not working and move on quickly, you’re failing in two different ways. 

You’re doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result, which won’t happen. Or if you’re not recognising your failure fast enough, you won’t learn from it. 

Learning lessons from failure is actually time dependent, and most people don’t realise that. Your product may fail so you make a change three or six months later, but the failure was relevant at the time, but isn’t any longer. The changes aren’t relevant now either. Failing fast is a really strong indicator of a successful business. 

In SaaS, the speed of change is increasing rapidly, and companies need to pay attention to where the market is going and where their product needs to be in order to accommodate that change. 

Leigh’s Advice for Someone New in Business

“Don’t worry about not having a problem that is 100% unique. There’s a lot of emphasis put on having a USP, but it’s much more important to have a solution that’s unique to you. It’s about executing something in a way that only you can.” 

Scribely has a video feature which shows a hand that appears to be drawing the animation for the user. It takes no skill whatsoever, but looks professional. What can you deliver to your customer in a unique way? You’ll find that customers are more engaged.

 Types of Animation

Leigh explains the different types of animation you can use in your business. Whiteboard animation is a video that doesn’t use real-life footage. Sparkol have their own in-house, full-service animation studio, where they produce the videos for their users.

These are both animation and mixed media. These use a talking head or other live footage and animations are added on top. This augments the live video. Leigh says it depends on your audience which type of video you create, and the producer you’re selling. 

In a corporate setting, or to explain something complex, a talking head augmented with animation is very powerful. But there are so many different types of animation that Sparkol users tend to lean more towards animation for things like explainer videos. 

These are often easier than creating a live video, and you can include your brand colours and other features that you couldn’t include live. 

Where Social Media is Going

Leigh thinks some things that began during lockdown will continue. Tik Tok and Instagram Reels will continue to grow. Content creators are younger and savvier about animation, and the channels that begin in the younger demographic end up becoming mainstream. 

The knock-on effect will be much shorter videos, because that’s what those platforms use. Creators will need to make shorter and punchier videos to attract attention. 

Facebook will continue to be a major player, because they have some great video marketing tools. But as with all channels, you need to know your audience. Facebook allows for segmentation, so you can personalise your messages and localise and target them with the audience. 

Clubhouse, on the other hand, is probably on its way out. It’s failed to capture people’s imagination and hasn’t been taken up by the younger demographic. Tik Tok has seen massive growth even just in the last six months. Instagram Reels is almost exactly the same as Tik Tok, which shows that they’ve got a good idea. 

The Most Interesting Place Leigh has Visited

Leigh spent a few years working in the UAE, working with the governments to implement technology into the school system. It’s a massively different culture, but they have an amazing juxtaposition between modernity and tradition.

They have a huge drive to incorporate technology and innovation into all parts of their world. There’s no fear of change, they embrace it. They don’t feel that they lose part of their cultural identity. And it’s very empowering to be there.

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