On this week’s episode of the Atlanta Small Business Profile, small business expert Ted Jenkin sits down with Michael Mogill, CEO of Crisp Video Group, and author of The Game Changing Attorney: How to Land the Best Cases, Stand Out from Your Competition, and Become the Obvious Choice in Your Market.
Ted Jenkin: Hey everybody. This is Ted Jenkin, small business expert right here on the Atlanta Small Business Profile. I’m really excited today to interview a great entrepreneur here in the city of Atlanta, Michael Mogill. He is the CEO of Crisp Video. He’s also the author of The Game Changing Attorney. You’ve got to pick that up somewhere. It’s not just for attorneys. It’s a really, really interesting book. I want to delve a lot into your business today, but first some background on here. Like you originally planned to go to medical school. When does one, like say I’m going to medical school, but now I’m just going to make a shift and get into the video business? How did that even happen?
Michael Mogill: Yeah, well I mean this could probably be a book of its own.
Ted Jenkin: I like that. That might be in the next Mogill book.
Michael Mogill: Yeah. So to me, I was always entrepreneurial at heart. I had my first business when I was 13 years old. It was like a website company. My mom would let my clients in the front door and I could create their websites. This is years and years ago, but going to medical school or at least taking the MCAT and all of that, coming from your immigrant, European, Jewish parents the routes that you can go are really doctor, lawyer.
Ted Jenkin: Right and your band from the family.
Michael Mogill: And that’s it. Right. The rest of this makes sense. So I spent a lot of time working with doctors and shadowing doctors and so on and it just didn’t feel a best fit for me. So after upsetting everybody in my life, like literally everybody.
Ted Jenkin: Was every family member upset with you?
Michael Mogill: Family members, friends. We came to this country, started from nothing. We invested in you. And now like what are you doing? Which didn’t honestly, try to explain entrepreneurship it doesn’t really make sense to someone. Especially at the time, when I started Crisp in 2012 this is Shark Tank hadn’t taken off. Entrepreneurship wasn’t cool. Entrepreneurship was like another word for unemployed essentially. So at the time-
Ted Jenkin: Sometimes it is.
Michael Mogill: For me starting a video company was the kind of the blend between the creative aspect, which I really loved. And then also the business development side. So at the time, in 2012 everybody told me there was no future in online video would just be TV and that we couldn’t compete with the agencies. But I saw that video was taking off. YouTube wasn’t as big, you wouldn’t see video in the newsfeed on Facebook.
Ted Jenkin: Sure.
Michael Mogill: But I did believe that there was a future there and it was a bet we placed at that time that now seems like a no brainer. But early on, every conversation I’d have with someone, I’d have to explain the value of video or why video. And this is interesting, in recent years we aren’t having those conversations anymore. It’s just how everyone’s consuming content.
Ted Jenkin: Yeah. All through video in here. It’s funny you mentioned that because as I’ve gotten to know you better, you’re, you’re a risk taker and I think all entrepreneurs are risk takers. But I put you on a scale of 1 to 10 that you might be up there in that 9 or 10 and you put on these massive … Like you’ve created a new space in the legal field with these legal conferences. When you had to put up your own money and take this kind of risk, like how did know it was the right time to take the plunge to grow your business to the next level.
Michael Mogill: Yeah. So with this, I always look at it as a question of commitment. So if you are truly committed to something like meaning you’re all in, then you’ll make the investment. I see a lot of entrepreneurs kind of dip their toes in the water when they’re doing things and they’re like, “Should I hire these people? Should I not, should I invest in this marketing strategy? Should I not?” And it’s because either they’re not committed or they don’t believe in their ability to make more money. So that the fear really stops them. Where I look at things is really from the standpoint of if we have a goal to grow to a certain degree, if we attempt some sort of initiative like the conference or some sort of marketing strategy and make the investment, it could not work out. But if we don’t do it, then there’s absolutely zero chance that we can achieve that growth goal.
Michael Mogill: So I look at it as not doing it as a zero percent chance and doing is probably a little bit better probability, but it really just comes back to commitment. And then the other aspect is, is with the team. You have more confidence if you’re confident in your team’s ability to execute and fulfill, that makes it easier to make those investments. But it’s no less scary for me than it is for anybody else. Anytime we do anything, like I remember we, we did our client referral program, the very first one we did years ago. We gave away a Tesla, like a Tesla model-
Ted Jenkin: You gave away a Tesla.
Michael Mogill: Yes.
Ted Jenkin: And what did you do at the last conference? You gave away?
Michael Mogill: Three Teslas and a Ferrari. So we’ve come along. We’ve come a long way.
Ted Jenkin: Who wants three Teslas and a Ferrari? You got to attend this conference.
Michael Mogill: But I’ll tell you that when we decided to give away the first Tesla, because we were looking at, okay, Amazon gift card or maybe we do something bigger and then I was like, “What if we did a car?” And then Tesla. So we went to the dealership, the car was 77,000. I park it out in front of the office. I’m like, “This thing is going to be a huge hit. Clients are going to refer.” We announce it and in the entire first month, the first 30 days we didn’t get a single referral. I mean my eye twitched for months because every day I’d roll into the office. I had this car sitting out front and maybe there’s a lesson in it of itself there, but we had to find a way to work.
Michael Mogill: So like to make the whole thing pay off. It’s the same thing with the conferences. People are like, “How do you make the conference successful and how do you fill it up?” My answer is pick a date and start selling tickets because when you make the goals so public and you make it so public, not just to your team, your clients, maybe even to your industry like you almost like put your back up against the wall and I think drives that type of action.
Ted Jenkin: You guys have been so good at digital marketing. I mean, even though I know how ads can stalk you and I know how it works, I’m saying these Crisp ads are stalking me everywhere and I know how they work. What did you learn most about or what could you tell entrepreneurs most about the mistakes they might make with their digital advertising?
Michael Mogill: So one of the biggest mistakes I feel is the reluctance to invest in it, particularly investing in social media. Because when you look at social, you think, well what’s my return on social media? What’s my ROI? Where are my needs?
Ted Jenkin: ROI that’s an immediate thing.
Michael Mogill: And the reality is, social media is probably the most cost effective way to reach a wide audience of people, of any industry, of any target audience, anything like that. At the highest frequency, more than pretty much any other thing that you could do today. But the lesson we learned is that best known beats best. So meaning that when I started the company early on, I thought if we just had the best videos that we would be the most successful business. And I learned very quickly, even early on that we produce really great videos and yet we were unknown. People didn’t know about us, they couldn’t hire us.
Michael Mogill: So by getting the name out, getting the brand out, investing heavily in social, being omnipresent, all of those things, we found that oftentimes like if you’re just simply known and you’re top of mind, you’ll be much more successful than just focusing on just being really good and having a very good product.
Ted Jenkin: Right, it tells you, you can have a great product, but without marketing and then the backend of service, you’re still dead even if you have a great product.
Michael Mogill: You’re the best kept secret that nobody knows about.
Ted Jenkin: How did you know? I guess you know a lot of businesses struggle, especially in the consulting world or the type of businesses. If you make websites about whether to build a really narrow vertical, like you are the most successful in the attorney business and you chose intentionally not to do lots of other industries, why?
Michael Mogill: So we started broad and we started in the big brand space with like Coca-Cola and Verizon and so on. Then we started to niche down into different industries like dental and medical and ad tech. But we found this interesting niche within law firms and just law firms across America. It actually happened by accident. A lawyer came to us, she had no online presence. We helped her. Her business grew tremendously. But I’ll tell you that that having a niche focus or having a focus makes it much easier to know what to say no to. And then also where the double down.
Michael Mogill: So we were able to really focus on our marketing in a specific industry, better understanding their pain points. Building credibility in the space, like all the different things that we could do so we could work with everybody. But by focusing on like who we help best, that really helped us grow. We’ve doubled year over year for eight years.
Ted Jenkin: Now you wrote a book I talked about at the beginning here, The Game Changing Attorney. How hard is it? There are a lot of people that say they want to write a book, but how hard is it to write a book and how did you actually get it published?
Michael Mogill: So the book itself, the goal behind the book was originally to focus on putting all the things that we had learned over all of our years in marketing and just put it into the book so our clients could essentially even non-clients could do it themselves.
Ted Jenkin: Right.
Michael Mogill: And it just everything from like case studies, and what were the fastest growing law firms in America doing to grow. But the only reason I believe that book even got done was because I had a deadline. So our first conference, I said, leading into this, we’re doing the book launch at the conference and we put this out publicly. So I had I think eight or nine months to write this book. If I didn’t set that deadline, I’d still be writing it. And so we ended up self-publishing. It’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and it’s on Audible, but I want it to be like a real book, like a book, book. Like you know, it’s a nice hardcover book that you can pick up at a bookstore, like things like that.
Michael Mogill: It has been probably one of the most valuable things that we have ever done.
Ted Jenkin: The book?
Michael Mogill: Because we gave away all of our information, all of our valuable insights, everything that we’ve learned basically in this book, but we found very quickly that our clients don’t want to do it themselves. They just want to know that they’re working with a partner that understands this stuff. And even if someone never ends up hiring us, it’s completely okay. They’ll at least have gained those insights and maybe they’ll attend the conference, maybe they’ll do something else, but at least they’ll start making better decisions. In terms of the partners they work with.
Ted Jenkin: I mean, obviously you guys have been very successful creating videos, but for most businesses out there today, how important is video in general? Because if you go to Facebook or Instagram Stories or even Snapchat. The latest and greatest of Tik Tok, it seems like it’s video, video, video, even if you’re on LinkedIn. And for most websites without a video, I think a lot of people just aren’t reading today. So how important is video for the future for most businesses, no matter what industry you’re in?
Michael Mogill: So I look at video and particularly what’s happening with video is really attention and attention is effectively currency. So wherever somebody’s attention is, let’s say it’s on social media or somewhere else, how are they consuming content? And if they’re consuming news content, like anything that they’re learning through social media and they’re doing it by way of video. Then not having video, not having that presence, I think can really hinder you and then hinder your business’s ability to grow. The other thing I would say, it’s really about the brand. Where I was saying best known beats best. It’s what do people think about you? What is the reputation of the business and this is where it gets into even the quality of the video because there’s different schools of thought of this.
Ted Jenkin: Right.
Michael Mogill: I think there’s different types of videos that work for different mediums. There’s nothing wrong with doing an iPhone video, especially if you’re doing like an Instagram story or something like that. But when it’s your business and you’re thinking about, okay, what type of clients do I want to attract? How do I want my business perceived? It pays to differentiate yourself to present the brand in the right way.
Ted Jenkin: And do you think because more people are searching mobile today that that quick minute and a half, two minute video, it basically tells those principles of journalism, the who, what, when, why, how, where. You have to have one of those don’t you to win on mobile today.
Michael Mogill: Yes. And you connect with them emotionally. That’s the biggest thing. You drive an emotional response. People have short attention spans. They don’t always want to read something though. They’ll watch a quick video and especially when they see it time over time or they see content in multiple places. Like they’ll see it on Facebook, they’ll see it on YouTube, they see it on Instagram or LinkedIn. That builds up this top of mind awareness to where they may not need your services today on a specific day, but they may a month from now or they may know somebody who does. And they’ll ask you, hey, what was that business we see that gives away all the turkeys around Thanksgiving. And they’re like, your brand will come to mind. They’ll reach out.
Ted Jenkin: Right. Because it never changed. Those principles of frequency and repetition and counting that same brand message. It really does matter because if people may not do business with you today but it could be a year from now or two years from now, but you still have to maintain to be top of mind.
Michael Mogill: That’s what I would encourage a lot of entrepreneurs to really think about, because so much of this is like short term. Let me get that direct response today, let’s get the phone to ring today and I think that does make sense. You should always have short term drivers but just that longterm focus of building a brand and building that brand equity to plant those seeds that will develop over time. That over the longterm are going to result in probably the most revenue and probably the most growth because you focused on building a real foundation.
Ted Jenkin: Because being an entrepreneur is a very lonely world. It really is for a lot of entrepreneurs. You created some of the biggest mastermind groups for attorneys in the entire country. In any industry, how important is it to get involved in a set of peers or a mastermind group?
Michael Mogill: Extremely, extremely. Because no matter how large your team may be, it is extremely lonely at the top and where you get your information from really matters and especially if it’s not vetted because there’s no shortage of people giving advice and feedback and you don’t know. I mean there’s people giving money advice that have no money, people giving fitness advice, they’re out of shape. And if you can have a vetted cohort of people that are, let’s say, there are similar revenue levels or higher. Even better if you can be the worst one in the room, that’s like the best group to be in. But the conversations you’re having. People that have teams that can talk about management, like that in itself is invaluable and learning, I mean it’s one thing to learn from your own mistakes. It’s kind of a slow way to learn, but to be able to learn from other’s experiences is like the ultimate growth hack.
Ted Jenkin: Well, you’re all really successful for cracking in quickly to the Inc. 500 and been at the top of the list. What’s next up here for Crisp Videos? You expand your empire here in Atlanta?
Michael Mogill: So we are expanding, we’re I wouldn’t even say doubling down because we bought a building that’s going to be 10 times the size of the current office. So we’re committed and we were committed to growing. Everything we’ve done, when I really look back at it is we look at … When we’re speaking to our clients, where are their needs, where are their pain points, and even if the service exists that already is serving that, but it’s not doing it well. It’s the same thing with the conference. I mean there were hundreds of legal conferences every year. There wasn’t a single person in the industry that asked for another legal conference but we went to these things. And we’d see people in the back on their phones and on their laptops. And it was just in this dimly lit hotel room. That were like, “You know what? This room needs to be like a rock concert. Let’s get people excited.”
Michael Mogill: So anything new that we introduce is basically looking at it and saying, that we’re dissatisfied with the status quo and our clients deserve better.
Ted Jenkin: Didn’t you at the last conference, not hand out an agenda at all.
Michael Mogill: No. Because you-
Ted Jenkin: I mean, how do you put a thousand attorneys in a room and don’t hand out an agenda.
Michael Mogill: Well, so we’d get a lot of pushback on it. They’re like, “The room’s too cold. There’s no agenda.” But the challenge when you give somebody an agenda is then they see the lineup of speakers. They selectively show up. It’s better if you can just experience the whole thing from the start. It’s curated for them. There’s breaks, there’s lunch, there’s breakfast. There’s all those things and in the end everybody’s really grateful for it as opposed to saying, “Well, this speaker is speaking at this time, I’m going to go sit at the bar until they until they show up.”
Ted Jenkin: What’s the biggest request you get from a guy like Gary V. or Malcolm Gladwell when they sign a contract to speak at a Crisp summit?
Michael Mogill: So it usually is a don’t share it, don’t film it, don’t do whatever. We film it anyway. But it’s one of those things where like when you’re dealing with these huge speakers that are either speaking all over the country, they’re so well known. I’ve actually found, at least the ones that we’ve worked with are very down to earth. They’re really great people. The biggest thing is just making sure that everything is handled at the event production wise. That it’s an easy experience for them. That essentially you have your things together, that they show up and it’s done right. That’s how we found speakers that come back. They do it because they had an amazing experience. For them, it was great. So when you can make it great for the speaker, that’s what keeps them coming back.
Ted Jenkin: Well, thanks so much for coming on the program today. I really believe you are a true success story here in Atlanta. A role model for a lot of people, and remember what Michael said today in the show, attention is currency. You’ve got to stay in front of your customers, be committed, and at the end of the day, if you want your business to be successful, you have to be all in. If you do that, you’re probably going to create a successful business. I’m Ted Jenkin, small business expert right here on the Atlanta Small Business Profile.
Thanks for watching Atlanta Small Business Profile with Ted Jenkin, part of JBF Business Media.
The Atlanta Small Business Network, from start-up to success, we are your go-to resource for small business news, information, resources.
While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest business news know-how from Atlanta Small Business Network.
This has been a JBF Business Media production.