When you look back in Crisp history, the things that generated the greatest exponential returns and moved us forward the most were the least popular.
The things that are the most popular, that don’t inspire much criticism in many naysayers, really aren’t pushing the envelope very much. They tend not to be very innovative. They tend to not be outside the norm. They tend to be safe. As a result, you’re never going to see outsized returns from those things.
The first example that comes to mind is our conference, the Game Changers Summit.
We’ve now done five of them, and it’s grown to be the largest law firm growth conference on Earth. But at the time when we announced it in 2018, people didn’t really know Crisp as anything beyond Crisp Video.
I remember when we first announced it, we were getting messages from people in the legal industry — even some of our clients — tell us to stay in our lane.
I don’t think anybody in the legal industry was asking for another legal conference. There were several that existed. But we wanted to do something different, something that was focused on the business of law, which had not really been popularized at the time. There’s a lot of great trial conferences, but none that really focused on the business side: leadership, culture, marketing, those types of topics. We wanted to do it in a way that was very dynamic and exciting, with high energy, great production, and a VIP experience.
That sort of thing did not exist at the time, so we saw it as an opportunity to be able to bring that type of education in regards to the business of law into the legal industry and into that ecosystem.
But there was a lot of criticism around that.
We didn’t know if anybody would actually end up showing up at the first conference. We had about 500 people show up. They walked in and saw these giant LED screens and heard a DJ delivering big sound. I didn’t know if someone would walk in and walk right out.
But it was wonderful, and people stayed all the way through. I remember on the first night we had David Goggins close out the first day at 6:30 PM, and the room was packed. If you’ve been to a traditional legal conference, respectfully, what you usually see is everybody’s on their laptops checking email and tuning out. People may show up for lunch or a reception, but they’re generally not hanging out for the entire conference.
We wanted to do the type of conference where it was impossible to not pay attention, not stay engaged, and not stay excited.
But that received a lot of criticism for sure.
The other big thing has really been the expansion of our ecosystem. When I think about our evolution from Crisp as a video company, to then as a marketing company, to then as a law firm growth and coaching company, at the start when we were a video company, we didn’t ruffle anybody’s feathers. There weren’t a whole lot of companies in the legal industry focusing solely on video, wo we were pretty well accepted at numerous legal conferences because again, we weren’t bothering anybody. We weren’t competing with the SEO companies or the other marketing companies. We were just doing video, so it was pretty harmless.
But when we expanded to the placement of said content on social media (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so on), there was a little bit of friction, but still not a whole lot because a lot of the marketing companies were focusing on things like SEO and pay-per-click, and we were one of the few that was dialing in particularly on social media.
It was when we expanded to the coaching side that all the pitchforks came out.
We decided that we really wanted to expand our impact. The videos were great at differentiating. The marketing was great at placement and getting the phone to ring. But then what happened? We saw that there’s a vital foundation in a law firm in terms of the leadership, culture, and all of the internal elements that could really dictate the success or failure of a law firm. If you can solve those things, you can make the greatest impact for a firm, and then the marketing and the content is really the cherry on top.
When we entered that space, we received a lot of pushback from the industry — and even internally with our own team.
I think this was something that was unfamiliar to them. Not everybody saw that vision.
People that knew us as one type of company were very supportive of reinventing ourselves and moving forward, but there were many who were not.
We went from very small, unknown, very under-resourced company to suddenly getting a lot more attention.
What I found through these experiences is that when you put yourself out there, it’s going to inspire some sort of criticism.
Look at what was happening. We were growing tremendously. Our clients are seeing a ton of success. Their firms were transforming. We were making a lot of noise. We were giving away cars. With that comes a lot of criticism, and I think it’s very important to be able to hone back in on what your North Star is (why you’re doing what you’re doing) instead of focusing externally.
We focused on our clients, serving them and supporting them, and that’s really what carried us through.
At the end of the day, there are going to be people who are critical, but we look internally and focus on the people who are actually investing with us. If we’re delivering results for our clients that are actually spending money, that are actively engaged, if they’re happy and engaged, if they feel supported and they’re transforming their firms — then we’re going to do more of that.