October 29, 2019
It’s not unusual at Crisp Video Group for a client to request all the raw footage after a shoot. But what happens when their client requests it years afterward? This was exactly the situation Crisp found itself in when a client asked for all their raw footage three years after video production was completed and before Crisp upgraded to a new production server. Remembering that their old server’s backup solution had failed for several months before the transition, Mike McMullan, director of production, crossed his fingers, took a deep breath, and began to search…
Softening up the Tough Guy Lawyer Persona
In the four and a half years since Mike started working at Crisp Video Group, much has changed. The agency started out as a general video production house, earning awards for their work with Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Verizon, and other local businesses. However, they saw that creative agencies that specialized in a particular market were among the most successful. So they made the strategic decision to focus on a market niche where there was an aching need. Surprisingly enough, the market they found with the greatest need was lawyers. Through video marketing, they could elevate a law firm’s practice well above their competition.
After working with attorneys in the Atlanta area, telling their stories like they had for other clients, Crisp Video quickly learned that they got much better results when they broke away from the stereotypical tough guy lawyer persona and humanized their clients by showing their kindness and their connection to the community. Crisp Video focuses on their client’s unique value proposition and builds complete marketing campaigns around that, centering the campaigns around the video. Today, legal professionals who work with Crisp Video typically double or triple their revenue after the engagement — sometimes within just six months —as the video campaigns help them consistently attract and retain higher-value cases.
“We’ve become a big enough player in our market that clients come back to shoot more, and want all their old content back, even if it’s been years.”
– Mike McMullan, Crisp Video
Planning for Unreasonable Growth
Crisp Video has the same goal for themselves as for their clients — pushing fast, consistent growth at what some might consider an unreasonable pace. Since their founding seven years ago, they have expanded in virtually every facet of their business. Their own unreasonable growth has translated directly to a huge increase in the volume of client content they manage, requiring infrastructure that can scale quickly and effortlessly.
Crisp Video had only three editors when Mike came aboard, but their production server was maxing out with 50 terabytes of client content. Mike was tasked with finding a new server that was better tuned for video production and integrated with cloud storage for backup and archive. And it couldn’t be too expensive. They didn’t want to limit what they archived or impose capacity quotas on their clients. Finally, Mike wanted “set it and forget it” backup automation so that he could focus on creating content and supporting clients, not managing storage.
Mike and his team chose Studio Network Solutions for their production server, and planned to continue backing up to Amazon S3 cloud storage like they had with their existing server. But when Mike was preparing for the server transition, he checked in on the S3 backup data and discovered that backups hadn’t run for 109 days. He scrambled to recover content deleted from the server, pulling what he could out of its recycle bin.
“We wanted to be sure our cloud storage would be a good long-term fit, not just jump over to a new provider and see how it goes.”
– Mike McMullan, Crisp Video
Rather than simply fixing what caused the backups to fail, Mike started investigating alternatives and found Backblaze. Pricing out their 50 terabytes with Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Google, and other cloud storage providers, they calculated Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage would cost four figures, while every other solution would cost well over five figures. Doing the math for 100 TB and beyond — they were planning for unreasonable growth, after all — they found the cost for storing data not only dramatically lower with B2, but the retrieval costs were dramatically lower as well. Working directly with the Backblaze team, Mike learned B2 offered everything they needed in a cloud provider at a price that would allow them to continue to save all content from their clients, indefinitely.
Rolling Out the New Server with Backblaze B2
Crisp Video’s transition to Backblaze was coordinated with the rollout of their new production server and the move to a new office space. They wrapped up the workday on Friday and put everything in a moving truck with the nail-biting goal of having everything in place come Monday, including backups.
They unpacked in the new office on Saturday, started moving data from the old server to the SNS server, and configured it for cloud backup. For backup software they had chosen qBackup, setting it up so that each file share on the server backs up to a designated B2 bucket.
“I’m a huge advocate for the platforms that we can set up and forget about. With Backblaze, we set up backups for the new shares on our server and it’s good to go. We don’t ever worry about losing anything.”
– Mike McMullan, Crisp Video
Backing up the project files was straightforward. Backing up the raw footage required more planning, given it was 40 terabytes of the total 50 terabytes on their server. Mike considered ordering a Backblaze Fireball to speed the transfer, but in the end decided their 300 Mbps fiber internet connection was fast enough. Come Monday morning, their editors were in their new office working off the new SNS production server. And Monday night, all the work they did on Monday was successfully backed up to B2.
Organizing Content for Bigger Operations
Fast forward three years and Crisp Video has grown to 50 employees, with their 14 editors amassing nearly 500 terabytes of client content. And they’re prepared to manage even more by becoming more organized. In the early days, they assumed the editor who worked on a project would be the only one working on it. They didn’t even have a naming convention, much less asset management. Now they’re using SNS ShareBrower File & Asset Manager for tagging and managing metadata, and for searching the archived content.
Their backup and archive strategy is straightforward: everything, including raw footage, is backed up to B2 cloud storage. When a video marketing program is completed, its project files are archived to B2 through the SNS Asset Manager. Associated raw footage is simply deleted from the production server and the backup copies in B2 become the archive.
“We’re actually able to retain clients longer because we preserve all their content, including every clip from every day that we were in production.”
– Mike McMullan, Crisp Video
Fast Growth Leads to Game Changing Success
Just as importantly, the agency’s storage costs haven’t skyrocketed, even as the volume of content they manage has grown by a factor of 10. And there’s no end to Crisp’s business growth in sight. In 2018, founder and CEO Michael Mogill published The Game Changing Attorney, a book on best practices for marketing legal firms. They’ve completed their second annual Crisp Game Changers Summit, where they unveiled how the agency grew their business 1158% in three years, and showed the law firm owners in the audience how they could do the same in their firms.
As for that client who requested his raw footage from years before? Mike is pleased to report they’re still a client. Although their video had been shot when Crisp Video was still in their old office, the files had been migrated properly during the big move. Mike found the folder, restored the files from B2, and shipped them over to the happy client.
After all, with successful creative agencies, there’s no such thing as “former” clients. Crisp Video’s business has flourished because they remain dedicated to customer service for all their clients, not just the ones with active video marketing campaigns.
About Crisp Video Group
Crisp Video Group is a national video marketing and video production company that helps companies get noticed, enhance their brand, and grow their business. Consistently recognized as Atlanta’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies every year from 2016 to 2019, Atlanta’s Best Places to Work and in the Top 20% of the Inc. 5000, Crisp has been identified as one of the nation’s fastest-growing providers of video services. Crisp has worked with a variety of industry-leading brands and businesses, tailoring their concept and execution to the needs of each project. Simply put, Crisp produces slick videos that clients love and customers share.
Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage has become the cloud storage of choice for content creators by offering extreme levels of content protection and instant availability at one-fourth the cost of the largest cloud storage solution. At only $5 per terabyte per month of content stored, creatives can finally get all of their content into a truly active archive, streamline their production workflows, and phase out expensive, hard-to-manage tape and disk archive systems.