Luke Summerfield
Luke SummerfieldLuke Summerfield gets out of bed each morning to help others unlock their true potential. He does this at HubSpot as a program manager, founder of, advising startups, writing and speaking. In 2015 he founded the Growth-Driven Design methodology and program which grew from zero to over 700 agencies in 56 countries in less than 12 months.

Welcome back to episode 8 of Happy Porch Radio. Growth Driven Design has been mentioned a couple of times on this show already – both Karl Sagas and Matt Hodkinson talked about how much impact it can have for any Agency. Luke Summerfield is the force behind Growth Driven Design at Hubspot and it is an incredible honour to have him on the show this week to tell us all about this powerful system for rethinking the traditional web design project.

Listen to the episode below

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Tune in to this week’s episode to find out:

  • Where the idea of Growth Driven Design came from.
  • How Luke transitioned from working at an Agency to working for HubSpot.
  • Why it can be more beneficial to fire clients that aren’t a great fit rather than aggressively growing an agency.
  • How Growth Driven Design went from an experiment to a program with 750 agencies participating.
  • The three steps that make up the methodology of Growth Driven Design.
  • The three different ways that you can speed up the launch of a launchpad site.

Mentioned in the episode:


The resounding thing that we heard over and over again was, ‘Why were we not doing this before? This makes so much sense. Why were we not doing this before?’ – Luke Summerfield

Barry O’Kane: Hi and welcome to Episode Eight of Season One. As regular listeners will know, Season One is all about the long haul. We dig deep into long term client relationships, recurring revenue, repeat business, referrals and more. Everything that’s vital to building an agency that not only survives, but grows.

Growth driven design has been mentioned a couple of times on this show already, both Karl Sakas and Matt Hodkinson talked about impactful it can be for any agency. And so it only makes sense to go to the source and find out more.

Luke Summerfield is the force behind GGD at HubSpot and it’s an incredible honor to have him on the show to tell us all about this powerful system for rethinking the traditional web design project. I hope you find this as inspiring as I did.

I’m incredibly honoured to have Luke Summerfield here to talk about growth-driven design. Several of our guests in the previous episodes have talked about this and it’s really cool to have Luke who is, no pun-intended, the hub of a lot of this action at the moment (laughter).

Hi Luke.

Luke Summerfield: Hey how’s it going?

Barry: Good. Thanks again so much for joining us today. Just to kick us off, why don’t you introduce yourself. Tell me a little bit about who you are and what you do and where growth-driven design came from.

Luke: I wake up every morning inspired and excited to help others unlock their true potential and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do that in a bunch of different ways. Primarily where I spend most of my time is working with the HubSpot program. I work at HubSpot in a partner program. We have just about 3000, 3500 agencies that are in the program and get to work with a lot of them on a regular basis.

And outside of that, you know, that’s why I’m pumped to do this podcast. I was really happy when Barry invited me as the ability to talk with all of you and hopefully get some gears turning in your head, and, it’s really what gets me excited to do speaking and writing and all the other stuff.

Little background actually, my favourite, favourite, favourite people to talk to are agency folks. They’re my peeps. I come from an agency background and I always like to say, I don’t own HubSpot shoes, I only own agency shoes. I just happen to be an agency person that works in the building at HubSpot. And so all of you are dear to my heart, kind of because of my background and where I came from before HubSpot. I’m always excited when I get a chance to speak and hangout and talk to agency folks.

Barry: Brilliant, and that is because I know you came from an agency background, right?

Luke: Yeah. Originally before HubSpot, I was working for an agency. We were¬–this will tie back into where growth-driven design came from–for about 4 years I was part of an agency. Just started out as a 3 person web shop. We were do or die Joomla folks. We were building on Joomla, loving Joomla, this was probably 5 or 6 years ago now, and was really involved in the Joomla world.

You know eventually signed up to be part of the partner program at HubSpot. So we kind of got the marketing side, going originally just trying to do lead generation for our own business to get more web design and web leads. And joining the program, between joining the program and also just the growth of the web side of our business, we grew from 3 to 15 people in about 3 and 3.5 years. At that point, we ended up getting acquired by Square2 who is HubSpot’s biggest partner and basically became their web department and started running the web side of their business there.

One of the interesting things that we saw–obviously growing from 3 to 15, you go through some different stages of an agency and you have different struggles at each one of those stages. Kind of the 1-3 person stage, the 3 to 5 and you have 10 to 15, and so on and so forth. Then Square2 is a 65 person agency and getting to see them having very unique and different struggles. And one of the struggles that we ran into on our business being a web shop, we ended being a HubSpot gold partner but inbound marketing only was about 25% of our revenue, 75% of it was web design–Joomla web design specifically.

And it was really interesting, about a year before we got acquired, we were growing at 40% year over year. And Gabe, the owner, was really smart about it. He said, ‘Look, if we keep growing at this rate, it’s going to be a train wreck. We don’t have processes, we don’t have structure, we’re kind of flying by the seat of one’s pants right now.’

We decided to take a step back and actually grow only 10% that last year and instead fire a lot of our clients that were not good fits–be really, really picky on who we brought on–and then just spend a lot of time on improving our operations and efficiencies in the business. So looking at our processes or utilisation rate, what project management system we are using and how it integrated into our billing, the team structure, you know really taking one step back to take three steps forward.

And one of the things that really stood out was being 75% of our revenue being web design when, you know, I spent majority of my time looking at improving those efficiencies. There was more and more red flags that were coming up as I was digging into the web side of the business. We had prided ourselves for being pretty on top of the web design game. We were one of the top Joomla agencies, you know we were–our average site was $40,000 to $50,000 but it wasn’t uncommon to do $100,000 sites–and so we had a pretty flushed out process.

But looking at the process from 800 foot view, I was seeing that time and time again, we were not profitable. We spend 3, 4, 5, 6 months working on something and when push comes to shove, at the end of the day we weren’t making any money. That’s like a really depressing thing to live through and there’s a few reasons for that. One is probably most of you who are listening run into some type of scope creep along the way. You know you’re building a site and all of a sudden, little things pop up.

It’s usually not the big things. If a big thing pops up, we would always push up to an addendum in the contract and just increase, you know added on as an additional price. But it’s the little change here. It’s the extra revision there. It’s the, ‘Oh we forgot this page,’ or ‘Oh this didn’t, on our end as an agency didn’t… we overlooked this.’ This little half hour, 20 minute increments add up and when you go back to the end of the project, you’re 10, 20, 30 hours over. And that has to come from somewhere and so it was eating into our profit margins.

So that was a big challenge. The other challenge we ran into was a couple of things. One was, at the end of the day we were trying to provide results for our clients and help them grow. When we were doing these projects, they were spending $40,000 – $50,000 with us and it would take 6 months before their business even saw any value from that because we are living kind of in our little bubble in building this thing out, not actually getting it live. And they really don’t see any value to their business until this thing’s live.

That was another kind of challenge we ran into. And the other thing that we ran into on the agency side was that project work sucks. It’s feast or famine and that’s a really hard way to grow a business not only you’re cashflows are so up and down, not only is it scary and stressful, but it’s hard to know when you should hire your next person if you don’t know that you’re going to have a consistent flow of work.

And so on the inbound side of our business we had flipped to a retainer based model, servicing our clients with inbound marketing. And that was smooth. That was easy and looking over at the web side, we were in the complete opposite, kinda chaotic boat in a rough waters type of thing.

Barry: Yeah that’s something that I think I personally really resonate and certainly a lot with my previous agency and certainly a lot of the agencies that I worked with or speak to, that exactly what you’re describing there. Feels like business is growing and everything is going well but somehow the profit just, you know things are adding up. And you’re going through this feast and famine cycle, you’re going through the stresses, increasing and so on. But there’s like a missing or several missing pieces of the jigsaw there.

It sounded like a really smart decision to take that, let’s take a foot off the gas a little bit decision and step back and think about efficiencies.

Luke: It’s a hard decision to make. I mean when you’re growing so fast you just think about the dollars coming in and–so I really credit Gabe for being a smart, long term, in it for the marathon, not the sprint kind of a business owner. And I think that when you’re a 3-person shop, you’re really scrambling just to get revenue in the door. At the time we were a 15 person shop so it’s a little bit easier to be a little picky. But it’s one of the big red flags I see as people, as I talk to the agencies and in the partner program at HubSpot is: they have a really good sales person, they start closing a bunch of deals, but the service side of their business is a mess. And there’s a certain maturity in a business owner that it takes to be able to say, ‘Let’s slow it down in order to speed it up for the long term.’

Barry: You’ve set the scene there, I guess. We’ve got projects, we’ve got a very, I think about a familiar story of the feast and famine and we’ve got some of the challenges with those projects, with scope creep, with being able to project and plan and build a business around something which is really hard to control and really hard to predict (and really hard in some ways to make the profit from some of those projects).

Is that where this concept of growth-driven design grew from?

Luke: Exactly. We needed to figure out–when I was at the agency we were trying to solve our own problems. Back then we actually–this was probably 3 years ago now–we started putting together a retainer-based web design model for our clients. And, you know, at the time it wasn’t–we called it continuous web improvement–it wasn’t anything too sexy of a name. But it was kind of clear and to the point.

It really wasn’t a full system like growth-driven design is today, but it was at least a start. We started selling it to prospects, started packaging it and selling it. And the resounding thing that we heard over and over again was, ‘Why were we not doing this before? This makes so much sense. Why were we not doing this before?’

And so in that, as we were starting to get the ball rolling on this new program, that’s when the acquisition happened and–you know, just kind of, with all the craziness that happens with that–the idea stalled out. But originally it was just trying to solve our own problem. As many of you know and if some of these things we’re talking about resonate with you, this is an industry wide problem and it’s an industry wide problem not only just for agencies but for your prospects and clients as well. Your marketers struggle and there’s a whole separate set of problems they run into with the traditional web design model.

I was in a very fortunate spot when I got the opportunity to work at HubSpot to figure out, you know I was basically, I was hired at HubSpot without a role. They said, ‘We’ll just hire you and we’ll figure out, you can figure out what to do. Here’s the metric we want you to try and increase.’ And really it related back to just making our agencies more successful. So I thought back, ‘Like okay, what could we do there?’ And this idea of the challenges we ran into with web came back to me and I said, ‘Okay, let’s do some experiments.’

So 2015 was the year of experiments. I did about 10 different programs, some flopped miserably, some did okay and the one that really, really started building some traction was growth-driven design and at this point, it add many more pieces to the puzzle. And so if we think of the inside of inbound methodology, you have social, you have blogging, content marketing, email marketing. Those are like the pieces of the puzzle that make up inbound, and now growth-driven design really got flushed out and has very similar pieces in terms of usability, conversion rate optimization, things we call assets, promoters, all these different pieces that make up the growth-driven design methodology.

And so started teaching that to a number of agencies just almost as an experiment to see if it would be helpful. If people would be interested. And twelve months later we have seven hundred and fifty agencies in the program. It’s just been growing exponentially ever since.

So I think it’s again, it was originally to solve our own problem but it’s really an industry-wide problem and it’s something that a lot of people are finding a lot of value in and really has helped them grow their agency. Bit of a rambling here, but I get really excited thinking about the agencies that are just crushing it with it.

There’s an agency out of St. Paul, Minnesota–I was just up there maybe six months ago–called Media Junction and in their first 8 months they sold ten retainers for six hundred thousand dollars, just on website retainers. And it has just totally transformed the way that they do the web side of their business for the better. And there’s just countless stories one after another after another of these web shops that–maybe they didn’t even offer inbound, they just offer web design or maybe they offered inbound and now they’re starting to offer web design–those stories of those agencies just crushing it is what inspires me to keep, like, promoting and growing this thing.

Barry: I really liked some of the things you said there at the start as well about the problem isn’t just internal to the running an agency and dealing with some of the project related-problems that you described earlier, but also, and those problems correspond to problems that your clients experience, that the people owning the website experience–project overruns, budget overruns, not hitting the business goals of the marketing, whatever goals of the website.

I think that’s something that’s been a bit of a recurring theme and a lot of the conversations I’ve had in this podcast in that when we focus even more on those values that it can benefit us even more if you see what I mean. It’s like a virtual cycle.

Luke: It’s been very easy for the agencies to sell it. It’s actually a lot of them are reporting back–of course you have to learn how to position it, you have to learn how to explain it to your specific industry and find a good analogy that your industry you know will relate to. So I’ve been recommending that an agency should think about their prospects in the industry they are in and find something in that industry they know really well that relates or as a metaphor or analogy to the continuous improvements and kind of methodology of growth-drive design.

But a lot of them have been telling me that it’s just so much easier–it’s one of those things like I said, the prospects come back and say, ‘Why aren’t we always doing this? It just makes so much sense.’

Barry: The story you told there of the agency that has had a huge amount of success, and that you mentioned that several other agencies are, and the fact that the program itself is, obviously, hit a nerve you know there is a real need for–it’s something that I can completely understand. Having only really come across growth-drive design relatively recently, I keep everything I see but I think, ‘Oh yes that does tick this box and there’s so much in it.’

So let’s try and talk a little bit about what it actually is.

Luke: (laughter) Sure.

Barry: Just from the start I guess what’s the high level summary?

Luke: There’s basically three steps to the methodology and the first step is the strategy step, which is probably not too much different than what you are doing today. You know the goal of the strategy step is to basically see the world through the eyes of your prospects’ personas or your prospects users and really have a deep understanding of what their points of pain are, how are they trying to solve that, what questions do they have, what are their goals. A lot of those things that kinda land in that UX type of bucket that’s again one of those pieces of the puzzle of growth-driven design UXs, user experience is one of those pieces.

Now what gets interesting, where it gets a little bit different with growth-driven design is coming out of the strategy phase after you’ve done you know journey mapping, and personas and–we have something called fundamental assumptions we do, and all these different pieces–coming out of it which you wanna create is what we call a wish list. And a wish list is seventy five to two hundred of all the amazing most impactful ideas that are gonna drive value to the user and drive value to the business in terms of lead generation or whatever the goal is for the business. So you have this big laundry list of great ideas. Some good, some not so good, but you rank them based off of the high impact, medium impact and low impact.

And once you have that wish list, it allows you to go to the second step of the methodology which is what we call the launchpad website. And the launchpad website is a site that is better than what they have today. It looks better, it performs better, but it’s not perfect. And we need to go into it knowing it’s not gonna be perfect because there is no such thing as perfect. And really the only way we can get close to perfect is putting something together that again is better than what they have today–looks better, performs better–and launch it get it out there into the wild so that people can interact with it.

We can collect user behavior data and then use that data in the third step, which is continuous improvement. The launchpad site is to get something out there quickly and there is a bunch of ways you do that. I think initially the misconception is that you’re just gonna cut the site in half and just cut a bunch of stuff down into this half-built site. One approach is limiting the amount of things you launch but there is lots of other ways that you can speed things up. Just for the sake of time we won’t necessarily go into all those but I can tell you where you can learn more how to do that.

And the reason we call it a launchpad site–when I was at the agency where we first started selling this, we call that a minimum viable website. And I found out really quickly that client / prospects did not wanna hear they are getting a minimum viable website (laughter). So, that’s why some of this just has a little marketer coat of paint in positioning in terms of calling it a launchpad site. It’s the launch of all your other continuous improvements stuff. It’s the very starting points that we launch off of. Some agencies have spun it and called it a foundational sites. Whatever fits your agency and your prospects.

So you are gonna build a site again that looks better, performs better, but it’s not the end all be all, and then that allows you to transition into the third step which is continuous improvement. And in the continuous improvement, there is basically two pieces to that.

The first piece is determining where you should focus your time. And so I think of this very much like an investor invests in a business and if I ask you a question think about this for a second:

An investor puts a dollar in business A and they get two dollars out. It’s a pretty decent investment, but the same investor puts a dollar in business B and gets ten dollars back. Ok, that’s a much better investment. And so if I ask you the question, ‘Which business is a better place to put your dollars?’, it’s very clear it should be business B.

The problem is that as an agency we have a very limited time, very limited resources and we don’t have that same mentality about where we should spend that time and resources. And so what I’ve put together is, when you launch a site there is literally thousands of places you could invest your time and what we wanna find is that business B. What is that thing that we can spend our time on that’s gonna have the highest output and drive the biggest results for the user and biggest value for the business and be the smartest place to invest of our time?

So the first part of the continuous improvement process is what we call the website hierarchy. It’s kind of like your road map that you can follow to help you determine where is that business B. Where is that when I put an hour of my time in or an hour of my team’s time in we’re gonna get the best return on that hour in terms of value to the business and value to the user.

So that’s kind of part one and then the second part–which you do simultaneously–is the continuous improvement process. You can think of this like the actual steps, the step-by-step process that you go through as a team with a client as you’re focusing your time and energy. So now that we know where to focus our time and energy, we go through the steps: plan, build, learn and transfer.

And this is a cycle that we go through over and over and over again so that we can be building impactful things, be learning about our users, be doing research, and then each time we go through that cycle we’ve learned something about our users which makes us build more impactful smarter things the next time around.

And so a lot of you probably listening to this may be familiar with some of the lean methodology, some of the agile process or agile web design and really those are the backbone of growth-driven. Those again–as we talk about pieces of the puzzle–those are the big pieces of the puzzle. You’d almost think of that as like the backing of the puzzle where you put the pieces on top of–is lean methodology and agile web design. But of course those are just pieces of the puzzle and there is much more to it.

Barry: I think that’s something that’s really powerful about the whole growth-driven design stuff that you put together. Is that it is much meatier and bigger and more detailed than similar conversations or thought processes that I’ve had in the past where you can see you on a move to a retainer model but you’re not quite sure how to get there.

I wanted to go back a little bit to the start of that process you just described and talk a little bit about the time skills and the energy that goes into those first 2 phases because I think that is something that–one of the issues with traditional redesign or project based web design projects is that you are trying to juggle, to do everything at once, you know. You are trying tick all the boxes and get everything done with limited resources. You’ve got x-weeks or months and you have to try and do all this and you are sort of trying to keep all the plates spinning and trying to tick all the boxes at the same time.

How do you get to that launchpad site and how do you decide where is that line? How do you get something quickly out that is not lacking in some way?

Luke: There is basically three different ways that you can speed up the launch of a launchpad site. The first one is being very diligent on the things you build. And so when I say that, it doesn’t necessarily mean cut things out. It’s figuring out, you know, what is essential for the launch of the site and then what could we do in month one, or month two, or month three. And so when you have that wish list coming out of the strategy of seventy five to two hundred ideas, one of the things you do is you go through and you first bucket them on high impact, medium impact and low impact.

Some of those ideas come from doing an audit of the existing site. Some of those come from having a client and internal team brainstorming session where you think of, you know–what would we build if we have unlimited budget, unlimited resources, throwing ideas on there–and of course you got a scale this back to reality at some point but throwing some of those ideas out there. So you bucket them by high medium and low impact.

Then the next thing you can do is you can go through what we call PIE analysis. PIE stands for priority, impact, and effort. And so you basically give them a score–we do a 1 to 10, you can really do whatever scoring system you want. I’ve heard other ones where they’ll do non-numerical scoring like pebble, rock, boulder and basically to give you an idea of the size and magnitude of each one of those things. So your team will go through and give the priority, priority meaning: does it need to happen, is it a must have for the launch of the launchpad site, or is it nice to have? And the nice to have stuff we can still do, but it may be a week after the site launches or two weeks after, or a month after, or two months after.

Then you do impact. So what impact based off of the clients goals–this is where you start thinking about your bets, right? If you put a dollar in a business you get ten dollars out, the impact is: which one of those items on that wish list is gonna output the highest return? You put a score there.

And then the last one is the amount of effort required to build it. Cause you could have two things that are an effort score of 8, but if one you can get done in five hours and one takes to weeks, you may prioritise those very differently in how you execute on them.

And so you go through that process and basically that will allow you to start to prioritise them. And so you pull all those things and you can eventually can start forming what the initial launch of the launchpad website looks like. And then right after the launchpad, anything that doesn’t make the must have cut, things that are nice to have but are very impactful, they get put to the top of the wish list. And that’s basically the starting point for your continuous improvement cycles once you launch the site.

And we call that the harvest period. I’m a marketer so I just come up with stupid names for everything (laughter), but we call it the harvest period and that’s where you’re harvesting all the low hanging fruit. And so after the launch of the site, you’re gonna go back and look at, ‘Ok what were the impactful things that just didn’t make the cut for the launch but we wanna build right away?’

All of that is wrapped up into the first way you can speed up the launch of a launchpad site. I’ll go through the other two very briefly. The second one is taking a look at your approach. So how do you approach building that new site? And there’s multiple approaches you can go through.

So the first approach is kind of bucketing high, medium and low impact pages, and then you’re going to build a different process for each bucket. So for example, my high impact pages, I may be doing wire framing, custom templates, I may be doing user testing and envision app with users, I may be / have a much more flushed out process that may take me ten hours or fifteen hours per page to execute on. And I’m willing to invest that time and energy in that bucket because I know these are based off of the audit of the existing site and the stuff we’ve flushed out on a strategy. It’s worth us investing our hours in that bucket of high impact pages.

Whereas the medium impact pages–you know the high impact may be like your conversion pages, it may be your home page, it may be your pricing page, whatever those depending on the business. The medium impact pages may be ones that are not trafficked as much, maybe they’re not in a conversion funnel, they’re kinda nice to have, and so those may be–for example, for some businesses maybe they’re about us page it’s just not one of the critical pages in the buyer’s journey that someone go through–and so your process there may be much less flushed out. You may buy a template and just use an existing template. You may instead of starting the copy from scratch, you may just import the existing copy they have and then give it a fresh, you know, coat of paint in terms of messaging and feel. It may take you seven hours per page or six hours per page.

And then the low impact stuff might only take you like twenty minutes per page. You just straight migrate the stuff over, clean up the CSS and styling, and that’s all you do and you just put it, you know, in the same shell of the site. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to this medium and low impact pages later down the road and invest in building a new template or wire framing and this and that. It’s just for the launch of site.

And so again that goes back to being very smart about where you’re spending those limited time and resources and putting it towards the pages that you know will have the biggest output on the value. So that’s one approach.

Another approach that I’ve heard or that agencies do is one called land and expand. The naming comes from an agency, Revenue River out of Colorado, that’s doing really well with growth-driven design. What they’ll do is they will basically get a client–they don’t do it with all their clients but certain clients this approach makes sense–they will migrate the client over into the new technology. You know, updated version of WordPress, or from WordPress to HubSpot, CMS, whatever–depending on the technology they use. They will basically re-skin the site.

So they do a new template, header, footer, CSS, styling, so it looks fresh and cleaned. But the vast majority of the site is basically, you know, all the content, the images, everything is pretty much the same as their old site. It’s just a new fresh coat of paint.

And then they pick the top three pages and they basically start by revamping those three pages and that’s what they do for the launch of the site. And then month one is, ‘Okay let’s go back and pick the next three most impactful pages and revamp those.’ And then month two is the next three. And they kind of go through that until they’ve revamped all of it–maybe a four month process but at least they have a new site out and they just kinda incrementally work in section by section and improving it.

So that’s another approach and there’s like three or four other approaches. So just picking which approach makes sense for the client. And then the third piece of how to speed this up is just working on internal efficiencies. So this could be switching from a waterfall based to an agile based process. It could be investing in better communication and collaboration with your clients and your teams. So, using a tool like GatherContent to gather the content and manage the editorial process versus, as we know, many of you have struggled trying to get content from the client. It’s always like the big nightmare. So investing in building that out.

Or building internal libraries of pre-built templates and modules and extensions so that when you start a new site, you basically have three different versions of ‘about us’, three different versions of ‘contact us’. You can just spin those up and tweak them for the client versus having to start from scratch. So that’s like just how do you invest in your own business to make it more efficient and scalable but also speed up the launch of the launchpad site.

Barry: Very cool, yeah that’s a really good range of examples. And I think that really helps to clarify exactly what the impact of something like, a system like growth-driven design has as well, because we touched on several different parts of the business there.

I particularly like that land and expand example because it, to me, gets right the core of the impact that we’re having as we’re moving from, boom trying to do everything at once and finding that we can’t, very often, moving to that sort of incremental–we can do something good now, but we can make it great if we just take step by step by step over time.

Luke: And what we see with all of this–kind of wrapping this all back around to the challenges that we talked about in the beginning–because we’re doing the launch pad site which is quicker and we’re getting it out there, we eliminate a lot of the scope creep issues with the initial site, right?

Because when you think about trying to scope a 6 month long project, it’s literally impossible to think about all the different scenarios and properly put some time on it. But what we’ve seen is that GDD agencies have been able to streamline their process and get the launches of the site down to 45 to 60 days, which obviously depends on the size of a prospect. There maybe some that are bigger and yeah, may take three months to build the site or there’s some that take 30 days to launch a site because it’s a small law firm or a small dental office or something like that. But generally speaking, you’re shrinking that down into a more manageable scope-able project.

So the scope creep is eliminated there and then once you’re in the continuous improvement, it’s all based off of kind of that agile backbone. So you’ll have a set scope for every month.

A lot of agencies use a point based pricing system. So the client will buy a certain number of points every month. You have that wish list of all the impactful things that you want to build based off of, you know, wherever your folks using your time and energy, and each one of those–we call them action items–each one of those action has an associated score to it. So all you do is prioritise them based off of the highest impact things. You start at the top of the list and you go down and start pulling the biggest action items until you run out of points. Once you run out of points, that’s where you draw a line and you say, ‘Alright, that’s what we’re working on this month. Everything below this will be next month.’

What we’ve seen is that, that not only helps these agencies stay within their monthly retainer budgets and not go out of scope, but it’s also a really easy way to excite and up sell clients. You know, to give you range on these retainer sizes, it’s anywhere between $2000 and $8000 a month.

And so some agencies will start them at $2500 a month and they’ll get through some of this wish list items and the client will say, ‘Oh man, these are awesome! I wanna do this, this and this. And you’re like, ‘Well we can do it, but we’ve kinda ran out of points for this month. We’re gonna have to talk about that next month.’ And they’re like, ‘Nah, I wanna do it now.’ And you say, ‘Ok well, we can do that but let’s talk about increasing the size of your engagement.’ And so very quickly after the clients have gone through a few of these cycles, a lot of these agencies have increased from $2500 to $5500 a month of the retainer size as well.

Then you can cross-sell as well where you can start saying okay well this person came in originally as a web client, they just wanted a web site. They weren’t interested in marketing. We got them going with growth-driven design, we’ve done a few cycles, they see the value.’ Now we’re starting to have some conversations around marketing and we’re able to cross-sell them into adding additional services around marketing, inbound marketing or even sales. Sometimes they need help in sales enablement and sales stuff.

And so there’s a lot of opportunities to take some of those, ‘Oh I only need a website’ type people and get them in the door on all these other services once you kinda get the ball rolling. And vice versa, if they started with just inbound, you know, eventually they’re gonna need a new site. And so you can easily eventually upsell them into GDD as well.

You know, really you want one retainer. When we think of our goal as an agency is to help our clients grow and generate revenue, and so if we break that down, it’s really gonna probably take the entire process. From first touch to closing that sale with the sales team. So that means you really should have a retainer that gives you the flexibility to work on the marketing, the inbound marketing related stuff, the website related stuff with growth-driven design, and then probably some sales and sales enablement stuff.

Because if you’re passing leads off to your client and they’re not closing them as revenue–when I was back at the agency, we would say, ‘Well, we’re only responsible for the leads and that’s all and it’s up to you to close them.’ That’s a very limited way of thinking. That’s not helping your clients grow because if they’re not closing them to revenue, they’re not growing, and guess where they’re going to end up probably having to make cuts. They’re probably gonna have to come back and cut marketing. Really helping your client grow means that you also need to be able to help them close revenue.

I recommend having a retainer that includes all three of those services and gives you the flexibility every single month to figure out what’s the formula of success for our clients. That formula of success is gonna be different for month one, then it would be month five, month eight, and that’s why you need that flexibility to be able to adjust between those different services based off of where that client is and what would be best for them that month.

Barry: I’m glad you touched on the pricing and the point based system and also the tying it into the other services and how that allows you to build out the whole services in a way that’s integrated. That’s incredibly powerful.

There’s so much more, I could go into that and we could go into that in much more detail, a lot more, but unfortunately, we’re kinda running out of time. So if people are interested in finding about more growth-driven design and more about the work you’ve been doing, where do they go to find out more?

Luke: Yeah, a lot of you are probably wondering like–you got some gears turning in your heads–and you’re wondering, ‘Okay, what does this look like? What does the process steps look like? What does a proposal for growth-drive design look like? What is a proposal with inbound and growth-driven design? How do I price these things?’

All those questions swimming around in your head, and you’re in luck! What I’ve done¬–basically all of quarter one–I’ve spent three months putting together a certification at HubSpot that is open to both partners and just any agency so you don’t have to be a partner to get access to this thing. And if you go to, that’s kinda your starting point and that’ll direct you to the certification where you can get access to all of this.

So it’s a lot. There’s a lot to it because it’s a big shift in your business, but everyone that’s gone through it has said it’s been such a good investment of their time and energy. So it’s 13 classes that will go through the first half is the methodology. What does a methodology look like? And the second half is how do you sell and service and renew clients on this methodology.

And so it’s training, but I also have pricing retainer calculators, I have example proposals that a number of the agencies in growth-driven design have given as examples. There’s case studies, there’s examples of what a launch pad website looks like, there are a million things. Basically, it’s your blueprint for you to go through and my goal building it was after you’re going through this certification, you’ll be able to build a high-performing growth-driven design program at your agency.

So if you just go to, that’s kind of a good starting point for you to find additional information and get started with this certification.

Barry: Outstanding, yeah and I’m actually working through that, a lot of that material at the moment, and I can definitely ascertain that we’ve barely scratched the surface here and all the questions that anybody listening has will be answered somewhere in that content. It’s really powerful stuff.

Luke: Yeah, the other thing that we built as a side note to that too as a support system is once you’ve signed up for the certification, you’ll also get access to, we have a Slack group, so there’s a Slack with about 1200 different agency folks that are very active. And so as you’re going through this, if you have specific questions about your industry or vertical, or about how do you position this, how do you talk about this, things that aren’t necessarily in the certification directly, or maybe are very specific to your agency, that’s an awesome place. You can post your question and, you know, I always say I don’t have the answers, I just have ideas and so if you hear my ideas in the certification but there’s 1200 other people that have amazing ideas and who are executing on this with clients and they can share their wisdom and ideas for you as well. Along with me, I’m on there so you can literally Slack me anytime you want and ask me questions and have a conversation with me.

Barry: Thanks Luke, that’s been amazing. I’m sure anybody listening will now immediately be looking for So I really appreciate your time. Thanks again.

Luke: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me and like I said, this is the type of stuff that gets me out of bed every morning. So I appreciate the invite and being able to do that today.