The name BlockStep describes our methodology: the core process we’ve developed to keep your costs low, deliver great work, and great results for your clients.
In this post, we’ll run through the “Blocks” and “Steps” in our process and help you understand if/when it’s a good fit for you. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Why This Approach?
- Concept and Process
- The Partner Experience
- List of Blocks
- Example Project with BlockStep
- Partnership Benefits & Fit
- Custom BlockStep Process development (a special note to Consultants)
Why This Approach
The way we buy and sell creative and growth services is absurd–it is full of uncertainty that yields bad outcomes for both the client and you. Our founders come from the agency world and both still run consulting practices.
In fact, BlockStep began after our agency got a reputation for doing “Rescue” projects. We were getting calls from both our agency friends and clients who were in a pickle on a project. We’ve seen the unprofitable projects, the costly sales cycles, the spiraling overhead costs, we know the anxiety of being ghosted by freelancers (or even employees!), and more.
We created BlockStep because the agency life is much harder than it ought to be:
- Scoping a project accurately is too hard
- Scope creep is too common
- Guessing at costs – and getting burned – happens too often (it should never happen!)
- Starting from scratch every time, on every project feels like a treadmill
- Trying to manage delivery, staff, and growth of your own business at the same time is impossible
- Managing client expectations can be an exhausting moving target
These things – and more – create a growth trap for agency owners and expert consultants.
The Concept & Process
The difficulty of staffing, finding expertise, and the complexity of management are behind all the headaches you experience.
- You need to deliver great results, but you don’t need all the staff all the time (and the huge overhead that comes with it)
- You often need expertise you don’t have in house…putting you in the awkward position of promising something you haven’t yet figured out how you will deliver
- The complexity of managing people and process to deliver or existing clients becomes the obstacle to future growth.
Too often in agency and consulting work, success is its own limiter: as you win projects and grow you have to spend more time working in the business…and it becomes harder and harder to find the time to work on your business.
BlockStep simplifies your life by offering white-labeled technical implementation for agencies and consultants. As a BlockStep partner, you have access to the expertise and skillsets when you need them without paying for them when you don’t.
The simple concept:
We operate as an ally for agency owners and consultants by radically simplifying 3 things:
- Your budgeting and quoting process during the project planning (or proposal) phase – our Partners get unlimited project estimates, expert project review, and proposal support so that you can lock in your pricing and profit margins before you bid.
- The delivery process – we deliver on time and on budget so you can sell with conviction and deliver to your clients with confidence–even when you don’t have the expertise in house.
- Your ability to focus on the growth of your business – Since you don’t have to guess at pricing or scramble to find and manage the skills to deliver, you can focus on delivering your expertise, building great relationships, and strategically growing your business.
The simple Block + Step process
We make implementing simple for you with a two part approach:
- Blocks are the foundational building blocks of your project. You can think of these like technical categories that you can mix and match to assemble what you need to successfully deliver to your client.
- Steps are the requirements for each block. We prompt you through a few key aspects of each block to accurately estimate your project.
The Partner Experience
Our Partners get unlimited project estimates so you can ballpark your costs for different feature sets or tiers of service you might offer to your client. Here’s how that process works:
- Select block(s) you need and step through the configuration and customization prompts to create an estimate
- Schedule a call to review your project estimate and lock in your cost and delivery schedule.
During this call, our experts can help you refine your project to hit a certain budget, make tweaks to boost your profit, or simply ensure the work will deliver the success your client expects.
Typical projects are billed through to end client at 2-10X cost. You can set your prices with confidence because you know you can deliver and you know the fixed costs to do it.
List of Blocks
Here is a list of the basic “Blocks” in our process with a brief description (or examples) for each.
- Web Development – building a complete website, developing a single landing page, and even special sites like membership, e-commerce, or directories.
- Marketing Setup / “Martech” Stack – Every business is a tech company now….that doesn’t mean your time is best spent keeping up with the technical trivia. This block helps you set up some (or all) of the systems of digital marketing like CRM, ESP, analytics, automations, ad platforms, and more…and connect them to your owned and earned digital properties.
- Tech Consultation – Are you (or your client) uncertain how to navigate the mushroom cloud of complexity that is the modern tech landscape? This block is designed to help you evaluate and choose the right platforms, tools, and structures for your unique situation.
- Strategy Consultation – Do you have a client who has a business problem but isn’t certain what (or if) technology is the solution? Our experts can jump on a call as part of your team, to help ensure the thing you offer to do will deliver the business results they want.
- Custom Process Design – We help you design your own custom, proprietary BlockStep process to fulfill your offer
- Data – Where does it come from, where does it go, and what does it mean? Data projects vary from creating dashboards to integrating data from different sources to understanding what to track in the first place.
- Defrag or Rescue – Is your information architecture a mess? Is something broken and the people who built it are MIA? We can help you evaluate the problem and find a solution.
- Connect & Integrate – Are your systems disconnected? Are the manual processes to move data or customers around becoming too much? This block helps you connect and integrate the systems you use to streamline workflows and be less fragile.
- Configure – Setting up something new? The configure block can handle all the technical trivia of setting up new systems the right way the first time. Whether you need email setup on a new domain or need help thinking through the taxonomy structure that triggers critical business automations in a new CRM, we can help you configure systems for success.
- Migrations – Every platform promises it will solve all your problems. They all lie. But sometimes it’s the right decision to migrate from one system to another. The stakes are always high. We can help make the migration a success.
Example: Custom Website Project
Here is an example of how the process works for a custom web development project:
Situation: You’re a design agency and have a client who needs a new website. You’ll do the design, but don’t have the skills (or capacity) in house to do the build out. Your client has a budget in mind ($25k) and clear business goals for the new website, but is pretty vague on the technical requirements.
You hit the BlockStep quote builder to estimate your costs for a few different scenarios:
You select the “Web Development” Block and choose the basic site type: Brand/Marketing Website and proceed through a few Steps:
- Design level flexibility
- Content Types
- Related Blocks
- Hosting & Maintenance
- Migration Support
In the first estimate, you want to find your minimum costs for simply coding out your design, so you proceed through the steps including only strictly required items. You receive an estimate and save it as the “Basic” option.
As a Partner, you know you have unlimited estimates so that you can estimate different scenarios. You use the estimator to work up two additional For example:
- In discovery with this client, you subscribed to their emails and noticed that the design isn’t very good – and, although new to their list, you only received their regular newsletter. You run through the quote builder process to add the cost for building out a custom email welcome series automation using an email you will design. You save this the as “Advanced” option.
- You also noticed that their website isn’t integrated with their other platforms as well as it could be (for example, they aren’t retargeting website visitors on social media). You add this integration and your design services for a few key graphics to use in the retargeting campaign, and save this package as “Growth” option.
Now it’s time to lock in your margins with a scoping call to review the project, get finalized pricing, and set your timeline.
You book a call to chat with a member of our team to see if there are opportunities to make a bigger impact for your client (or to simplify the build and reduce your costs even further). We review your estimates, help you think through your pricing strategy, and help you package each option for the client.
You’re now equipped to present to the client–knowing your costs, delivery timeframe, and your profit margins for each option. You own the client relationships, stay focused on the design work, but still get all the credit. Whatever option they choose, you win.
Partner Benefits & Fit
Our team comprises skills from Certified Digital Technicians to handle admin work through senior software developers to knock out custom code when you need it. The team approach means you get access to the skills when you need them, without paying for them when you don’t.
We radically simplify implementation from estimating through post-launch support. But that’s not all.
We view ourselves as growth partners with our clients. In addition to personal experience in the agency space, we’ve been inside successful business and supporting successful agencies and consultants. So, besides access to the implementation service, our Partners:
- Get input on scoping from our team to hit specific price points. (see what drives cost post).
- Get business insights about how to position your proposal and how to value price your project.
- Get regular invitations to business growth training
- Get access to monthly “office hours” to get support from our Founders with whatever business questions and challenges you face
- Get access to revenue share opportunities on complementary services
- Get access to our network and community
We have an application process to ensure fit, and only onboard a few clients per quarter. Not everyone is a good fit. Our approach has drawbacks for some business models and types of businesses. For example, we are not a good fit for you…
- If you start every project from scratch
- If you are selling time or client participation (e.g. sitting in their internal meetings) vs. deliverables or outcomes
- If you are not able to charge competitive market rates for your work
- If you do not want to grow or simplify your business (e.g. if it is more of a hobby where you enjoy learning and doing new technical things every project)
One simple way to know that you’re a good fit: you’re successful or in-demand despite being weak in at at least one aspect of your business (e.g. managing people or tech implementation). That’s a good indication that we can unlock significant growth for you while making your life much more enjoyable.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a partnership conversation, you can do that here.
Custom Processes – a special note for Consultants
It’s one thing if you’re selling project services, like the website build example above. It’s different if you have your own process that you run in each engagement.
We consistently heard from consultants who were frustrated by their clients that paid for expertise and received detailed insights but never implemented the recommendations. Some clients even blame the consultant for poor results despite not actually following through by implementing the recommendations.
There is a huge growth opportunity for consultants who offer multiple tiers of service that include implementation.
But how can you, as a consultant, offer “done-for-you” implementation to your clients without killing your growth or losing your sanity?
Some consultants had tried doing the implementation work themselves, but get bogged down in the technical and tactical weeds. They were miserable and, unsurprisingly, their growth sputtered to a stop.
We created a collaboration for consultants that helps them boost the impact of their work, charge significantly more, and stay focused on growing their own consulting practice.
In the “Custom Process Block” we work with consultants to document their unique process, develop repeatable implementation tiers of service, and package those services into appealing tiers that add profit without stalling growth or diluting your time and focus away from growth.
You deliver your expertise. We implement it for your client behind the scenes. You get the credit (and profit).
Are you a consultant and want to build your own BlockStep process? Schedule a conversation to discuss a custom BlockStep, built for your business.
Discover breakthrough growth with BlockStep partnership
Whether you want to simply and affordably outsource your agency’s project implementation or you have a custom consulting process you’d like help designing and delivering for clients, we can help you scale your business without the hassle and headaches.