Breakdown - A Gravity Forms Podcast

We're back! The first episode of 2024 has arrived and it's a fun exploration of all things new at Gravity Forms.

We'll explore some updates that have happened before our 2023 seasonal break, what features you can look forward to with Gravity Forms, and our upcoming launch of Gravity SMTP version 1.0.

Matt interviews Tim Brown of Hook Agency, which covers how he's built a large book of business serving the construction industry. Tim and his team help these brands launch WordPress websites to power their online marketing campaigns. At the heart of all of this? Gravity Forms. If you're an agency owner, you won't want to miss today's episode.

If you have a moment, please take a moment to take this short survey about this podcast! Your feedback helps us improve the show. 

What is Breakdown - A Gravity Forms Podcast?

Discover new WordPress opportunities through stories told using Gravity Forms. WordPress developers and agency owners rely on Gravity Forms to solve complex problems for their clients. Breakdown explores their stories to extract the most useful lessons for our listeners.

Join podcast host Matt Medeiros with special guest appearances from the team behind Gravity Forms to stay up to date on the next opportunity for Gravity Forms + WordPress. Whether it's a new Gravity Forms add-on or a new way to use our e-commerce features, Breakdown is the WordPress podcast you want to be subscribed to.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Five, four, three, two, one.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Hey, Gravity Formers. It's Monday, February 8th, 2024.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We're back with new episodes of Breakdown, lots of updates to jump into.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I'm excited to be with you again.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Let's go. It's Breakdown, a Gravity Forms podcast.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:How's 2024 going for you?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:The last time we were together, we were headed into our seasonal break.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I enjoyed some downtime with the family, had a chance to reflect on my creative work,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:and now we're back in full force at Gravity Forms.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We had a lot of planning meetings, getting all of our product stuff ready to launch and update and announce.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:For 2024, it's going to be an exciting time.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So let's catch up on some updates that you might be interested in.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:The next major WordPress event we'll be at is WordCamp Europe 2024,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:which takes place in Torino, Italy, June 13th through the 15th.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I'm excited to go, if I go.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Still not set in stone yet, but if I do see you in Torino, I would be happy to shake your hand, say hi,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:and especially if you listen to the Breakdown podcast.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I'd love to know more about what you do in the WordPress space.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Earlier in the month, I posted more info about planning the Gravity Forms Summit 2024.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:In the post, I reflected on our first summit with what I think went well and what can be optimized on our side.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:If you have any feedback, click the link in the show notes, scroll to the bottom of the blog post,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:and take that quick three-question survey.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:It'll really help me set up and prepare for what you're looking for out of a Gravity Forms Summit in 2024.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Since the last episode, we're now at Gravity Forms 2.8.2.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:If you haven't followed the changelog, I'll leave the link in the show notes for you to read up on.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:There's been a lot of changes and updates to core Gravity Forms,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:including the updates to our core of Gravity Forms.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:A bunch of add-ons have been released, most notably the Survey Add-On 4.0,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:which now supports conditional logic.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Check that out if you use the Survey Add-On.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I've been using it a lot more with the survey and feedback forms for this podcast, the summit, and other things at Gravity Forms.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Last but not least, Gravity SMTP has seen a bunch of beta and release candidate updates.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:A stable version, 1.0, is coming very soon.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Follow us on social media and YouTube.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Stay connected to this podcast so you can be the first to know about Gravity SMTP 1.0.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Gravity Forms has a lot of exciting stuff for you this year, and I'm thrilled to be your audio guide throughout the journey.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:If you have any questions for me, reach me at

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Let me know what you're thinking about Gravity Forms, what you're thinking about the Breakdown Podcast,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:if there's a feature that you want in Gravity Forms.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Hey, hit me up. Let me know what you're looking for.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Today's special guest is Tim Brown.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:He owns and operates Hook Agency, an agency that focuses on the roofing, HVAC, and plumbing services sector.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Tim has a fascinating approach to streamlining his agency positioning and doubles down on niching down on the customer he serves.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Of course, he uses Gravity Forms for all of his WordPress website builds.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Lead gen, contact forms, and integrating customer CRM systems through our integrations make his team's life much easier,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:plus it adds a level of value to his overall offering.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:If you're an agency owner or freelancer, I think you'll really enjoy this interview with Tim.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Hey Tim, welcome to Breakdown.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Hey, how's it going, man?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:CEO, founder, lead strategist at Hook Agency. What else do you do?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I love being a practitioner of marketing, and I love being a curious person.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I get to hang out with a ton of high-level entrepreneurs as a content creator.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So that's a huge source of growth for me on a regular basis, just picking the brains of like 30 million and $100 million home service business owners,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:and just taking those things back to my team and trying to help lead my team and become a leader of leaders.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I'm a decade-long agency owner. I ran an agency for a decade, and I have a lot of war stories, as I'm sure you do as well.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But the Gravity Summit, which will happen again in 2024, date to be determined, is about getting agency owners or even freelancers together

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:to see how, number one, how they're using Gravity Forms in their product offering or service offering,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:but also to share that industry knowledge to help everyone here that uses Gravity Forms.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I'm hearing that you have a core focus on a particular customer, maybe you call it avatar customer profile. What's yours?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So basically $5 to $15 million roofing HVAC and plumbing business owners.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we've gone after the business owner more than the marketing manager just because we like them and we like to learn from them.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And marketing managers, I mean, we have some, and I'm sure very few of them will watch this, if not zero.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But the point is, for some reason, we like dealing with business owners,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:and that's why we're not going up to the next, we have some $50 million clients and stuff like that as far as their revenue,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:but I just don't pursue it because it just gets convoluted.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And the bureaucracy of those organizations sometimes is intimidating for me.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:It doesn't mean that they're bad companies or there's anything wrong with it. It's just that the bureaucracy is a little bit intimidating.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:The sales cycles are way longer. They're like months and months, and I like three weeks.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:The decision-making process, like they need a new website. For some reason, we can't get off the fence with this old website,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:even though it's been there for seven years. Sometimes it just rubs me like, let's move.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So I like sometimes that nimbleness of those $5 to $15 million home service business owners.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Yeah, that's awesome. There's a few years ago, I did a bunch of exterior work to my house, windows, roof, decks, vinyls.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:This one company came in, I talked to a bunch of companies, and this one company came in and they were great.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:They were fantastic. Great sales process, all the support. Anyway, the point is, is I talked to them later on when I wanted to do my bathrooms.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And I'm like, "Hey, do you guys do bathrooms?" They're like, "Nope, we only do exterior work, and that's all we focus on is that."

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And just like agencies, and I totally get it. I totally get it because, again, as a former agency owner,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:you start creeping into other industries or verticals that you're not so knowledgeable on.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And I remember selling websites into a big museum. We got this big project one time, it was a museum, art museum.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And this was my first experience in learning you got to focus on which customers you want to serve.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Because I said, "Yes, the marketing person was great." And then I got in and all of a sudden it was,

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:"Hey, so here's the committee that's going to pick all of the colors and all of the fun." I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, committee?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Wait, I'm working with you." And then I quickly realized those bumps and bruises.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I talked to the same exterior guy and I said, "Hey man, I get it. I get why you don't want to do bathrooms or kitchens.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I want to come in, I got to process, I wrap your house, I do your decks, I do your windows, and I do a great job at it."

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And that's it, and I move on, and I get the next customer. I totally get it.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Partly the reason that we have the services that we do and don't offer other ones too, it's very similar to the same reason exterior modelers only want to do exterior modeling.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Intimacy. We can do SEO and ads and a website without being up in the guts of your organization, to be real.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And then the other stuff that we used to do, we used to do social media marketing, we used to do video marketing.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We used to do positioning and branding. Those are really intimate.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And the same with the kitchen remodel and bathroom remodel. And I'm excited I'm about to do a bathroom remodel this summer.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But it's the same thing. It's so intimate and they have to be in there and know and feel your family and you got to feel good about it.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Exterior modelers, you just got to get the work done and you can get very good exterior modeling work done with almost no contact with the homeowner.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And it's the same kind of thing. It's like that principle is partly why we've chosen the services that we've chosen.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And then we can create essentially product ties, but formulaic product offerings for our three niches that we're mostly focused on.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And without having to basically like the best marketing, if it was like social media, video marketing, stuff like that, you're out there.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:You're in the office, you're on the job site. Like it's just so intimate. So like we advise our clients to do those things internally.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we teach them as much as we can. Like we do. We give away as much as we know about that, which I know a lot because I'm a practitioner on social and video.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And so I just teach what I know on that and try to help them. And then I do recommend them. I mean, I said the thing about the marketing managers, but at a certain size, you need one.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we do recommend that for our companies. It's anywhere from that three to sometimes they don't get one for a while. They have an awesome agency. Right.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So we do recommend it at a certain point. And then like the services are better internal and services are better external.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So I was trying to figure out as an agency owner, as an agency offering these things or a freelancer or whatever, what can I do from the outside that doesn't require me to sell my soul into this company and be so intimate with them that marketing, it's high leverage activities that can be done from the outside.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:It's yeah, the absolute ideal would be that you're there every day taking pictures and video and stuff like that as a marketing company, like as a as a web designer.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Yeah. I want to take pictures every single time of everything. I want to be the guy. I don't want to use one stock photo.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But but how can we get this price point down? Right. And how can we find that balance of what they'll accept?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we've had a lot of kind of back and forth on that. You know, generally a price has gone up.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we've figured out ways to do that without killing our clients or making them hate us like we're we're on the high end of our clients expectation.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We're an aspirational purchase for at least the roofing industry, which is where we've dominated.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We're an aspirational marketing purpose purchase and we're twenty one thousand dollars a website, which is high for them.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:It's high for them. And we do completely custom design and development, but we've broken it down into a monthly cost.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we've gotten a bank partner, which I think is smart to to essentially front that financing for us.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So we're financing it for them. But the bank is financing it for us kind of thing. Right.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And so we it's really seventeen fifty a month per website, you know, like for twelve months. And that it's theirs from whenever it goes live.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:It's we believe that they should own their marketing and like they can take it with them. Right.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And they should you know, and as they switch agencies, they shouldn't have to redo their website every time it's built.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Well, it's built custom with advanced custom fields and gravity forms and open source things that they can take with them anywhere, which is good.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And that's, I think, how things should be built and they should be able to take things on the road.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But yeah, just the balance of trying to figure out how to position this.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We still have a lot of people in our industries that we serve that say, damn, that's expensive.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we have to be cool with letting those clients not be customers.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So we've gotten very come we market really hard for ourselves and we get comfortable.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Let it like telling people how to do something themselves. We I'm teaching people how to do web design on a theme and SEO on our YouTube.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Like from everything that I know about SEO, which maybe it's a little less than it was three years ago when I was half just me, you know.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But I try to teach as much as I possibly know. And then I just say, hey, go check out this YouTube series where I'm showing you everything we do from scratch.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And that's the positioning piece of it. I do think it makes us a little mess with that company.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:They may be expensive, but they're literally showing me how to do it if I wanted to do it.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So that's like it softens the blow of people being annoyed that we're expensive.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Plus, you're aligned with an industry that, just like we were saying before, probably understands that that value pitch from you.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Hey, do you want me to cut corners?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:If your customer says, I don't want to use this quality material and I don't want you to, you know, do just just put the old soffit back when you rip it down.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Just put the old back and they're gonna be like, what? Why are you gonna do? It's not going to save you that much money.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And I just put it back. They probably understand that. Look, I want quality. We want quality.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And the other cool, well, not cool is not the right word, but the other smart thing from your side is these companies are probably less likely to do a rebrand every couple of years.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So like if you were focusing on, I don't know, if you did other software companies or other tech companies and stuff like that, that type of company, I feel like is always reiterating themselves every couple of years.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Probably in the builder space, general contracts and stuff like that, they don't really level up until they get to bigger numbers.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Okay, now we're going to do bathrooms, but they're not going to do that until they're a 30 million dollar a year company. Right?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So they don't add that on. And that means that you have less of that like design choice. Like, hey, dude, let's do a new logo. Let's do a new web design.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I'm sure you'd like it, but it's also more money, more problems in those.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I just say three, I say three to five years for redesign for these guys. And I'm doing three for ours.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I just keeping it fresh and like her site when it went live three years ago was really cutting edge. And now it's just kind of old and it feels old and there's like some Frankenstein thing that happens. Right?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So, but I want to go back to the thing you said before that strong recommendation, what you're talking about, whatever niche you serve, and that's a really good benefit because they can't hear you unless you know a little bit about what they do for some reason.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I bet you it's the same and medical. I've worked with all kinds of niches. Right.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I would list them off, but you know what I'm saying? Like just a couple like medical, financial, you know, what?


Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Yeah. I've worked with a lot of different types of stuff. And if you can't say, if you can't like keep up with their lingo, they for some reason think you're dumb. I don't know why that is, but it's in every single niche it feels.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I remember manufacturer. I was working with them. I didn't know it. Oh, it was like, what was it? I was like a very niche term and I didn't recognize it.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:They suddenly, I saw their lights go off in the sales process because I didn't OEM, original equipment manufacturer. So you kind of got to study the lingo.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And Mark Cuban said it once very well. He said, just study. And I mean, it's old way of saying it originally. He said, study the trade, trade rags for that particular industry.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And if you read the last three and he's talking about magazines, but you can go to their YouTube channels and whatever. If you studied, if you looked at the last three newsy YouTube videos from like influencers in that space every week, you're ahead of probably an 80%, 90% of them of understanding what's going on in their industry and being able to talk like you're part of them.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We always say like with, with websites, we always say, Hey, you guys rip off a roof and you see the decking and it's rotted. This is what it would be like if we were trying to do SEO and PBC on a website that was poorly built.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So we don't want to cover it up and pretend like it didn't happen. We want to make sure we're making the right decisions underlying your marketing that are really important. And we mean it, right? We really believe that we believe we have what is 48% faster results on websites that we built custom.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And we have the data for that and we look at the data for that. So, but that cuts through maybe it doesn't cut through for your audience, but like for them, that that's a banger for some reason.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it works.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Because they feel like we understand their problems and that's a big problem for them. It's a, it's a nasty one. It hurts for them. So we use the kind of like pain of the customer and understand it in a deep way so we can empathize it, but also use it as analogies for what we're selling.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Yeah, that's great. A hundred percent. Let's talk about Gravity Forms for a little bit. Obviously you're building websites with WordPress, you're using Gravity Forms. That's how we got connected. Contact forms, probably lead gen forms. Somebody fills out, "Hey, I want to quote to do my roof." Customers probably coming through a Gravity Forms. You say your team uses it on all the websites, which is fantastic.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We use it for everything. We love the new features coming out. You guys are updating this all the time. Some of the things we're really excited about are just the new layout and positioning tools available. Just like flexibility with where the buttons are and things like that. Super big for us. Like just allows us to have to do less custom coding and stuff like that.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:We're really excited about, I know it's upcoming, I think, but the SMTP stuff that you guys are doing, I think you guys are probably excited about it. We're also excited about it. And then just, I think age old, like ever since I started developing websites, you guys integration with other tools.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:I think that's always what I, if I think about the other contact form solutions on the market, they're either overbuilt out, kind of not built for developers or like real website designers.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And, or they're so kid glovey, right? They're like built for like just themes or like really basic stuff that they don't have the functions that we need and they're not simple. And so we've just, I've always appreciated the ability, the quickness, the ability to save all the, you know, to be able to look at the back end, look at the submissions to be able to do, you know, alerts for the forms and auto responders and stuff like that.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:But the ecosystem and the add-ons for things like Zapier and integrations across the board, HubSpot, stuff like that, just always, it makes this the obvious one for us.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Do you get into, I know you have three, the three key areas that you mentioned before the three core services, but you get into setting up a CRM or a newsletter tool for your customers, or is that something that you say, no, we don't do that?

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So we're down to do the basic integration. We're not a CRM company. And once again, we kind of guard ourselves on these three services. There are plenty of really good CRM companies. There's plenty, like people that study that that's their main thing.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And so I think it goes for whatever industry and niche you're serving. If you're certain, I think it's really good. I, you know, I'm obviously a shill for niching niche. Okay. And niche again, cause like for us, the big move was when we, when we niche from contractors to roofing.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So if you already think you're niche, niche again and see how powerful that is. It's incredible. We have so many roofers now.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:And now we have to expand cause we're getting a little bit claustrophobic in some markets. So we have to like, that's why we're pushing out to HVAC and plumbing, but like your industry, your niche, when you see the other players that are kind of alongside, you know, there's, we have a coaching, marketing coaching service.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:That's really strong. And then we have a big, like kind of CRM company. That's really strong and really vocal. So it's kind of like understanding how you're playing with those other big people in the niche. And I kind of just watched myself stepping on their toes a little bit.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:So I just push people to that CRM focused company, or I push people to that training company and then you get the flow going. So it's, you know, they're flowing to us. We're flowing to them. You know, like to me, it's big. If you could give those niche players that are alongside of you a couple more referrals a year, instead of trying to add a service that you're not that good at, you can really set yourself up as an expert.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Tim Brown hook agency. Where can folks go to say, thanks.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:My LinkedIn, maybe Tim Brown and then maybe just put Tim Brown hook or Tim Brown hook agency. And I'd love to connect with you on there.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:That's it for today's episode. If you could do one more thing for me today, share this episode on social media, your favorite Facebook group or discord channel, spread the word about this podcast.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:It really helps if you haven't added breakdown to your favorite podcast app, point your browser to gravity and click the icon of your app to add us and listen to us every two weeks.

Breakdown_Ep17_Final:Okay. We'll see you in the next episode.