The Story of Growth Guild

Back in medieval times, somewhere between slaying dragons, storming castles and throwing back ale, people with similar crafts formed guilds. More than anything else, banding together and learning from others guaranteed quality.

Now, when you hear “guild,” you might think World of Warcraft. In this extremely popular and occasionally all-consuming game, players with a common goal form an alliance of sorts. Not only they can achieve more aggressive goals faster, but they usually have more fun (unless they invite Leeroy Jenkins).

This principle makes sense to us.

An Accidental Guild

I’ll spare you the resumes (check our bios for that) but we come from pretty different backgrounds. The short story is we’ve got different respective skills—marketing strategy and ops, growth “hacking” and experimentation and creative development (content and design)—and experience across numerous industries and channels.

Our paths all collided, however, at Astronomer, a venture-backed tech startup in Cincinnati. There, we formed the core marketing arm of the Growth team. In October 2016, Dave started as Head of Marketing, closely followed by Laurel as Director of Content. From there, Dave recruited Steve, an old colleague from dotloop, to join as Director of Experimentation. And one of Steve's favorite former Inman News colleagues, Astrid, joined shortly after to work remotely as a designer from her home base in Denver.

With remarkably little effort, we fell into our sweet spot: generating quick wins by “swarming” people with iterative paid promotion (mostly Facebook and Google Adwords) and careful retargeting while simultaneously developing long-term strategies for sustained growth, primarily through high-value content and email marketing tactics. Constantly, we were on the lookout for ways to automate a process or make it more data driven.

And soon, we hit our stride as a team, too. While we each owned our respective area, we collaborated on how to strategically achieve specific KPIs. Best of all, each of us understood the urgency associated with rapid growth, which means we hit deadlines for each other, created space for brainstorming and made quick group pivots to accommodate experiment results. More than that, we liked each other. And positive, hilarious, goal-oriented friends can be hard to find.

Without realizing how guild-like we were, we pushed each other to more quality growth—while having fun in the process.

Making It Official

Our big moment arrived in November 2017 when, after much deliberation, Astronomer decided to hit “pause” on inbound growth efforts to focus solely on product engineering. Our team parted amicably (startup life is all about pivots) and found ourselves facing a choice: find new full-time jobs separately and take a gamble on new colleagues and team dynamics … or stay together as a stealth growth team that can insert itself into a company and kickstart the growth tactics needed to hit their goals and see wins.

Of course, you already know how this story ends.

Sticking together seemed like the best choice, both for us personally and in terms of the impact we could make. In a frenzy of late-night texts, we dubbed ourselves Growth Guild.

Our value prop is generating aggressive growth while building the infrastructure to sustain it, all based on proven digital marketing tactics. Because we rely so heavily on data-based experimentation, we focus on an organization’s KPIs and plan a strategy to hit those. We’ll sit down and listen to your business and growth goals. Then, if our methods are a good fit for your needs, we propose a strategy with plenty of room for experimentation (which we keep deliberate and analytics-driven).

Your growth, we think, belongs in the hands of a team that’s obsessed with it and trusts each other. Our Guild might not be storming any castles, but you better believe we’ll get people to storm yours.

About, History, GrowthLaurel Brunk