You’ve probably heard ‘mind your Ps and Qs’ before… I know I have. Countless times.

And you’ve probably heard about the four marketing Ps.

But those aren’t the four Ps I’m talking about.

The four Ps I’m talking about are the ones holding you back from growing and scaling your design business.

These ones are BAD, like Charlie Sheen BAD not Johnny Depp BAD, and they’re ruining your client relationships.

When I’m training designers all over the world, this is the #1 mistake I see them making over and over again.

When I started out, I noticed every designer was selling on the four Ps. But I never wanted to design anything unless it had a money-making element to it.

I met a beautician at a funeral who’s now one of my best friends (I know, I know, of all the places to meet, right?) and she asked me design cards and flyers for a letterbox drop. She was going to start running her business from home.

I’d been thinking about this and before I did anything, I said, ‘I will only design it for you if it has an offer attached.’ So we did. That flyer pretty much kick-started her business.

I’ve always had an interest in marketing and copy, but when I first started to get clients, I relied on word-of-mouth for referrals. I too was scared to approach strangers because I didn’t know what to say. I was afraid of looking like a goose.

A slimy Irish guy was the turning point. The wake-up call. My aha moment.

We were both working the bustling Wagga Wagga web design market. I’d build rapport with a new lead and drum up a bitchin’ strategy. Then the slimy Irish guy would swoop in and nab the client from under me.

So I decided it was time to get into marketing. I started with SEO, then email marketing, then blogging, then partnerships. I worked out how to differentiate myself.

And what happened to the slimy Irish guy? Yeah, you guessed it. The lead-pinching loser went out of business.

So let’s talk about the first P – your PORTFOLIO.

I don’t want to sound harsh here, but you really need to get your head out of your portfolio, and into what really matters for your clients.

Your portfolio is not where it’s at.

I agree, your portfolio is important, and you should do good work, but your clients are not hiring you because of your folio.

I see way too many designers spend months agonising over their portfolio, to the point where they’re completely paralysed by fear and don’t even end up launching their website, because they’ve got to get it just right.

Jodi English, graphic designer and part of the Foxley team, was hung up on her portfolio. She wouldn’t put it on her site until it was perfect.

We had a little heart-to-heart about her holding back, and since then Jodi’s confidence has just skyrocketed. She knows there’s a million designers out there doing good work, but it was her personality, knowledge and approach to projects that set her apart. She reframed what made her a good designer.

So rather than worrying about pushing pixels, she’s focused on doing the work, cultivating client relationships and helping them get the results they want (and need) in their business.

In fact, most of Jodi’s clients come from referrals based on positive and helpful client relationships and not just a ‘pixel perfect’ portfolio.

So, you can see it’s not just about the portfolio. I can I tell you… your portfolio probably makes up about 1% of the reason why people buy from you. It’s more of a confirmation tool, than a decision-making tool.

So rule #1 — get over yourself and your portfolio.

Your work is only part of what sells you – it’s about the client. You need to talk to the client in language they want to hear.

The second P is the PLATFORM.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

We’ve delivered thousands of web projects, which means we’ve pitched over 5,000 times.

That’s 5,000 conversations we’ve had with small business owners and 5,000 opportunities to test out our theory that the platform is a TOOL and not a strategy.

And do you know what 99% of these clients tell us?

They couldn’t give two rats about the platform.

It’s like the fuel in your car. It doesn’t matter if it’s Shell, or BP or Mobil. If it’s a piece-of-shit car that breaks down all the time, then it’s a piece-of-shit car.

But most designers keep talking about the platform and technology like it’s the bee’s knees. And all that does is make clients feel stupid.

So if you want to know the fastest way to kill a client relationship, start talking about the platform.

Even now, a lot of designers are saying to potential clients, ‘check out my portfolio’ and spending 15 minutes chewing their ear off about the platform. That’s two Ps, one conversation, and one client relationship down the gurgler.

The other day at Web123, we had a sales call and out of interest we asked, ‘So what have other web businesses asked you?’

The potential client told us that one web designer said that ‘blue would be her colour’!

‘No one is talking about what you guys are, just the platform or colours,’ she said.

Now, you’re probably asking ‘What should I talk about then?’

The answer is the strategy.

You need to educate clients on how to get their website to work – to bring in new business, enquiries and sales… to generate RESULTS.

Not how many pages they need, or what colour it is, or what theme or plugins they want.

The third ‘P’ that is holding you back is your PROPOSAL.

If you think that your proposal the thing that sells your services to a client, you’re wrong.

It’s nothing more than a formality – your terms and conditions to protect yourself, and a signature. That’s it.

But I see so many designers spending hours and hours, pouring their all into creating these proposals for clients hoping to win the deal, after just a few emails back and forth, or a 15-minute phone conversation.

We do our proposals in under 10 minutes. And in most cases, we get payment on the same day that we send them.

If you’re like most designers I talk to, you probably have a ton of props out there still sitting in limbo land because your client won’t return your call.

It’s not your fault. I used to be exactly the same.

Now I bet you’re busting to know what the trick is, right?


It’s all about educating your client and building rapport.

You’ve got to build so much rapport in that meeting, whether it be in person or over the phone, or Skype, that by the time you send the proposal, they’re already sold.

Yep, it’s that simple.

90% of the sale is done on rapport.

The entire process should be about educating, not selling. Once you’re done educating and have built enough rapport, the deal is done. Then the rest – the proposal – is simply a formality.

And lastly, the fourth P that’ll destroy your client relationships in a heartbeat is PRICE.

Comparing yourself to others.
Getting compared to your competitors.
Selling hours for dollars.

Those damn clients will try anything to beat you down on price….

Or will they?

Have you ever read any books on the psychology of pricing? It’s fascinating!

If you’re currently charging $500 for a website, what do you think that says about you?

If clients try to bust you on price, in 9 out of 10 cases, it’s because they haven’t seen value yet.

But what if I told you that all those clients that say they can only afford $500, will happily pay you $5k or more, if you just change the conversation?


Jenelle Reynolds, a top student in our Mountains of Clients course, left a comment in our Facebook group:


Jenelle did one key thing in her meeting – she made her client conversation around value.

You need to talk about return on investment – what that site can do for their business.

By showing a client how you can help them get 10 new clients each year that might deliver $100k in revenue – all from spending $10k with you – you avoid all those painful objections around price.

And before you freak out, stop, and breathe.

This does not mean you have to give any sort of guarantee. You’re simply teaching them about business fundamentals and what it takes to be effective online.

Now you know the dreaded four Ps:

  • Portfolio,
  • Platform,
  • Proposal,
  • Price.

They’re the only things holding you back from creating the business and life you love.

I discussed the four Ps on Facebook Live, and you can watch the replay here:

So now we’ve got you into the right headspace and set you up for success.

And if you want to know how we acquire new clients using education and not sleazy sales techniques, then you need The Client Pick Up Kit, a proven system to close 3X more sales in half the time.

Get it today and be on your way to talking to clients in their language – RESULTS – and get confident talking about what their website can DO for them.

Author Bianca Board

After 20 years inspiring more than 10,000 designers and small business owners to take control of their business, Bianca is now spearheading Foxley, a brand spanking new SaaS platform for designers. She is deeply passionate about helping distil the complexities of running a web design business - to make it easier for all designers to make the leap from designer to design entrepreneur. She’s a translator of web jargon, a lead generation master, a champion for small businesses and you can Google her brain for endless strategies on how to transform your business.

More posts by Bianca Board

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