Why You’re Losing Proposals

Losing proposals, and the potentially lucrative contracts that come with winning them, just plain sucks. You know you can do that job – knock it out of the park, even. But for some reason, the prospective client went in a different direction, leaving you, your proposal, and the hours that went into it in the good ol’ reject pile.

Sweet.

We’ve been there. I write a ton of proposals at Paper Leaf; some we win, some we lose. Over the years, though, we’ve refined our proposals and learned a lot about why we win the ones we do – and conversely, why we lose. And guess what? The reasons we lose proposals are likely the same reasons you lose yours.

Here’s what those reasons are, and how to fix them.

Read the Full Post →

What’s Your Proof?

What do messages like “We create beautiful websites that grow your business”; “We help businesses succeed online”; and “Canada’s leading digital post-secondary institution” all have in common?

All those statements are vapid and empty; there’s nothing to back them up. There’s no proof.

Standing by themselves, these messages just plain don’t work. You can find this type of communication everywhere you look, too – and there’s a good chance that your messaging is suffering from the same fate.

That’s a problem.

Read the Full Post →

Inside the Black Box of Web Design Pricing

Web design costs come in a huge range of shapes & sizes. Thanks to that range, clients can struggle with understanding why websites cost what they do, and freelancers/shops can struggle with how to price their services.

That’s what we’re going to uncover: the thought processes, variables, logic, and math that goes into pricing web design. I’ll focus on one specific end of the spectrum: custom web design and development. While DIY web platforms like Squarespace definitely have their place, their pricing models are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. The custom side of web design & development? Not so much.

So buckle up, and let’s get our learn on.

Read the Full Post →

Understanding & Benefiting From Content:Audience Fit

There are two pieces to the content pie. The first is the content itself – websites, blog posts, articles, ad campaigns, brand messaging, etc. The second is the audience interacting with that content. Those two pieces? They need to fit like they were forever meant to be together.

You know. Kinda like me & Scarlett Johansson.

I’m talking about a concept called content:audience fit. If the content you’re creating isn’t resonating or getting traction, you can boil the problem down to one of two things: either your content isn’t good enough – not unique enough, not well-written or designed, not providing enough value, etc. – or your audience for that content isn’t right.

Read the Full Post →

The Blunt Realities of Running Your Own Design Business

My wife Andy and I started Paper Leaf in 2009. We were not bad at design (I think we’re pretty damn good now), and really green at business. In some ways, our naivety was a bit of a blessing; had we known what we know now, we probably would have talked ourselves out of starting the business. And that would have been a mistake – we love what we get to do.

Regardless, there are a number of blunt realities we faced (and still do face) – and things we’ve learned – in running Paper Leaf that we either never anticipated, or never really bought in to if we read it elsewhere. Here are some of the big ones.

Read the Full Post →