Marketing for Architects - Part 4 - What Your Clients Are Really Buying And Why

February 7, 2019 by Declan Connolly

In the last MARKETING FOR ARCHITECTS blog post we looked at human psychology and why understanding what drives us is essential if we are going to market & sell our services.

It was a lot of heavy stuff and you’ll be happy to know that this blog post isn’t as heavy.

Now we’re going to build on the last blog post and look at what people REALLY BUY when they avail of your architectural services.

And no they are not buying ‘architectural services’ per say.

What they buy goes a lot deeper than that. And once you can communicate what that is you’ll be directly hitting the real reason someone hires an architect.

Absolutely no one communicates this way and after you watch this video you’ll be able to hit the bullseye with your marketing and make doing business with you irresistible.

In addition, if you find watching video better than reading an article simply scroll on down to the bottom as there is a video version of this blog post down there.

The Biggest Issue With Architecture Marketing

The biggest problem that architects have when trying to promote their services is that we can do a load of different types of projects.

And we then think that if we market that we can do all these types of projects then we’ll be able to get some of them.

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

By trying to sell multiple things you end up watering down your message to the point where it appeals to no one.


Someone who wants to build an office block has a very different set of motives and emotional drivers than a homeowner who wants a basement.

When you try and talk to both you talk to neither.


And you must create marketing for each type of project you want.

The Right Types Of Clients

Most people aren't prospects because they're not motivated.

It's virtually impossible to sell your architectural services to people who have no motivation.

You dramatically increase your chances of success if you're selling to motivated people who have a need.

Don’t try and sell your services to people who are not motivated.

People don't buy products or services - they buy results, benefits, and solutions.

Most architects think they're selling a service.

Most clients think they're buying a solution, a result, or avoidance of pain.

And they have emotional investment in these too which is what we want to target with our marketing.

Features, Advantages, Benefits, Results, Solutions, And Relief

Most people sell features, not advantages or benefits.

Features are what your service is, in this case architectural services.

Advantages are what your service does.

Benefits are what happens after the prospect has used your service.

A good example is the air conditioning in a car

Air conditioner is the feature – what it is.

Cooling air is the advantage – what it does.

Staying cool on a hot day is the benefit – what happens when you use it.

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Results vs Solutions vs Relief

We also need to communicate the results, solutions & relief we provide with our architectural services.

A good example here is losing weight.

Say you are a personal trainer.

Helping someone to lose 20 pounds is a result, and that's great.

But the next level is to talk about the ultimate solution, which is being able to fit in old clothes that got too small for them.

Which gives them relief from feeling unattractive.

This is the level we want to be at in our marketing, can you see the difference?


What is the relief your client gets with your service?

In your marketing you must talk about delivering an outcome and end result.

Then look at what the result is a solution to?

What is the relief that the solution delivers?

It’s the nagging voice or bad feeling inside that they want to get rid of.

Stop Selling Logic - Instead Offer Results, Solutions, And Relief

Ultimately clients don't care about you, your architectural services, your "quality" - or anything else.

When they do pay attention to these things, it's only to increase chances of getting results, solutions and relief.

Stop trying to logically convince - instead, FOCUS ON RESULTS, SOLUTIONS AND RELIEF.

Remember our 3 brains & our irrational decisions.

The reason why we focus NOT on logic, but instead on Results, Solutions and Relief is because people are driven by their motivational systems.

And these systems are based on ancient brain systems that drive us to survive, stay safe, find security, find love, express ourselves and actualize.

How To Think Like Your Clients

In order to make this mental shift, we must practice it.

We are so used to thinking "from our own perspective" that we don't adapt quickly to thinking like a client.

In order to make it natural and automatic to think like a client, you must imagine that you ARE a client.

Start by "forgetting" about you and your services, then close your eyes and imagine that you're a CLIENT.

Marketing is entering a conversation that the prospect is already having inside their own mind.

Turn off your self interest and simulate what it’s like to be another human being.

How To Know You're Made The Big Mental Shift:

The way to know that you're made the mental shift to thinking like a client is simple:

When you say or write down client needs, you speak in first person.

You use phrases that start with, "I want" and not phrases that start with "My Client Wants."

Start communicating in first person as your client

3 Important Rules Of Thumb When Targeting Your Audience:

  1. Look for potential clients who are motivated & amped up emotionally to take action and solve their problem.
  2. Look for potential clients who are looking for you and are proactively out trying to find a solution to their problem.
  3. Look for potential clients who have few perceived options.

You are not looking for everyone.

Be very specific with who you target so they feel like what you have has been made especially for them.

Exercise 4 – Looking For Clients Who Are Already Looking For You

Most people aren’t looking for the result, benefit or solution that you’re offering with your architectural services.

In order to succeed in marketing, it’s important to identify that segment or sub-group of people who have realized that they have a challenge, are emotionally motivated to find a solution, and who are pro-actively looking for you.

Use this 3 question test to make sure that your marketing appeal has a high probability of success before investing money and time testing it.

Also use this when testing a niche or sub-market:

Is my prospect emotionally irrationally driven to find a solution, solve a problem or get a specific benefit that I offer?

Is my prospective client so motivated that they’ve begun pro-actively seeking to solve their challenges?

Does my prospect have few or no perceived options?

You must get 3 yeses.

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Discovering Client Needs

The place to start when marketing is client NEEDS.

Start by identifying client needs, then build your marketing around them.

Don't make the mistake of starting with what YOU think is great about what you sell.

Clients only care about their NEEDS.

Client needs are often hidden – so you must DIG.

We humans like to assume that we "get" others - and we know what they're thinking.

Turns out that we're not as good at this as we think.

Assume that you don’t know.

There's real money on the line here, so it’s time to get serious.

The price of a mistake when identifying Client Needs is high - and the reward great.

The probability of successfully identifying client needs is low - unless you talk to them one-one-one.

What Are The Basic "Irrational" Human Needs That Drive Us?

According to Maclean's Triune Brain research our big 3 irrational drivers are Survival, Reproduction, and Status.

Remember studying Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

Well as a refresher even though I know full well you paid attention in class, there are two types of needs: deficiency and being.

The deficiency needs MUST get fulfilled. It's not optional.

These include physiological needs, love, belonging and esteem.

We'll do anything to get those needs met.

When we meet a deficiency need, then the next deficiency need up the ladder emerges. (From survival, to safety, to security, to love, to self-expression).

Once we get one sorted the next one pops up.

Our clients are mostly driven by deficiency needs.

They don't appear to be optional to the average human.

If someone has a deficiency in security then there is no point in you trying to sell them the result of being all they can be with a home that reflects that.

They need to get past security.

You have to meet them where they are at.

If You Want To "Get It Right," You Must Talk To Clients

The fastest way to discover needs that you can fulfil with your marketing is to ASK.

You'll learn more by talking to a Prospective Client for 15 minutes than you will "thinking about it" all day long.

Invest a lot of your time and energy into talking to clients.

Do this every day and it'll pay off.

Ask them for their fears and frustrations, wants and aspirations, fantasies, worries, anxieties, etc.

Don’t study and then don’t go out and do it because you can’t prepare for it. 

You can’t perfect it and this will just lock you in your reality.

By going out you will learn way more.

You're looking for emotional needs that are going unmet.

As you research and consider client needs, pay special attention to those that are going unmet.

A need that isn't met is far more powerful than a need that is being met or one they think they can meet.

Get out there and research and ask.

Keep digging.

If talking to people face to face terrifies you, a distant second best is to join Facebook groups that have your prospective clients in it.

Get in and there and see what they are saying.

Ask questions and give value.

You’ll be surprised what you learn about them and yourself.

Exercise 5 – Identifying Emotional Hot Buttons

When someone experiences a problem, pain, challenge or desire in their lives, it begins a chain reaction of thought, emotion and behaviour.

Typically, this pattern is based on a few key emotional hot button issues that drive the person to seek a solution

Use this exercise to identify those emotional drivers, so you can use them in your marketing to connect with prospective clients and motivate them to hire you:

  • What are they moving away from and what are they moving towards?
  • What are their Fear & Frustrations?
  • What are their Wants & Aspirations

So that concludes the human psychology part of these blog posts.

We are now finished with the theory and we can move on to the strategy part of marketing.

Next we’re going to look at creating what I call your Client Avatar where we bring all this together and create a profile of your ideal client.

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Here's The Video Version Of This Blog Post:

If you find watching video easier that reading a blog post then this is for you!

How Architects go from being ‘Undervalued’ to generating High-Value Custom Residential Projects using this Sir Norman Foster method…

...without being 'Fee Shopped'...

...and even if no one knows who they are and they don't have good marketing skills...

My name is Declan Connolly, founder of Affluent Architect.

I’ve been designing homes since 2000.

I started my own practice in 2009.

And now I teach Architects from all over the world how to generate Custom Residential projects for their practices.

And after all that, I can safely say:

The ‘normal’ way of educating potential clients on the benefits of hiring an Architect… NOT THE ANSWER to getting great clients & projects.

If that worked Architects wouldn’t find themselves in the constant battle of:

❌ Talking to people only interested in free advice…

❌ Writing proposals for people who only use them as a fee shopping exercise…

❌ Being underpaid & treated like a commodity…

These problems happen because Architects haven’t been taught something crucial:

How to articulate the value of their services in a way that impacts their clients on an EMOTIONAL level.

Instead, they try to ‘logically’ educate potential clients on:

❌ Reasons to hire an Architect…

❌ Project process…

❌ How they deliver their services, etc…

But high-quality clients don’t care about these things.

In fact, they view these things as OBSTACLES to them getting their new home.

It’s like when someone books a flight for a holiday.

They don’t care about the number of rivets in the plane & the stitching in the seats.

All they care about is enjoying their holiday at the end destination.

Similarly, all that matters to the potential client is the new home.

Along with all the lovely lifestyle benefits it will give them.

All the ‘logical’ based approach does is position Architects as a ‘set of plans to get the permit’.

So, here’s how we fix this.

My Architects attract creative residential projects with clients that pay top dollar for great design.

And the key to this is my proprietary A.V.I.D. Method (Articulate Value & Influence Design Method)...

…which creates marketing messages that emotionally connect with their potential clients.

This A.V.I.D. Method has been developed by trial & error in the real world since 2009.

And it’s the only method specific to the single-family residential market for Architects on the planet.

It’s enabled me & my Architect students to:

✅ Work with celebrity clients on their new home like Mark Owen from the pop band Take That...

✅ Work on jobs that have been featured on the TV Show Grand Designs…

✅ Work on homes worth as much as $18.75 million…

And the secret to this is something I learned when I was struggling to get decent projects for my practice.

I had hit a brick wall and decided to study how past Architects managed to do it.

And who better than Sir Norman Foster himself.

He got started in the high-tech industrial market.

Which is a super-competitive market against far bigger and more established firms.

Sir Norman Foster didn’t go and try and ‘logically’ educate potential clients.

Instead, he described what his target clients’ businesses would be like AFTER they built one of these buildings.

And once I applied this same principle to Custom Residential it completely changed the game for me.

Describing a potential client’s life AFTER they have built their new home is what gets their attention.

✅ It instantly creates trust & respect because we are describing what they really want...

✅ It creates an air of 'exclusivity' & ‘uniqueness’ around our services which clients pay more for...

✅ Defines who our target clients should be & where to find them…

However, it must be done in a certain sequence.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you on a special Case Study recording.

Where I show you how the A.V.I.D. Method works.

As well as how it creates my students’ marketing for them which saves a bunch of time.

This Case Study also shows you loads of examples of our students' marketing that is working like crazy in the Custom Resi market:

Click Here To Register For Your Free A.V.I.D. Method Case Study

So, if you're sick and tired of being treated like a commodity...

And you want to finally work with appreciative clients who value what you do…

…get paid the fees that you deserve & have a great income for a change…

…and work on fulfilling creative jobs without sacrificing time with your family…

Then let’s get the A.V.I.D. Method working for your practice.

Go ahead and register for your free Case Study right now:

Case Study For Architects Who Are Sick & Tired Of Being Undervalued & Underpaid

How To Reach & Land Committed High-Paying Custom Residential Clients Who Value Architecture Without Being 'Fee Shopped'... ...Even If No One Knows Who You Are & You Don’t Have Good Marketing Skills...

Click Here To Watch This Free Case Study Now

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