One ‘Magic’ Secret To Getting Your Next Architecture Proposal Signed

In this article you'll discover a powerful principle that can help you write better architecture proposals and get the client to sign on the ‘X' every time.

Here's the key:

People purchase on emotion and justify with logic.

You'll find this saying popular with sales gurus, however it only starts to scratch the surface of why people REALLY move ahead with a purchase decision.

Have you ever had a ‘gut feeling' or ‘gut instinct'?

Have you ever found later that your gut instinct was correct?

Think this is odd?

Actually, it's a natural phenomenon explained through neuroscience.

Our brain has at least two levels: the conscious level, and the subconscious level.

Our unconscious mind evaluates complex relationships, variables and stimuli that our conscious mind doesn't grasp.

For instance, in one study subjects were given four stacks of cards and told they would either win money or lose money based on the card drawn.

The Iowa Gambling Task study shows the role of the subconscious mind in decision-making

Unknown to them, the decks were carefully prepared.

Some decks were ‘losing decks' and some were ‘winning decks'.

After 40 or 50 selections, participants usually figured out which deck gave the better odds and began choosing the ‘winning' decks.

And yet, researchers measured increased anxiety when subjects hovered over bad decks after only 10 trials, long before subjects realized consciously that the decks were bad.


What's going on here??

The subconscious mind recognizes the pattern and gives an emotion.

We're hard-wired to make decisions based on emotion and intuition.

Great influencers and persuaders realize that emotion is the direct path to our mind and heart and they use it to their advantage.

Remember the Apple's amazing ‘Think Different' campaign?

I dare you to watch it without getting goose bumps…

P.S. Did you notice the two architects?

Nowhere does this advertisement talk about selling computers.

And yet it's hailed as one of the best ads of all time.


Because it makes us feel.

It inspires us.

And now we associate those feelings with … you guessed it: Apple.

Good marketers understand this concept.

Apply this more in your practice, and you'll find that clients and projects are drawn to you mysteriously.

Except it isn't mysterious.

Here's a final example.

Watch this brilliant ad:

The best messages connect with us emotionally

Notice how the ad DOESN'T start out – talking about the product being promoted.

Instead it connects with an emotional experience (and a big dose of humor).

You know what I'm talking about – that feeling you got after the last episode of Seinfeld was over, or the last episode of '24'.

Sheesh! Talk about first world problems!!

And yet, you can identify with that empty feeling you get after you finish a great T.V. series or a good book.

If only there were more!!

But wait! There is! (you'll need to watch the ad above to see what I'm talking about – it's only 31 seconds long)

Now let's bring this home to how you can make your writing and communication more effective, including your proposals:

Take the problems you solve and benefits you provide as an architect to your clients and translate them into emotional experiences.

This is what the brain understands and what prompts action.

Here's a real-world example:

Say you design custom luxury, very high-end homes for multi-millionaire clients.

You give them a place to gather the family, to go on vacation, or to get away.

Yes, that's the function, but what's the emotion?



A feeling of arrival.

Conspicuous consumption.

Help your client visualize how they will feel entertaining their friends.

Which is more powerful:

We'll deliver your home on time and on budget..

pshaw … so overused.

How about instead …

… a client testimonial which says “I secretly think my friends are envious of my new home. Everyone asks me who designed it.”

That'll get the ego-imagination going!

Or perhaps you do institutional work.

Facility managers don't purchase on emotion right?

All facts and figures.


At the end of the day they want what we all want: recognition and to look good in front of their higher ups.




Include a testimonial from a client talking about how “the board of directors loves the new building!” or tell a story of a previous client who got a promotion because of their good work.

You get the idea.

You're smart and motivated – that's why you read Business of Architecture – I'm sure you can figure out how to use this in your marketing and messaging.

Oh and here's a bonus, check out this ad from jeweler Cartier – what are they selling here, jewelry or experience?

Leave your comment below and let me know what YOU think.



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

21 Responses

  1. Sir enoch, you and your advices are so influencing for 22y young architect like me to looking forward towards achieving my goals and getting freedom from all bondage. thank you.

  2. Emotional appeals like this are great, but even in the very high end residential market, can only go into a letter after a meeting, Our “proposals” are contracts. They are designed to make it easy for the cliebnt to see what we do and what we cost and how they pay it, I’,m not sure adding a testimonial at the bottom of a proposal or in the introductory paragraph seems very professional. But I could very well be wrong. It may be just the thing to personalize the proposal and let the client know, on a subconscious level that our first sentence in our mission statement is “We strive, in all phases of a project to insure the client’s happiness is still foremost in our minds and in everything we do”.

  3. This is amazing. Getting connected to client’s emotion and excites their dream is the secret passage. The Cartier advertisement is so powerful. I have been doing it all wrong, It’s not about “me”, the architect’s ego or selling my design (branding), but to help clients to visualize how their dreams come true, and the building project is just a delivery vehicle accomplishing that goal. Design is not an end in itself. It’s a launch pad, so people can reach to the moon, as most felt the same way in their aspiration of what their building can do for them.

  4. Thank you Enoch for your desire on helping other architects succeed! – you’re a blessing to us all. Best regards from Cabo México! – René López.

  5. You’ve made an emotional connection, this is awesome, busy putting together a newer method of quoting and these will be so helpful.

    just a note: ad from jeweler Cartier is no longer available.

  6. according to my native language – Persian – I can read English difficult, by using dictionary and google translate(!), but I have read every article you write, and I really really love them ! very very useful 🙂
    good luck lovely Enoch.
    and in my language : دمت گرم !

  7. Deeply and profoundly spot on.

    We have always know that emotion and association thereof sells, yet why do we leave it out in architecture.

    Architecture has always been to shelter, comfort, to help you to aspire and to heal you. It should always be packaged this way.

    As David says, it has to read like a good book in niche. Reading this has reminded me never to over look the crave that tastebuds prefer to indulge on rather then long technical verbiage. I am sold!

    Its all about feeding the tastebuds and touching the soul. A building is the product.

    Enoch great contribution.

  8. Great post and last example made it clear. I agree with David and your response regarding vignettes. It’s the emotional experiences we create that improve the quality of life for our clients. “Bright, light-filled kitchen.” Always resonates.

  9. Enoch, great post. Maya Angelou once said that people will forget what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel. The last video, man, did that provoke powerful emotions. Funny thing is, architecture is ALL about experience. When we enter into a great building, how we feel, that sense of awe and wonder, that sense of delight at well proportioned features in a visual symphony, it is a powerful experience. So when we as architects can walk our clients through the proposed design whether verbally, or through drawings, or through 3d simulations, it’s not all the skill of creating the content that matters. It is telling a story of how they’ll enjoy a great book sitting in that window seat you’ve designed for them, or how the family will gather preparing a feast on Thanksgiving in that great kitchen you’ve designed for them. It is those little moments that clients love. Then they rave about you to their friends. Your word of mouth marketing campaign has begun.

    1. Boom! David, you’ve got it. I love that you mention “enjoying a great book sitting in the window seat you’ve designed for them”.

      It is the emotional and experiential vignettes that connect with people and get them enthused.

  10. Enoch,

    This was very well put together. Thanks for all your thoughtful support in getting me focused.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

708,258 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments


How To Double Your Architecture Firm Income In The Next 12 Months

Fill out the form below to get free, instant access:

Related Articles