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The Best Way to Demonstrate Design Value

Does anyone value good design? 

Today I want to show you how Architects and Design Professionals can sell design value, not just design time. Let’s start by looking at a common misconception. 

As Design Professionals many of us believe that Clients want fantastic design… they just aren’t prepared to pay for it!

While that may be part of the story, it’s certainly not the whole story.

Does Anyone Value Good Design?

You see value is subjective and therefore different Clients value different things.

While some Clients value good design (aesthetically speaking), most Clients value the benefits that a good design service can provide.

For example, a good design service may be able to; save time, reduce cost, increase yield, provide resilience, reduce responsibility, increase certainty, offer sustainability, or exclusivity (to name just a few examples).

A good fee proposal writer understands their Client’s ‘values’ and offers design service options based upon their ‘values’.

Is Good Design Necessary? 

Yes, good design is a fundamental part of the design service, however, good design is subjective and therefore harder to define and sell. 

However, by addressing our Clients’ other ‘values’ we’re able to demonstrate the tangible benefits that a good design service can provide!… and because tangible benefits are much easier to define, they’re also much easier to sell. 

(Note: To help you define the value your design services provided we’ve created the following free starter pack)

Fee Proposal Starter Kit


You will already be familiar with this strategy. For example, have you ever heard the saying: ‘don’t sell the mattress, sell a good night’s sleep’?

Casper the start-up mattress company used this approach with great success. By addressing their customer’s values (not just the end product) they sold nearly 2 million dollars worth of product, in their first 18 months of business (“The Competition In Selling A Good Night’s Sleep”, accessed 11/22/19).

So next time you go to write a fee proposal, first learn about your Client’s values and then offer them service options based upon their values… you’ll be amazed by the results. 

This includes basing your service options around; different procurement options, time frames, specializations, or levels of service. 

When thinking about Client values you may want to consider the following types of design service options:

  • Fast Track,
  • Architecture & Engineering,
  • Design & Build,
  • LEED Certified (Gold, Silver, Platinum),
  • WELL Building Standard,
  • Biophilic Design,
  • Resilient Design,
  • Interior Design / Procurement / Storage / Installation,
  • Landscaping Design / Installation/ Maintenance
  • Project Management,
  • Permitting… to name a few!


Yes, Clients value good design (aesthetically speaking) but more importantly, Clients really value the benefits that a good design service can provide. 

Learn about your Client’s values, and then write fee proposals that focus on their values and the tangible benefits that a good design service can provide.  

You’ll be surprised by the results. 

How can Architects and Interior Designers sell value, not design?

Demonstrating value is one of the 7 principles of a successful fee proposal. We’ll be discussing all 7 principles in much more detail in the following weeks. In the meantime (if time is something you value) you don’t have to wait. The following (FREE) resource is available for you to use right now:

Fee Proposal Mini-Series: How to Avoid the 3 Biggest Fee Proposal Mistakes