Are you creating human connections with your Architecture/Engineering/Construction prospects during the proposal process? Go beyond promoting technical expertise. Discover how social proof and other engaging techniques can help build relationships with prospects and stakeholders.

It’s well known that prospective clients want to hire professionals they know, like, and trust. Start building these relationships early, and continue making the human connection through the submission of proposals and during client interviews.

This blend of technical knowledge and emotional appeal is critical, notes Barbara Shuck, FSMPS, CPSM, Everest Marketing Services, Mesa, Arizona.

“The technical aspect of our industry is very important, and that’s how you get jobs done,” she says. “But more and more firms are realizing that they also have to appeal to the emotions of their main target groups: employees, recruits and prospects.”

Check out the following five ways to humanize your content. You want to engage your proposal reviewers and interview judges emotionally and intellectually.

1. Create Client-Focused Case Studies

In this newsletter, I’ve been promoting the creation of client-focused case studies to form connections with prospects. With these case studies, companies ask a happy client to tell their story of how the firm helped them overcome a challenge.

These clients offer authentic stories about what it’s like to work with a firm. Prospects who may face similar challenges value their peers’ opinions.

Case studies typically are one to three pages. They can be shared with prospects before a Requests for Proposal is posted. A case study includes other elements that can be repurposed, such as quotes, metrics, and photos.

2. Feature Testimonials

Positive comments from existing clients are golden. They showcase the firm’s impact through the client’s authentic voice.

Does your firm have a system for capturing and getting permission to use them?

The beauty of case studies is that a happy client approves the narrative, and quotes can be repurposed as testimonials in proposals and client interviews. Consider other ways of obtaining or repurposing these quotes:

  • Professionals share complimentary comments from emails. The professional or a marketer can ask permission to use the remarks.
  • A professional suggests that a marketer interview a happy client for recommendations.
  • Use comments from client surveys if permission is granted.

3. Use a Playbill Approach for the Project Team

Think about the last time you attended a play or concert. Chances are the playbill included some photos and brief descriptions of the cast. There may have been a more extended narrative for the featured performers.

In a short paragraph, you learned about each character’s qualifications and some previous experience. The actors or musicians may have included some personal information to add interest.

This approach could showcase a firm’s qualifications while personalizing the team members. Readers would get to know your team on a more personal level.

Why not create a playbill-type narrative in one of your next A/E/C proposals? You could have a summary page showing your team with their photos and a few brief sentences. In a paragraph near an individual’s photo, you could list a similar project and their expertise. Complete resumes could follow.

4. Include Quotes from Professionals in Proposal Resumes

Most resumes included in A/E/C proposals list an individual’s previous projects and qualifications related to the proposed project. A call-out quote from the professional would add human interest.

Ask key project team members to offer a quote about why they’re qualified to work on a proposed project. They also could comment on the firm’s overall project goals. The individual’s comment could then be featured in the resume.

Allison Tivnon, an Associate Principal at Middle of Six, suggested this approach in her recent presentation at the Society for Marketing Professional Services Pacific Regional Conference in Portland, Oregon.

5. Share Stories at Client Interviews

At client interviews, the selection committee members want to know what working for your team will be like, so tell them. You can use stories and client testimonials to highlight other successful projects. Use storytelling to create memorable impressions.

It’s also important that team members show mutual respect during the presentations. When others are addressing the selection committee, team members should be attentive. Are they listening, even if they’ve heard the stories many times before?

The committee seeks team members who will work together to achieve a common goal.

Look for Ways to Add Human Interest

Prospects hire firms for their technical expertise and track record. But they also want to understand what working for the company’s team will be like. Find ways to share social proof in your proposals and client interviews. Case studies, testimonials, and stories give prospects valuable insights about your firm.

Want to Know More?

I encourage you to consider implementing some of these strategies in your next proposal. Let me know what’s working for you. Subscribe to A/E/C Connect to learn about client-focused case studies and related issues. If you have a challenge or question you’d like me to address, post it in the comments section below or contact me at

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