PAS Framework: How Architects Write Case Studies That Attract High-Quality Clients

April 16, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Case studies are a powerful tool for attracting high-quality clients to your firm.

When used and written correctly, they consistently pump opportunities into your pipeline.

(For the record, when I say “case study” I’m referring to projects listed on your website or used in your proposals to reference your past work.)

Most case studies are more written for other architects rather than ideal clients.

They usually use grandiose language, thoughtfully explain every architectural detail, describe the tactile nature of each material, expound any LEED certification, (take a sip of your coffee - this list is long), mention every award received, dive deep into the cultural inspirations of the design, list out every program, and provide theoretical justifications of their design. (Yes, I’m literally reading a case study on an architect’s website as I write this.)

While this information is important, it does not tell the (most effective) story of the project. Sure, it’s well-written. But will it attract high-quality clients? Not likely.

You spend months to years producing incredible spaces for your clients and, when it’s all over, you want the project to live on. You want to squeeze it for all it’s worth. You want it to attract the right attention. And, ultimately, you want to continue building towards something bigger and better.

PAS it along

So how do you do that? Turns out this is a challenge that copywriters have spent decades trying to understand and solve.

One of the most compelling frameworks is known as PAS (Problem - Agitation - Solution). Potential clients want to know how you solved a problem and how you made a difference to your client. They want to see how you tackled challenges and how you brought value to the project.

That’s because problems capture attention.

Especially when the problem is familiar to your ideal client. So once you’ve gotten that attention, you want to convert it into a meaningful opportunity for your firm as often as possible.

PAS is effective for case studies because:

  • It allows you to tell a compelling story that captures the attention of potential clients.

  • It demonstrates your ability to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions.

  • It helps potential clients understand how you work and what you can offer them.

  • It establishes you as a thought leader in the industry.

Let’s dive into the three parts of the framework:

01 // Problem

The first part of the PAS framework is to identify the problem(s) that your client was facing. This could be anything from a lack of space, outdated design, or a need for more functionality. This is where your discovery notes from diving into the pain of your client early on is important.

Articulate the problems so that the reader can be put into the shoes of your client.

02 // Agitation

The second part of the PAS framework is to agitate the problem. This involves describing the problem in detail and making the reader feel the pain of the problem.

What were the impacts of the problem on the client’s day-to-day activities? What were the impacts on their team or family? How was the problem preventing them from achieving their ideal outcome?

This is important because it makes the reader more invested in the story and more interested in the solution. By highlighting the challenges and obstacles that were faced during the project, you frame your ability to think creatively and come up with innovative and custom-fit solutions.

03 // Solution

The final part of the PAS framework is to provide the solution to the problem. This is where you showcase your skills and expertise.

Describe how you solved the problem and how your design made a difference to your client. It is important to be specific, provide details of the solution, and write about how the solution helped the client achieve their ideal outcome.

This allows other high-quality (potential) clients to understand how you work and what you can offer them.

PAS Template

Here’s a very rudimentary template you can use to supercharge your case studies.

  • Problem: When {client} came to us, they were experiencing challenges with {x, y, and z}.

  • Agitation: As a result, they were unable to {impact on day-to-day activities}. This also prevented their {family/team/company} from {impact of challenge}. Ultimately, {x, y, and z challenges} meant that they couldn’t {achieve ideal outcome}.

  • Solution: We worked with {client} to address {x, y, and z challenges} by {solution summary}. By improving {challenge x}, the {impact of challenge x} was mitigated, which meant they were able to {achieve ideal outcome}. Now {client} experiences {ideal outcome} each day by {examples}.

Fill it in. Make it colorful. Expand where needed.

But it doesn’t have to be long.

It doesn’t have to list out every program.

It doesn’t have to include every detail of the project.

It can be a short and powerful conversion machine.


Most case studies are written for other architects rather than ideal clients. Use the PAS framework to supercharge your case studies, capture the attention of high-quality clients, and convert them into opportunities for your firm.

  1. Identify the problem.

  2. Agitate the problem.

  3. Provide the solution.

BONUS: this works for social posts, speeches, and stories as well.

You might even notice that I use this framework in the majority of my newsletters 🙂

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