Sunshine Island Hero of the Month: John Stanton

Welcome to Part 3 of the Sunshine Island Hero of the Month series, which highlights the marketing of architect John Stanton. We celebrate the way he takes action and gets results — ideal clients and dream projects now land on his doorstep! Sunshine Island is based on AMI marketing coach Richard Petrie's story about the mythical city of Archville … where architects can live in the Old Quarter, the Artists Quarter, the New Quarter, or Sunshine Island. 

Architects work hard to reach Sunshine Island where they find financial freedom by consistently securing the best projects and fees. When “living” anywhere else, we find that architects continuously struggle to find clients, are afraid to ask for the fees they deserve and spend a lot of time doing work for free. Sound familiar?

At Architect Marketing Institute, we provide the tools to move from where you are now to Sunshine Island. John, here, uses those tools wisely. Let’s find out how he made his way to the paradise where every architect can find success.

In the early days of John Stanton’s greater Chicago area firm, he designed brilliant homes but something was missing. 

He couldn’t find the right clients. The ones who came his way took control of the design process, which had been the whole reason they sought him out in the first place.

So he jumped on to a generalized marketing program for a while. “It was too broad. I couldn’t get the feedback I really needed from other architects,” he reflects. The problem was that the program was too generalized as was his firm.

Two years later, John found the community he needed in the AMI Mastermind group. From the Chicago area, he connected with architects around the world who experienced similar struggles and discovered tailored solutions from AMI. 

John became a master implementer, fast. His firm is positioned specifically to not only create good design, but also do construction. 

“Before Mastermind, we were pretty much just doing architecture, very seldom did we do construction,” he says. 

Stanton Architects is now a design-build firm specializing in high end homes throughout their region.

Educating clients through well-crafted website content

In the video, we get an inside look at his website. Resources include a Home Project Roadmap and answers to the common questions: How Do I Start My Dream Project? What is Design Build? 

This extensive content library is not propaganda. It’s strictly educational, for anyone wanting to hire an architect and not sure where to start. 

The map offers a strong visual, it holds weight even on the screen. Giving information on how to start the process, the roadmap also begins to explain how John’s specific process works. This way, if the prospect works with him, they already know what to expect. This is a great example of how a well-written and well-designed resource can empower the client.

Ideal clients come his way. Educational resources, including the book he has written, show he is an expert and that he’s interested in giving the client peace of mind before they even sign the contract — engaging in a positive relationship. 

“Potential clients are intrigued by a book written by an architect. They look at our resources and understand we are not general contractors. We manage it all,” he says. 

John has found the key to building client connections. When someone is just starting to think about building, they get the education they need to make smart decisions. 

Staying in touch with his ‘Dirty 30’

In addition to implementing this Monkey’s Fist strategy and publishing a book, John maintains contact with his top referrals, his “Dirty 30.” John shared his philosophy on color in the firm’s monthly newsletter and, what seemed like minutes later … got a call to select exterior colors on a lakefront home.

Fellow Masterminder Peter Twohy organized the Do Not Eat Alone Challenge, a platform John gravitated toward immediately. The goal was to connect with as many promising referrals as possible, but in person, one-on-one for lunch, planting the seeds needed to find dream projects. 

In two months, John had taken more than twenty people out to lunch and gotten FOUR leads. One broker grew intrigued by the firm’s Needs and Options Review because it benefits both the bank and the client. Knowing the budget and next steps before starting design and construction is essential, John explained. 

“I used to run around meeting people, spending hours and hours trying to land a project,” John says. “Now I have a system in place. When someone calls, my assistant sends them a questionnaire, their homework before they can potentially meet with me. I review it and if we are a good fit, we schedule a Q&A appointment that costs $150. During this meeting, we discuss their project generally, with no sales or advice just yet.” 

He asks: What brought you to this project? Why are you excited about it? What do you need from me? The client goes home with a Project Planning Pack, what to expect in the Needs and Options Review, and other next steps outlined. 

Power positioning through story

Clients find peace of mind through this clear process that brings tangible results. They feel positive about their project and in control of their destiny. Yet John also feels in control (of the design element, his strength), confident, and valued.

Another key to John’s success — he knows how to get to the emotional core of WHY each client wants their project. The message he conveys is: John Stanton knows what I want in my house. He's going to give me what I want. That does turn out to be the case.

Eye contact can intimidate a stranger, but comforts someone who trusts you. 

John is a good listener, he has to be. Partially deaf, he constantly reads lips. People feel, with good reason, that he is paying attention to everything they are saying. Everyone is looking for someone who really understands them, especially valuable for people who don’t particularly know what they want and who need an architect’s direction. 

“A good architect who is armed with good questions can direct the client and draw from the client answers from their heart,” Richard advises.

Implementing AMI’s Star Story Solution strategy, John also positions himself as the Sherlock Holmes of Architects. 

He writes in his latest newsletter: “Growing up, I was not able to hear certain things, so I learned to read my team’s opponents’ body language to predict what they were going to do. As a result, I developed a perception of what would happen before it occurred. Now, there’s nothing unexplainable about this… it’s just that not everyone has a need to do it. In my case, it started by learning how to lip-read. I also learned to watch behavior for cues and predict what would happen next. That’s what made me into the Sherlock Holmes of Architects. Today, this skill comes in handy for preventing problems on the construction site.”

Storytelling and thoughtful conversations sell. Because John is proactive about coming to our content team’s monthly PR calls, he is becoming the hero in his own story.

John’s recent wins are happening because he knows he has TWO jobs:

1)     Marketer of architectural services

2)     Architect

John Stanton is November's Sunshine Island Hero of the Month.


Learn how John Stanton has transformed his firm through marketing. Implementing AMI’s Star Story Solution, he is known as the Sherlock Holmes of Architects.

John P. Stanton, Jr. earned his degree in Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and went on to hold pivotal construction management and building design positions at several major firms in the Chicago area before starting his own company in 1994. He has done commercial, residential and multi-family projects all over the Chicagoland area and in several states, and now specializes in designing and building luxury residential homes. His years of combined background in both Architecture and Construction have molded the philosophy and objectives of his Design-Build firm, Stanton Architects, Inc. To create successful designs that are truly special for his clients, John strongly believes that centralizing all communication and decision-making is the key to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable process for everyone involved. Being the single point of contact in the project allows Stanton Architects to coordinate all the different trades involved, and make sure every detail of the client’s original vision is completed with the highest quality, on time and on budget. John’s true passion is educating people about the benefits of using an architect who is a master builder — someone who can both design and build their dream home.  


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