How many of us have used at least one of these in our marketing materials?

We are a cutting-edge design firm focused on providing top notch design…
We are a leading architectural firm in… 

Our award-winning team of designers and engineers…

There isn’t anything wrong with these statements necessarily, but we can’t let our marketing efforts or proposals rest on something that 95% of our competition can say. When competing for the attention of a potential client, it’s important for us to maximize every word, because we never know when they may click-off of the site, or close the proposal.

Here’s one sample leading sentence that I grabbed in a quick Google search:

XXX is a full service, award-winning firm with experience in planning, architecture and interior design.

Whether you are leading, award-winning, full service…or all of the above, these words aren’t really distinguishing you from the pack.  If you’re firm has been in existence for twenty years and you’ve won one award, then you can say that you’re award-winning.  What exactly does full-service mean in our industry, especially if you aren’t a design-build firm? 

At the risk of dating yourself, it would mean much more to say “A 2008 winner of the AIA Honor Awards for Architecture, our firm…” even into 2010.  This is an award that a potential client can look up and see just how prestigious it is.  If you didn’t happen to win an award that you find prestigious enough to tout, it may be best not to have award-winning be your opening line. When the award gets too old, just update your web/proposal content.
The idea behind good AEC marketing isn’t to “sell” your firm (insert pistol fingers and clicking sound with mouth), it’s to differentiate your firm.  I’m also definitely not suggesting that you don’t tell the world about your accomplishments, I’m suggesting that you tell them about your specific accomplishments.  
Tell them what you do best!