The trusted advisor

As a brand new father, I’ve been surprised by a great many thing recently. And one of those thing is the sheer number of advertisement that portray themselves as “Trusted Advisors,” trying to convince me that I need to act now to make my baby happier, make her life better, keep her safer. On and on and on, until I couldn’t tell one from the other.

And so it made me start thinking about the idea of a Trusted Advisor. As we think about word of mouth marketing and social media, the idea is to assume the role of the best friend, of the parent or elder statesman, the all-knowing one that we rely on to steer the ship through the dark and lonely night.

All of these tactics share one thing: all try to get me to buy something. Now, I’m not saying that outbound marketing with a purchasing call to action is bad. Many of us spend quite a bit of time trying to perfect that skill.

But when’s the last time a Trusted Advisor told you *not* to buy something?

To be clear, I’m not talking about telling someone to buy Your Thing instead of Someone Else’s Thing. I’m talking about not buying The Thing at all. I’m talking about telling you that buying The Thing, whether it be from them or from someone else, is not the best use of your resources right now. Perhaps somewhere down the road buying The Thing will be the right thing to do, but for the moment you are better off focusing your time on getting ready for The Thing.

Because in the end, isn’t being the Trusted Advisor about building credibility? Can you be credible when you *only* recommend things that directly benefit you?



  1. #1 by Kris Kaneta on July 26, 2010 - 7:26 am

    Couldn’t agree more. To answer your questions – yes and yes. People buy from people. Talk all you want about brands, but customers demand the companies they buy from to have human traits… You can either be seen as a car salesman that’s only talking me up to get me on a test drive, or you can be seen as a “trusted adviser” (to use your words). That means free flowing dialogue and transparency of information (regardless of purchase intent) – that may very well result in advice against buying.

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