In their bestseller, The Trusted Advisor, David Maister, Charles Green, and Rob Galford made the case that professionals need more than just technical expertise to succeed. They must also have the ability to earn the trust and confidence of clients.
As the term Trusted Advisor became part of the language of the services business, a funny thing happened. Some firms started using the term as a marketing slogan. Here are some examples:
“Like you, we are much more than ‘just’ service providers to our clients. We are trusted advisors.”
“___________ provides these solutions by being a trusted advisor to our clients. “
“Before we become your trusted advisor, we discuss your values; goals; personal, professional and institutional relationships; assets; and interests.”
Even HP got into the act with a splashy press release:
“The HP Trusted Advisor service offers HP consulting experts who work closely with clients to consider all aspects of business operations, IT infrastructure and facilities, as well as the enablement of technologies, such as cloud and green computing.”
Becoming a Trusted Advisor marks a stage in the development of your relationship with a client. It’s a state you aspire to achieve, not something to assert as your marketing catchphrase. That’s like calling yourself world-renowned; someone else needs to give you the label.
Adopting Trusted Advisor as your slogan masks a real problem: You are basing your marketing strategy on an unsupported claim, and that’s likely to fall flat in the market. Just because you declare yourself to be a Trusted Advisor doesn’t mean prospective clients will see you as such.
Your marketing goal must be to find highly credible points of differentiation for your business. And there are many options to do that, from marketing your ideas to touting your people. Making unsubstantiated assertions could be the weakest marketing strategy of all.
So why continue to use it?
If you want to learn more about the authors of The Trusted Advisor, you might be interested in my interviews with them on various subjects: