Chapter 28

An Open Letter to CMOs (and Other Marketers)

Dear Mr. or Ms. CMO:

I have some disturbing news to share with you: your customers and prospects don't trust your messages.

They don't trust your ads, billboards, e-mails, blog posts, CEO videos, salespeople, or pretty brochures.

In fact, most prospects simply ignore your messages. They tune you out, TiVo past your commercials, or sign up for the “do not call” list. In the United States, consumers have placed about 200 million numbers on the do not call list.

But the one thing your customers and prospects trust is each other. They trust each other about where to eat, what car to buy, what fitness club to join, and what hotel stay in. They even trust the advice of friends and others when it comes to whom they should hire, sleep with, or get married to. In short, advocacy—not advertising—is what determines whether people buy your products or services.

And yet, many marketers don't seem to get it. Despite overwhelming evidence that advocacy is far more trusted than paid media, they continue spending on marketing tools and tactics that consumers don't trust or ignore.

Fitness Club Ignores Advocates

A high-end fitness club where I'm a member gets about 60 percent of its business from advocacy. The club's Advocates are its most powerful marketing weapon. Without them the pipeline for the club's sales force would dry up.

So what does the club's director of marketing spend her marketing budget on?

Billboards, e-mails, TV ads, and ...

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