If a Client Advisory Board is Not Yet For You, Don’t Give Up on Engaging Clients

As I said in my last post, not every company is ready to launch a Client Advisory Board.  But if you really want to get something started engaging more deeply, there are several good options that will provide useful insight and collaboration with your clients.  They can be beneficial in their own right, and/or help you pave the way for a Client Advisory Board at some time in the future.

What a CAB can help with
As you consider your approach, here is a quick reminder of what companies typically look to gain from a Client Advisory Board.

  • Advice and feedback about your business strategy and future direction
  • Perspective on offerings and go to market approaches
  • Input on client challenges, priorities, and needs
  • Information on changing market trends
  • Peer sharing and best practice exchange
  • Advancement of ideas, innovation, thought leadership

Other ways to get there, or at least get you started
If you are looking to engage clients for any of the reasons identified above, there are several ways to get at those objectives that are short of the kind of commitment required to launch an Advisory Board. The key is to realistically match your approach with the characteristics and commitment of your client base and your internal executives, and give it a shot.

1. Steering Committee
What it is: A small group of clients to provide input and help co-create a broader initiative
What it is good for:

  • Test and gain advice on a specific objective, agenda or program
  • Gain insights on client priorities and challenges
  • Build buy in and momentum for more ongoing participation

2. Advisory Network
What it is: Group of clients (can be large or small) convened periodically to advise and share insights; can include in person, virtual or online discussions and input gathering
What it is good for:

  • Test and gain advice on offerings, products, services
  • Gain feedback on topics and questions
  • Share best practices and content

3. Executive Forum
What it is: Small face to face meetings convened periodically to share and discuss ideas, innovation, challenges and trends
What it is good for:

  • Convene peers
  • Gain insights on market trends and client priorities and challenges
  • Advance conversations on key topics

4. Executive Community
What it is: Similar to an Advisory Network, but more focused on insight and best practice sharing and less on advice
What it is good for:

  • Gain feedback on topics and questions
  • Share best practices and content
  • Create thought leadership
  • Connect peers

5. Insight Research
What it is: One on one interviews with key clients to uncover challenges, opportunities and insights
What it is good for:

    • Gain insights on market trends and client priorities and challenges
    • Uncover gaps and identify opportunities for growth and new products/services
    • Advance conversations on key topics
    • Create thought leadership

We would love to hear more about your experiences with these types of programs – please share them with us.

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