Client Advisory Boards….What I Wish I Knew Then

Client Advisory Boards are a proven vehicle for engagement and co-creation, but getting one off the ground is always a learning experience.  In this occasional series, we will share some of the lessons our own clients have shared with us as they have gone through the process of building and maintaining an Advisory Board or Council of their own.

Here are three “ah-has” we recently heard to incorporate in your own planning.

I didn’t know recruiting would take so long!
In their enthusiasm to launch a Client Advisory Council, many of the companies we work with initially set an aggressive schedule to get to their first meeting.  They are anxious to engage with clients and start reaping the benefits of collaboration and don’t want to delay.  At the same time, we find the biggest hurdle to a quick start is identifying and recruiting the right members.  There are a number of reasons this can be a challenge (read more here on that), but we have seen it take anywhere from three to as many as eight months to get enough members on board for a strong first meeting.  After rescheduling the initial meeting date to provide more recruiting runway, one client admitted his surprise in just how hard it was to get traction—he had expected it to be much easier given how many clients they have, and how much their own client teams talk about wanting more ways to engage.

Now I understand why less content is more!
One of the challenges in helping our clients prepare for an Advisory Board meeting is helping them to understand the kind of content that works best in and Advisory Board setting.  It is very hard to break the habit of reusing existing content, or creating long decks that carefully detail all the facets of their thinking, rather than presenting highlights to drive discussion.  We recently had a breakthrough with one leader, who after the fourth meeting where the group only got as far as Slide 2 on his deck, and the clients gave him more strong feedback about tailoring his story, said “ok, I finally believe you that I need to get crisper and focus more directly on where and how to get advice.” (Read more on the content trap.)

I didn’t realize just how much the clients would value their participation!
One client confessed after the first two meetings that she had been losing sleep since deciding to launch an Advisory Council because she just did not believe their clients would get value from the Council too.  It was very clear what was in it for her company—insights and great advice on how to evolve and shape their strategy; honest and open feedback about the business; and line of sight into what their most valuable clients cared about.  She was very surprised to learn after hearing the feedback from the two meetings just how much the clients liked the peer connections and valued access to other executives (her own executive team and the other clients) who share their challenges and perspectives.  (For more on this, read about the Power of the Peer.)

Related Stories

Taking your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual

Posted on 04.13.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

As my colleague Camille Antonetti wrote in her recent blog, COVID-required social distancing and stay at home measures have necessitated organizations to shift their in-person events and meetings to virtual platforms. In our work at Farland Group, we have  

Continue Reading »

Customer Advisory Board Charter: Do You Need One?

Posted on 03.5.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

You’ve stood up your Customer Advisory Board (CAB), recruited your client members, completed a successful CAB meeting and are working through all of the follow-on activities. One of those activities should be to create a Customer Advisory Board Charter.  

Continue Reading »

The Value of Convening C-Suite Peers: Reaping What You Sow

Posted on 02.1.2020 by in Engagement Strategy, Featured, Featured, Understanding the C-Suite

In our work with Customer Advisory Boards and other executive engagement programs, we have seen firsthand the extent to which C-level executives seek and crave connection to real peers, where they can share stories and gain insights in a safe  

Continue Reading »

New Year, Fresh Start

Posted on 01.23.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Misc

The beginning of a new year brings fresh starts, clean slates, and time to examine what works and what doesn’t work in any number of settings, be it your personal life or your work life. In our work on customer  

Continue Reading »


Customer Advisory Boards

Customer Advisory Boards are powerful engines of engagement, insight, and business transformation. Make the most of yours.

Meeting Facilitation: Virtual and In-Person Boards » Taking Your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual »

Learn More »

Engagement Strategy

Like any good relationship, customer engagement is a long-term, reciprocal effort. When done well, meaningful engagement leads to better business results, faster.

Engage Your Customers to Help You Stop Pitching » Getting to a Customer Engagement Mindset »

Learn More »

Understanding the C-Suite

Building C-level programs that are meaningful and bring value to you as well as to your c-suite customers is challenging. Veiled sales pitches won’t win the day with this audience. Deliver what executives want: ideas, inspiration, innovation, influence.

Building a C-Suite Client Experience Strategy » Do you Know What Your Customers Value? »

Learn More »