So, the great news is you just got approval from senior leadership for a Customer Advisory Board, but now what do you do? Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) are an integral part of an overall customer marketing program. However, they are very different engagement vehicles from one-time events, large annual trade shows or user groups and require a special kind of mindset and planning for the long term.
From my years of experience working on Customer Advisory Boards, I can say that there are many activities that need immediate attention once you have the green light. Recruiting your membership is one of the most imperative. Therefore, time well spent on this exercise will create a strong foundation for your Board.
Determining the best membership mix for your Board can be tricky, and there are so many variables to take into account. Some of the recruiting basics to consider are:
Customer Advisory Board Size
- What is the ideal number of members to have in a meeting, creating the right tone and conversation?
- Given your ‘ideal’ number of members at the meeting table, how many members should be on the Board overall to guarantee robust meeting attendance?
- Do you want clients only, or a mix of clients and prospects?
- Are you considering a blend of longtime customers and those who are new to your client list?
- What is the client spend with your company?
- Do the target members have strong relationships with your senior executives?
Member Demographics & Diversity
- Will your geographical mix be global or more regional?
- What industries / sectors is your organization seeking input from?
- Does your target list have sufficient gender diversity?
- Are there certain areas of expertise that you are seeking for your Board?
- Are the individuals seen as leaders in their profession and industry? Would they be a draw for others to be connected to, creating a ‘halo effect’ for your Board?
You’ve determined what your key ‘ideal member’ attributes are and have pulled your initial list together. Next it’s time to create a matrix that will highlight where you have gaps and you can actively fill those holes.
A word of caution: do not underestimate how long it will take to assemble your Customer Advisory Board membership and reach critical mass for your first meeting. Initial Board member recruiting takes time and consistent follow through. By paying attention to this key activity, you will be paving the way to a solid Board membership.