Customer Advisory Boards: Your Customer Creators and Makers

In our work with executive programs and Customer Advisory Councils we often find ourselves talking with clients about the power of co-creating with customers.  In some industries this seems like a natural thing to do, but for many large B2B companies we find that marketers are still far removed from the end client, and that sellers really are intimidated to have a customer discussion or dialogue that isn’t wrapped in a pitch.

But we know that when we force the shift from telling and selling to asking and dialogue that it compels a conversation that will help you to understand how clients are considering your products, services, go-to-market strategies etc.  Too often leaders are afraid to stop and ask, because their norm is to sell.I recently read Chris Anderson’s book called “Makers”.  It is a wonderful discussion that takes the reader from the industrial revolution to today’s use of open source and 3-D printing that is bringing the art of ‘making’ to your home and desktops.  His exploration of custom, do-it-yourself creations and the potential of this in shared environments across the globe is fascinating.  But too often as B2B marketers and sellers we think of these things as only available to those in consumer facing worlds.  By doing so we miss out on the opportunity to create with our clients and develop deeper relationships that are grounded in designing new ideas and rethinking old problems.

IBM’s annual report was released earlier this week and it opens by asking the question “what will we make of this moment?”  The use of the word ‘make’ isn’t by mistake.  IBM sees its opportunity to make and remake or create and re-create new opportunities with its clients.  The days of going it alone are long gone and in the words of Chris Anderson the next generation will drive the next wave of the global economy.  What will you and your clients make of this moment?

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