Membership Mix: Determining the Ideal Membership Equation for Your Customer Advisory Board

Membership recruiting is foundational to the success of customer advisory boards and careful selection of the right mix of members is imperative to standing up a solid board. The key word in “customer advisory board” is customer. The advising client members of your board should represent your top accounts or most strategic relationships—be it by revenue or other measure—with a vested interest in the strategies you plan to discuss and shape.

Balance the board as a whole

Match the composition of the board to its intended impact and the feedback you’re hoping to receive. You can consider its balance by:

  • industry
  • role
  • geography
  • value to and competition with one another
  • and more.

Consider their individual qualities

The ideal advisor has both the acumen and attitude to counsel you. You’re looking for top customers who:

  • are leaders, innovators, or thought leaders in their industry or profession
  • can advise beyond their own account issues
  • will consider each other peers

Should you invite prospective customers?

Careful consideration is required. Board meetings are not sales events; rather, an opportunity to engage key customers and gain their perspective on your strategy, business, and position in the market.

With little or no skin in the game, prospects:

  • are less committed to your success and a role in advising you.
  • cannot offer other members lessons from working with you.
  • often require more work to engage than the value they provide.

All of which can undermine your other advisors’ participation.

Should you invite external thought leaders?

All of the points about prospects also apply to external thought leaders, with two additional risks:

  • Customers will perceive them—rather than you—as more expert on key issues.
  • Confidentiality concerns may create a less candid environment.

Occasionally, a market watcher or researcher can provide a valuable industry perspective; consider limiting their participation to a guest role or occasional participant.

The above guidance represents just a few of the aspects to consider when planning your initial customer advisory board membership; and it also applies as you maintain your membership pipeline.

Related Stories

Ramping up Customer Advisory Council Recruiting

Posted on 01.31.2023 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Featured

When the end of a calendar year closes, hand in hand come a number of retirements and role changes in the C-suite, which has an impact on Customer Advisory Council membership. While a number of open seats on your  

Continue Reading »

How to Make Working Groups Work For You

Posted on 12.8.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Coming out of Customer Advisory Council meetings, there is generally a list of action items, and areas identified for further exploration. There are many ways to follow through, but one vehicle is invaluable when it comes to keeping  

Continue Reading »

Less is Definitely More: The Customer Advisory Board Content Trap

Posted on 11.22.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Often as companies work to build out their Customer Advisory Board meeting agendas there is a desire to pack in the content for fear there will be silent, with no one offering their comments or perspectives.  The  

Continue Reading »

Do You Really Want to Launch a Client Advisory Board?

Posted on 10.3.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Featured

Client Advisory Councils can be incredibly powerful vehicles to gain real insight, embed clients in your strategy and deepen important relationships. But, if it is not the right time, and the foundation is not in place, you can lose ground  

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 »