Achieving Inaugural Customer Advisory Council Success

 Are you on the “right stack” of mail?   Stack of Mail

When you are doing something new, you fall into the classic “you don’t know, what you don’t know”.

 When you are planning your inaugural Customer Advisory Council you need to ask yourself….are we on the right “stack of mail”?  To set a Customer Advisory Council up for success long term you need to be focused on three main things:

  1. Business Alignment – Alignment surrounding the priorities, content, members and outcomes gets the team focused around driving the results you desire.
  2. Sponsorship – Who is your overall program sponsor?  If you don’t have one, you need to find one or you will not be able to keep the council headed in the right direction over the long-term.
  3. Insight Execution – Gaining the right insight and executing on this insight is vital to success.  Insight execution is a lot like strategic planning.  You have to decide and communicate what you will and won’t do back to your members as well as internally within the company.  

I have observed several organizations spend valuable time, money and resources focused treating this like a trade show event.  They are more interested in the “glitz and glamour” then on making sure they have the foundation build for long term success.  Three of the most common pitfalls when setting up an inaugural Advisory Council are:

  1. Finest Resort– Selecting a fabulous location is great to get your members to the first meeting, but it won’t keep them coming back.  You have to set the right environment in the inaugural meeting and execute on what you heard to keep them coming back.  There is no need to spend $450/night for a hotel room.
  2. A/V and Travel companies- A successful Advisory Council meeting does take a lot of work, however, hiring an A/V company and/or a travel company to manage 14-16 people is not necessary.   If you plan for enough in advance, you will have the resources to handle the logistics for the meeting.  Your most strategic customers don’t want a production.  They want an intimate environment with you.
  3. Expensive Gifts– Buying your customers expensive gifts is not necessary.  Companies waste so much time here.  Your most strategic customers aren’t coming for the gift or a fancy glass name plate.  They are coming to spend time with your executives to learn and share insight.

When you stay on the right “stack of mail” and focus on building internal alignment, sponsorship and insight execution you will set your council long term for success.

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