We at Ignite are very proud of the relationships we have created with our clients over the years to create and manage world-class customer Advisory Board (CAB) programs – over 200 client engagements and going strong. Indeed, the very key to a successful CAB program is a partnership in the true sense of the word; one in which our clients leverage our deep experience in managing successful CAB programs, and applying this proven knowledge to their own markets, customers, companies and offerings to jointly create a valuable experience for their own executive participants, and, most importantly, for their customer advisory board members.
Yet sometimes we talk to prospects that are uncertain or even somewhat intimidated by our experience and success, and somehow get the wrong impression that, through our consulting engagement, we may overshadow their own contributions and achievements towards a successful CAB program. Yet, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
For those uncertain about how partnering with outside advisory board consultants can lead to client advisory board program, and, just as importantly, their own professional success, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. You can’t be expected to know all this:
We are sometimes approached by marketers who are interested– or perhaps, more accurately, have been tasked by their executive management – in initiating a customer advisory program. At the same time, the marketer is being expected to learn (or worse, already know) everything when it comes to managing CABs in a short amount of time in order to hold their first meeting, often a mere few weeks in the future.
We have seen too many companies learn the hard way by making customer advisory board program mistakes (with their best customers!) that cause more harm than good, and then come to us after the damage has been done. (We also know this because some of our own consultants made similar mistakes early in their own careers.)
Our knowledge and best practices have come from decades of experience managing client advisory board programs around the world – no one can possibly learn this in a short time merely by conducting research online or reading a few articles. If this is the direction anyone is getting from their upper management, they’re already starting their CAB program off on the wrong foot, and things may only get worse later.
2. We are not going to take anyone’s job:
When partnering with a client to initiate a customer advisory board or improve a CAB program, we work closely together in collaboration to ensure your program’s success. While we provide the proven advisory board knowledge, experience and proven best practices, success requires a team effort in which the client adapts our guidance to their own markets, customers and, perhaps most importantly, their own executive preferences and tastes. It’s a symbiotic relationship in which both sides rely on each other for true success.
Our consultants are not interested in (and actually are prohibited from) taking anyone’s job, or otherwise eliminating resources from within a company for our own benefit. We are experts in setting up your program for maximum success, and almost surely saving you from costly mistakes.
3. Your customer advisory board’s success will be applied to you (not us):
Once a client advisory council program is running and successful, it is the internal core CAB management team that enjoys the success and accolades, not the outside consultants.
In addition to optimal CAB program success, our goal is to make those who hire us look like heroes in the eyes of their superiors. This has certainly been the case with our clients over the years; many of whom have received promotions or moved on to elevated roles within their companies as a result of their CAB program success. Although we love receiving kudos from our many clients, our real joy is seeing those who placed their trust and faith in us succeed.
While some prospects fear that outside consultants will garner the glory of a successful CAB program, our experience is that, again, it’s the internal team that benefits the most from a successful CAB program (in addition to the CAB members themselves!) And that’s how we like it, and how we establish our relationships with our clients.
Thus, for those unsure of what hiring an outside advisory board consultant will mean for their program as well as themselves, fear not. An advisory board program consultant’s role is to serve those who hire us in creating the best CAB program possible — being the folks behind your success, never in front of it.
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