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The truth about client advisory boards

Client advisory boards can be very beneficial for a business, but there are some potential drawbacks too. Consider these points (positive and negative aspects) before creating a board:

Pros:

• They provide valuable insight as another form of client research about a business’ products and services.

• They provide more interactions to get to know the clients better, professionally and personally.

• They possibly strengthen existing relationships by letting clients know that they are being heard.

• They deliver a feeling of prestige to an exclusive group of clients.

• They become another form of communication, providing more opportunities to inform and delight clients.

• They can lead to increased word of mouth, building up brand awareness.

• They can drum up referrals from the participants, as clients often have more of a vested interest in the success of the organization.

• In some cases, cultivation leads to positive outcomes within existing relationships, like cross selling, up selling and increasing share of wallet.

• They can provide valuable feedback on new marketing campaigns, from scrapping something that would not work to improving something to be more successful. This can result in less trial-and-error expenses and hopefully increased ROI on marketing efforts.

Cons:

• As clients become very involved, they often have strong opinions for change that might not make business sense. This can lead to tension, especially if it is not handled correctly.

• They take time and money to facilitate. Sometimes they require outside resources to conduct the meetings.

• If run poorly, they can damage relationships.

• If the content of the discussions is not relevant or advantageous for the client, it can seem like a waste of time.

• One bad apple can ruin the bunch. If a dissatisfied client spreads negativity in this forum, it can tarnish other healthy relationships.

• If clients discover they are not on the board they can end up feeling alienated.

• Sometimes there are more effective ways to gather research.

If you are considering having a client advisory board, contact Byrnes Consulting to build out the strategy and the logistics.

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