After over a decade of working with Fortune 500 and leading growth companies, we’ve facilitated hundreds of successful customer advisory board (CAB) meetings. Those companies who invest the time, resources and budget to create a successful CAB program and meetings are almost always delighted by the returns they get in engaging their best customers.
On the flip side, we’ve also seen what can hinder a CAB program. One of the biggest dynamics that can do so is procrastination—especially in creating CAB meeting content.
We get why – you and your company executives are busy professionals who manage multiple urgent and critical initiatives that constantly demand your attention. Some companies even seem to have cultures that foster consensus and just-in-time creation delivery.
But a flurry of last-minute content creation just before (or, shudder, at) your CAB meeting can have a large negative impact on your meeting and in front of your very best customers; negating the very hard work and investment you’ve likely already invested in your program.
How can CAB managers and executive sponsors turn the tide on CAB content creation procrastination? Here are five tips.
1. Communicate the overall advisory board timeline
When launching your CAB program internally, communicate your overall plan and the timelines associated with it to all participating departments and executives. In addition, convey why you will need to collect and review all presentations and session content in advance of the meeting—to ensure that your customers see your company in the best possible light and that the meeting does not suffer from hastily thrown together presentations. Your customers will almost certainly notice this if it happens.
2. Distribute a session owner presentation template
To battle procrastination and get a jump on the content delivery process, create and distribute a session owner presentation template that conveys all the meeting instructions, best practices and deadlines for when content needs to be created, delivered and reviewed. This template should also include your latest company branding and get session owners thinking about what they are trying to learn from CAB members, as opposed to merely presenting at them.
3. Enforce deadlines
If you are not receiving session owner presentations, your CAB executive sponsor should get involved in contacting these folks (as well as perhaps their own supervisors) to remind them of the CAB meeting timelines and the commitment they (presumably) made in supporting the meeting. Remind everyone of the importance of utilizing the session owner template deck, as well as reviewing all content before you all get in front of your CAB members.
4. Schedule content review meetings
Setting up content review meetings will not only be necessary to examine the content you will communicate to CAB members, but also ensure the session owner instructions were followed for the upcoming meeting. In addition, such meetings themselves serve as “forcing functions” to ensure content is created, delivered and vetted before the meeting.
5. Create a master meeting deck
Load all CAB meeting content into a single presentation, so your session owners are not swapping out laptops throughout the meeting. Doing so can not only be disruptive, but often leads to screen formatting issues as everyone waits patiently for a presentation to render properly. In addition, collecting all presentations before the meeting eliminates the impulse for session owners to make last-minute changes the night before the meeting starts.
6. Review everything one last time
Hold a final prep meeting on-site at your CAB meeting location to review all content a final time before your customers see it. Doing so will ensure all needed changes were made and that the latest versions have all been collected and aggregated. Plus, this session is your last opportunity to review all meeting logistics and breakout instructions, and test other elements, such as videos, web pages or demos.
Last-minute flurries of content creation do not have to be “the way your company does things.” Such creation often leads to inferior or incorrect content being seen by your customers at best, and can deliver unorganized confusion and a negative experience for your CAB members at worst. If you are looking to improve your customer advisory board program, talk to an Ignite CAB expert and we’ll give you some recommendations.
Ignite Advisory Group is the leading global authority on Customer Advisory Boards. Ignite’s proven methodology for managing and evolving Customer Advisory Boards includes a 4-stage process, encompassing 48 deliverables and measured by 20 metrics to deliver a clear ROI. To learn more about how your company can benefit from Ignite’s CAB methodology and process, contact us today.