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The Customer Advisory Council

Do you trust your clients with your future? You certainly should!

Today, we’re discussing Customer Advisory Councils. While it may sound scary to talk to your clients about products you don’t yet offer, it’s the most sure-fire way to get them excited – and invested – in the future of your content.

A Customer Advisory Council (or CAC) brings together your most important clients to discuss product development, industry trends and challenges, and new directions for your content. It gets your clients invested in a form of stealth business development. It’s a great way to promote new ideas, understand your clients’ ongoing needs, and to find ways of improving your offerings in ways they’ll embrace—right from the start.

Holding an Advisory Council gives you an opportunity to ask clients what they want and need from your content.

A well-done Advisory Council gives you the information you need for rapid prototyping of products and gives your clients a chance to “lean in” and be a part of that growth. It promotes excitement, allows for personalized feedback, and offers your clients an opportunity to be an early adopter as you develop new offerings to address their issues. It also has the added benefit of minimizing the risk you take when you develop new products.

I know two really smart guys who are senior learning executives. They’ve been running a consulting firm for over 10 years, and they’re selling into multiple Fortune 500 companies. But most of what they were doing was unscaleable! Their business depended on their expertise and their time—time for travel, consulting, giving workshops, making speeches. That’s bottlenecked growth.

Our goal at Thought Leadership Leverage was to scale and leverage our clients’ already-existing content so that their business could grow beyond the limitations of their time. We wanted to add digital offerings and land larger engagements. So, we held a Customer Advisory Council and invited a select group of their clients to discuss needs, issues, and how this content could scale to reach more people and make more change within the client organizations. When we were finished, their clients were more invested, and our clients had new product ideas, more personal time, and two 6-figure gigs!

Successfully selling your thought leadership is about understanding what your clients need. Ideally, you present new products and ideas, and then spend the rest of your time listening to your clients. What do they think your content is missing? What do they need, to further their growth? Do they foresee any major flaws in your current product design?

Don’t build products in isolation.

A Customer Advisory Council takes time, money, and thought, but the benefits can help propel your business growth. It’s worth the effort – and it can be an incredibly effective way to offer your content in a wide variety of cutting edge formats and bring your clients into the future. Your future.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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