You’ve worked hard on your Customer Advisory Board (CAB) program. When executed correctly, you’ve created a corporate asset that provides ongoing advice and perspective for your CEO and leadership team. Advice that validates your value proposition and guides your team to achieve and sustain its competitive advantage in the future. It’s natural to want to share this success publicly. But doing so will put your company at risk. Here’s why.

1. Your competitors will target your CAB members

Any and all information found on the Internet is considered public domain. The minute you post your CAB members’ names, job titles, and their participation in your CAB, you have given ammunition to your competitors.

Early in my career as a VP of marketing I was tasked to design clever integrated marketing campaigns that would win business away from our top competitors. My first avenue of research was the Internet.

To my delight, one of our biggest competitors had publicized details about their CAB program and its members, including several CAB member case studies. As a result, it was easy to create a “triangulated list” of entry points to target these CAB members and their companies.

It didn’t take long to discover their needs and concerns for the future. Sponsoring industry-relevant themes that tied into these concerns, we produced several “thought leadership” articles, sponsored a “customer success trends survey”, and promoted a competitive comparison breakdown. We easily found a hook to start a conversation with these companies.

It also helped that a couple of these companies were either targets for acquisition (from other companies), or they had missed recent quarterly numbers. Any changes in the market creates opportunities to play to “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”

This approach proved very successful. And it was made very easy because our competitor kindly posted their current CAB member information.

This is the primary reason why I always advise my clients to not make CAB member information public. Don’t give your competitors an advantage.

2. Your ego can blind you

A key motivator for embracing a CAB program is to create an opportunity to listen to your customers. This is incredibly powerful. Some companies want to go one step further to tell the industry that they have been listening.

This is a good thing. However, promoting the CAB on your website or social media sends an ego-centric message that is about you, not your customers. This can easily backfire.

Remember that the best run CAB programs are designed to be corporate assets, not marketing gimmicks. Posting photos of your CAB members at a swanky resort, including a who’s who list, says less about what you are hearing and doing to support the evolving market. Instead, it can communicate a self-serving message about how big your CAB budget is. It promotes “style over substance.”

Instead, consider using other tools and vehicles to share that you have been listening. Incorporate what you have learned into your “thought leadership” awareness articles in the press; use these themes in speeches your CEO presents at industry conferences; share with analysts and have them write about you and how your company is in tune with the changing market.

Ultimately, the biggest proof that your company is listening is with the actions you take as a result of what you have learned in the CAB. As you do so, your customers will tell the industry that you are listening.

Always make the CAB program about them, not you. When you do so, you will benefit more than you expect!

Video: Customer Advisory Boards & Listening Posts

3. Your sales team may view your CAB as an entitlement

When you start promoting your CAB on your website, it’s important to consider the consequence it will have on your sales team’s behavior and your prospects.

A sales rep may use the CAB as an enticement to get a new prospect to sign. The prospect will want to rub shoulders with these CAB members. If he finds he’s not invited, that may create some buyer’s remorse. “How come I’m not good enough?”

These are issues that muddle your CAB program and take you away from the real issues you want to explore with CAB members.

Consider that the CAB objective is strategic and grounds the program:

  • What do you want to learn?
  • How are you prepared to take action on the information you gather?

Not all customers are good for your CAB. Your invitation list is based on which executive-level customers are best for giving you the answers you require. Answers you can trust. You must always be in control of your invitation list.

Over my 20+ years of CAB experience, I’ve been called upon many times to help companies “reinvent” their CAB program because the invitation list had become tactical and political instead of strategic.

Read: Welcome to the CAB Alumni Program


A well-run CAB program creates the most important meeting you will have all year. It is the one place, one time, where a dozen of your very best customers meet with your CEO and leadership team to talk about the future.

You get one chance to have this meeting and get it right!

By promoting the program publicly, you create unnecessary business risk that can harm your brand and confuse current and future customers.

Play it cool. Be strategic. Guard your CAB as a strategic asset.

I guarantee you will deliver a CAB program experience that differentiates you from your competitors’. And in doing so, you and your customers will win.

For more information

With a specialty in CAB & Partner Advisory Board programs, Mike Gospe is a professional facilitator with 20+ years of advisory board experience. He’s helped some of today’s most innovative companies deliver more than 250 world-class in-person & virtual customer meetings. He leads KickStart Alliance‘s Advisory Board practice.  Check out more of his Customer Advisory Board best practices articles and videos on his CAB Resource Center.