Here’s a real customer advisory board invitation email. At first glance, it seems perfectly reasonable. However, 4 common errors have been committed. See if you can spot them.

Subject line: Would you be interested in joining our CAB?

Dear (customer executive),

We’re thinking about hosting a Customer Advisory Board later this year and we’d like to know if you’d be interested in joining us. We’re looking for your help to guide our product roadmap as we explore areas for future growth. Your opinions are important to us, and were interested to hear how we are doing. Please let me know if you are interested in participating, and we’ll provide additional details on the event and agenda in the weeks that follow.

Best regards,

Marketing Manager

The CAB invitees ignored this invitation email. Here’s why:

1. The subject line is weak

Although it is a legitimate question, it feels like a plea rather than an invitation. It’s easy to ignore.

2. The tone of the email conveys uncertainty

“We’re thinking of hosting a CAB ….” Executives are likely to trash the email and wait for a time when the host company is certain. Like you, the executives you want to invite are busy people. They don’t want to waste time on concepts or ideas that may not yet be real.

3. The email is all about the host company

It’s “me, me, me”. Please help us with our roadmap. Tell us how we are doing. Now, this is indeed the output we want, but we can’t communicate it this way because it’s self-serving. There is no hint of the value customers will receive from attending. What’s in it for them? It may seem ironic, but your CAB is not really about you. It’s about your customers. It’s about discovering what they are interested in, how their plans are evolving, and how you can help them achieve their goals.

4. There is a mismatch between the strategic nature of the CAB and the sender of the invitation

If we expect senior executives to participate in a strategic conversation, the invitation must come from a high-ranking official, not a first-line manager.

One last point: As good as your email is, it will not be enough to get the RSVPs you want. You’ll need a mini marketing plan to achieve full success. To compare this email with a very successful invitation and learn more about the most effective invitation processes, check out The Flipchart Guide to Customer Advisory Boards, Volume 2: How to execute a world-class CAB meeting.

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