How to Build a CAB People Are Excited About

Taylor Bogar
October 11, 2022
min to read

There are a lot of things in life that should be about you.

Your birthday. 

Your bachelorette party. 

Your stamp collection (people don’t want to hear about that, sorry). 

But some things shouldn’t be all about you

How to Build a CAB People Are Excited About

Taylor Bogar
October 11, 2022
min to read

There are a lot of things in life that should be about you.

Your birthday. 

Your bachelorette party. 

Your stamp collection (people don’t want to hear about that, sorry). 

But some things shouldn’t be all about you

For starters… your Customer Advisory Board.

This seems like a no-brainer. 

But when I started to build a customer-first CAB, it was much harder than I thought. 

The standard CAB playbook just wasn’t going to cut it. 

Then I started thinking, maybe the common problems companies experience with their CAB are because the standard CAB playbook isn’t up to snuff. Problems like: 

  • Lack of engagement 
  • No-shows
  • ICPs who constantly say “no”
  • Lack of buy-in from leadership or peers

It‘s not a good feeling to beg customers to show up to a meeting. So we decided to do things a little bit differently. 

Here’s how: 

What’s the point of a CAB?

Product feedback is an easy answer here. 

But if we zoom out, your CAB’s goal is to bring your customers alongside your business to tell you what they want from you. 

Before we even started thinking about building our CAB, we made this really clear. 

We wrote a mission statement. And you know things are serious when you write a mission statement.

“Bring together an exclusive group of valued community leaders from our key customers to shape the future of Chili Piper, in order to increase value to our customers and build more meaningful relationships.”

We wanted to make sure we support our CAB members as much as they support us. 

That’s when we got creative. 

Your CAB isn’t about you

Most companies have just one CAB. And in that group, you often have a mix of different people altogether. 

So you might have a marketing leader, an AE, a C-Suite exec, and an ops manager all on the same call. 

This is valuable to you — because you’re getting all the product feedback you need in less time.

But it’s probably not valuable to them. 

That’s why we decided to build multiple different CABs, separated by role. We have six CABs with 10 members each, meeting one time per quarter.

Here’s our full list and what they entail: 

Sales Influencers: In these conversations, we’re usually talking about what they hear in the market, because their customers are often our customers. And they’re end users of our tool. 

Community: This group runs the communities our ideal customer profiles (ICPs) sit in. They share the results of the creative campaigns they’re running, discuss pain points of our ICP, and ideate on ways they can partner with us to support our brand.

Demand Gen: Demand Gen has a holistic point of view on our entire suite of products, because all of our products affect them in some way. These discussions are high-level, reviewing how our tools support their goals and where they’d like to see our business go.

RevOps: RevOps folks are very in the weeds about specific, technical use cases. They learn from each other, give helpful product feedback, and sometimes talk about ham sandwiches. 

Partners: In these meetings, we understand how we can better support our partners as they sell our tools. For example, we recently launched Chili Piper University — and they’re really excited to get their teams certified to better sell our tools.  

Executives: They talk about industry trends and the overarching business roadmap. Our Co-CEO’s Nicolas Vandenberghe and Alina Vandenberghe run this call with other C-Suite executives at our customer companies.

Yes, the approach we took in creating 6 individual groups is much more work. But it’s a machine. These different groups all support our business in amazing ways. 

These relationships have been critical for our growth.

And your CAB really is about building relationships. Not talking about your product features. Which leads me to my second point…

CABs just want to have fun

This one is important. 

If you want a happy CAB, think about what you can do for them. 

You don’t need to do anything expensive, but it should be personalized. 

Here are a few things we did: 

Personalized Pokemon Decks

In our Q2 CAB meeting, the ice breaker question was “What superpowers do you have professionally and personally?” 

We took those answers and created Pokemon-inspired cards for everyone to create a full deck. 

Then we emailed the card deck to all of the CAB members. 

We also hid these cards at the Press Club event at Dreamforce 2022, and gave out prizes for people who “caught ‘em all.” 

Chili Piper's CAB collector card deck

Champagne 

We sent all our members a welcome bottle of champagne when they joined. 

Because we really were just that excited about everyone joining. 🎉

All CAB members receive a welcome champagne gift

Charcuterie

Before each meeting, we send out a delicious charcuterie board and wine.

That way they can eat a delicious lunch while chatting about all things Chili Piper! 

CAB members are treated to a charcuterie board to enjoy during the meeting

Candy Hearts 

We spread a little extra love on Valentine’s Day with custom candy hearts.

Candy hearts that we sent to CAB members for Valentine's Day

Tracking CAB health

Before anyone commits to joining the CAB, we send them a charter that lists out all our activations and benefits. (Click here to see an example of one of our charters).

Activations include things like attending events, posting about us on social, or referring business. 

We use these activations to track our health score. 

Every time a CAB member shows up for a meeting, they get one point. When they complete an activation, they get another point. 

The more points they have, the “healthier” they are.

If they haven’t completed any activations, I’ll proactively reach out to them to see if there’s something they’d like to participate in.  

Helping them help us

Every quarter, we create a social tool kit that includes everything our CAB members can share about Chili Piper.

The tool kit includes: 

  • Social copy (multiple options for posts they can write) 
  • Assets (images, etc.) 
  • Post guidelines 

For Q1, our social push was all about announcing their new membership. For Q2, it was more general about the CAB. For Q3, we posted about Chili Piper University and our brand new certification program that had just launched. 👀

The key to effective social pushes for your CAB is to not make it too company-centric. They’re probably not going to want to post about your new funding round — but they’d definitely post about the champagne bottle they got as a welcome gift joining the CAB.  

$175K+ in Pipeline Influenced by CAB Members

We kicked off our CABs in January 2022. 10 months later, we've: 

  • Seen 100+ CP-related social posts by members resulting in an estimated 1.5 million impressions across social platforms since Jan 2022.
  • Had CAB members participate in over 65 (non-social related) activations, things like customer stories, quotes for enablement materials, research studies, live case studies, and testimonials.
  • Attributed over $175,000 in pipeline as influenced by CAB members via organic conversations, formal reference calls, and referrals.

It’s crazy how effective this CAB has been. I was just at Saastr, and someone came up to our booth to specifically ask how they can join the CAB. And ’ve had multiple account managers reach out to me to ask if so-and-so can join our CAB. 

Usually, you’re begging people to join our CAB — but at Chili Piper, it’s the other way around. Because, well… our CABs are pretty fun. 💅

What’s next?

If you thought what we did with our CAB was cool, we’ve got more where that came from: 

For starters… your Customer Advisory Board.

This seems like a no-brainer. 

But when I started to build a customer-first CAB, it was much harder than I thought. 

The standard CAB playbook just wasn’t going to cut it. 

Then I started thinking, maybe the common problems companies experience with their CAB are because the standard CAB playbook isn’t up to snuff. Problems like: 

  • Lack of engagement 
  • No-shows
  • ICPs who constantly say “no”
  • Lack of buy-in from leadership or peers

It‘s not a good feeling to beg customers to show up to a meeting. So we decided to do things a little bit differently. 

Here’s how: 

What’s the point of a CAB?

Product feedback is an easy answer here. 

But if we zoom out, your CAB’s goal is to bring your customers alongside your business to tell you what they want from you. 

Before we even started thinking about building our CAB, we made this really clear. 

We wrote a mission statement. And you know things are serious when you write a mission statement.

“Bring together an exclusive group of valued community leaders from our key customers to shape the future of Chili Piper, in order to increase value to our customers and build more meaningful relationships.”

We wanted to make sure we support our CAB members as much as they support us. 

That’s when we got creative. 

Your CAB isn’t about you

Most companies have just one CAB. And in that group, you often have a mix of different people altogether. 

So you might have a marketing leader, an AE, a C-Suite exec, and an ops manager all on the same call. 

This is valuable to you — because you’re getting all the product feedback you need in less time.

But it’s probably not valuable to them. 

That’s why we decided to build multiple different CABs, separated by role. We have six CABs with 10 members each, meeting one time per quarter.

Here’s our full list and what they entail: 

Sales Influencers: In these conversations, we’re usually talking about what they hear in the market, because their customers are often our customers. And they’re end users of our tool. 

Community: This group runs the communities our ideal customer profiles (ICPs) sit in. They share the results of the creative campaigns they’re running, discuss pain points of our ICP, and ideate on ways they can partner with us to support our brand.

Demand Gen: Demand Gen has a holistic point of view on our entire suite of products, because all of our products affect them in some way. These discussions are high-level, reviewing how our tools support their goals and where they’d like to see our business go.

RevOps: RevOps folks are very in the weeds about specific, technical use cases. They learn from each other, give helpful product feedback, and sometimes talk about ham sandwiches. 

Partners: In these meetings, we understand how we can better support our partners as they sell our tools. For example, we recently launched Chili Piper University — and they’re really excited to get their teams certified to better sell our tools.  

Executives: They talk about industry trends and the overarching business roadmap. Our Co-CEO’s Nicolas Vandenberghe and Alina Vandenberghe run this call with other C-Suite executives at our customer companies.

Yes, the approach we took in creating 6 individual groups is much more work. But it’s a machine. These different groups all support our business in amazing ways. 

These relationships have been critical for our growth.

And your CAB really is about building relationships. Not talking about your product features. Which leads me to my second point…

CABs just want to have fun

This one is important. 

If you want a happy CAB, think about what you can do for them. 

You don’t need to do anything expensive, but it should be personalized. 

Here are a few things we did: 

Personalized Pokemon Decks

In our Q2 CAB meeting, the ice breaker question was “What superpowers do you have professionally and personally?” 

We took those answers and created Pokemon-inspired cards for everyone to create a full deck. 

Then we emailed the card deck to all of the CAB members. 

We also hid these cards at the Press Club event at Dreamforce 2022, and gave out prizes for people who “caught ‘em all.” 

Chili Piper's CAB collector card deck

Champagne 

We sent all our members a welcome bottle of champagne when they joined. 

Because we really were just that excited about everyone joining. 🎉

All CAB members receive a welcome champagne gift

Charcuterie

Before each meeting, we send out a delicious charcuterie board and wine.

That way they can eat a delicious lunch while chatting about all things Chili Piper! 

CAB members are treated to a charcuterie board to enjoy during the meeting

Candy Hearts 

We spread a little extra love on Valentine’s Day with custom candy hearts.

Candy hearts that we sent to CAB members for Valentine's Day

Tracking CAB health

Before anyone commits to joining the CAB, we send them a charter that lists out all our activations and benefits. (Click here to see an example of one of our charters).

Activations include things like attending events, posting about us on social, or referring business. 

We use these activations to track our health score. 

Every time a CAB member shows up for a meeting, they get one point. When they complete an activation, they get another point. 

The more points they have, the “healthier” they are.

If they haven’t completed any activations, I’ll proactively reach out to them to see if there’s something they’d like to participate in.  

Helping them help us

Every quarter, we create a social tool kit that includes everything our CAB members can share about Chili Piper.

The tool kit includes: 

  • Social copy (multiple options for posts they can write) 
  • Assets (images, etc.) 
  • Post guidelines 

For Q1, our social push was all about announcing their new membership. For Q2, it was more general about the CAB. For Q3, we posted about Chili Piper University and our brand new certification program that had just launched. 👀

The key to effective social pushes for your CAB is to not make it too company-centric. They’re probably not going to want to post about your new funding round — but they’d definitely post about the champagne bottle they got as a welcome gift joining the CAB.  

$175K+ in Pipeline Influenced by CAB Members

We kicked off our CABs in January 2022. 10 months later, we've: 

  • Seen 100+ CP-related social posts by members resulting in an estimated 1.5 million impressions across social platforms since Jan 2022.
  • Had CAB members participate in over 65 (non-social related) activations, things like customer stories, quotes for enablement materials, research studies, live case studies, and testimonials.
  • Attributed over $175,000 in pipeline as influenced by CAB members via organic conversations, formal reference calls, and referrals.

It’s crazy how effective this CAB has been. I was just at Saastr, and someone came up to our booth to specifically ask how they can join the CAB. And ’ve had multiple account managers reach out to me to ask if so-and-so can join our CAB. 

Usually, you’re begging people to join our CAB — but at Chili Piper, it’s the other way around. Because, well… our CABs are pretty fun. 💅

What’s next?

If you thought what we did with our CAB was cool, we’ve got more where that came from: 

Taylor Bogar

Taylor Bogar is the Head of Customer Marketing at Chili Piper. Along with her love of building new customer marketing programs, she's driven by the relationships she's had the chance to develop with customers & stakeholders. When she's not at her computer, you'll find her working on her side businesses or taking her dogs for a swim swim! For more customer marketing tips, follow Taylor on LinkedIn.

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