What’s wrong with this customer advisory board invitation?

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

This email was largely ignored by the targeted executives. 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. Customers are busy people and 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.

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.

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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