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#88: Taylor Bogar – Turn Customers into Advocates: Unlocking the Power of Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) to Grow Faster

Episode 88

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CABs, Customer Advocacy Boards.

Little known wonders of the B2B marketing toolkit.

While they’re not right for every business and for every stage of growth, it’s an important one to cover off. Because it could help you close the loop on the growth cycle.

We get another truly helpful expert, this time in CABs, to come talk to us all about it in this week’s episode. Taylor Bogar joins us right in the midst of building another set of CABs, sharing some market leading insights on them!

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George: welcome back to the B2B Playbook. This week’s interview is with [00:01:00] Taylor Boga. She’s the head of customer Now, Apollo, for those who don’t know, is a sales intelligence and engagement platform.

 Taylor is a fountain of knowledge on all things customer advisory board, and we use the acronym CAB throughout this episode. In this conversation, we covered everything from definitions and key considerations for when and how to start cabs. We also dive into how you can run these customer advisory board sessions, action insights from them, and measure success.

Kev: I think it’s also important to call out. What Taylor and the organizations she’s worked in are doing with cabs is a, in a lot of ways, very different from how we’ve seen cabs in the marketplace so far.

They are definitely market leaders and innovators in the space and it was really exciting to get her on to share some of the inner workings of how she’s putting those together and how the organizations she’s working in putting these together are really benefiting from those. And it shows through in the quality of the members that she has [00:02:00] in those cabs and the visibility.

Genuine interactions and genuine benefits that those members are getting from those cabs.

George: It is really different, Kev. It’s a lot more structured than I thought it would be. And I actually think, Kev, that this interview came at a perfect time in the context of the B2B playbook, because after speaking to Taylor, this is certainly a later play in the growth of a lot of B2B businesses. It does take resources, but it’s absolutely worth covering and looking at.

So listeners, watchers, viewers, we hope you enjoy this conversation with Taylor.

 welcome back to the B2B Playbook. Listeners, as you know, we rarely have guests on our show. Instead, we select a few true experts who align with our view that B2B marketing is more about people, not platforms.

Now, today our special guest is Taylor Bogar. Taylor is the head of customer marketing at Apollo and Apollo. Is a sales intelligence and engagement platform. She’s an absolute [00:03:00] rockstar when it comes to customer marketing. And before Apollo, she was the head of customer marketing at Chili Piper. Now, both companies really embody our mantra of be helpful and are clearly very close to their customers.

So who better to tell us then how they’re doing it then? Taylor. Taylor, thank you so much for coming on the.

Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me and thanks for the kind words.

George: Taylor, I first came across your brilliance last year back when I saw you sending out these gorgeous wine and cheese platters to some B2B marketers in our network. I then dug a little bit deeper and I saw that you’d launched a customer advisory board. That was the moment when I knew that we had to have you on the show, and I’m so glad to say that all this time laid up.

We finally.

Taylor: Yeah, I’m excited to be.

George: All right, cool. Well, Taylor, before we go into the practicalities of building a customer advisory board and listeners, we’re gonna be calling it a cab. That’s the acronym for it, because I don’t wanna keep saying customer advisory [00:04:00] board. I wanna get more of an understanding as to what a cab actually is and what the benefits are so our listeners can see if it’s a really a worthwhile investment of their time.

Taylor, I wanna kick off by asking, what the hell is a customer advisory board?

Defining a Customer Advisory Board (CAB)

Taylor: So a customer advisory board is my definition of it is just a group of. Key customers or your most knowledgeable customers that you bring together regularly just to talk about your products, talk about your brand to give product feedback and to really just milk them for strategy and information.

If you have the right titles, I think it really benefits you if it’s like. That your group is made up of your icp or multiple ICPs. It’s just a great way to get really good feedback from people that are on the front lines of using your product.

George: Awesome. Okay, so it’s really there to get great feedback. Are there any other main [00:05:00] benefits to building one? Like why should a business build one other than that feedback?

Reasons for Businesses to Create CABs

Taylor: Absolutely. I would actually say if your main goal is to just get feedback on the product, it’s probably too much of a program to take on. I would do something like research or beta testing or have a group of folks that you tap on whenever you do need specific product feedback.

But if you’re really looking for your best customers to become advocates for you and really sink their teeth into what you’re building as an organization and really be bought in. That’s when you really wanna build a cab is when you’re looking for both getting that product feedback, but also just really deepening and building relationships with folks that are great logos for you to have on board.

George: Yeah. Okay. So that, that really makes sense. It ties you. Into the customers themselves. You’re turning them into advocates. Are there any other what are the key objectives of cabs? We’ve spoken about the [00:06:00] benefits, but what are the objectives? Why would a business actually go about doing this?

Key Objectives for Building CABs

Taylor: I think it really depends on, where you’re at in your business and what internal stakeholders. Are looking for. So when you go to build your cab, or if you’re thinking about creating the program talk with your leaders, talk with cs, your marketing team your GTM team, and I guess pitch it to them and say, Hey, if I were to bring together this group, like obviously product feedback is at the forefront of like the purpose of building a customer advisory board. But beyond that, if you have a group of our best customers, if you have access to them, what would you wanna get out of it?

And how could that push forward your team within the organization? So at Chili Piper, we were specifically choosing folks to invite to our cab that showed a lot of initiative. When it came to gaining access to our brand, talking about us [00:07:00] on social people that we could tell were really bought into the Chili Piper brand.

And also we’re experts in their space and we’re power users of our tool. Here at Apollo it’s a little bit different where we are so product forward that product feedback is a lot more important. And not to say like the advocacy stuff isn’t as important, but. We are thinking more about the product piece, like during meetings, for instance.

Like how do we really focus on getting the specific feedback we need from these people versus talking to them about different ways they can advocate for us or like what they would wanna see from our brand. So it really depends on the needs of the business. But I would say, like I mentioned, the two main objectives are that feedback and really understanding, What they as customers want to see from you outside of, product usage, what they wanna see from their CS team or the CSMs that are assigned to them.

What they wanna see from you on social, what you can [00:08:00] do to add value to them as a customer because they represent your whole customer base. And you can really come up with creative ways. To deepen those relationships and also take what you’re learning and apply it at scale for the rest of your customer base.

That was long, but I hope it made sense.

George: No, the dead. Like it actually, it was such a great example comparing what you, the purpose of it was a chili piper. Versus Apollo, and it completely reflects where they are at different stages as

companies. And I can totally understand that with a more product focused company like Apollo, why you probably can’t take the same approach that you took it at Chili Piper, because there’s just so much more volume, right?

Tailoring CAB Approaches Based on Business Size and Customer Numbers

George: You’ve gone from thousands to millions of customers, so it’s a different ball.

Taylor: Absolutely. That’s such a good point. I think we were talking about this before you hit record, but the two are just so different where, having a really, like a PLG forward company you’re, you have millions of users, millions of customers. That doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.

But at a company [00:09:00] like Chili Piper you just organically. Learned who your biggest advocates were. There wasn’t any noise. And at Apollo it’s okay, we have millions of users, we have really great logos, we have really great people that are obsessed with our brand, but it’s not as clear who those people are.

And so you have to come up with creative ways to, to figure out who they are and like you really have to. More on teams within the organization to raise those people up. We’re not at that point yet where we’ve invited any members to our cabin Apollo, but I know that it’s just gonna be a totally different ballgame when we start to source members.

George: Okay. Well This segues perfectly into this next question that I have, which was, how do you actually go about selecting who should be on your cab? Are they just customers? Are they customers who are also little micro influencers? Like how do you actually go about figuring that out?

Selecting the Right Members for Your CAB

Taylor: So that’s another question where it really just depends on your business and I think it also depends on the approach that you take with your cab. So I [00:10:00] don’t know if this is gonna be covered anywhere, but I would love to talk about just the strategy that we implemented at Chili Piper for our cab.

That was pretty unique and that we’ll also be implementing at Apollo. So instead of having, I think when you think about a cab, if you are familiar with what a cab is it’s typically a group of. I would say 10. I hear from between like 10 and 20 people. Often titles are mixed together in the group and you meet on, a quarterly or twice a year basis.

The approach we are taking is not. Gonna be that small. So what we’re doing is we are like I said, having your cab mapped to your ICPs is really effective. And so we have, all of our personas and we’re creating groups around those personas. So that all of the people that are in, let’s say we have a sales.

Leaders CAB all of the people that are in that cab share the same title. They can benefit from each other. In terms of networking, in terms of thought leadership, talking about strategy, like things like,[00:11:00] what are the most effective email cadences that you’re using right now, and what are those results?

Bringing people together with similar titles just creates a. A more engaging program. And so with that in mind, when you’re thinking about sourcing members, it quickly turns from 10 members to 60. At Chili Piper, we had a roster of 60 cab members. And Understanding who owns relationships with those different personas within your organization, whether it’s CS or sales.

Sometimes product owns relationships. If you do have, a pretty strong beta testing program understanding who owns those relationships and really working with them to create easy ways to flag. Key customers that they’ve started to build relationships or have existing relationships so that instead of you going out and trying to look through your CRM and source people or look through NPS scores or something like that, you’re really working, collaboratively with the rest of your organization [00:12:00] to identify folks.

And then it really pulls other people into the cab and they’re more bought in because they own their relationships.

George: That’s so interesting, look, a lot of our listeners probably are at earlier stage companies, not quite the size of Apollo, and it might be a little bit more obvious to them who their raving fans are. But when you get to the scale of Apollo, like that’s really difficult to identify.

So I, I appreciate you sharing how you’re actually going about selecting those people, cuz it’d just be a whole different process.

Taylor: Yeah, and we haven’t done it yet, so maybe by the time this airs, we will have successfully sourced all of the members, but it’s a, it’s something that kind of keeps me awake at night.

George: Yeah. Something that you really touched on there was I guess like segmenting your customer advisory board and putting people with similar job titles together. It seems to me. That, is that like a strategy to try and create value? Because if I’m the customer, I’ve already got like a day job.

I already have a busy [00:13:00] life. Like why would I bother spending my time joining Apollo Chili Piper’s cab? Like why would I bother doing that?

Motivating Customers to Join CABs

Taylor: Yeah, so it actually, you hit the nail on the head. It creates value for them and for your organization. So let’s take the example of sales leaders, or actually Piper, we called them our sales influencers. And these actually weren’t all customers. There were some sales influencers that just really loved our brand.

And so we invited them in because they knew a lot about our product. But having a group with similar titles, having it segmented a gives you the opportunity, like I said, to really structure the meetings according to, what their needs are. So one great example is at Chili Piper we had our instant Booker product.

Something that, end users really benefited from just like an instant Booker link. And so we were reframing, [00:14:00] or I guess reestablishing our messaging for the go to market for that product and we were able to. Have, the sales influencers, a portion of the sales influencers meeting really focused on, Hey, this is like some of the messaging we’re thinking of.

We pitched it to them and they gave us real-time feedback. They told us what they liked, what they didn’t like and that’s not something that we would’ve been able to take to. A rev o like a rev ops group, which we probably could have, but they’re just not as interested in giving that kind of feedback.

And so that’s where it adds value for you. And then for them, they get to, inform on really specific products that impact them and they also get access to the other people in the group. So one thing that we are intentional about is making sure. The group is connecting outside of the cab meetings, and so we have Slack groups set up so [00:15:00] that they can all help each other.

Like whether it’s boosting something on LinkedIn or we’re helping, give an intro or what have you. Really figuring out what kind of value that specific title or that specific person in that role will get, can get out of having this cohort of, people that are really well connected, like in your space, you can get a lot of value.

Just having those special exclusive relationships. And then beyond that this isn’t really focused on title, but they would get a lot of value out of the work we did to help them elevate their brands personally.

George: Oh my God. That sounds like an enormous amount of work at your end to support all of this. It’s sounds very one-to-one. Like you’re trying to create things that, I guess get the. The the snowball rolling down the hill, like putting ’em in a slack group so they support each other. But I’ve tried to make groups before and I know that it’s not as simple as getting a bunch of like-minded people and throwing ’em in a group.

You’ve gotta provide support and structures and you’ve [00:16:00] gotta be incentivizing people to post and just take action. Was it just you doing it? Was there a team? Like how did you manage.

Managing One-to-One Work in CAB Development

Taylor: Gosh I think that, with, we didn’t have a Slack group for every single, so we had six groups at Chili Piper. We didn’t have a Slack group for every group. It was only for a few. And I think because the groups were so small, I know what you’re talking about where if you’re building a community at a certain point it becomes like a full-time job to be able to manage the engagement and expectations and like rules and all of that.

But it didn’t feel that way I think when we had the Slack group. But outside of that, yes, it’s a lot of work. If you’re considering launching a customer advisory board, I would actually advise against it until you have a dedicated headcount for it.

Because it easily, and once you get it off the ground, I would say the launch is a full-time job. Like launching a cab, especially if you’re doing multiple groups, is absolutely. 80 per, we will take up 80% of your time through the first round [00:17:00] of meetings if you’re doing them quarterly. And then once you get in the groove and figure out how to engage with these people and build relationships.

And it doesn’t always feel like you’re constantly just chasing squirrels. It becomes like a second nature and it just gets way easier. But I would say it still took slash takes probably 30% of my time when we’re not having meetings because you wanna make sure that you’re coming up with creative ways to engage with your cab members.

Outside of meetings so that they’re getting value from the cab all the time. And then when you’re facilitating meetings, if it is your responsibility and not like an event person’s responsibility to actually facilitate and plan the meetings, it’s probably meeting, meeting time is probably 50% of my time.

I don’t know if you asked how much time it

George: Yeah. Yeah. No. I, that’s I, I, I wanted to know that cuz I wanted to know like, when was the right time to build one? And it sounds like you’ve really gotta wait until you have a dedicated person. So I suppose that’s someone with a title similar to yours, someone who’s dedicated to customer [00:18:00] marketing, which is normally a little further down the road for companies.

Taylor: Yeah, definitely.

George: And you also touched on. The fact that like you had to spend a lot of time thinking of like creative ways to keep people engaged, and I kind of want to get into some of those. I remember. Seeing just by following you for quite a while, that gifting seems to be like a huge part of the strategy when it comes to customer advisory boards.

I saw one example where you sent every member of your customer advisory board a Pokemon card, like you turned them into a Pokemon card with their attributes and stats. That was super cool.

Taylor: Thank

George: talk me through that. What was the purpose? Why did you do it? What was the.

Success Stories & Initial Steps for CABs

Taylor: Yeah. Okay, so to give a little bit of context, and I don’t know if we’ll talk about this at another point in the conversation, but when, whenever you set up a cab, I would definitely recommend outlining a cab, what’s called a cab charter for your members. So it’s [00:19:00] basically like an overview of.

What the cab is. Your purpose. Their purpose. What the objectives are, and what the expectations are. And so as you’re sending invites out to people, you can share this cab charter with them and they really get to read through what they’re gonna have to do. And then if you have them sign an NDA or something, it’s like they’re like agreeing that.

They are going to be meeting all of those expectations and in return, like your expectations that you deliver on the value that you promise in that charter. And so in the charter that we had at Chili Piper, one of the expectations was that you participate in a quarterly social media push which could be called U G C.

And so we would combine, so gifting adds value to them, right? Like it’s a cool gift. It gives them really cool, LinkedIn content that creates buzz and helps ’em get impressions and engagement. But it also just makes them feel really special and exclusive. And so I have to give credit to my manager, Dan, for this because we like both love Pokemon.

And one day [00:20:00] he was like, What if we turned all of our cab members into Pokemon? And I remember he said this in a meeting with multiple people and no one but me liked the idea. And I was like, I love that idea so much. If I got a Pokemon card with my face on it, I would keep it forever. And so we ended up running with it and if you saw it, like it ended up being a really great campaign and ended up counting.

So like they would basically we, what we did was we. Through as an icebreaker in one of the meetings. We went through, every cab member answered if you had a personal superpower and a work related superpower, what would they be? And we didn’t tell them what it was for, but they all answered the question.

And like we had recordings of the meetings and so we were able to write down what their superpowers were and we turned those into the Pokemon like powers and gave them HP points and stuff. And. We sent those out and you got a deck with every single cab member in it, and it was like [00:21:00] wrapped, it looked like a Pokemon deck and so they ended up loving it.

Like we put a little QR code with their that led to their LinkedIn so they could all connect with each other. And yeah, I mean it ended up being super impactful. I think it’s probably one of the highlights of my career in terms of like campaigns that I’ve been able to run, but they still. Cab members from Chili Piper still ask me if I have the cards and they use them as business cards.

So we ended up handing them out at an event in San Francisco where we had a couple cab members present and they were like taking them around, introducing themselves to people and would be like, oh, scan my QR code on my Pokemon card. And so it like, I mean it’s still, I feel like being used, which is so cool.

But just CRE coming up with really creative ways to. Make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. And that was like the perfect way to do so. and we were getting requests from other influencers that were like affiliated with Chili Piper for Pokemon Cards and we were like, sorry, this is just for our cab.


George: [00:22:00] way. That’s so awesome.

Taylor: it was.

George: Could be a new side hustle for you, Taylor.

Taylor: I didn’t design them. Our designer, Caitlin Bar did, but I was like the facilitator. It was really fun though I don’t know, if you would’ve told me when I was 13 that I would be in marketing making Pokemon cards one day, I would not have believed you.

George: Oh, it’s the coolest thing is this. Why? I don’t know, marketing just didn’t even seem like a real job when I was at school, and now I like spend. Part of my day in Canva, another pa part of my day, like video, anything, others like chatting on social media. I’m like, oh my God, this is work. I can’t believe it.

This is so cool.

. Look, it shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but I’m just taken back by how much like strategy and planning there is to this whole thing. Like you said, you, you sent the influencers, the customer advisory board members, like a charter. Even getting them to make sure that they buy into, like quarterly social media pushes making sure that they’re, I guess engaging [00:23:00] and lifting each other up and lifting the brand up.

I even noticed that for a lot of them, they even had Chili Piper’s title, as part of their LinkedIn bio. Was that something that was part of the charter that, that got ’em to do that?

Showcasing Brand Affiliation on LinkedIn

Taylor: Yeah. So that was part of the charter. Yeah, and like I said, everything, almost everything we, we did or do in these cabs. Adds value on both ends. So having them announce their position as a cab member and adding that to their LinkedIn profile gives them, they become affiliated with a brand that has a lot of respect and then and they’re seen as an advisor and an expert.

And then it also gives us access to their network because we’re, our logo is on their LinkedIn profile. And so that is something that was mapped in the charter and we actually included that piece. After the first round of meetings, we would send them, we sent them the coup, I think coup, it was [00:24:00] called coup or coup, C o u p custom wine kit that you saw that came in that case and or a champaign and had a saber.

So we sent them that and then we also sent them like an announcement tool. Walking them through how to position their announcement if they wanted help with it. Like they could say whatever they wanted, but giving them that content so they didn’t have to worry about what to say.

Facilitating Effective First Advocacy Actions

Taylor: So they would post that with a picture of their champagne kit. They would, we would show them exactly how to update their title. And so just making it really easy for them to take advantage of those value ads that we’re trying. Get them to take advantage of is like a great way to really. That cab charter taken seriously and especially at the start when you’re first launching, like that first U G C push or that first advocacy action that you ask them to take, needs to be really well facilitated so that you can get the [00:25:00] relationship off to a really good start from just the CAP member perspective.

George: So you’ve gotta make it as easy as possible for them then, right? Make it a total no-brainer. Even to the point of this is, hey, you update your LinkedIn to show that you’re a customer advisory board member. Okay. I really want to dive more into like, the practicalities of building and running a cab.

And we’ve already touched on a lot of different aspects, but I kind of want to tie it all together for our listeners. First of all, I mean, we’ve already spoken about like how you go about selecting who should go in it. You said that it was different depending on like where your company is at.

It was a different process from Chili Piper to now at Apollo. In terms of who to actually select to go on it in terms of positions or people in the buying committee, are you looking for like the end users of the product to be in the cab? Are you looking for like the decision makers? To be in the cab.

Are there different ways of doing it?

Additional Considerations for CAB Membership

Taylor: Different ways of doing it for sure. Like I said earlier, [00:26:00] I, we’ve seen a lot of success in mapping our cab groups to our existing personas because that way you can really tailor the feedback to benefit, the organization as a whole. And it creates better engagement in the meetings because someone, who is an SDR leader might not have the.

Chops your skill set as someone that’s a rev op leader, and it’s just because they work in totally different lanes and like work on. Tools and one’s more, much more relationship driven. One is very technical, so not that they can’t meet and get along and facilitate conversation, but if you’re, if you have an hour of their time once a quarter, you really wanna make sure that the conversation is as rich as possible.

And so that is a, the approach we’ve taken and it’s been really impactful. I, like I said, I have heard. I’m in a couple customer marketing communities and a lot of the feedback I’m hearing, or like the questions that come up is like, how do I get my cab more engaged? And the first question that I ask is is it a bunch of mixed titles that are [00:27:00] expected to meet once a quarter?

Because that to me is they’re not gonna be as engaged because the conversation isn’t always gonna, be relevant to them. And then beyond that understanding who some of the folks are in your organization. So I don’t lead the meetings. I actually don’t even attend the meetings.

There were a couple that I would attend during my time at Chili Piper. I’m not planning on being in all the meetings at Apollo because if you have six groups that’s six hours of meeting and you’re facilitating, the logistics of the meeting and then all the follow up and share outs and stuff, it’s just a lot of time to be taken from you.

And so having That can connect with whoever the titles are in whatever groups you choose to have internally, to own the meetings. They don’t necessarily own the relationships, but they really own like the messaging and the conversation and the agenda that’s happening in the meetings is really important.

And if you have some folks that are really, invested in certain areas that maybe. Your ICP but can [00:28:00] directly impact your business. That might be a group that you’d wanna explore. So for instance, we had Dan, my boss, is very well connected. He has run multiple communities in tech and he has a bunch.

Friends, they’re like all his friends that, run all of these amazing communities in the tech space. And so because of that, we have these great connections that could support our brand and created, we created a community leaders group. So that’s not a group that like directly impacts our product, but it’s a group that really helps us get outside of the box in terms of thinking how we approach our go-to-market strategy, how we can partner on.

How we can make our cab groups more fun. What are some fun gifting strategies you’re doing? How are connecting with your community better? And so just coming up with, I guess also creative alternatives to like mapping to your ICP that can benefit your business, in [00:29:00] a different way than just product feedback.

That was a very long, so I

George: No, that was great. It sounds like you’re just constantly looking for opportunities to add back into the members of the customer advisory board. And again, it, for me, so much comes back to. How much time do these members of the customer advisory board have to invest in this? Like, how much time is fair to ask of them?

I heard you say like once a quarter is how often they’re meeting. Is that enough for people? Like where do you recommend people get started in terms of frequency of meeting?

Determining Fair Time Commitment for CAB Members

Taylor: I think once a quarter is good. We, our meetings are an hour and a half at Apollo, they’ll be probably 90 minutes and we have a set agenda for the first 60 minutes and then the next 30 minutes are optional. And circling back to our conversation earlier, I think figuring out how to add the most value you can to these individuals, whether.

[00:30:00] Helping their organization or helping their, them in their role or even helping them on a personal level, figuring out how to help them and add value will make them want to come to your meetings and want to be more invested. If you’re getting, intros from people that, that are connected with, people you wanna sell to at Chili Piper, just cuz you’re on their advisory board.

Heck yeah. You’ll show up for a 90 minute meeting. Or if you know an organization that has 30,000 LinkedIn followers is posting about you, like you’ll show up for a meeting, right? If your brand is being supported in that way, if you know you have, God forbid you have a problem with a product, which it happens.

You have a direct line to an executive, like you’ll show up to a 90 minute meeting to have access to things like that. And so those are the things we map out in the charter. And 90 minutes and, one U g C push a quarter starts to sound really easy to be getting all of [00:31:00] those benefits.

George: Yeah, that’s not a big ask at all. I totally get that. So you’re constantly providing value outside of these meetings when they’re in the meetings. Is that when you’re using that really for feedback, like on the product itself? Or are they talking about things related to them in the industry?

Or is it like, okay, we give you all these benefits. For this 90 minutes though, like we are going to leverage this time to improve our product with your insights,

Taylor: It’s everything. It’s everything you just said. So, I can kind of walk you through what a meeting agenda looks like. Like

George: that’d be awesome. Yeah. I’m so curious.

Crafting a Compelling CAB Meeting Agenda

George: Please.

Taylor: have. Yeah. So if you have a group of SDR leaders like a strong meeting agenda would look like this, it would look like, you have 10 minutes of facilitating intros if they haven’t, like for new folks and like some type of weird icebreaker.

So like the superpowers question, or one idea we had one time was like, let’s ask them what their favorite candy would be if they were on a road trip, and then we’ll send them that candy like in a [00:32:00] month. So things like that can circle back and be like, cute little reminders of oh, we do listen to you.


George: cool. I love that.

Taylor: goes the abyss. So having some kind of icebreaker then moving right into product. I think having product at the front, you. Has the most opportunity for engagement because it’s the start of the meeting. They’re fresh, they’re excited to be there.

You need to tell them if you provide food, you have to say, feel free to eat during this meeting. And I would even recommend, this is so small, but I would even recommend having. Whoever’s leading the cab pretending to be eating, just to make everyone comfortable. Cause if you send them like a charcuterie board and no one’s eating, they’re gonna just be sitting there with their charcuterie board like smelling the salami and then is weird.

So always

George: so So hold on. Sorry. What it so like this, even though these meetings are happening remotely, you’ve sent out shaki balls in advance and you’re like, everyone eat and chat.

Taylor: Yeah, we

George: I love that. That’s so cool.

Taylor: called a Virtual Toast. It’s called a virtual toast. And they’re incredible. They ship everything out [00:33:00] for us. So like I basically place the order and send them all the information and they handle all the shipping. Yeah. So we provide food for the meetings. But if

you do

George: I love I, sorry to jump in. I just gotta say I love that as someone who as you can probably tell from my last name, kus, it’s Greek, like socializing and eating are just so inherently intertwined. And if I’m eating with someone, I trust them so much more. I’m willing to open up and speak up so much more.

So that’s really cool. So take us on a tangent.

Engaging Product Discussions and Q&A

Taylor: No. I love hearing that. That makes me feel good that we do that. Like it just makes me it. Reinvigorates my des desire to have food in the meeting. So we’ll continue to do that. Um, so yeah, so start with product. Typically product should take between 15 and 30 minutes. You don’t wanna spend the whole meeting talking about your product, like you don’t wanna spend 16 minutes talking about yourself and you wanna make the product conversation really engaging.

So instead of taking them through, a 20 minute PowerPoint and then asking for feedback in the. Have questions like dispersed through the [00:34:00] PowerPoint. Make sure you’re asking for feedback as you’re taking them through different ideas or different pieces or different updates versus waiting till the end because they’re gonna forget all the feedback they had.

And that also just doesn’t create the greatest conversation.

Addressing Members’ Needs and Concerns

Taylor: And then once the product piece is over, I would recommend if you do have a group of people that share the same title and interests, to have some kind of question that they. Ideate on or give feedback on, or share strategy on that directly impacts them.

So one example is for we had a rev ops leaders group at Chili Piper. One of the questions once was, how do you. Fairly distribute leads in your organization because that was like a hot topic at the time and we obviously had a lead routing solution called Distro. And opening the floor to discussion around, fairly distributing leads within your organization and like the problems that you’ve come across and like what you’re doing to solve those things and You’re [00:35:00] using our products to solve them.

Like it just creates really good conversation that everyone can learn from. And for certain people specifically rev op, they would get into these like really technical use cases where they would end up just helping each other solve these really like specific problems that they wouldn’t have solved otherwise.

And so that’s a great way to facilitate conversation that benefits all parties.

Optional Networking Opportunities in CABs

Taylor: And then the conversation from there. Like organically continues and they like get onto different topics or I don’t wanna say they get distracted, but if you have a really good core question that you start with and it gets everyone talking, the conversation will just naturally evolve and move into the optional networking.

And the optional networking is that last 30 minutes of time. Once you meet the 60 minute mark, say, Hey, gonna interrupt really quick. Anyone that has to drop off can drop off. You’re more than welcome to stay for an additional 30 minutes of. Networking if you want to,

Gathering and Implementing CAB Feedback

Taylor: one thing I didn’t mention that is also helpful is [00:36:00] reviewing what you did in the last quarter in terms of just like the cab activations and saying what did you love about what we did last quarter?

What did you think of the gift? Did you feel like you had enough access to our team? What could we have done better? What are some of your ideas to make this more valuable to you? And typically there’s not much feedback, but it’s a good way to also facilitate. Live feedback about how your cab is functioning.

George: It sounds like an absolute gold mine of insights from that hour and a half. Like it just sounds absolutely incredible. How what are you doing with these insights? How are you then taking them? Are you taking them, packaging them up and sending them off to the relevant teams? What are you doing?

Distributing Insights Gained from CAB Meetings

Taylor: Yeah, so this is like where the customer marketer comes back into play after the meetings or whoever’s running the cab comes back into play directly after the meetings. I definitely recommend just blocking your calendar during, the the full day, having a deep work day where you watch all the recordings, take notes and pull out.

You’ll hear things from customers that [00:37:00] you need to send to Cs or you’ll hear. You know about products that they’re interested in, that you wanna send directly to an AE or an AM or whoever handles expansion. You’ll also hear things that you know are big, kind of small, but things that you probably wanna raise to the product team saying, Hey, three out of, seven of the members that attended this meeting.

All said they’re having this issue. Or we would love to see this differently in our product because it’s our cab. Like they speak for the rest of our customer base. This might be a bigger issue than we thought, so please take us seriously. And having organization and a plan on who you need to distribute all of those things to is the first step because those are like the really hot items.

Sharing Learnings Organization-Wide

Taylor: And then what I recommend doing is if you have an all hands meeting or A channel where you can share things with your whole organization is pull out, the key insights and just give a quick overview, send the meeting links and say, here’s the meeting link. These are the five things that we learned that we think the whole [00:38:00] organization can gain value from.

And then send us any questions if you have any. There. There have also been times where I’ve joined, like if the if we get a lot of insight. Our messaging or our positioning that could really benefit our sales team. I’ve joined sales calls before and walked them through the feedback and just answered questions that they’ve had.

Repurposing Rich Conversations for Content

Taylor: Another thing we’ve done is the example about, fairness and lead routing is, we didn’t do this, but this is a great example, is if you find that there’s really rich conversation around a topic like that. You can take it to your content team and you have built-in advocates that you could interview to talk about that content because they’ve already voiced their opinion on it and where you could fit them into a blog or something like that.

So it could also inform some pretty great content for your marketing team.

George: Wow, so many different ways that you could use that information. And you touched on it a little bit, but I’m just wondering like how you actually measure the success of the cab that you’re running to I don’t know, set a benchmark and try and improve on it. Because there’s the [00:39:00] one side I guess, where it’s how.

Yeah, are these cab members? And there’s the other side, which is we’re creating these awesome insights that we’re passing onto the product team, whoever it might be. And there are all these amazing downstream effects, but it’s, I don’t know, to me just seems like hard to measure, put a number on anything.

And maybe that’s not important, but I’m just so curious as to how you actually measure the success.

Measuring Success in CABs

Taylor: Yeah, there are a few ways and I think you can pull metrics out of however you outline your charter. One of the benefits to cab members is they typically will get like an elevated access to our referral program. So if they send us business, we’ll give them a bigger incentive than we would give a regular affiliate.

They also maybe have first write of refusal to speak at events. They maybe have the first, you’re, you first go through their list if you’re looking for a customer reference and you’re incentivizing folks. That act as a customer reference for an open opportunity. Like you just go to the catalyst first so that you’re giving them all of the opportunities to [00:40:00] get paid.

Tracking CAB Member Actions and Revenue Influence

Taylor: And so you can take all of those a actions that they perform, referrals speaking at events, if they’re like a live case study. Hopping on a reference call and you can count all of that as influenced revenue when those deals close. So that’s what we did. For our cab, we would say, we can show you that, like these are the actions that these cab members took over the course of the last quarter that directly impacted deals that closed.

And this is the revenue that came from that. So it’s influenced revenue. That’s probably the easiest way, in my opinion, to measure the health of your cab.

Monitoring Signals like UGC Impressions

Taylor: You can also do things like, Estimated like U G C look at engagement from posts that they’re posting and get a number of okay, this is what we think that the impressions were from the last round of U G C throughout the quarter that, that helped boost our brand or drive traffic or what have you.

Assessing CAB Health Scores and Engagement

Taylor: And then the thing that we created that I actually really. Me from a [00:41:00] customer marketing standpoint understand if our cab was where it needed to be, was we created what we called a cab health score, where we basically decided that a healthy cab member was someone that. Joined the meeting every quarter or if they could not join the meeting cuz they were on vacation or on, mat leave or something like that.

They had to let us know. So they had to join every quarter. And then they also had to participate in one advocacy activity every quarter. So that could be the round of U G C, it could be a case study, it could be a testimonial, it could be anything. And so if they met those two criteria, they were considered healthy.

And it was my goal every quarter to have over 50% of our cab be healthy. And so having something like that, like I would look through the list maybe mid quarter and be like, okay, only 20% is healthy. Like I need to look for opportunities to activate these people. And that kind of forced me to engage with them without thinking [00:42:00] about programmatic ways to do like I. My mind immediately went to oh, we could have a CAB member do that and then I’ll get another Healthy Cab member. So that was a really great way to make sure we were engaging with our cab members throughout the quarter.

Transparency About CAB Health Score Expectations

Taylor: And it also, we told them that they had like a health score in the meeting.

We were very clear we were very honest about like how we ran the cab. And so we would say you’re gonna be measured on, how you interact with us. And if that’s not cool, that’s not cool. But if you’re not healthy, two quarters in a row, like. We might replace you or something like that.

Like we never threatened that, but it was understood that like we had a wait list. By the time I left we had people that were asking to be in the cab, but we didn’t have room. And so that just created another like loop of, I need to engage with them. They want I need to take advantage when they reach out.

When we reach out, the brand reaches out to the cab member and make sure that the things they’re asking me to do, that I’m actually being helpful. So then I don’t get kicked out. Not that we

George: Oh my God. Th [00:43:00] That is just so awesome because all I see at the other end is like people getting cheese boards, Pokemon cards sent to them. And behind this is this like very purposefully run process where everyone is like a super open, honest, transparent situation where we’re like, Hey, we are here to help each.

And these are the rules for helping each other. We’re both gonna follow them. And I can totally see why now, like the compliance was so high because yes, you’ve obviously created that value, but there were expectations set from the beginning like, this is what we need from you, and this is what we’re gonna do for you.

Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. And I will say like I have to give credit to, our credit is due our co-founders, Nicola and Alina Chili Piper, like a lot of the stuff we were doing. To, and Dan to start with was new. Like No one, I still don’t know of anyone in, our space that has run a cab like this. And I also don’t often see a.

Cab members posting about [00:44:00] their membership from different logos. That’s not something that I’ve seen outside of Chili Piper. Maybe my LinkedIn feed is biased. I’m not sure. But like you have to have leaders that are willing to be experimental with a program like this and be transparent like that in order to, reap the results that we were reaping, which is.

Really great impact on our brand. Really strong relationships with our customers. And a cab that had an actual wait list when like everyone else is having a hard time getting their members to show up to meetings. Like it felt really good.

George: Yeah, I think like most other people just have a lunch once a quarter or something, or every six months and people turn up for their free food. A little bit of networking, but that’s about it.

Taylor: Yeah, there’s so much you can do. You just have to, like I said, like you cannot have a cab function like this without headcount for it.

George: Yeah it sounds like it takes a huge amount of organization, like a lot of one-to-one stuff as well. As you said, [00:45:00] remembering what people’s favorite candy was and perhaps, there were sneaky ways of you guys trying to scale that. You can. Easily just send out a survey, find out what people’s favorite candy is or whatever.

You have that in your spreadsheet and then you know, it’s not too hard to go and actually do that and make people feel like they’re seen, heard that it’s personalized, but maybe not quite as much as they feel.

Taylor: There would be, yeah, exactly. There would be certain opportunities where If we had a research, like a survey for, a UX survey or if we had a need for a speaker at an event, we have these groups, right? So if I need someone that’s in rev ops to do something that’s a one to money, I just send the ask out to the whole group and it takes me five seconds for things that are more personalized, where I know this person is like an expert in this space and they would be really great.

That’s one-to-one. So there are definitely like, it’s mostly one-to-one engagement, but there are ways to. A make asks of, the whole 60 person group, your [00:46:00] mini cohorts or the one-to-one. There’s different ways you can do it. So it’s definitely like you have a little bit of control over how much work it is.

George: In terms of like other ways to use the customer advisory board, I think I noticed you guys were using them to help you do case studies, that kind of thing as well. I suppose a lot of the people you selected for your customer advisory board already had a strong. Brand presence of their own, a strong personal brand.

Did you like select them on purpose to do case studies? Because like they were someone who was recognized.

Involving CAB Members in Case Studies

Taylor: No, actually we didn’t. So there were a lot of people in the cab that were not necessarily influential. I think our two groups that were very influential were our sales influencers and our community. So we worked with them on a lot of brand driven activity, but we actually, I think when it comes to customer stories and research studies, we really focused on our admins for that.

And a lot of them, like never post on LinkedIn. [00:47:00] So you have, depending on what the need is, like you have this amazing. Group of people that add different types of value to the cab, whether it’s expertise in, a really specific technical skill set or someone with an amazing brand.

Like you get to pick and choose, but we didn’t, case studies and quotes and testimonials and things like that were things that would count as an advocacy action. And so we really did a good job of making sure we were. Reaching, dipping into the whole group versus dipping into just the people with a really strong brand, if that answers your question.

George: Yeah. No, it does. It does that. That makes a lot of sense. I’m gonna ask Taylor, you do seem to be very passionate about this. Was there a moment, like when you were building customer advisory boards when you first came across it, where you just fell in love with it and you were like, damn, this [00:48:00] stuff really works.

I can see myself doing it for a long time.

Taylor: I don’t know. I think so when, to be totally honest with you, when I first was handed the CAB project at Chili Piper, I was very intimidated by it. Like I had, my background is like growth marketing. Like owning a segment and running campaigns. Like I had never facilitated like anything like this, and I don’t love event planning.

And so I think it was like this monster that I had to tackle. And then it became I think I’m so passionate about it because it became, Like my thing, like my baby. And I got to build relationships with incredible people that I still talk to this day. And so I think I’m really passionate about it because of the relationships and just because it’s like, it’s fun and I had never done this before.

It’s fun to create a. Type of, program. Like it’s fun to fix [00:49:00] something that’s broken and be able to talk about it with people and help people. And I think that’s what I’m really drawn to. If you asked me if I wanted to do cabs full-time, I would say absolutely not. I don’t think I would want this.

I would want this to be a piece of my job. I would never want this to be my whole job because it’s a lot of work. And there are things I love about customer marketing that are not cab focused, probably more than the cab. But yeah, I think it’s just because it grew into this like really great program that I, I still talk about obviously.

And I get to implement at a new organization now. And I don’t know, I guess I, I don’t know if there was like a moment though.

George: Yeah. Yeah. No, look I can see why now after chatting to you, why you would want it to be like just what you do. I initially thought that this was something that I wanted to do for my business, like later this year. And now I can see the huge amount of work that goes in behind it, the huge amount of hours you need to put into it.

And I’m like, first of all, I don’t think we’re at the right stage. And [00:50:00] second of all, even if we. I don’t think I want to do it. I think I need to get someone else to give us a hand, like there, there’s parts which seem super fun. But like I can see that it, it is a lot of work. It is a lot of work and the benefits are definitely there.

But yeah, it takes work.

Taylor: Worth it though. It’s fun to see the impact it has on the organization and also it’s really fun to have, if you’re a collaborative person, which, if you’re in customer marketing, you have to be collaborative. Like you have to be willing to be customer facing. And you have to be, you have to be very extroverted, I feel and be willing to, reach out to help people and It’s really fun to like help, someone on the UX team that I would never talk to at Chili Piper, who was named Taylor.

She was the other Taylor. And so cause of that I had this like desire to be friends with her and she was on the UX team and like towards the end of my time at Chili Piper, I was just feeding her these cab members to do these UX research pro projects that she like was having trouble finding people for.

And like I never would’ve [00:51:00] gotten to build that relationship if it weren’t for. The cab. So it’s things like that too that make it so worth it.

George: That’s awesome. That’s very cool. We’re starting to run out of time, but I would love to know, and you can just say no to this cuz you might not be able to share, but is there anything exciting in the works? At Apollo when it comes to cabs that you’re able to share with

Taylor: Yeah. We’re launching one, we’re building one right now. We’re in the process of identifying, what kind of establishing the structure, what groups we wanna have, like what the charter will look like, who will own it. Like I said, it will be a little bit different from Chili Piper and that it’ll probably be more product focused.

Like we’ll have a GPM leader a group product manager leading the group or. So that’s probably gonna be launching in the next few months, and we’re also working on launching the first iteration of a formal advocacy program for our users. So more to come on that.

George: Wow. Very exciting. I’ll encourage our listeners to go and follow you Taylor, on on LinkedIn to keep up [00:52:00] to date with that. Cuz I’m very excited to see how that evolves. You guys did such an amazing job at Chili pfa. I know you’re gonna crush it at Apollo as well. Taylor, you’ve been so generous with your time.

Thank you so much for sharing that sensational brain and that process with us. I’ve just learned so, so much. Cabs are obviously a great way of creating real win-win scenarios and it’s so cool to see like how you actually do that behind the scenes. Before we finish up the conversation, is there anything else that you’d like to add to the conversation or direct our audience’s attention?

Elevating Customer Voice in Marketing – Follow Dan on LinkedIn

Taylor: Yeah, I mean I think, elevating the customer voice is a really big part of customer marketing, if not like the whole ballgame and if are looking for someone who is really great at that. My manager, Danila, if you find him on LinkedIn, like I. He has been, the most incredible person for me to learn from and get me outta my comfort zone.

And he is also the most willing person to help other people. So if you’re early on in your career and you’re just looking [00:53:00] for someone to mentor you or help you out, I have to give him a kudos. This is the second place I’ve worked for him, so I follow him around

George: Yeah, he must be good. He must be good. That’s awesome. Taylor, where would you like people to follow you so they can follow along with your journey?

Taylor: LinkedIn is great. Really active on LinkedIn.

George: Wonderful. Taylor Boga. Thank.

Taylor: Absolutely. Thank you.

Kev: well, George, as technical as some of these conversations get, it’s amazing to see how much those overarching principles we always talk about and advocate. Really come back to the four and equally amazing to see the fundamentals. Don’t change. Be helpful. Be a good human to others, and it’s easy to figure out a successful growth strategy.

Cabs are no exception to that rule.

George: And Taylor is obviously super well suited to the role. Kev she’s an incredibly helpful person. She’s obsessed with lending others a hand. That became very apparent throughout our [00:54:00] conversation. Look, not in the least with all the information that she shared on this episode in running a cab, we’re so lucky that she dove so deep into those details.

Kev: And speaking of those details, let’s recap some of those main ones for our listeners and our view. Cabs can help businesses get product feedback, but more importantly, it can get your best customers to become advocates for you and your business.

Another great point was that you need to tailor your approach with cabs. Depending on your business, depending on your business objectives, even different customer numbers that you’re servicing can really change how you should go about engaging people in your cabs and how you should go about accomplishing a successful.

George: I loved her point, Kev, around not just looking at your customer personas, but even mapping to your business objectives as well. So you’ve gotta look at your true power users or the people who really benefit from your business and you want to do it with their insight.

Kev: And it’s really interesting on that point, George, I really like that as well because [00:55:00] she mentioned that people sort of default to, yes, their best customer profiles, the titles that makes the most sense, and that is a big part of it. But she also mentioned that they had a lot of success with just a bunch of people around the business who are really connected to people in the business who really have good industry knowledge and can share those insights.

And even that can be helpful in a cab. So it’s important to get creative with it over time and add those different CAB members in to really get additional value from your cabs. And she said Cabs is a full-time job because of all this one-on-one work because of all this fine tuning and really one-on-one thinking about what is gonna benefit from your particular cabs.

Make sure you have dedicated headcount before you start trying to make caps work for your.

George: It’s such an organized approach. Kev, even to the next point of hers that I really loved was that cabs actually need a charter. So she created a charter for the cabs to begin with, and that included things like quarterly social [00:56:00] And other advocacy commitments, so the people involved knew exactly what was required of them and what they had to do to stay involved to make it a win-win for everyone.

Kev: Yeah, I’m not sure either one of us would survive in a cab too. With a charter as strict as that. We’re a bit more laissez-faire with our content creation and sharing. But definitely important when you’re talking about cabs, listeners and viewers, to have that charter in place right from the start

and that really helps with the next point, which she mentions, which is the first advocacy action needs to be really well facilitated for the relationship to get off to a good start, get the ball rolling, and that is really a prerequisite for the rest of the relationship going well.

George: Kev, I thought it was awesome how Taylor showed us an example of what a CAB meeting agenda actually looks like. I think that’s something that’s pretty rare to get an insight into. And not just an insight as to how it’s run, but how to measure success from them, how to act on them, what metrics to look at.

One that was particularly interesting was the cab member health score that they came up with, [00:57:00] which is something that’s really cool to check out. So thank you to Taylor for sharing.

Kev: but listeners, as good as your processes. Be sure to follow up with the process in place to then collate insights from those meetings, collate insights from your cab meetings, and then action them as well. Make sure you have a process of taking the insights out to particular teams after each meeting, after each quarterly meeting, so that the rest of the team are ready to action those things.

They’re expecting it because if you get those insights and not action, then it’s really wasted time and effort for every.

George: That’s it. You gotta make the most of it. Alright, listeners, go and find Taylor Boger on LinkedIn. She always shares a ton of great content there. You’ll learn a lot just by connecting with her. And as always, Kevin and I absolutely stoked and more and more of you tuning in or watching on YouTube every Monday morning to the B2B Playbook podcast.

And if we can ask one thing, it would be that if you’re watching, please leave a comment down below on YouTube, or if you’re listening, leave us a review on whatever platform it is that [00:58:00] you listen on. It’s a huge help to us. We really, really appreciate it. Thank you, Kev. Thank you listeners. Take care and catch you next.

Kev: Thank you, George. Thank you, listeners. Catch next week.

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Episode 88