Advisory Boards for business Development and Start-ups can pay for themselves the first meeting and generate significant new revenue streams for the company.


Advisory Boards are not a one-time focus group, but a continuing dialogue with experts who are current or potential customers. They have the added advantage that Advisors will be constantly looking for opportunities to bring in business.

For instance, at CIGNA’s first Advisory Board for business development meeting, executives previewed upcoming products in development, and two members offered to sell them. During the discussion at that same meeting, the Advisors forecast that micro turbo generators are the wave of the future and recommended that CIGNA could leverage its brand name to smaller companies for new products. CIGNA listened and is discussing a strategic alliance with Allied Signal Power Systems.

CIGNA is so pleased by the “bottom line” results produced by the Utilities Advisory Board, the Fortune 50 company is creating two other panels, one on Telecommunications and one on Women’s Issues.

Advisory Boards for business development are a cost-effective way to explore new markets.

Bank of America has used Advisory Boards in several California communities as well as cities such as Chicago, Jacksonville and Philadelphia to discuss the competitive landscape, decide what products and lines of business are a must to the targeted population, how to differentiate itself from the crowd, and grow.

Both US-based and overseas operations use Advisory Boards to identity and manage the right opportunities to improve performance and enhance value while broadening market bases. The CEO of the US-based Coated Films and Papers (CFP) business sector of London headquartered Rexan PLC created an Advisory panel to expand the horizons of both the company and himself. Exports were selected who could either support the company’s geographic expansion, assist with broadening the business deal strategy, or support the vertical integration of the company.

Advisory Boards aren’t just for big companies.

There is a new twist to an old saying, “It’s not who you know that counts, but who that person knows.’ Professional credentials are important but so are advantageous contacts. The Advisory Board provides a continuing dialogue with experts who are current or potential customers. Companies who employ these Boards have the added advantage that the members will be constantly looking for opportunities to bring in business.

Properly managed Advisory Boards are a resource.

A “kitchen cabinet” can help you formulate hunches into ideas and after testing, into well developed plans. The Advisors can also help you master tough choices and keep you honest.

Advisors provide both new data and synthesis of knowledge. They cut through a great deal of information and link the right things together to move forward. Management becomes not only comfortable with but eager to bring unanswered questions and concerns to members.

Tony Carter, Ph.D., professor of sales and marketing at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, recommends that for companies with industrial customers, Advisory Boards made up of prototypical customers will supplement market research without emptying coffers.

Carter found that of the 70 Fortune 500 companies surveyed, 21 had Customer Advisory Boards; and of those companies, 19 found such groups to be an extremely or somewhat effective tool in the customer-relationship process. And the fact that many other companies don’t have Customer Advisory Boards is a competitive advantage in itself.


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