Monthly Archives: December 2016

CEO Transitions Need Employee Attention

When you’ve worked most of your life in big companies, as I have, it’s easy to forget that major change is a huge employee issue regardless of the size of company. Big company complexity can be daunting to contemplate, and I’ve heard people pine for smaller firms with the idea that big change would be easier. News flash: It ain’t necessarily so.

Central Federal Corp and CFBank — a four-branch bank headquartered in suburban Akron with 66 full-time employees, according to Yahoo! Finance — is going to find out how easy it will be, now that former kahuna Mark Allio stepped down. According to Crain’s Cleveland Business, Allio offered his resignation at the company’s annual meeting, and now the firm is searching for a new leader, with General Counsel Eloise Mackus steering the ship in the meantime (and “indicating interest”, per the Crain’s piece).

During any big change process — and a CEO transition is usually a big one — employees get distracted; it’s human nature. There are at least 65 people at that company wondering 1) Who’ll be the boss? 2) What will he/she change? and 3) What will it mean for me. It won’t help matters that the company’s financial performance (as with many banks) has suffered during the recession. Now the boss quits and there’s going to be a “process” to replace him.

Employees are ripe for worry, and worried employees seldom give great service, which ostensibly is the raison d’être for community banks.

The tendency of the board and leadership team is to look inward to themselves and the shareholders. Yes, they have a fiduciary responsibility to those owners, but they must not ignore their wider team. I don’t know that they have or have not — but they will need to ramp up the contact with the ordinary employees and be sure they’re equipped with the right tools to manage the customers and prospects.

Here are three “must-dos” 

1.  A note to employees with a draft customer letter — explaining the change and next steps, including a basic timeline.

2.  Questions-and-answers document anticipating what customers, community leaders, friends and family will want to know about the change.

3.  Commitment to a weekly email note and a twice-monthly conference call for managers updating everyone on progress.

It’s not a hard thing to do at all, and following these steps can make it a whole lot easier to glide through the transition.


Audience Segments & Persona Development in the Building Industry


It’s no secret that builders and architects speak different languages. They, along with other audiences in the building industry, have different values. Tools like email, advertising and other content marketing tactics give us the ability to efficiently tailor messages and value propositions to individual audiences. The hard part? Figuring out the best way to segment and develop personas to communicate with each audience. Will all builders respond to the same messaging? Do commercial and residential architects have vastly different opinions?

Understanding how to target and talk to the decision makers in your industry is key. The more you learn about your audience, the more you can influence ROI on your marketing.

Understanding your audience segments

The power to understand audience segments starts with the data you have available. Common sources of information include your website, sales data competitors and sales reps.

Website audits – Search behavior and site usage tell us what content customers value. What questions are they trying to answer? What problems are they trying to solve? Looking at how each audience finds you can tell you a lot about how to position your brand.

Content on a website is often designed for specific audiences. If you have an architectural resource, take a look at pages viewed before and after that page to get and idea of what else resonates with architects.

Sales data – If you are already on a CRM, you probably have a wealth of information about your customers. Data points like company size, job title, region or construction type can be great ways to slice segments along very meaningful lines. For example, you may find time-to-close is much longer for commercial audiences. Your content marketing can accommodate the audience with more touchpoints.

Competitive intelligence – The building products industry is rife with competition. You may not currently segment audiences and tailor messaging, but your competitors likely are. Reviewing their websites, blogs and social media is a great way to see what resonates with an audience.

Sales rep interviews – Once you’ve done your homework, you can go to sales reps with a list of informed questions. By now, you should have several assumptions about the best way to segment customers and build your personas. These interviews can either confirm suspicions or help you redefine and reposition certain segments.

Building Segments

Once you have a clear picture of your universe, it’s time to build your segments. You should have the information you need to make decisions about primary and secondary factors used to create your segments.

Remember your personas can be as broad or narrow as they need to be. This can depend on:

  • The content you have to support a persona – It’s always good to know more about your customers, but your marketing has to support your data. If you don’t have the content, start small, and build your personas as you build your content.
  • The marketing technology supporting your marketing – The narrower your audiences, the more analytics are necessary. The use of marketing automation, a CRM and clear communication between the two are important as you build out your plan.
  • The range of information available – Sometimes there’s only so much so say. Especially when it comes to highly regulated products, there’s often little variance across the industry. Sometimes it’s more effective to keep it simple.

Learn more about True’s approach to content marketing and persona development.