Using the POST Method to define online initiatives

The POST Method – is a method for defining strategy that’s been around for the web equivalent of a lifetime.  Back in 2007 the good folks at Forrester coined the POST methodology. I’ve found it to be a fantastic tool for making strategic and tactical decisions around projects online.If you haven’t guessed it’s not a strategy around posting things on blogs or social media, it’s an acronym.

The method starts with People

Scrum stand up

Clearly defining who your target audience is and what are they like is key to any project – it labels who you are trying to reach.  the tighter the description here the better. Most marketing and communication fails by trying to appeal to too wider audience. There’s a  are a phrase I love around this – “If you try to please everyone, you please no one”.

Everyone with a pulse or middle aged men is not a defined target market.

Now you could leverage buyer personas  – which are kind of like an ideal profile of your target. You could use existing client data to find the median person. the  demographic and psychographic profile of your main customer.

One simple way to do this is to go check the demographics of your facebook page fans. I wrote a post on this last month for insiderCXM if you’re interested. With a simple look at your stats you can see your median age, sex, and their location. You might be surprised and find out you’re targeting the opposite, but lets hope it fits with what you were thinking.  Dig a little deeper by looking at the pages they like and you can start to get a feel for their psychographic profile too.

Now if your target audience is not on Facebook or if you’re properly into this you should slo do some market research and interview some existing and or potential customers. its the best way to create the perfect persona.

What partnerships could get you to this audience?

The second part to this people equation is working out what partnerships could get you to this audience and how could help you communicate with them? Your research might show that they are all fans of a big sports team – so partnering with them and doing a little brandscaping might work.

Someone must be accountable for driving this to success

The third part is working out initial thoughts on a RASCI chart for the initiative, who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed about it. You may not have all the seats, but for anything to happen someone must be accountable for driving it to success.

Ok so you’ve got a clear idea of who  you want to reach and who’s involved. What do you want to tell them. What’s the Objective of what you’re doing? the O of POST.

Objectives: Here you can outline the message or action or goal you have for this audience.

What are your goals? Are you more interested in listening in order to gain insights? are you messaging to them or communicating an initiative or campaign?  Do you want to engage with brand ambassadors or just get someone along to a gig? Once you know what you want, then you can drive how  you will act.

That’s The Strategy – Let’s say I start communicating as the CEO with my fans on Facebook or Twitter – what will my company do if people reply – what if they say something bad, what if they have great ideas – how do I get them in a backlog , how do I prioritise them. This is the strategy – planning for how you change your relationship with customers? What do you want to get out of these relationships? Which direction do you want to take and what is the underlying proposition?

With these strategic decisions made – then and only then – do we get onto the final part. The part where most people start. You know the phrases – “We should be on Facebook, everyone’s there” or “are we tweetering this?”

Choosing the right Technology

It’s here you define the medium that best matches your audience, the message you want to give and how you will change your organisation when you meet your objectives.

you look at what applications or websites you should you use? SEO, SEM, and how much time should this take? This step reflects the choices you make in the first three steps. if the people you want to connect with aren’t on Facebook or hate video messages or will demand transparent rapid responses – something your P O and S answers have  determined –  then making a viral cat video to post on Facebook is just wrong.

So once again – People first, Objectives and goals next, Strategy and then LAST – Technology that will help you get there.

If you like to hear more about this and a few other things that i think are really useful check out my latest podcast

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2 thoughts on “Using the POST Method to define online initiatives

    1. I’m still not sure why they do it Dan. It’s the equivalent of picking up a Hammer and looking for something to hit with it. Know the task and then find the tool that fits.

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