Many organisations put the horse before the cart when conceiving their digital strategy – typically they start with the tactical stuff: they whack up a blog, rip out a Facebook Page, or start building an app, without really thinking about the reasons why.
That ain’t strategy. That is doing digital for the sake of doing digital.
A simple method that can help you get back on track is Forrester Research’s POST methodology. Although it was written principally for ‘social’ technologies way back in 2007, it is still relevant today and can be applied to all digital technologies.
POST gets you thinking about the ‘problem’ rather than preempting a ‘solution’. It stops you doing digital strategy backwards.
So what does POST stand for?
- P is for People
- O is for Objectives
- S is for Strategies
- T is for Technologies (or you could make it ‘tactics’ if you want your strategy to cover both digital and non-digital activity)
There’s nothing really groundbreaking here – it’s a very simple and logical process to follow. Put simply, don’t consider which technologies to use until you’ve considered the audience, the objectives and the strategies.
But how many organisations think in terms of solutions before they even consider who will use them and what they seek to achieve by implementing them?
Think about it. Regular assertions that I’ve heard include: ‘we need to start using the cloud’; ‘we need a new website’; ‘we need to be on Instagram’; ‘our intranet is crap – we need Sharepoint’; ‘we need an app’. How many of these statements are backed up by a detailed investigation of the audience, the objectives and the strategies? I’d suggest not many.
Example of POST methodology in practice
So how does POST work in practice? At the moment, I’m working on a customer segmentation model for Adelaide’s busiest shopping precinct Rundle Mall, which services a very large, diverse audience. Here’s a simple working example of how POST can help define digital activities for a specific customer segment (note that this example is illustrative only):
PEOPLE – The people segment is the fan base of the Port Adelaide Football Club, who attend Port matches at neighbouring Adelaide Oval every second weekend.
OBJECTIVE – The objective is to attract Port fans into Rundle Mall precinct in the two hour period prior to each game, in order to generate buzz and to create foot traffic for mall retailers.
STRATEGIES – Possible strategies are:
- To provide Port Adelaide-specific consumer offers in the two hour period leading up to the game – eg. cheap meal deals at food providers, a discount offer if you wear a item of ‘teal’ clothing (Port Adelaide’s most distinctive team colour)
- To encourage Port fans to join the ‘March from the Mall’ through joint advertising/marketing campaign with the Port Adelaide Football Club
- To obtain support from the club to operate a membership booth, merchandise stall, autograph signings, giveaways and other activities in the Mall prior to games.
TECHNOLOGIES / TACTICS – Having considered the people, objective and strategies, the following technologies and tactics could be used to help facilitate the strategies above:
- Publish a dedicated, regularly-updated Port Adelaide fan page on the Rundle Mall website
- Publish articles, blog posts, vox pops with Port Adelaide fans
- Publish a photo gallery online of Port Adelaide fans in the Mall before games
- Brand the Rundle Mall website and social media assets in Port Adelaide colours on game day
- Send a fortnightly electronic Direct Mail (eDM) campaign to Port fans in Rundle Mall’s customer database
- Run online competitions specifically for Port fans with memorabilia and merchandise as prizes
- Leverage customer data to email Mall-based offers prior to game day
- Publish a series of targeted social media posts in the lead up to each game and leverage Port Adelaide’s large social following to share, follow and retweet these messages.
- Run a promotion or competition at the Adelaide Oval that alerts fans to pre-game activities in the Mall
- etc. etc.
If POST is done properly, it’s a lot of work – but your digital efforts will be better targeted and more effective if you consider the ‘problem’ and don’t jump to the ‘solution’.