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Carts and Horses; Forrester’s POST Methodology January 25, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing.
Tags: , , , , ,

The second anyone says the “M” word to me, my eyes roll back in my head and I’m out for the count; call it subjective narcolepsy, some things just cannot hold my attention, no matter how hard they try.

With that in mind it comes as a great surprise that I find myself blogging about Forrester’s POST Methodology, a copy of which was sent to me by the equal parts affable and amiable Josh Bernoff, VP and Principal Analyst over at Forrester. It’s timing was somewhat ironic, given I had just implemented a strategy that went about things in exactly the opposite direction the POST document suggests. Funnily enough, they got it right (me less so…).

POST stands for People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology and can be broken down in the following ways:

People -Who are the people using our service and what technologies are they currently engaged in?

Objectives – What are our business goals for this audience?

Strategy – How will achieving those business goals change our relationship with this audience?

Technology – What technology best supports the above?

The entire thing is, in hindsight, common sense, but having sat in far too many meetings now where executives decried the need for Facebook applications without any thought process behind it (beyond “Because everyone is doing it!!!”), something like this comes at just the right time.

I have been guilty of this in the past too, having recently implemented a Twitter feed on my company’s homepage. Now I can still justify this from a business point of view, that isn’t what bothers me. My problem centres around the goals I had for using Twitter. I envisaged a conversation with our users, live support, instant community (just add water). All of these are great, achievable, inherently good things to work towards and we will continue to do so. I left one tiny piece of the puzzle out though, and while perhaps in hindsight I had the OST down pat, it doesn’t actually count for anything.

Because our company’s audience is still enthralled by Facebook.

Because our company’s audience are not at the core of the early adopter segment of digital societies.

Because our company’s audience has no fucking idea what Twitter is. Nor do they care (right now).

That may change, it may not. It depends on how Twitter continues to grow, how it evolves, how much sense it makes to people in the coming months. But given the process that POST outlines, I would have noticed straight away that we have two audiences, not one, and the technologies at their core are mobile (SMS) and social networks, heavily skewed towards MySpace and Facebook. Those techs are relevant to both audiences, and while they require different strategies for interaction, it would have meant a more focussed effort on our part.

The advantage with Twitter is it is a low-cost, low-risk strategy to implement; the worst that can happen is nobody in our audience uses it, the best is it achieves everything I had hoped for and more; the upside greatly outweighs the down (hat tip to Nassim for that lesson). We’ll still continue on a path of developing strategies in technologies that are yet to be proven (largely because we’re able to), but I will personally spend more time in the future identifying the core audience for a project and not get carried away like the “Facebook” execs I derided earlier.

Happens to the best of us I guess…for more advice along this path, check out the method for yourself. Alternatively it is also available in handy book form. These Forrester guys just think of everything.



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4. jyesmith - September 30, 2008

David, I first saw this only a few weeks ago at the AIIA Marketing Summit — delivered by Steven Noble. Was blown away with the simplicity and effectiveness of the methodology. I live by it now.

5. David Gillespie - October 2, 2008

Jye, you’re absolutely right, it breaks everything down into extremely manageable chunks, very useful for framing a discussion, and in particular for moving stakeholders away from situations where they’ve latched onto an idea that isn’t always right for them.

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