As an end-user, sourcing a digital signage firm can often be a drawn-out and confusing process. We understand many issues can arise from ownership of the project to discussion on content types, entering the digital signage world can be like opening a modern-day Pandora’s box.
New to digital signage? You’re in luck because barrier to entry has never been lower. Essentially, digital signage is the application of installing a network of video screens inside a specific location (indoor or outdoor) to promote specific advertising, messaging, or brand visuals.
With technology advancing at its current rate, digital signage has drastically evolved over the past 20 years to include a whole sub-set of applications and potential users. Often, you’ll see digital signage inside major transportations hubs like airports, bus stations and train stations, as well as sporting venues.
Recently though, you’ll see digital signage also making an appearance inside retail brick and mortars, supermarkets and big box, universities and places of higher education, healthcare facilities, corporate centers and essentially any building or area where information needs to get communicated on a massive scale.
Creating a Digital Signage Plan
Whereas past digital signage programs were clunky and expensive, today’s digital signage programs are nimble, affordable, and extremely efficient, allowing for almost immediate installation.
What shouldn’t be immediate is the strategy of the program. By thinking through your audience personas, messaging and brand guidelines as well connecting the dots from omni-channel to your customer journey, the strategy where your digital signage program falls needs to be fully throughout and scrutinized from every angle.
When crafting your digital signage strategy, it’s best to recognize your specific needs when it comes to hardware and software requirements as well. There are many options for the different types of applications from indoor to outdoor, LED to LCD, as well as different types of CMS systems.
Do you need it on Android? iOS? Native to your internal system or open source? How many locations are you managing? What are the geographic locations? How many pieces of content?
Again, the goal of a digital signage program is going to vary from company to company, but regardless of your KPI’s, it must be managed and applied in a very smart and strategic manner. It shouldn’t be an afterthought, but weaved into the fabric of the brand and marketing strategy.
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The Value of a Digital Signage System
Digital signage has countless capabilities and applications across many different verticals and industries. Before, where you might just place a screen on the wall and hope your customer glanced at the message, we now approach digital signage from a very strategic and omni-channel perspective.
The term omni-channel isn’t new, but only recently has it been fully-realized with digital touchpoints as a mainstay in every corporations’ strategy. This means that all your “digital dots” are connected and conversing with each other.
Of course, it is a lot easier than it sounds. Often, corporations understand the necessity of digital but lack a true understanding on how to implement and optimize the technology, especially digital signage.
Thinking of digital signage as more than just screens on a wall, corporations can leverage the might of the screen in many ways.
- Building Brand Equity – This includes having brand and lifestyle content playing while connecting with the customer on a top-funnel, non-sales way.
- Strategic Corporate Communications – This includes having signage to communicate core company messaging and values, updates and news, as well as showcasing the brand in a corporate setting at their HQ or corporate center.
- Push relevant sales messaging and advertising to customers – This includes what most people think of when they hear digital signage; advertising and promotions. When done right, and with the audience top of mind, this application can effectively get the right messaging out at the right time to the right persona, thus channeling your audience down the sales funnel into a state of conversion.
- Leverage as an HR / employee communications hub – Your back of house is a tremendous opportunity to engage with your employees and build company and corporate culture. From an HR perspective, utilizing digital signage allows you to message your staff in an engaging manner and bring forth important information, which ultimately trickles down to your overall customer experience.
Utilizing digital signage to do more than just push out a message will allow you to look at the investment made in a different light. It isn’t so much about advertising and promotions as it is utilizing it as a native part of your communications strategy, like a website, social media and PR announcements.
Return on Investment
For most, when deciding if digital signage is a worthy investment, questions usually arise on what the ROI is and whether it’s truly an investment or a disguised expense.
But year after year, statistics are continuing to show that companies who make use of digital signage as part of their marketing and communication strategy see steady growth and can direct their growth back to messaging, creative, and content that was relevant and efficient to leverage.
When pitching digital signage to decision makers, it’s extremely important to understand how the benefits and its importance to the organization out-weigh the costs involved. Considering that digital signage is not a one-time purchase, as there are costs involved beyond the initial cost, it’s best to look at the initial installation and cost of goods as well as the reoccurring costs and how that might be wrapped up into an SLA (service level agreement).
The true cost of digital signage doesn’t have to be astronomical nor does it have to disrupt major areas of the corporation.
The initial cost to set a strategy and install the program makes up only a small part of the greater corporate communications strategy with it becoming a much higher value to the organization in the long run because the profitable possibilities are endless.
The cost of a digital sign is a significant business investment but the possibilities to turn a profit are endless. With so much value a digital signage program can bring, it cannot simply be labeled as a mere business purchase. It is a strategic investment that pays off in the long-run, year after year.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “For businesses that choose to enhance their signage with an electronic message display, the owners typically see an increase in business of 15% to 150%.”
With statistics and testimonials clearly stating that digital signage is an investment into the future of your organization, it should not be classified as an expense, but a long-term, high return on investment.
Writing a Digital Signage Technology RFP
When looking to create an RFP for digital signage, first do your homework and identify the firms that not only have experience doing this, but also who are on top of the trends and active within the industry.
There needs to be specific goals, benchmarks, and KPI’s associated with the project. By setting these expectations, and determining the department, not departments, with whom own the project, you can hopefully alleviate some of the on-going pain-points many brands have with installing and maintaining their digital signage program.
When determining a budget, there should be careful consideration given to the on-going maintenance of the hardware and software as well as the general upkeep on content, creative and data & analytics.