We are living in a digital world!
It is a natural progression for businesses to incorporate digital messaging into their marketing strategy. From quick service restaurants (QSRs) to college campuses to healthcare to stadiums, digital signs are popping up in new venues every day. It is no surprise that the digital signage market is valued at $16 billion(!) and continues to grow steadily each year. As more companies consider the value of digital, it is important to research the necessary steps to find the best solution before making any purchasing decisions.
Regardless of the market, these 5 questions are universal when developing a digital signage network.
1. What is the content strategy?
The most effective digital signs deliver a clear and concise message to users. The digital message should capture the audience’s attention immediately. Above all, define the scope of work before determining anything else. If the hardware is chosen before determining the content, the component’s capabilities may limit the software. This is especially true when planning an interactive wayfinding kiosk project. Touchscreen interactivity requires more advanced planning than signs that do not utilize a touchscreen.
2. Who will manage the system?
One of the most important decisions - who will manage the content development and software? Is it better to invest in the hardware, computers, and other necessary components to manage the overall system in-house or should everything be subbed out to another firm? There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides. This is best decided with a comprehensive discussion with all parties involved in the process. Larger companies - with the necessary resources - may decide that it makes sense to grow the system within the organization. Whereas, smaller businesses may want to have someone handle the process.
3. What will it cost?
Depending on who will manage the digital signage system will dictate the costs involved in running the arrangement. The initial start-up costs and amount of time spent will be significantly higher if using in-house resources to develop the system. Alternately, using a digital software partner to manage the process will be less expensive up front, but will likely have management fees that are either monthly or yearly. Depending on the complexity of the system, the maintenance fees can add up, so be cautious when making a content decision.
4. How flexible is the system?
It is advantageous for the end-user to have some flexibility when it comes to the hardware. Not being married to a media player or LCD can yield some real benefits. In some instances, electronics will become end of life, and then the end-user will be trapped figuring out what to do with the content that was developed for a specific hardware system. For updates, the digital system should be accessible from the web. Updates should be easy, quick and performed with a swift click of a button.
5. Can the system grow?
Electronics are everchanging, and so should the dynamic and eye-catching content. The content which is delivered should be personalized to loyal customers, and most importantly provide a purpose. Digital signage is an investment, so the system should be running smoothly and efficiently for many years. It is a fair to say that technology that existed only 5 years ago is archaic compared to software available today. Research a digital content provider that will provide options to grow the software, as technology evolves over the years. For example, consider a college that uses digital wayfinding kiosks throughout the campus. Users can navigate how to get to their desired location. But take it a step further – what if the wayfinding kiosk provided a shortened URL or QR code which allows the user to access the map on their mobile device? Sounds like smart signage! Choose a partner that is forward thinking and will provide creative ideas that are ‘outside of the box.’
The digital platform and software that is chosen will influence the type of hardware needed to complete the project. Hardware includes the LCD monitor, media player, cabling, and kiosk/enclosure necessary to bring the digital signage to life. Carefully map out the content strategy and the other components for the network will quickly fall into place. It has been proven time and time again, digital will increase sales and make any business stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind – digital should be used to influence or help the end-user and should never be deployed without a solid plan of attack.
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