Any business owner or marketer with a limited budget knows the struggle. While big-budget big businesses can afford the advantage of hammering away at the marketplace with the hope of attracting a small fraction of the audience, small businesses must be aware of every dollar spent and hit the mark with each message.
Vehicles such as nationwide ad placement, celebrity endorsements and yes, high-end digital signage don't fit the budget, and they probably won't hit the mark with your message either. Still, that doesn't mean you need to dismiss digital signage out of hand.
Advances in making digital signage technology more user-friendly and accessible might be making the medium worth the effort.
The statistics make it worth the expense.
A Nielsen study reported that digital signage brings home a 60 percent increase in sales at-the-counter. And if you're looking to bump up sales at your counter, you don't need digital signage fit for your local NFL stadium. A simple system will do what you need.
A little extra expense for a big jump in sales
OK, great, yet another successful marketing technology that the small business budget can't afford with more pressure to compete with the folks that own huge budgets. The fight for survival faces another battle.
The truth is that a solution exists for any business.
Think about it, while you continue to plug away with print ads, posters, online ads and other traditional modes of advertising, you could be delivering fresh messages with just a few clicks, staying agile and reaching the right consumers with your message by using digital signage. Everything you need to convey the right messages to customers can be made flexible and up to the minute while those traditional ads grow old before they are even printed.
Potentially, small businesses can rid themselves of ineffective advertising dollars, move more quickly and save time. How valuable is time?
Getting started and putting the system together
By definition, digital signage delivers multimedia content on displays such as LCD, LED or video wall screens. The system is fed by a playback device (media player) that is connected to a large digital screen. This happens with an assist from content management software.
Knowing this, it becomes pretty easy to see that all you really need is an LCD or LED screen, a PC and access to a hard-wire or wireless network connection. Again, keep your scale in mind when shopping for these items. You don't need to cover a football stadium or Times Square, you just need to deliver good content to your customers.
With this smaller scale in mind, the budget will become clear, but before you take off for your favorite auction site looking for used equipment or a quick-fix piece of free content management software, consider the business image. You have already scaled back the digital signage to fit your business need, don't go the cheap route and waste money on a homemade system with limitations that won't last.
If your business has plans to grow, a solid digital signage system should be put in place to grow right along with it and give you the flexibility to schedule and modify content from anywhere.
Thinking small brings small
Buy quality equipment that helps you manage content easily, provides a large, bright and attractive display and is agile enough to adapt as new technologies become available. This advances the image of your business, makes delivering content from anywhere simple and prevents headaches from system failures.
No doubt, a high school whiz kid could tell you how easy and cheap a DIY system can be assembled, but it's not worth the pennies saved if you're constantly fighting your digital signage instead of watching it inform and entertain customers while you go to work on your core business.
Buy good hardware and connect it to quality software that makes it easy to deliver the best content. A quality distributor will be able to put together a custom package that delivers the performance and versatility you need.
If your mind twists at the thought of plasmas, LEDs, processors, digital displays and more seemingly confusing technical hurdles that need to be cleared, you're overlooking the most important task with delivering a good digital signage system — the content plan.
People and resources with deep knowledge of digital signage systems stand ready to help just about anywhere you look. Rest assured, you can find the system you need to fit your budget.
Carefully planned content is too often overlooked and that's what will really bring the return on investment. Sit down with your team and think about what messages have been effective in the past, what brings action and when will those messages be timely.
Content planning drives the success or failure of your advertising. That is true now and it was true the day advertising began hundreds of years ago. Put a team together, look at your business trends and cycles and come up with solid plan. Then measure the successes and failures and make the needed adjustments.
With all that being said, don't be intimidated by content planning, no one needs to win a Pulitzer. It's an aspect of digital signage that can be overlooked easily while everyone oohs and ahs over the cool new technology making its way into your business.
Bright, beautiful and successful campaigns may seem out of reach to the average business owner, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Take the time to explore this effective vehicle for communicating what your business offers.
It is well within reach financially, delivers messages quickly, and with the savings in time, you could ditch some of those wasted traditional marketing expenses.
/ A. Jay is the Senior Director of Business Relations at Mvix, a VA-based digital signage company providing end-to-end digital signage solutions, including a free cloud-based CMS. An industry veteran, AJ has over 10 years of experience in digital entertainment and communication solutions.