There is no shortage of information on digital signage. For those who have been doing it a while, especially those who rely heavily on their web presence for leads and information for their services, there is an overabundance of fluff.
Most Information is Filler
One of the first things you learn when you really start digging deep into the content created for WWW consumption is that much of it is fluff. Credibility and sustainability can never be seen through the eyes of a press release which speaks of an installation at such and such college. My confidence is shattered in such when I know the deployment consisted of less than ten screens. Why craft a press release?
Then there is the content that is written more for the SERPs than for breathing humanoids. When content is not targeted toward human beings, it fails. That’s as simple as it gets. I wish there were a way to test the bounce rate of any website. That would certainly let you see whether or not the content is worth sticking around for. Google is getting better at telling betwixt truth and error. You might well say Google is taking on more human-like characteristics.
Understand the Industry
I used to sit at a desk with Helius (now officially Hughes Solutions Group) and watch industry-related leads pour in from Digital Signage Today, Digital Signage Association, Helius.com and Deploid. It was an interestingly unique experience. I saw the difference in quantity and quality between all four sources. I also saw over 700 industry-specific leads flow in over a 6 month period to our site alone. Leads which rotted and died because we did nothing with them. Sad, I know, but I was trying–as best I knew to be ethical with my somewhat conflicting alliances. I’m sure I would be able to make more money if I had not some shred of a conscience.
I make this point somewhat in defense of my actions, but also to illustrate how well I know what is going on. There are very few companies in digital signage whose revenues outpace their expenses. I’ll repeat it again, there are more failing than succeeding. At least I know there were three years ago when I started this crazy digital sign blog. I’m sure there will soon be another unsuspecting software sucker who wants entrance into this industry, only to find there are not enough leads to feed everyone within the industry and that the competition is stiff and ruthless. Careful, because threatening someone’s livelihood means the battle suddenly reaches a personal level. There is still more fluff in digital signage than there is reality. I would really like to see a chart which shows actual growth compared to hype, press release and blog growth (you know–compare real numbers with cotton-candy hype). I’m still in school and we all still should be. Experts realize the need for continuing education.
Get Credible Sources
Our digital signage news feed is not always credible. I’m sorry, but that’s just how user generated content works. You have to take the good with the bad. And, thankfully, our site allows for commenting so full disclosure can take place. Now that I have just given a disclaimer that our site is the least credible for news, let me do a little defending. Realize that while the news is not as credible, it is a source for information where all can contribute. We still reject sources that are not credible. Several times a month we’ll get a news submission from something foreign or some type of trashing
Make Goals, Chart a Course
Before you jump into the DOOH industry, make sure you know what direction you wish to go. Content is the end in this industry and technology is the means. Do not get so caught up in the “how,” but focus more on the “what.” I cannot tell you how many people we speak with who say things like, “we are planning on having about 200 or so screens up by the end of the year.” Or, “yeah, we’ll only be ordering one unit today, but probably like 50 next week.” What is your plan?! For my personal, professional, educational and relationship goals I like to follow the SMART method of goal setting.
S–Specific. Make sure the goals you make are specific.
M–Measurable. Make sure you can measure your specific goals. Making the goal subjective vs. objective is foolish.
A–Attainable. This is the bullet-point where many people miss the mark. With the resources to your disposal, in both monies and men, do you really think you’ll be able to accomplish what your mouth is spouting? Just checkin’.
R–Relevant. If you are planning on starting an advertising network for doctor’s offices, then stick to it. It’s like TLC used to say, “don’t go chasing waterfalls, just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.”
T–Time-bound. I have often heard that a goal not written is merely a wish. I also know that without a deadline things never get done. Proposals have deadlines just like homework for the elementary school student. Bind yourself and stick to it.
Whether you’re looking to enter into digital signage for purposes of advertising or just want a way to speak personally to employees and staff with specific digital messages through a private network, then be sure you set goals, timelines and feverishly work to achieve them. That means benchmark goals between now and the big goal. One of our clients who has a national sales and installation network, started with one screen and grew to over 200 in a single year. They did it with goals, but with a lot of human capital in sales personnel backing their plan. I was going to have another bullet to this list entitled “Don’t Expect Luck,” but after this last little tid-bit, I think that goes without saying. The properly epitomized what Earl Nightingale said, “The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”
Connect with Human Beings
When you create content–whether you’re doing it on a blog or on a sign–make sure you are doing it from the point of view of the audience. Ask yourself, “are people really going to want to read or watch this junk?” or “is this really worth peoples’ time?” If not, you may need to start creating the content over again. When I feel like things are not going well it’s usually because I have neglected relationships. Getting back to the fundamentals of relationships is what makes this business tick. If your blog post does not drive people to your phone lines asking about what it is that you do, then your work has been in vain.
Millions have been made on the Internet through marketing that does not require human-to-human interaction. Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way in digital signage. I spoke to one industry-veteran who informed me that they had received 30 site hits from a single Twitter tweet. he was boasting when he said it. My only response was, “how beneficial was it? Did you get any viable leads from it?” Whatever you do, make sure you continue your contact with actual humans. Humans–not bits and bytes–are what makes the world go ’round.
The best way to really know something is to try it out. Pilots are generally not free, but you can certainly get a free trial from any number of software solutions on the market. Take your time. There certainly is not a rush, especially when digital signage is NOT the most mission-critical piece to your overall budget. I really like the Chinese proverb which states, “Distance tests a horse’s strength. Time reveals a person’s character.” This is also true of different software applications.
Until the market becomes absolutely saturated with digital signs, we will certainly keep seeing people toot their own horn (we do it plenty:) and say, “look at us, we’re doing so well even in the bear market!” However, checking the facts is quite possibly the most relevant piece to implementing a tasty digital signage deployment. What are your thoughts?