When most businesses look to employ a new method of marketing the hardest part is getting buy in from the powers that be. Take one of our clients for example, a super smart guy who had been in the digital signage market for over a decade. When trying to employ a digital signage network for his school it took him eight years.
Why? Because there were so many elements to consider. What hardware would fit the mould and be affordable, what software would work for their organizational aims, who would manage it and what quantifiable benefit could they measure to ensure return on spend?
Fortunately, many of these elements can be solved by putting together a digital signage business plan. If, like many of us at ScreenCloud, you’re a momentum maker – someone who wants to get on with getting those screens up on the walls, you may think why bother? But by preparing a quick plan you’ll get into the nitty gritty of your digital signage. This helps with sign-off, makes you laser focused on the potential of your digital screens and in the long-run, makes for much more effective displays.
Choose an objective
First stop: why are you implementing digital signage in the first place? Without an objective it’s going to be hard to achieve sign off and measure results. In agile project management and marketing, objectives are set by creating user ‘stories’. This can be a great way to visualize the aims for your digital signage displays. For example:
As a staff member, I know what’s going on in the company and this makes me more content in my job role.
In education, your story may sound something like:
As a teacher I am able to share information to students that helps them perform better and enjoy more engaging lessons.
In retail perhaps your story is more sales orientated:
As a customer I know about the latest monthly offers, which helps me to spend my money more wisely.
Alternatively, you could use the SMART objective setting method, finding a digital signage goal which is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. This could be something as simple as helping your production floor to have more awareness of their productivity levels, or raising sales around a specific campaign such as Christmas.
Make it visual
Get your user story or SMART objective up on the wall. If it’s the key driver of your business plan it should be a daily reminder helping to spur you onwards.
Get wider buy in
Prepare some general benefits of digital signage, using statistics such as these. The power of digital signage is huge and many organizations are realizing the benefit, so this can help support your use case. Think bigger; can digital signage increase your revenue or reduce spend?
Case in point: digital signage wayfinding saves on staff who need to direct customers and on printed static signs. Social media walls increase engagement helping marketing to achieve their objectives more quickly. Trello boards that track team productivity could help increase collaboration between teams, making project process faster.
Think of the wider benefits to your organization and make a clear case for why you need digital signage over say, printed collateral or more staff. Screens look good sure, but chances are there’s a deeper use case for why they’re going to be so effective for your organization.
Select your hardware
A section of your digital signage business plan should focus on the practicalities of how you’ll actually get those screens up on the walls. Fortunately, we have a great hardware selector tool that will help!
This will determine whether to use screens you already have, if you need new ones and even what to do with that iPad or tablet you have lying around. The hardware is often perceived as the most daunting part to digital signage protégées but in fact, it’s one of the easiest!
Usually, you’ll have two choices that will be the deciding factor. If you have a Smart TV that’s connected to the internet, you can set up cloud-based software such as ScreenCloud Signage and not need any additional parts, media players or laptops.
If you don’t have a Smart TV you’re usually best to add screen + media device which will help turn your dumb screen ‘smart’. Two of our favorites are the Google Chromebit and the Amazon Fire TV Stick which you can learn about here.
Consider the practical elements
Here’s where many take a wrong turn; you pick a beautiful screen, get it up on the wall then quickly realize it’s impractical for your particular use case.
Instead, visualize where your screen will be going. What height should it be at? Will the public, or students, be able to turn it off? If tampering is an issue, you may want to consider a screen such as the ones from Allsee with hidden buttons and controls.
If you’re using an iPad or tablet you may want to fix them in a Bouncepad or similar, to ensure that the screen can’t be lost or removed.
Is ambient light an issue? In a light atrium, you’ll want to check the screen spec for high visibility in bright lighting conditions.
Narrow down the options and make a pros and cons sheet for each.
Making the hardware selection process as easy as possible will make your job (and your boss’) much easier in the long run.
Not too long ago digital signage software was clunky and took a team of IT experts to help set up. Now, the market is incredibly different. Modern digital signage software is cloud-based, meaning it can be accessed from any smart TV (or regular TV enabled with a smart device). This makes compatibility much easier.
Yet even with cloud-based software you’ll want to think about if your screen will have a strong Wi-Fi connection from where it’s positioned. If you’re using a media device such as an Amazon Fire Stick, is there a place where it can be easily hidden or shelved?
Consider software management
When choosing a piece of software, a free trial will quickly help you get to grips with the benefits. As part of this process, you’ll want to try and view the software from the perspective of the people managing it.
For example, some digital signage software relies on API integration. Is your head of department, or social media manager technical enough?
Then there are logistical questions such as where the software can be managed from, how easy it is to update and whether changes can be made remotely.
Think about scale
Can the software you’re choosing now for your one screen scale when you want to add 50 more? Is there an enterprise-level price break? Is it easy to add (or remove) more screens at a later date? Projecting into your one, two or five-year digital signage plan will help you make the right choice early on and save switching at a later date.
During the software selection process consider creating an overview of content that will show what you plan to do with the digital signage network once in place.
This combats what we like to call the ‘set it and forget it’ mindset where screens get placed on walls but never have content on show, or content that’s so out-of-date it might as well not be showing.
Content type; owned, curated and apps
You may already have content you want to share for example; presentations, reports, websites, internal wikis and intranets. In this case, ensure compatibility then list your owned resources and why you plan to show them.
Many digital signage software systems (including ScreenCloud) offer App Stores. Here, you can choose from a range of apps that mould content you’ve already produced (for example social media) or provide curated content for you to share. This could be news feeds, weather apps, local travel information, visualizations of your dashboards, Trello boards or live sports scores.
Again, link this back to your objectives and your use cases. Why do you want to show travel information? What is it about social media walls that would be a good fit for your company?
It’s much easier to quantify and create a content plan when you know why you’re setting it up in the first place!
Content management and updates
As well as the type of content you’ll show, consider how you’ll manage content in a month, or a year’s time. Will you have multiple users who'll have access or one dedicated digital signage master? Will you use content that updates itself (such as social media and news feeds) or will presentations and reports need manual updates at certain points?
A schedule of updates or a digital signage content calendar will show that digital signage is part of your long-term plan. It will also ensure that content doesn’t sit stagnant after the initial installation.
Branding and design
If you’re planning on creating some of your own digital menu boards, notices or presentations, factor in any design resource needed early on. This reduces the levels of approval needed and keeps Design involved in the process so they know exactly what they’re designing for and why.
Once your nuts and bolts are in place, consider how, why and when you will measure them. In this post we discuss the benefits of return on objective vs return on investment. Both are great measurements that will help you to work out how successful your screens and strategy are. To help keep this measurable remember:
1. Nail your target audience
Answer these questions to uncover your digital signage audience personas. This will help determine what content to show, the pace of your content and how often to change it. Objectives need to be measured periodically, so your audience will go some way to telling when they should be measured - whether that’s daily, weekly or year-on-year.
2. Link back to organizational aims
Just like any other marketing strategy, the objective of your digital signage screens is to improve or enhance your organization in some way. Find out the real benefits, link them back and determine how you will measure each and every one. If it’s staff happiness you want to improve, survey staff or create a simple feedback form. To raise your social media following through the roof, track stats, ask people where they came from and include a campaign-specific offer code. All of which, will help you ensure you’re making a difference to your organization – not just your walls.
3. Improve and adjust
Digital signage isn’t an exact science. The best marketing managers and content creators need to pivot, adjust, test and redesign. As such a prominent medium you can usually get a good gist for how your displays are doing. If they aren’t working, the beauty of digital signage is that you can change them as easily as you might update a Facebook cover image or a slide in a presentation. Switch the content and test again. Unlike static signs, there’s no permanence to your campaigns so you can really drill into the bits that work and improve the ones that don’t.
Now you’ve done the hard bit, the rest is easy. Head to ScreenCloud set up your free trial and boom, you’re ready to go!