Back to Basics

Back to Basics

The Two Most Asked Questions in Digital Signage

In the realm of digital signage, the two most asked questions are “How do I get into the industry?” closely followed by “How do I convince a person to buy a digital signage system?” Let’s begin with how to get into the business. The answer is really quite simple. You have to learn what the business really entails and understand the component parts (products, services, design, and customers) and how they all work in concert to create a digital signage system. Every time I conduct our Turning on Digital Signage seminars I find that most of the attendees think they know what digital signage is all about but in fact they do not. They typically know a few disparate parts and concepts, but not the whole picture (pun intended). To not understand each component of what we call The 7 Key Elements in Digital Signage is to miss an element that can cause failure. For the “20 percenters,” here are the elements of which we speak.

  • 1. Hardware
  • 2. Software
  • 3. Connectivity
  • 4. Content
  • 5. Design
  • 6. Operations
  • 7. Business

In every digital signage system each and every element is there in one form or another and they all work together, interacting with and affecting one another. These elements provide the umbrella under which each part of digital signage system is designed, deployed, operated, and managed.

Moving up the educational ladder for those wanting to enter the industry, you can take seminars and webinars that abound. My caveat at random seminar/ webinar taking is to consider the source. Is the material impartial and aimed at your development, or is the presenter actually trying to sell you something masquerading as education. One of the best things to do is to attend the annual Digital Signage Expo held in February each year. This is not only the largest digital signage tradeshow in the world, it also has the most advanced curriculum of impartial and vendor neutral seminars conducted by some of the industry’s most noted experts, representing all areas of The 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage.

Understanding Value

I dislike assumptions, but we assume you have done proper due diligence in your preparation up to this point so you are now ready for the answer to the second question, “How do I convince a person to buy a digital signage system?” Once again it really boils down to basics and the one basic word is “value.” Most of you reading this will think you understand that deceptively simple word, but on second thought perhaps not — at least in context.

The first step in understanding “value” rests in your own company. Put the Kool- Aid back in the refrigerator and conduct a company and perhaps even a personal SWOT analysis. In short, what are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities that you face, and Threats that could derail your plans? A caveat here is in order. To do a useful SWOT, you must select a specific focus or target for your SWOT. From the SWOT comes your value proposition. Once the SWOT is behind you and the value proposition is in finished form, you will have completed 50 percent of your “value” awakening. The other half of understanding “value” resides clearly with the customer.

Many of us confuse our own sense of “value” with that of the customer. Your personal sense of “value” is not the issue at all, and can actually get in your way in the sales process. It is really all about the customer and how they perceive value in a business and perhaps even a personal sense. Their perception is their reality. What complicates this matter further is that, in conversations with customers, what they say they want and what they actually want are more often than not two different things. Research has shown that one of the biggest obstacles to the advancement and acceptance of digital signage is a lack of understanding of what a digital signage system is, what it can actually do, and ultimately what it entails. This means that you have to become a consultant to them, or a teacher if you prefer, and educate them so that in the end they know what they want, why they want it, and that you are the company to provide it.

This all goes back to their sense of “value.” Finding out what they “value” is part of the conversation and relationship building. As they learn to trust you they will let you see more and more of what they “value.” You take this new relationship a bit further and employ what we call The World’s Fastest Sales Training Program. This concept suggests that there are only 3 ways to make a sale in digital signage.

1. Solve a problem for the customer
2. Improve a condition or give them added capabilities
3. Provide something new that is of “value” to them that they did not have before

Once their sense of “value” is addressed, it boils down to return on investment or return on objectives. Now is the time to show the customer what they receive for the dollars spent. In some cases, like retail, it will be ROI with hard dollars spent in exchange for hard dollar returns. For non-retail applications, it is the return on the dollars spent related to the objectives that have been set forth and met. In both cases it all boils down to a cost-versus-benefit situation. Success will be yours if you can clearly articulate what the tangible benefits are as a result of doing what you have suggested and connect that with their sense of “value.”

For the vast majority of us there is no fast track to success in digital signage. Success comes from understanding who your company is, what you want to do, and what your potential customers need relative to their sense of value. If this is done, then the sale will be made if you can articulate the benefits to them from their perspective no matter if it is ROI or ROO. Is this easy? No way, but with the proper due diligence that we speak about, this is a path that will yield positive results for you and your company.

Alan Brawn ( is a principal of Brawn Consulting LLC, an audiovisual and IT consulting, educational development, and market intelligence firm with national exposure to major manufacturers, distributors, and integrators in the industry.