The Business of Digital Signage in 2014

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If you are like most businesses– deep into your planning and budgeting for the New Year– it’s a good time to look back on your digital signage product, marketing and sales initiatives for the year and think about what you want to differently to try and achieve your business growth goals in 2014.

Perhaps digital signage is already a strategic focus for your business. You have dedicated significant financial, personnel and management resources to establishing and growing digital signage as a core competency and a technical practice that your clients know you can deliver. Perhaps it’s already a big part of your outbound marketing efforts, your web presence and your customer education and business development focus. So what should you be thinking about to expand your revenue and profits for your digital signage business?

New Products – Conventional wisdom states that it’s always easier to sell new products and services to your existing customers than it is to sell the same stuff to new customers. Your customers do count on you as their technology partner to bring them new products and technology for their business. There is no lack of innovation happening in our market space right now – from Android players to new 4K displays, to new content and service offerings – and by evaluating and exploring these new products and technologies with and for your best clients, it develops your brand as a thought leader and allows you to test and “vet” new products before making a big commitment to them.

New partners – One way to grow your business without making a large risky bet is to partner with complementary suppliers or manufacturers in order to share the expense and investment in new business initiatives. Often by sharing the heavy lifting with a key strategic partner, both companies can benefit from the strengths and contacts provided by the other and accomplish results that neither would have been able to afford or justify without the help from the other. Now is a good time to review relationships with key partners and identify one or two initiatives that you might “lean into” your partner to support. Consider joint open-house events with key suppliers, or develop a co-marketing campaign aimed a specific vertical with your strategic content partner.

New markets – Focusing on your core competencies is critical to success, but if your goal in 2014 is to grow your business you may need to consider new market areas to provide the green field needed for growth. New markets could be new geographic territory or new vertical markets to address. Either way, extending and expanding your business capabilities into new markets should be a key strategic consideration for 2014. Review your customer base and categorize them by market vertical. What new types of customers seem to be trending and how can you reach more of these customers with your business?

New strategies – Digital Signage is an industry with plenty of choices when it comes to strategic options and directions. Whether you are considering expanding your digital signage emphasis, or still testing various business models, defining and committing to your chosen strategy is essential to long-term success. Currently focused on hardware systems sales? Consider adding monitoring and management. Currently selling a premise-based software platform? Consider adding the option of a SAAS-based monthly subscription solution. Focused only on enterprise class customers? What would it take to extend into the SMB market?

The biggest challenge in establishing your digital signage business will likely be the challenge of dealing with the long sales cycles and lumpy nature of the demand and revenue that characterizes the business. Overcoming this feast-or-famine cycle can be addressed many ways, but the model that seems to be most successful involves building some form of recurring revenue into your product and services offerings in order to build up cumulative services revenue after each system sale. Not as easy as it sounds, certainly, but absolutely do-able. Your customers likely don’t want to be in the business of programming, managing and scheduling content for a digital signage network. They just want the results. So the more that your value proposition can include the option of turn-key solutions, the greater the opportunity to add profitable recurring revenue into your sales and revenue plans.

While many of the ideas above could be applied to any business and maybe you think this is common sense, when was the last time you and your management team or your boss took the time to really dissect and breakdown your business. Do you know which segment of your business is most profitable and why? Which of your customers are growing or retracting? Which of your products and services deliver the most margin and growth potential. Even if you say yes to all of these questions, now is a good time to get strategic, get creative and then get busy planning for increased revenue and profit for your digital signage business in the new year.

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