Opportunities in Digital Signage
If integrators can mine existing resi clients, use their existing technical knowledge and find ways to produce solid content, they can succeed in digital signage.
According to 2011 statistics, there were more than 15,000 residential audio/video integrators employing more than 73,000 technicians specializing in television and home theater installation in the United States. This market segment accounted for roughly $11 billion in annual revenue. Historically, the net revenue for A/V integrators has been realized due to significant margins on the products and components used in a particular installation.
The Internet has brought transparency to pricing and A/V integrators are seeking new value propositions and business opportunities. Given the demographic of the residential A/V integrators’ clients, digital signage may offer new possibilities.
Digital signage has come a long way from just being a “screen-on-a-stick.” It has become a ubiquitous form of marketing and display communication ranging from spectacular video walls in New York’s Times Square, digital menu boards at your local Wendy’s and McDonald’s, to an array of LCD panels at your local sports bar and iPads being used as interactive information displays at retail stores.
The new world of the digitally empowered and connected consumer places a “digital sign” in almost everyone’s hand by way of mobile devices … smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. We now live in a digital display environment that transcends both our personal and professional lives in which we expect rich media messaging. In this digitally connected landscape, residential A/V practitioners are uniquely qualified and connected with clients who are already receptive to new media technology and may hold fantastic “digital signage” opportunities.
With this in mind, here are three insights that may help you to secure valuable digital signage business opportunities.
1. Mine Your Resi Clients for Digital Signage Opportunities
Your clients have already proven their interest and willingness to invest in new media technology in their personal lives. This, along with the proven communication benefits of digital signage, may provide you with business opportunities that extend into your client’s professional life.
“If a residential systems contractor was to review his client list, he would discover many of them are small business owners,” says Jeff Kussard, a CEDIA Fellow and president of J. Kussard Consulting in Minneapolis. “Restaurateurs, dentists, doctors, retailers, automotive body shop owners, tanning parlor operators and owners of many other business types were among my clients. These are all prime candidates to leverage the benefits of digital signage. Another fact to keep in mind is that the majority of successful digital signage applications are small, local entrepreneurial implementations. Because they are your clients, these small business owners and entrepreneurs are known to have a keen interest in advanced technology and an appreciation for what you do.”
Realizing that you may already have clients for digital signage is the first step in extending your business opportunities.
2: You Know the Technology Already
You may be asking yourself, “How can I offer digital signage when my expertise is as a residential A/V integrator?” The lines of differentiation between consumer and professional technologies continue to blur and dissolve. Given the increasing sophistication of consumer electronics technologies such as various screen and projector display systems, IPTV, Wi-Fi, Near-field communication (NFC) protocols and HDMI - all of which you are already implementing for your clients - you already have access to, and experience with, the technology required to provide a professional digital signage solution. Many professional retail fixture and “point-of-purchase” kiosk manufacturers are already integrating the very same Apple iPad many of your clients use in their daily lives into their designs for brand customers.
This is something Kussard has seen in his own experiences.
“The technical skills, materials and access to product necessary to implement digital signage are already in house for the residential contractor,” he says. “The only real adaptation necessary is to the selling environment. The mind-set of the buyer is very different when buying for business versus home. From my experience the sales cycle is faster and [the] closing process is - well - much more business like than when dealing with home and family.”
3: Create Quality Content for Clients
Now that we’ve established the fact that you already have access to the technology needed for digital signage and an existing client base that may reap the benefits, all you have to do now is sell it and close the deal, right? Not so fast. Don’t make the same mistake too many folks have made over the past 15 years.
Digital signage is not a solution; it is an enabling application. Your conversation with the professional side of your client shouldn’t be that much different than the conversation regarding their home theater installation. They invested in an immersive theatrical experience for watching HD movies bathed in complete Dolby surround sound, or watching their favorite sports team or even creating the ultimate “man cave” gaming environment. They didn’t buy a grocery list of components with meaningless spec sheets. If they wanted that, they would have bought “stuff” at their local Best Buy and they certainly wouldn’t have hired you.
Digital signage has been proven to be an effective communication application. These professionals want to effectively communicate timely information about themselves, their business and their value to their customers in a personal and relevant manner. In order to effectively sell digital signage, don’t sell “digital signage.” Instead, present the communication benefits of using rich media such as video, motion graphics, audio to enhance their brand and business.
How do you do that, you may ask? Three simple words: Content. Content. Content.
Remember that it was, in fact, content that originally inspired your client to invest in that theatrical experience. Investing the time, energy and resources to develop and present inspiring and relevant content to your “professional” client will dramatically enhance not only their interest, but also the overall success of the final implementation.
Finding inexpensive examples of inspiring quality content that is relevant to the profession of your client is but a search engine away. Alternatively investing the time and money in a local graphic designer to develop quality content at the beginning of the process will reap rewards later. Leading with quality content will not only capture the attention and imagination of your client but will also open the dialog to ongoing content development and management services.
“The biggest barrier to entry for the small business owner hasn’t been the technology or cost, it’s been the challenge of content and its management,” Kussard says. “With proprietary content management tools having been the norm, there has been concern and reticence about having to look to third parties to manage any changes in the content. And for many businesses, changes in messaging [are] a daily occurrence. Cloud-based services are now available for the business owner who wants to job it out. Additionally, new simple-to-use, open-platform content management tools are available for the DIYer, eliminating this as a sales impediment.”
Adrian Weidmann is a Digital Signage Expo (DSE) 2013 Advisory Board member of DSE’s Consultant Council, as well as the moderator for Seminar 17 in the Fundamentals track entitled, “The Hidden Costs of Digital Signage Deployment & Operation.”
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Adrian Weidmann is managing director at StoreStream Metrics, a consultancy in the design, activation and measurement of digital media management and omni-channel communication solutions. He is an advisory board member for Digital Signage Expo (DSE) 2013 (www.DSEnow.com) and moderator for “The Hidden Costs of Digital Signage Deployment & Operation” seminar. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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