Every businessperson that buys or sells signage understands the power of visual communications. A good sign is the right combination of substrate, size, image, and placement. Signs have evolved in every component; today we make signs faster, bigger, and more colorful. Digital signs allow us to tailor the sign to the viewer, getting the right content in front of the right customer at the right time. If content is king, then context is the power behind the throne.
As a sign maker you provide visual communication solutions. You know that adding color, using the right fonts and contrast, as well as the appropriate size makes signs more effective. Your customers look to you as the expert in providing the right solution. Today’s audience is looking for immediate gratification and information at their fingertips.
The changing market is driving the demand for digital signage and if you do not provide it, your customers will find a source. Audiovisual providers, software companies, and hardware manufactures are all trying to fit themselves into this space. You have a unique and powerful advantage, if you take it: you have the relationships and you understand signage content. At tradeshows and events I am amazed at how little attention is placed on content. Vendors want to show the latest and greatest screen technology or interactive software. The market is still open to providers that can provide all three components of digital signage: content, hardware, and installation/maintenance.
If you have ever attended a print-oriented trade show you know that every piece of print equipment displayed can print excellent images. The printers on the show floor are printing their very best with images tailored to show off their capabilities. When you are evaluating which printer to purchase, you are evaluating image quality as well as speed, cost of maintenance, and support.
Digital signage is no different. From low cost Web-based solutions to highly interactive whiz-bang digital signage systems, you must ask yourself how to maintain the content for the customer. The software for all of these solutions is proprietary. If your vendor fails what do you do? Who is your customer going to call when the screen goes blank? Selling digital signage requires the right partnerships. Just as you look to good vendors to provide materials for your signs, with digital signs your substrate (monitor) and ink (pixels controlled by software) are no different.
Digital signage provides some real benefits to our business model. Digital signage sales involve more levels within a company; this provides more contacts and opportunities for additional sales. Most of Fastsigns’ largest digital customers are also large print services customers. Digital signage also provides an on-going relationship. With content updates, software licenses, and addition of new hardware, our experience is that we can move from a transaction-based relationship to a sustainable “annuity” sale. Of course, the average ticket is also generally higher.
At Fastsigns we believe that if you are going to be successful in the sign business long term, you need to offer digital signage as an option. We only sell commercial grade hardware that can be warrantied in a business environment. We partner with vendors that provide next business day replacement. We have selected software partners that are experienced and incorporate content management tools as well as smooth quality playback. As a network, Fastsigns has also created additional value by hosting a content manager, sharing the expense across our network of over 530 Fastsigns and SignWave centers worldwide.
It is easier to sell digital signage when you are part of a large organization like Fastsigns where infrastructure costs can be shared across our network. This does not mean that independent service providers should overlook the opportunities of digital signage sales. Spend time with your due diligence in finding the right vendor partnerships. It is worth the time to get it right; changing vendors can be costly and painful for your customers. Develop financing relationships with your bank or equipment leasing companies so that you can maximize cash flow.
Indoor and outdoor digital signage can be a great growth opportunity for all sign companies if done well.