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ISA Expo 2013 Preview: Leveraging e-Signs

Dynamic digital signage (DSS) is a natural extension for on-premise sign companies to expand and use their expertise in content, marketing, and project management. As ISA 2013 International Sign Expo show-goers ready to pack their bags and ring in spring in sunny Las Vegas (April 4-6), here is a preview of some of what they will see next week.

For conventional sign printers, “DDS is the next really big business opportunity,” proclaimed Matt Rumbaugh. director of education at the International Sign Association (ISA). Data from its 2012 show revealed that information about new revenue opportunities is what really resonated with traditional sign companies, Rumbaugh said. In the past, the show has “sprinkled in” dynamic signage content, he added, but this year they decided to be more focused, devoting a full day to the subject matter on Wednesday, April 3, the day before the expo officially opens at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (Incidentally, exhibit floor space has topped 200,000 square feet for the first time, according to ISA.)

To help plan the dedicated education day, Rumbaugh and Rich Gottwald, ISA executive VP, tapped Alan Brawn, chairman of the Digital Signage Federation and head of Brawn Consulting, with whom they had worked last year. Brawn, who also is leading one of seven courses next week, explained: “You in the static sign industry call it DDS, but in other areas it is simply known as digital signage. To the static sign industry, digital signs mean the printing of signs in a digital format; hence the need to differentiate the names.”

The question is whether conventional wide-format sign printers are ready to leverage their existing end-user connections and take ownership over their clients’ sign-management scope in its entirety. It can be done, say Brawn and others. “The traditional sign industry is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It dwarfs the digital signage industry in overall size and acceptance and will continue to do so, but DDS is growing overall at 20 percent per year,” he reported.

DDS guru Lyle Bunn added that the use of dynamic signage continues to heat up, as almost 2 million new display devices are installed in North America annually. “Somebody has got to provide these and then provide the content and management to keep them operating,” said Bunn, who will present the final session of the ISA’s Dynamic Signage Education Day: “Selling Dynamic Signage.” “I am going to cut to the chase,” Bunn foretold, “with information to ISA Expo delegates on who to sell to, what to sell, and how to sell dynamic signage. (More details below.) I’ll also outline the key decisions that static sign providers need to make in getting into the dynamic business, and how to ‘ramp up.’”

Intimidation Factor

“Our job in the full day of education, and also in the DDS Park at the show, is to educate the traditional sign industry on how DDS can be a part of their product and services offerings and, in the process, reduce any intimidation that might exist,” Brawn continued. “The fact is that the traditional signage industry has deep relationships with their customers -- over decades, in some cases -- and those very customers will be interested in the benefits that DDS can offer. The courses are custom-created just for the ISA and will be delivered in traditional signage language and not some high-level tech talk.” Courses are targeted to the specific ISA attendee:

Demystifying DDS by Jeff Dowell of 3M

Dynamic Digital Signage is simply one component part of the overall signage industry. The issue that we face is that it may be confusing, intimidating, and complex to those seeking to enter this arena from the traditional signage industry. Demystifying DDS will show the similarities between all segments of the sign industry and illustrate how much information, education, and experience is already resident in the sign installers market. We will then show what needs to be learned and provide a clear cut path to adding dynamic digital signage to the sign installer’s current business.

The 7 Key Elements of DDS by Alan Brawn of Brawn Consulting

The next step in the process of demystifying dynamic digital signage is the introduction of The 7 Key Elements of Dynamic Digital Signage. The elements are comprised of hardware, software, connectivity, content, operation, design, and business models. Each element will be defined and we will show how each relates to one another remembering that each and every dynamic digital signage project no matter how small or how large utilizes every one of The 7 Key Elements each time. This course gives you a context from which all projects can be designed and deployed.

Applications: Where and How to Sell DDS: by Lyle Bunn of BunnCo

The traditional sign creation and installation industry knows very well who their current customers are but exactly who are the potential customers for dynamic digital signage? This course will take a “thinking outside of the box” approach and show who the dynamic digital signage customers are and how to use your current skills and expertise with a little education about dynamic digital signage to increase your business with both current and new clients. (Video preview)

Partnerships for Success in DDS for the Sign Installer by Melody Craigmyle of Almo

Looking at the dynamic digital signage industry and The 7 Key Elements of Dynamic Digital Signage it would be a rare company who has all the resources in house to address every aspect of the industry. This course is dedicated to understanding partnerships and helping a company discover what you need to outsource and what needs to remain in house. It will touch on profitability and show that partnerships can be entered into in a win/win approach relative to risk abatement and profitability.

The Business Side of DDS for the Sign Installer by Daniel Parisien of Broadsign

There is no doubt that one of the biggest concerns in dynamic digital signage is the business side of the equation. This course speaks to the “numbers” that are involved and deals with the investment along with ROI and ROO for both the signage installer and the clients for whom the dynamic digital signage project is being built. Of The 7 Key Elements of Dynamic Digital Signage, the business segment is the most complex and must be understand before moving forward.

Trends in DDS by Rich Ventura of NEC

The Trends in Dynamic Digital Signage goes beyond the obvious inclusion and deployment of a flat panel display or projector and screen and takes each of The 7 Key Elements of Dynamic Digital Signage individually and in a step by step manner discusses major current trends that will affect the traditional sign installers business. This course makes the attendees aware of these leading edge trends and prepares them to discuss these with both current and future clients.

Demonstrating DDS to the Customer by Jonathan Brawn of Brawn Consulting

Ultimately, the client will want a demonstration. This course is designed to show how to demonstrate the hardware, software, and content that are the central themes of dynamic digital signage. We will illustrate how to demonstrate displays with their features and benefits. We will show examples of software packages and how to demonstrate them as well. Finally we will show examples of content and how content is the means to an end of meeting the objectives of a dynamic digital signage system.

They Will Come

In addition to these seven classes, a Sign Installer Industry Panel will be moderated by Alan Brawn of Brawn Consulting. ISA attendees want to hear first-hand how all of the dynamic digital signage “stuff” works for people in their own industry. This panel will answer some of the most frequently asked questions they receive and then open the microphone to the attendees to field questions on the minds of those thinking about adding dynamic digital signage to their businesses.

As of late February, registrations for ISA International Sign Expo 2013 educational sessions were up nearly 30 percent over 2011 -- the last time the show was in Vegas. A new track in Architectural Design was on track to completely sell out before the event begins. There also are peer discussion groups on the last day of the show, Saturday, April 6. “People can register in advance for those or just show up,” ISA’s Rumbaugh said.

Lori Anderson, the association’s CEO, concluded, “We have recruited some of the leading thinkers in these fields, and attendees have shown they are eager to expand their businesses and boost their appeal to potential customers. With more than 40 courses available, there is opportunity to discover many facets of the on-premise sign industry to see where your business can go next.”

In a video preview, speaker and frequent MPR contributor Dave Fellman discusses the four sessions he will present, three of which target sign salespeople in a series titled “Better Selling Strategy.” Each session addresses one key segment of the overall sales process. The fourth program, “Everything is Negotiable,” is for owners and senior managers. It will teach attendees to negotiate more effectively with customers and suppliers. View thte video preview here.

“All of the business indicators point to the significant benefits that sign companies can enjoy,” noted DDS consultant Bunn. “While their static sign [business] and digital graphics are being attacked by new communications approaches, dynamic signage can fit into their offerings and client needs easily.”

Is Vegas calling? It’s still not too late to register online for next week’s 2013 ISA International Sign Expo and the corresponding educational sessions: On-site registration also is available.