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Increasing Your Digital Signage Client Base

Want to sell more? Know your customer.

How can your shop better penetrate the digital signage market? In the simplest terms, it comes down to knowing your customer. That’s not a novel or revolutionary idea, yet many digital signage suppliers aren’t leveraging it.

Whatever your value proposition is to prospective customers, it needs to be tailored to their needs. You can’t sell screens to a fast casual restaurant in the same way you would to a medical facility. They have different requirements and expected outcomes, and you need to understand what those are if you want to capture their business.

To help you do that, here are three strategies to execute.

Publish Content: Talk About Successes
Are you providing content on what you’re doing right now in digital signage? If not, then you need to start. You should have a blog, resources, and case studies, and you should post regularly on social media. Putting out great content about what you’re doing right now creates real interest. It also builds authority and confidence. You can garner leads by showcasing how you’re making a mark with digital signage. Here are a few ideas:

Make a video of an installation. Trim it down to just a few minutes. (Remember, people have short attention spans, but they love to watch videos.) Edit it with some music and highlight the most important parts of the installation, like putting up the screens, hooking up the hardware, and showing those screens in action. This gives your audience an intimate look at what they can expect should they choose to do business with you.

Write a case study with a trusted partner. Do you have a client that is over the moon about what digital signage has done for them? Will they let you use their name and company? Yes, and yes? Then start writing. Talk about what exactly their challenges were and what they wanted to accomplish. Then, discuss how you solved those challenges and delivered the expected outcome. Numbers are important in case studies so you can provide insight into ROI. Did sales increase on particular items? Did wait times decrease? Did social media impressions and followers increase due to a digital signage promotion? Package your case study with images and testimonials that can ring true for your audience.

Create an informational e-book. The key to creating content and attracting people to it is adding value, not self-promoting. One way to do this is to create an informational e-book. This should be a targeted and specific asset. Narrow it down to a topic like “Tips for Great Content” and then make it even more targeted by choosing a specific industry, like retail. So, you could create an e-book called “7 Tips to Great Digital Signage Content for Retailers.” The bulk of the content should be informational and provide real ideas for that audience. You can certainly cite other references like industry publications, but also share some of your own content approaches. Close the e-book with a soft value proposition and/or elevator pitch about what you offer. Then get the content out there – on social media, through email, and, of course, on your website.

Personalize Demos and Pitches
So, you’re meeting with an organization that’s looking to add digital signage throughout its corporate offices for internal communications. Don’t show them a demo with a menu board. Yes, content may not matter much at this point, as you are really demonstrating how the system works, but to engage and hook them, you’ve got to make the experience relevant. That may mean creating some sample content. You can go further by personalizing that sample content with the prospective buyer’s logo and colors. If you’re selling your content creation abilities as well as the software and hardware, then it’s an opportunity to wow them. Do your research. Do they have digital signs now and are just looking to switch? What do those signs look like? How can you improve upon them? Go back to the basics of great content (readability, animation, and proportion), and also consider what the prospect is trying to achieve.

In addition to personalizing the content demo, you should consider the actual proposal. In a former life, I wrote lots of digital signage proposals. Here are a few things I did that made them different from some others I’ve seen:

1. Design and brand your proposal. Don’t use an Excel spreadsheet.
2. Define what the prospect is hoping to achieve and outline your plan to get them there.
3. Set expectations on timelines for the project.
4. Do a mockup of screen placement with photos from your site visit or ones that have been provided.
5. Close with next steps to move forward so there is a clear call to action.

Most prospects will appreciate the time taken to personalize a quote. They will also be well-informed on what the expectations are. It will make them feel like gaining their business means something to you and that it’s not just a quote you threw together in five minutes. Often, prospects are hesitant about making an investment in digital signage. If they feel as though they have a partner rather than a vendor, this could ease their anxiety.

Find a Niche
Some digital signage firms have defined a niche for themselves in the market. Some exclusively promote menu boards while others lean toward retail. This could be a good strategy, but it has to be extremely well thought out to be successful. A company I worked for had somewhat of a niche with food service providers. This wasn’t the only type of screens we sold, but it was definitely the highest percentage, and much of the innovation we developed was around this industry.

Food service refers to hospitality companies that provide cafeterias or cafés within college campuses, healthcare facilities, and corporate offices. What makes this industry unique is that most of their menus change daily, creating a very specific challenge. When the company I worked for first started putting in screens, they were basically replacing plastic stands that had new pieces of paper inserted every day highlighting the menu items. And it wasn’t just that the menu changed every day – it changed for every meal. Breakfast would turn to lunch, dinner, and then possibly a late-night menu. In large cafeterias, there may be as many as nine stations – that’s a lot of changes.

So, what’s the solution? This signage provider came up with software that would allow menu item changes at any time. All the menu items could be inputted once, at the beginning of the week, then scheduled. That was just the first iteration. Soon, they had expanded the offerings to allow users to pick items directly from the food service provider’s recipe database, which meant that each item would be consistent from location to location and there would be fewer misspellings. Next, they wanted to show calorie counts on the menus, so the software was tuned to display those, as well. This constant software tweaking made it a better product and also made it easier to pitch to other food service companies.

One year, I found a list of the top 50 food service providers in the US. We called on every one of them that wasn’t already a customer and talked about how we could revolutionize their cafeterias. In one year, we had meetings with six of those prospects and landed one of them. It was a big win. Because we had created a customized platform and position for this niche, it was easy to convince them that we understood their business model and needs.

I wouldn’t suggest pigeonholing yourself into just one vertical, but it never hurts to be really familiar with a few target segments, especially if you already have specialized knowledge or multiple customers. Again, it’s about knowing your customers and understanding their needs.

Digital signage continues to be a crowded industry with many firms battling for big contracts. But as with any marketplace, there are key differentiators that can contribute to one firm’s success over another. There’s still a lot of business to be won and many non-believers to convert. To strengthen your position, use these strategies to drive your value proposition. The more expertise and knowledge you can provide to prospective and current clients, the greater value you are to them. Like any business relationship, it won’t always be perfect. Laying a good foundation based on your ability to know what the customer needs (rather than simply wants) can pave the way to a successful digital signage venture.

Explore the rest of our August 2016 "Rockin' Vinyl" issue or read more dynamic signage advice from Beth Osborne.

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