Is this dynamic medium the next horizon for print service providers? Here are four print shops that have experienced varying degrees of success with electronic digital signage and display work.
One of the most ambitious installations to date has been at five locations of Tom’s convenience stores and travel centers operated by Shipley’s Energy in Pennsylvania. The chain’s marketing department now uses the SP series system and networked 32-inch panels installed at five locations for monthly promotions on food, drinks, and other items in the stores. With this digital sign network, Shipley’s marketing department can revise the sales pitch in all stores as needed, then transmit new content directly from headquarters to the panels. Content can be updated daily, even hourly, without expense or delay of representatives physically visiting each site.
Kaun is pleased with client feedback and the revenues from this and other installations. In fact, he’s become Signs By Tomorrow’s most outspoken advocate of dynamic digital signage for all franchisees as a natural extension of the traditional sign business. “If you can sell static signs, you can talk digital signage,” he says. “It’s been a complement to our existing business, and also attracted new customers.”
He believes those in the business of designing for large-format printing already have the essential skills required for content design. “If your staff is already creating graphics with Illustrator, it’s just a matter of recreating those graphics for display on digital sign systems,” according to Kaun. “It’s all done with Adobe CS5, it’s all Web-based. If you’ve created anything for the Web, you already have a basic understanding how these systems operate.”
He adds, though, that digital signage also requires an understanding of technology that will be new to those entering from the large format print business. “There is a learning curve and some new questions you need to ask your clients in order to sell these systems,” Kaun points out. “But these are things anyone can figure out: What kind of router does your client have; are they on a Wi-Fi or wired network, and is the cabling already in place?”
An economic incentive to ask those questions certainly exists. As Kaun notes, marketing digital signage promises both short and long term returns. Up front, there are the margins on sales of hardware, and the requisite network to drive that system.