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.
That evaluation is ongoing. Rodriguez is not yet convinced any vendor has all the answers. “You can make a big mistake if you buy the wrong media player or content system,” he observes. “The market still hasn't stabilized so we’re not yet married to any one system, and tailor each to the job, and what our customer requires,” he says.
Selling digital signage also requires gaining mastery over this new set of tools. “There are many ways to skin a cat with digital signage,” he adds. “It can be as basic as installing a PC and monitor all the way up to creating a network of panels with integrated media players.”
The venture may also call for expanding your staff. “The people you currently have don’t necessarily have the same skillset required for digital signage,” he cautions. So he’s added people with expertise in systems integration, installation of system, and content development.
“Digital signage requires static graphics and motion graphics,” he points out, elaborating with one example. “You need people with a motion-graphics background, with experience in programs like Final Cut Pro, who understand Web graphics. The content is the key to making these systems work, and you’ve got to help your customers with that.”
Providing those content services could help legitimize a graphics company as a credible provider of digital signage. As Rodriguez notes, early adopters will find their primary competitors to be audiovisual specialists whose primary interest is selling and installing the hardware. “Your client’s natural progression may not be to call on a sign company for that type of equipment,” he says.
“I believe most sign companies have a unique relationship with their existing clients, and can build on that,” he continues. “You just have to let them know this represents a new version of things you’ve already been providing.”
His claim on the developing market is based on developing and delivering full service solutions: all the hardware; content development and management, or the tools and training for clients to create and manage their own; setup and installation; and the responsive service support to ensure the system performs as expected.
Those who committed to providing a fully integrated system, and make the required investments can become players in this new media market. “We’re not selling this as a replacement for our client’s static signs, but as something that will allow them to accomplish some things they can’t do.”
Carefully weigh the pros and cons, and consider all that’s involved, he offers as closing advice. “I can’t stress how complicated this all is,” Rodriguez emphasizes. “There really is a learning process to succeeding with digital signage, and we’re still learning.”
Freelance writer Mike Antoniak is a frequent contributor to The Big Picture magazine.