How to start your Digital Signage business (Part 1)

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Digital signage is a rapidly growing segment, offering a great deal of opportunities for those who want to have a piece of this cake.

Rather than acting by impulse, it is fundamental to do your homework: a plan, so you know which path you want your business to follow, and what it will achieve.

This series of articles offers you background information to aspects you should consider before departing on this adventure. It provides answers to fundamental aspects about making digital signage your business.

Primarily, we will focus on important questions you might not have thought about when testing the waters and first starting out.

What is your business model?

The first question to every new business you think about should always be about the model. A business model provides a stable foundation to form the structure of your business for the future.

Business models may seem like a complicated and fancy concept, but really, it is nothing else than the answer to the question on how you are going to make money with your undertaking. At the very least, it’s about how do you create something that can sustain itself in the long run. Else, it is a hobby you spend money on, not a business.

There are various "shades" of business models in any business, but for now, let's divide this endless sea into three parts.

The first business model: Advertisement

Some business owners often search for good old-fashioned advertising. They don't have the time (or money) to invest in an entirely new system to simply post advertisements, and fliers may not do the trick. This is where your digital provision comes in.

Onsign - Outdoors

Note: These displays are not digital, but represent outdoor signage.

Sell advertising space, using your digital signage as a platform.

In this scenario, you do not sell any equipment or software: everything stays in your possession. You're essentially only selling content management, which means your income comes from recurring payments.

Location is the key for this business model to work. Nobody will spend money on a location which doesn't get a lot of traffic, and thus, attention from the target audience. Finding and acquiring the right location truly depends on the environment you're in. It is also of key importance to adapt to the environment and truly figure out what fits best when it comes to choosing the right hardware and software. This is a topic we later discuss in another article. For now, let's focus on the next business model.

The second business model: Selling equipment

Unlike in the first case, some business owners wish to have full control of their advertising, or any other use they may have for a digital signage network. In this scenario, you are selling all the necessary equipment: software and/or hardware, but you are not doing any management of the content.

You may also choose to provide consulting and installation within this model. With software, this is self-evident because a service for consulting is expected: if for nothing else, at least for information on how to begin using the software.

It is important to mention that strictly following this business model does not offer a recurring income: all of your income is from one-time purchases of equipment. Nowadays, software and an increasing number of applications often come with licences for a specific period of time. If your clients are satisfied, your income will be recurring from licensing fees.

You can also make a secondary regular income from planned maintenance cycles. Consulting offers you possibilities for additional income; however, if your main focus is equipment, the income from consulting is less predictable.

The third business model: Managing equipment and content

The third model presents a mixture between the previous two. In this scenario you are providing your clients with the necessary equipment, and you are managing it entirely for them.

Onsign - Travel KioskThis business model targets clients who do not want to spend time on handling the information displayed on their digital network. It is slightly trickier than the first two for several reasons. You mainly are providing a lot more than information on a loop. Also, clients typically require a complex structure, demanding specific information to be delivered at specific times and locations. Essentially, it means you will have to adapt to the clients’ needs and be aware of their demands and how to fulfil them; unlike the first model where your offer was mostly fixed.

In the second model, you were selling hardware and/or software to the client, another fixed offer. You are most likely going to do this within the third model as well; that is, if the client doesn’t have the necessary hardware or software. If they do, you are only doing the content managing. Equipment is typically a one-time purchase until an upgrade happens, but the content-management side of this model provides you with a recurring income.

The demands vary from client to client, but there are certain trends which are dominant in certain industries. With such a rapid growth, every year which passes is filled with unique digital signage events and trends. Here are top digital signage stories of 2015 which just might show you additional potential you haven’t yet seen in this business!

Business models and industries

Of all, the third model takes the prize as the most complex one. It is the flexibility and knowledge required which makes it particularly demanding. The first two models mainly provide the client with a fixed offer, whilst the third one is a lot more fickle.

In order to fully provide your clients with the services they require, you will need to be flexible and possess a certain level of knowledge about a specific industry. If you visit the sites digital signage providers, you will see an array of industries listed. This doesn’t only cover equipment solutions, but may also go deeper into the requirements of the industry in question.

To work within a specific industry, you must know it

Some industries demand schedule or shift templates, specific applications such as traffic, or perhaps a solution which is focused on providing entertainment. This is what makes digital signage more than just a screen. I would advise to master one industry at a time. It is a major error to attempt and handle all of them at once.

Specialize in one industry at a time, and once it’s covered and you have a stable offer to present to your clients, move on to the next industry in line.

There is a handful of industries which can make great use of a digital signage network. Small and medium businesses are the most uncommon users of digital signage because their uses vary depending on the business in question. Advertising, entertainment and internal management are most common applications, and your service model should be able to provide a good offer for them.

Public transportation, places of worship, restaurants, schools, campuses and retail: all these industries have unique requirements and will demand a solution fitting for them. This means establishing an offer for only one industry in attempts of accommodating all clients will probably result in very few and at worst dissatisfied customers.

Model variations

The three models we mentioned are a general guideline, and as mentioned, the grey areas between them are noticeable. For example, if we focus on the second model for a moment, aside from selling the equipment, renting it out may also be an option.

Business owners who wish to experiment or perhaps do not want to spend a lot of money on equipment, would benefit from rentals. A small regular expense is easier to oversee in the beginning than a big one time expense which needs time to amortize. Having the option to upgrade when new models enter the market increases the likelihood for them to make the switch from analog to digital. A similar concept may be used in the third model as well.

As said for the third model, the client buys the necessary equipment, but perhaps some clients may prefer to rent the entire service instead. This means renting out equipment and management services. Using this concept in both models would result in a higher recurring income for you. If you place your name on it, but use existing ware, you essentially whitewash the label.

The white label solution

A white label product or service has several useful and interesting aspects. Essentially, it allows a successful brand to offer a service without investing in technology and the infrastructure. For example, most supermarkets offer generic products under their store brand but are manufactured and supplied by established brands or factories who sell to multiple chains; only the label of the product is changed. The same concept can be applied to digital signage, where you sell software or hardware as your own, giving the impression to the final user that it was created by your brand.

Concluding this fundamental overview on business models, the next article about how to start your signage business will discuss platforms and hardwares followed subsequently by creating and publishing campaigns.

Do you like our images? These and more daily life gems can be found on our flickr account.

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9 ways digital signage can help corporate communication

Communication is to a company what blood is to a body, it cannot exist without it. Communication connects all elements of your business, and it should be handled carefully.

Straight away let’s answer the most important question of all. Is it worth the investment?

Your employees are your brand! Digital signage can be used for communication with your employees alongside customer communication, which makes it a great investment on both ends.

For now let’s focus on the employee side and the internal communication, and how digital signage can make saying “hi” easier.

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1. Create a strong corporate culture

Productivity of a company can be greatly improved if there is a strong link between the workers and the mission of the company. After all, if you care about something, you'll put more effort into improving it.

The title employee of the month is one of many examples of a well developed corporate culture. The elementary bond between the mission of the company and the employees can be created simpler and stronger with digital signage.

Here are a few ways digital signage can help improve your company's corporate culture:

  • You can bolster your team feeling valued

  • Instead of bombarding them with emails, communicate with your staff in an unostentatious and consistent fashion

  • Share reminders and announcements more easily

  • Improve morale by awarding accomplishments and displaying encouraging information

  • Add some fun into the mix with pictures, videos or sharing information about events in a more creative fashion.

Depending on your team you can even choose to automate birthdays and important personal events to create a more friendly and connected environment.

In other news, according to a study taken in 2012, 45% of companies in UK, America and Australia used digital signage for corporate communications – a number that has been rising since.

2. Manage employee training

A committed employee is the best one you can hope for, but knowledge remains the primary ingredient.

Digital signage can provide a fast and comfortable learning process.

Digital signage networks can be used for training videos and to demonstrate procedures. It's a lot easier to educate the workers when they are at their stations and can apply the new information immediately. Casual hour-long lessons are mostly forgotten by the time the knowledge can be applied.

Education via digital signage is more convenient and easier for the company as it cuts down excessive time and money which is usually required for printed content and its circulation.

Training can actually be a lot more comfortable for the employee and it can also be scheduled to be displayed at specific times throughout the day, ensuring the most important information is learned.

3. Engage your employees

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Employee engagement in any business is a beneficial step, that's a no brainer. After all everyone wants to be at a workplace they can identify with. Before I go further into digital signage, here's an interesting article on engagement ideas you can consider, by Benjamin Neupert on the RMG Networks Blog.

According to several studies, organization with high engagement leave low engagement ones in the dust. Digital signage being a tool that makes engagement easier, can mean a noticeable change. But how exactly do you engage an employee with a digital screen?

Recognition is the most effective way of engaging an employee, and digital signage is the easiest way to give recognition.

Being noticed and recognized for your abilities makes you feel appreciated, no matter how meaningless the attention may appear at first. It increases your passion towards the work and you feel inspired to do well, which is one of many advantages for the company:

  • The productivity and quality of the work is increased.

  • Loyalty of the customers rises.

  • The work is more valuable for the employee.

  • There are fewer mistakes and the will to learn is greater.

  • There is less stress for the employee.

Sadly the majority of employees are not truly engaged as companies tend not to focus on this element of business. You can engage yours easily with digital signage.

4. Communicate more easily

Being bombarded with emails is not a very inspiring sight, not to mention it increases the risk of important information being unnoticed. Instead, sharing certain information over a digital display is a lot more convenient for both sides.

A really easy way to communicate with your employees can be done by making strategic use of their second screens - smartphones and tablets. It's more personal and direct, provokes a reaction and the content has a greater chance of being noticed and acted upon.

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In business, time and money are two factors which are always taken into account when it comes to investment and there is always one common question:

Is it worth the money and will it save me time?

A common misconception about digital signage is that it requires a team or an above-average IT knowledge – it does not. The alleged IT knowledge is packed in the software which saves time and money.

You can share information faster, easier and in a more comfortable way for your company. In recent years digital signage has been viewed as one of the most cost-effective forms of communication.

5. Share performance metrics

You can let your employees measure the company’s and to some extend their own performance by sharing internal analytics.

The progress of the entire company can be monitored by displaying the information through the digital signage network. Depending on the business in question, you can place digital displays at specific locations where employees can see them frequently.

Alongside internal figures and various numeral data, you can display other interesting information that presents the progress made within the company. For example:

  • company website and social media

  • stock prices

  • sales figures

  • online feedback from customers

  • the state of the competition

6. Use the most important ingredient of all

There is a very important factor when it comes to displaying content relevant to corporate communication, education, communication or literally any other type.

Can you guess what it is? Here's a hint: If the display is facing the wall, you can't see what's on it. Shocking isn't it?

It's location! In the world where people cherish their time, attention-grabbing is a skill to have.

As we have seen, it's vital to place displays for trainees at the workplace to help them learn while they work. The same applies for managers going to a meeting, as well as customers sitting in a restaurant.

Did you know that an average viewer will pay attention to your screen only for 4 seconds unless the content keeps him interested? Check out this detailed infographic with several interesting examples.

7. Increase efficiency and decrease costs

We've already discussed the most important advantages for digital signage. Now, let's see how these advantages affect the one place where you notice even the slightest change – in your wallet!

Once you have the infrastructure up and running, updating information via a digital screen is clearly a lot cheaper and easier than printing out content and putting it up manually every time a minor change occurs. Plus you can share information you ordinarily wouldn't due to the time and cost it takes to share it.

You can also schedule messages based on time of day or location to get the most out of your digital signage. They may seem minor but the costs of constantly printing content add up, both in money and time. It’s especially the time required to place the information on every board manually that adds up. With digital signage it’s on all your boards with one click while saving considerable amounts of money at the same time.

Aside from informational value, digital screens give a certain feeling of advancement and professionalism to your corporation. It's easier, faster and more efficient in every aspect when compared to other methods of sharing information.

8. Use digital signage at the perfect location

Digital signage has a rule of thumb when it comes to location. It is most effective to place your digital screens in places where your employees spend a lot of time.

Conference rooms are an obvious choice. Present plans and ideas more easily and effectively to your team. Reservations for conference rooms can also be updated and displayed more easily from the comfort of the reception, eliminating any needless absences or hassles with papers.

A hallway or a lobby is a great place for a welcoming and inspiring message. You can share some basic information about your business right away, including other information like weather or local news. You can also display vital information in case a meeting is about to begin.

Cafeterias or Break Rooms can also be excellent choices. Sure, you can provide your employees with vital business information, weather and other data, but you can also share interesting events like sports to make your employees feel more at home.

9. Maintain the communication you’ve built

There are many ways communication inside of a company could be distorted and begin to remind the employees of a boring high school lecture.

Lack of trust and honesty between employees and their superiors can slow down the overall efficiency in a business. By keeping communication and interaction on a certain level, it is bound to provoke positive results.

An overly professional environment can sometimes choke the individuals who find themselves in it, and at the same time, you don't want your company to be a playground. Maintaining a certain balance between the two can provide a certain freedom for the people who work together and ensures that the communication of say a board meeting, runs smoothly.

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When used inside the corporation, digital signage guarantees the presence of quality communication, something that can be a very fragile element of a company. From the side of leaders, there are many reasons which cause communication to fail, but digital signage can help to uphold it.

Images by Nguyen Hung Vu, NEC, and tiarescott.

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10 Reasons for Small Businesses to have Digital Signage

Small and medium sized businesses struggle to compete with corporate giants. Digital signage provides a helping hand in that struggle, by offering a platform to grab the attention of potential customers, help drive customer traffic and boost sales.

There are many stunning examples for digital signage, which attract and interact with customers in ways to skyrocket business in record time.

1. Digital signage is spreading like wildfire

The reason why it's so effective for business is due to its appeal. Papers and banners have a certain appeal, but digital signage can be versatile in ways they can’t. Mainly due to their ability of displaying various content, and also interactivity which they can use to pull the user in. Meanwhile the average customer was exposed to 14 minutes weekly of digital signage in 2013, which is expected to rise to 56 minutes by 2017. These are only some of the few surprising statistics regarding digital signage, but despite that it's still not fully predictable where the future moves towards.

In other news, digital signage is so popular, makeovers have begun to happen. Back in 2014, Samsung selected 5 winners out of 500 small businesses that entered their Small Business ReDESIGN contest. It goes to show that digital signage truly is a blank piece of paper begging to be filled.

2. How does it benefit your business?

The main thing you require from an average customer aside from money is trust. Without the second the first will only come once. Certain businesses may benefit from digital signage more than others. As long as you have a place where customers visit, it can be applied.

Dentists and doctors are perfect candidates for digital signage to name an example. While patients don't wait too long for admission, those few minutes shouldn't be wasted in boredom. For example I was accompanying a friend to the dentist's office and my 30 minutes of waiting passed quickly due to a big plasma screen showing a random show about some bomb on an airport. Granted the AC when it's 100 degrees out helped as well, but that's beside the point!

To give you another more specific example of digital signage application, you can see summarized tips on how to grow a restaurant business with digital signage.

3. Benefits aren't only seen on customers

Digital signage is always effective and provides more benefits to you than you usually take into account.

A digital screen means the most flexible banner in the world.

You don't need to reprint every time you want to make a change. In business changes happen and the costs add up, but most importantly it's less of a hassle! You preserve time by simply pushing a few buttons, meanwhile with paper it takes longer and you might find yourself Googling, "Why won't my printer connect" for the 36th time.

4. Should physical signage be ignored?

The choice between a screen and a blank piece of paper is an easy one, but if that's the case why hasn't physical signage evaporated yet? One might say digital signage is cheating because with physical you only have one chance to make a clear and appealing message. You cannot take back the stroke of a brush – unless you have CTRL+Z.

According to one San Diego business owner, physical signage was more effective than word of mouth or other advertisements. His signage brought in 10 new customers within one week, 6 of which resulted in sales.

Physical signage can also be a unique concept which should be taken into account alongside digital signage and it truly means taking the time to develop something that represents you.

5. Digital signage is like taxes

Small businesses struggle to compete with larger companies and corporations, meanwhile digital signage provides an essential factor which can level the playing field. It's kind of like taxes – it scales and adapts to the amount of money in your pocket.

Small businesses have more flexibility than larger ones, allowing changes to occur rapidly. Digital signage is a great asset to use in such a setting. It can lead to one of many inspiring successful stories for any business owner.

6. Is your business fitting for digital signage?

You probably noticed that most examples of small businesses always include coffee shops, food services, or other of the same kind. This doesn't mean digital signage is limited to a certain type of business. These examples are often most interesting to showcase, nevertheless it's important to remember that literally any business can benefit from it. In car service for example, you can bring your car to be serviced by simply referring to the data on the screen in front of you. In many cases digital signage is used purely for information purposes which can cut costs and make management easier.

Digital signage can also be used to purely boost internal performance. You can update schedules for workers, display information vital for production or work, and also utilize displays for business conferences, classroom or any other applicable location.

On a more general note, digital signage has applications beyond the walls of your business. Depending on the state of your business you can find many more creative uses for digital signage which simply focus on attracting attention and comfort of the viewer.

7. Get to know the market

23 million small businesses present in the US account for 54% of all sales in the US - according to the US Small Business Administration stats in 2014. With such a large number the potential for digital signage is massive. Getting started is always a challenge, and this one may prove easier to handle if you have the knowledge that can guide you to start off strong.

As mentioned it's growing and there's no sign of stopping. Unlike corporations and large businesses, small and medium ones don't have so much sway room and have certain demands when it comes to digital signage. Granted it's a smart investment, but it's hardly one size that fits all and it's important to select the appropriate digital signage for your business. Jeff Porter (Porter Digital Signage Consulting) did a detailed article on the current state of digital signage for the small and medium business market which is definitely worth a look if you're starting out.

In other news, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 75% of all digital signage projects in 2014 were installations of small and medium businesses with up to 50 displays each. The SMB sector and retail drive digital signage revenues. Lower prices of hardware resulted in a high demand for easy-to-use digital signage solutions in the small and medium business sector.

8. To DIY or not to DIY?

Doing things yourself allures with cost savings. It does require time and skill though. While there are several reasons why you should avoid DIY digital signage, with a little learning anyone should be good to run their own signage.

Decisions to be made range from choosing a platform, installing equipment, creating and updating your content, and operating the screens once you have set-up your campaign. You may opt for going DIY all the way or just parts of it. Be sure to evaluate beforehand what you can and cannot do in terms of availability, expertise and even interest. The good news are that not only is digital signage more affordable today, it is easier, too.

This will sound overwhelming at first for a small business and you might not know where to start, or you are already running out to the store because you cannot wait to get started. Don’t get stuck with incompatibility of your hard- and software. Choosing a digital signage SaaS solution first will give you flexibility and avoid crazy license fees. Then it’s just getting a suitable player which integrates well with your selected platform. Place your screen in the wall and start pushing content to it.

A tip for newcomers: select a platform which is simple and straight forward, so you don’t have to spend numerous hours to learn how to work it. If you have a developed IT structure in your business, you can cut expenses in your IT department by establishing an effective infrastructure and finding solutions and tools for it.

9. The customer experience

The most entertaining and appealing aspect of every business is the customer experience. Digital signage can transform in-store and storefront experiences. If the customer feels comfortable and relaxed, they are most likely to return and spread news about your business. While the main factors remain high quality at low prices, comfort has taken an increased value in the passing years.

Easier access to information, interactivity or plain old entertainment is just like that complementary piece of candy or drink you provide to leave an impression and motivate the customer to return.

10. Why shouldn't you use digital signage?

A few years ago digital signage was really expensive and complicated. The situation is very different today. If you aren't using digital signage, you're lagging behind and letting potential customers walk past you.

There are several myths regarding digital signage that oddly enough span even in today's time. Its cost is often debated, alongside the design and its complexity. The most debated factor is its effectiveness. Think of it as a magnifying glass for your business. If your business is not appealing, digital signage will only reflect that. Creative uses have always yielded great results. Take digital signage and gamification for example.

What are you waiting for?

If you haven't yet, now is the time to apply digital signage to your business. Even in the smallest form, the business can afford it. Your set-up can always be developed and will provide you with a starting point for growth and development.

Images by Takashi Klso, Michael Casey, American Junkie

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OnSign TV at Brasil Signage Expo

Brazil is enjoying impressive growth in Digital Signage. Only in 2012, DOOH grew 22.2% over the previous year, becoming the second fastest growing media in the whole country. Aiming this opportunity, OnSign TV has presented on its booth a number of new features that can push the digital signage solutions even further in South America and around the world.

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The show was a great opportunity to launch some of OnSign TV’s new features, which, by the way, the audience was craving to know, such as:

Management of check out lines - A small RF receiver is connected to the Android player, so customers can use a little fob to call next people in line. Perfect for the retailers who want to upgrade their managements solutions and for the stores such as supermarkets, drugstores, bakeries and others that needs fast denouements for the clients.

Face detection and audience counting - Plugging an USB webcam to your player will support face tracking and audience counting. Essential for companies that need to chart and trace their outflow. For signage operators in general that’s helpful in several issues, such as: audience and customers flow knowledge, screen and campaigns views counting, customers management, among others benefits.

our booth

In parallel to the booth show, Ricardo Teixeira, OnSign TV VP of New Business Development, presented a lecture at the ABMOOH International Congress. The presentation aimed at showing how easy and simple digital signage is and highlighted how powerful Android players have become. Although OnSign TV is more turned to the international market, whenever possible we always want to get close to local markets which is a great opportunity to get direct in touch with brazilian and latin americans customers, so we can learn and better address the local needs.

The expo was a huge success. OnSign TV has been awarded with great feedback which we are always glad to receive. Feedback like this solidifies what we are and what we aim to be: a company that’s always looking forward to improving our services and empowering your signage operation.

digital signage OnSign TV digital out of home DOOH Brazil expo