NATE BLAZER has a simple formula for quantifying the digital signage opportunity in your local market. Just add up every commercial business in town with a window.
“Anywhere you see a static sign in a window, basically, you could be selling them a screen that does the same thing but can be updated constantly,” says Blazer, a visual solutions specialist at D&H Distributing Co., of Harrisburg, Pa. The ROI on that screen can be compelling too, he adds, citing a shop owner he knows who was paying $900 a pop to replace printed signs as an example.
“He could have easily gotten a screen for maybe $2,500 that was bright enough to show off in the sunlight,” Blazer says, noting that the fourth time he changed the content digitally instead of physically the solution would have paid for itself.
“It’s something that’s kind of eye-opening that people don’t think about,” he notes.
It’s also a good reason for channel pros watching the digital signage action from the sidelines to get in the game. Here’s a look at how to go about it.
Why Should You Play?
Because the rewards make the effort required worthwhile. Indeed, worldwide spending on digital signage is set to exceed $23 billion by 2023, according to Global Market Insights Inc.
Signage solutions yield respectable profits too. Though providers generally make just 10 to 15 percent margins on sales of displays, media players, and other devices, they clear substantially more on the surrounding design, installation, integration, content creation, content management, and support services needed to turn those devices into a functioning solution.
“In terms of just selling hardware, the profits are slim,” says digital signage authority Alan Brawn, of Vista, Calif.-based Brawn Consulting Inc. “If the full breadth of digital signage is addressed, then the profits can be in the 25 percent to 35 percent range.”
How Hard Is It to Learn?
That depends on which part of it you’re talking about. From a bits and bytes standpoint, installing servers, routers, switches, and firewalls for a digital signage solution is pretty much like installing those components anywhere else.
“The same network installation and management services that integrators are already providing are exactly what’s needed to get a digital signage system up and running,” says Mike Kilian, senior director of business development at Mvix, a digital signage solution provider in Sterling, Va.
The trick, he continues, is that a signage solution is ultimately only as good as the information and imagery it displays, and developing those materials takes creative rather than technical chops.
“The biggest difference is that in both pre-sales and post implementation, there needs to be an emphasis on content requirements,” Kilian says. “That is something that’s not really present in most other aspects of the service provider’s portfolio.”
With larger customers especially, delivering signage solutions also typically involves collaboration with a company’s least tech-savvy managers.
“Oftentimes, marketing is involved. Oftentimes, HR is involved. Sometimes sales management is involved,” Kilian notes. Channel pros who have trouble communicating with people in such roles could have trouble in digital signage too.