Wyoming Business Tips for March 17

March 8, 2013

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Cindy Unger, WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz business adviser

“Exactly what is ‘digital signage,’ and how might it benefit my company?"  Sarah, Casper

Digital signage can be defined as any form of electronic display that is centrally managed and communicates targeted information, entertainment, merchandising or advertisement.

Any time you see a screen in public that displays some type of message, image or video, you are looking at a digital sign. Digital signage, however, should not be confused with television, broadcasting or a PC running a PowerPoint presentation in a loop.

The systems are typically composed of one or several displays or media players, and a content management/content delivery system. Major advances in digital display resolution and drastic cost reductions have been developed the past decade. Replacing heavyweight, cumbersome and power-hungry CRT screens are new ultra-flat LED, LCD and plasma panels that come in many different sizes and resolutions.

An advantage of digital signs is their flexibility. You can control what is displayed, when it is displayed and how it is displayed. Digital signs can function as direct sales pieces or can be used to increase business efficiency with customers.

Your “electronic salesperson” may direct customers where to find specific items or physically show them other products that might interest them. A bar or restaurant may use digital signage technology to upsell or feature specials.

Examples of efficiency usage include traveler information at airports, pedestrian guidance in large buildings and cafeteria menus. And do not forget the iconic time/temperature signs on so many bank buildings.

Education also is often a goal. Consider those “healthy videos” often shown in doctors’ offices. Depending on the venue, some of those videos also function as sales tools. The display that shows the results of teeth whitening in the dentist’s office probably sells quite a few procedures.

The marketing strategy for each business differs depending on set goals. The goals of the campaign should clearly be specified before going into this medium. If the goal is to attract new customers, remember that selling is considerably more expensive and takes longer than selling to an established customer.

Offering content about services and business, and even about employees, is a good way to build a relationship with a new customer. To entice repeat customers, remember to keep the display fresh. Display new content regularly.

The advent of affordable, interconnected, high-definition flat digital displays has enabled advertisers and other content providers to replace static screens with timely, targeted content. Content programming may either follow a pre-arranged linear playlist with specific time slots for different content elements or a dynamic playlist that evolves according to different criteria, including user. Some content can even be programmed to change according to environmental sensors.

The global advertising landscape has evolved dramatically the past decade. While traditional print advertising has declined substantially, market share and interest in interactive advertisement on the Internet, mobile and other innovative media has skyrocketed.

As a result of falling hardware costs, large-scale public display networks are becoming common in many settings. Many argue, however, that the full potential of digital signage as an innovative, interactive medium still remains untapped.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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