Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some Tips for Building Your Digital Signage Business

We've been hearing so much about folks in the industry having trouble getting financing, compelling customers to go through with planned projects and even getting senior execs to approve supposedly "pre-approved" budgets. While I don't think there's going to be a quick-and-easy solution to any of these things (thanks a lot sub-prime borrowers and greedy lenders) a bunch of us will be meeting up in Chicago in a few weeks trying to figure out how to help people get through the economic mess we're in right now.

The event is the Strategy Institute's "Building Your Digital Signage Business" seminar, and as the title suggests, it's designed to address all sorts of concerns about actually making a business out of all the hype in this silly industry. (Disclaimer: I'm speaking at this event, but it's the very last session of the 2nd day, so there will probably be about 8 people left in the audience at that point -- but I'll be around the rest of the time to chat if anyone's interested!).

Realizing that there are probably a lot of people out there who need a little extra help getting going these days (or staying going, for that matter), conference organizer David Laird has been tweaking each conference session to provide the maximum benefit for:

  • Digital Signage Integrators: If you think that digital signage could be a growth area for their businesses, the conference will help you to understand which clients will be most interested and provide strategies for selling and rolling out large deployments;
  • Venues Interested in Hosting Digital Signs: We'll shed some light on the different digital signage business models out there, and explain the best way to work with suppliers and vendors;
  • Digital Signage Network Owners: There will be sessions exploring ways to increase ad spends and giving you a better idea of what makes a media planner tick;
  • Digital Signage Hardware and Software Suppliers: The biggest benefit here is networking - you'll have plenty of opportunities to connect with Integrators and Digital OOH Networks to partner on the next deployment and (potentially) win new clients;
  • Mobile Media Companies: With the 'Outernet' upon us and smart phones and PDAs acting as a bridge to digital signage networks, you'll learn about the new business opportunities that these networks enable;
  • Investors (of all sorts): Connect with senior executives about buying, selling or partnering in a digital signage business, and learn about past deals and market trends from those of us who won't be trying to take the money right out of your pockets;
  • Traditional Billboard/Poster Advertising Owners: With advertising dollars sometimes growing by large multiples in digital billboards, find out how this business model works for you;

You're probably not going to walk out of the conference with a dozen new advertisers for your network or a check for $10 million, but you probably will meet a lot of people who have faced the same problems that you're facing, have found solutions to them, and are now looking for new ways to grow, even in this challenging environment.

As always when I go to these things, I'll post an update and my own impressions of the conference after it's over -- if it sucks I'll let you know.  But having gone to "Building Your Digital Signage Business" several times in past years, it has generally been one of the most practical and useful conferences I've gone to.  If you're struggling with your digital signage business and feel like you could use some direction -- or even just some empathetic camaraderie -- you might want to check this one out.

Not the tips you're looking for? The best list around is at WireSpring's Digital Signage Journal.

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Anonymous said...

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nigel said...

I hope the organizers are including sessions on leveraging online marketing to grow a digital signage business. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are now essential to getting a business in front of buyers. The difference between being #1 on a Google search and #2 can mean a three- or four-fold increase in web site traffic.

Digital signage vendors can get huge returns from having a memorable, SEO/SEM friendly digital signage domain name. In fact, it's the only way to guarantee that competitors don't get an unfair advantage.

Search engines pay a lot of attention to keywords in a domain name. For example, using these keywords in a .com domain name

- Digital LCD Signage
- Digital Outdoor Advertising
- Digital Video Signage
- Digital LCD Advertising
- Digital Mobile Marketing
- Digital Media Display
- Digital Retail Signage
- Digital Stadium Signage
- Digital Arena Signage
- HD Retail Signage
- HD Video Signage
- Dynamic Retail Signage
- Outdoor Digital Sign
- Outdoor Digital Signage
- Digital Signage Installer

in combination with well-known SEO best practices will guarantee higher search engine ranking than a web site that uses a conventional business name.

The good news is, a company doesn't have to drop it's existing name to benefit from a keyword-specific name:

- use the keyword heavy name for web site and marketing literature (advertising etc.)
- use the business domain name for corporate email. etc.

SEO/SEM is now a best practice for any business. Digital signage vendors can gain enormously from using keyword-specific domain names. And, let's face it, who can afford to let their competitor get access to such an insurtmountable advantage these days?

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