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Beachwood Studios Production Facility

September 2010


Linda FruitsBy Linda Fruits
Director-Application Development, EDR Media LLC

Trying to quantify “successful digital signage” is like having Dr. Phil ask you, “What makes a successful marriage?” Because with digital signage (as with marriage), the obvious response is: “That depends on your expectations.” With digital signage — and maybe with marriage — the ultimate way to measure success is to determine whether it's meeting your primary objective, such as an enhanced experience, an improved image, more money in the bank, reduced perceived wait time, even improved productivity. And with digital signage, each of these different goals can also require a different measurement technique, making the task even more complex. But regardless of your specific digital signage goal, there are certain attributes that all good content has in common. In the spirit of self-help, here are a dozen considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Is it legible?

    If the design is confusing or overly busy, if the text is too small, or if the time on screen is too brief, your message is meaningless. Nobody will be able to read it.
  2. Is it eye-catching?

    Make sure you are using rich media and — if possible — audio to grab a customer's attention. If your patrons or guests don't stop and watch, you don't have a chance of communicating your message.
  3. Is it relevant?

    Your message must be something consumers want and need to hear at the precise moment they're in your environment — for example, grass seed in the Spring and Fall, a limited time offer that requires prompt customer action, or a new product demonstration.
  4. Is its focus clear?

    An effective message has a singular communications goal that might range from a specific promotional price point to an overall brand position. Don't try to make your message serve more than one master. Make more messages instead!
  5. Does it reflect the customer's dynamic?

    Knowing your customer's mindset, dwell time and expectations will determine the right creative approach, affecting everything from length of message, to color choices, to type of media, to choice of talent.
  6. Is there a call-to-action?

    Gorgeous, eye-catching images frequently aren't enough. You need strong calls-to-action to make sure customers stop, look, learn, listen, touch, smell, buy and add on to their purchase. Also, remember that “visit our store” is a pointless call-to-action. The customer is already there.
  7. Are you correctly reflecting the brand?

    Consistently reflect and reinforce your brand identity in every aspect of the message, including color, font, creative approach, focus and philosophy. It helps remind and reinforce to customers the reasons why they've chosen your brand in the first place.
  8. Is the message appropriate for digital signage?

    Digital signage isn't print, and it's not a broadcast spot, so select messages that make good digital sense. For example, if the promotion requires three lines of disclaimers from the Legal Department, try to confine it to print. If it requires an on-camera testimonial and you don't have audio, think television instead.
  9. Are your production assets suitable for digital signage?

    Don't assume that pre-produced commercials or photo assets can easily be retrofitted for digital signage. Format, licensing issues, talent contracts and creative approach may make that impossible.
  10. Are you prepared to keep it fresh?

    If “relevant” and “timely” are the watchwords of digital signage, then refreshment – possibly including dynamic database content — is an absolute requirement. Your marketing calendar, new product promotional schedule and customer frequency statistics will help you determine how often you need to change out your messaging.
  11. Are you thinking big?

    Enough about individual messages. Before the first message is written or produced, you'll need to develop an overall strategy that defines your network's goals, establishes the different categories of messages required to meet those goals, and determines the correct mix of those messages in your playlist in order to achieve success.

  13. Do you have a strong creative partner?

    Successful content comes from collaborating with a company with an experienced production staff that understands the business side, the creative side and the technical side of the challenges you face. And don't couple an expensive hardware purchase with cheap content. There's a reason why they say “Content Is King.”

Ultimately, what makes content great is a relentless commitment to reviewing it, measuring it and improving it — recognizing that you will need to use both art and science to make it an ongoing, long-term success.

Linda Fruits is the Director of Application Development for EDR Media LLC, a nationally-recognized media development company that specializes in consumer-focused media programs, commercials and promotions for broadcast and digital-out-of-home media applications. As EDR Media's lead digital signage content strategist, Linda oversees EDR's development efforts and helps execute clients' informational goals and objectives, from the initial strategy sessions through content production. Linda, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Middlebury College, has been a member of EDR's staff most of her professional career. She has developed digital signage strategies and written messaging for a variety of clients including Lowe's Home Improvement, GE Lighting, National City Bank, Circle K Stores, HEB Grocery, ADI-Honeywell and The Golf Network.

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