Guest Column | January 11, 2013

Digital Signage Solutions May Signal New Revenue

By Kelly Ricker, SVP Education & Events, CompTIA

Successful business owners are constantly assessing and reassessing their business. What are we doing right? What can we do better? How can we grow? It’s this continual evaluation of their business that keeps them on the cutting edge and in position to win new clients. To put your own company in that enviable position – think about your business’s core competencies and how you can extend those services to meet your customer’s needs. Stepping foot into the digital signage game may be a lucrative option for you.

Recent research published by Intel forecasts the global market for digital signage will reach 10 million media players and a corresponding 22 million digital signs by 2015. So, where do IT solution providers fit in?

IT solution providers have the expertise and experience in networking, server and storage technologies and, as suppliers of IT infrastructure, you already have trusted advisor relationships with many of the customers who are looking to adopt digital signage solutions. But, to close the deal you’ll have to learn the critical content creation, delivery, and management aspects of the business. It’s in these areas that the opportunities for recurring revenue and “as-a-service” style solution sales exist. If you can close these critical gaps, the opportunity to grow into a dynamic new business that builds on existing strengths is a compelling one.

Start with Research

Before you start making calls, you should fully understand the market opportunity for your firm in the context of your existing business. This should include a financial analysis to determine potential impact the new business may have on company performance. Check out CompTIA’s new Quick Start Guide to Digital Signage, or the Quick Start Guide to Entering a New Vertical Market for helpful tips.

Enhance your Knowledge

Once you’ve decided to pursue the digital signage opportunity, take a good look at the technology, skills and competencies required to be successful in this market. It’s likely that many of the required skills are already strengths, but you may find some gaps. IT solution providers may need to enhance their knowledge of video and display technology, content development and management, and content management software (CMS). You may choose to train existing staff, hire new staff, or partner with other solution providers in key areas.

Create a Game Plan

Now that you’re up to speed it’s time to identify your solution and service offerings. A key step in this process is the evaluation of the needs of your target markets: are turnkey media player solutions appropriate or are more distributed server-based systems needed? In some cases you may need to offer a range of offerings that span both types of solutions. In addition to identifying the types of hardware solutions to offer, consider how much of the total end-to-end digital signage solution you want to deliver. Even if you choose not to deliver the content piece, customers will not be happy if you sell them a nice set of hardware with beautiful screens, only to discover after the fact that they have to hire someone with special creative and programming skills to develop and maintain the content. You may consider adding a turnkey solution to your offerings and profiting from the ongoing revenue that the content opportunity provides, even if you have to partner to deliver it.

Look for Good Partners

Now that you have a plan and know what types of solutions and services you’re going to offer, now’s the time to evaluate and engage with the distributors, vendors and partners who will play a key role in delivering these solutions to customers. Look for distribution and vendor partners with a proven reputation for high quality products, documentation, training, and support. Ask for partner references and customer success stories. It’s essential to evaluate potential vendors not only on their technical merits, but also on their sales and marketing programs and support.

Get the Word Out

It’s time to promote your new offerings and get some new business! It’s likely you have existing customers that would benefit from digital signage solutions. If that’s the case, a good initial marketing plan can be built around delivering a solid value proposition and messaging for how a digital signage network can meet their business needs. The value proposition should emphasize the business advantages that digital signage offers in the effectiveness and efficiency of communication to their target audience. The ability to centrally manage, deploy, and update a set of deep and rich targeted content that strongly reinforces the brand image of the company is what you are marketing.

Back Up your Claims

While you’re creating your marketing plan, your sales team should be preparing to engage customers with the new offerings. Arm your team with sales tools that enable them to easily demonstrate the value of digital signage solutions to customers. Demonstration systems can be great tools, and in some cases distributors and vendors will offer assistance in obtaining these types of systems.

Win the Business

It’s time to launch your digital signage business! Look to engage a few early customers to earn small wins and begin to build experience in the critical system design, project estimation, and installation and configuration areas. Once these installs are done and the dust has settled on them, it will be critical to assess whether the sales were as profitable as hoped, and make the necessary adjustments in the future to ensure that financial expectations are met.

Successful business owners find ways to grow their business based on their core strengths. Digital signage solutions may be an opportunity that you just can’t pass up. Check out CompTIA’s new Quick Start Guide to Digital Signage for many more ideas, helpful tips and valuable resources. CompTIA also offers many more guides on marketing, finances and general business for the small business owner. Check out where members can download these tools for free.