Content is king, so the saying goes. And while “it’s good to be the king,” as funnyman Mel Brooks famously observed in “History of the World Part I,” achieving that status can be complicated and treacherous.
In the kingdom of digital signage, things aren’t much different. Creating fresh, compelling content worthy of regal status, is no simple task. Large businesses often turn to outside creative agencies or full-time in-house creative resources to build the graphics, text, video and effects that capture viewer interest and hold attention.
Small businesses, too, recognize the benefits of digital signage but often lack the time, money and personnel to create fresh content on an ongoing basis. Fortunately, with a little planning and creativity, it’s possible to sidestep these impediments and create a fresh stream of digital signage content on an ongoing basis.
In my preceding column on this topic, I laid out in detail five tactics businesses can employ to reduce the expense of content creation, including: the use of templates; relying on digital signage software with automatic data import capability; leveraging existing creative resources; integrating RSS feeds into digital signs; and taking advantage of cable or off-air TV reception. Here, I explain five more powerful tactics that can be of help in reducing the strain of creating fresh content.
Tactic 1: Consider offering internships to graphics arts students from local community colleges and universities. Both paid and non-paid internships are a staple of the college experience, and local colleges and universities offering graphics arts programs are filled with students looking for a chance to let their talent shine. Often, institutions will have requirements for companies offering internships to ensure their students are properly supervised and receive a quality experience. But for a small business with a marketing manager who’s able to invest the time to direct a student, offering an internship to a graphics arts student to create fresh content can be a winner.
Tactic 2: Select digital signage software carefully. How difficult is it to use? Does the software use a timeline or Web browser-type interface? Companies with limited time to devote to digital content creation should carefully evaluate how easy content creation software is to use. Additionally, remember digital sign software tasks often fall into a handful of major categories, including: content creation, scheduling and management. Sometimes there’s an overlap among these categories. Be sure to consider the learning curve and ease of use for each.
Tactic 3: Leverage existing maps, architectural drawings and other non-promotional information. The good news for small and large businesses alike is they’re probably sitting on a mountain of existing material that can be repurposed for use as digital signage content. Often these resources will need to be reworked to fulfill a specific requirement for digital signage use -something most business people don’t have the time or talent to do. However, a graphics arts intern should be able to make quick work of repurposing these sorts of resources as digital sign content.
Tactic 4: Subscribe to a data services for news tickers, sports scores, weather conditions, stock data and more. Cable news channels aren’t the only media entities that can crawl text across their screens. Businesses employing digital signage also have access to these resources. Best of all, unlike cable news channels that seek to offer a broad range of news headlines, businesses can subscribe to feeds that more narrowly match their areas of endeavor. Doing so will make the digital signage content relevant and elevate the stature of the business in the minds of those viewing the signs.
Tactic 5: Add video from a Webcam or weather camera. Many digital sign controllers make it easy to integrate video from a live video camera. Imagine the possibility of a retailer at a ski resort using this capability on its digital sign to show the length of lift lines or views from a mountaintop lodge. Or, those responsible for signage at an airport might wish to integrate video from a camera mounted atop the control tower to display takeoffs and landings. Like integrating off-air or cable TV, Webcams and weather cameras offer a regular source of fresh content without having to devote personnel to the task -aside from setting up the camera in the first place.
Using some or all of these tactics can reduce the burden creating fresh digital signage content places on a business. After all, businesses deciding to add digital signage are doing so to advance their success, not to create a distraction that can become an impediment to success. Any approach that can keep content fresh without taxing limited personnel and financial resources will prove in the long run to be an important element of succeeding with digital signage.