You’ve heard the old adage retailers have about consumers – the customer is king (or queen). But for many organizations there’s another kind of customer – your audience. This can be the employees of a company, students and faculty of an educational institution, workers on a factory floor or members of the general public who visit your facility. The product they are consuming is information, and keeping them engaged and interested is a vital part of keeping your organization running smoothly. Your digital signage deployment is already part of that process – pushing out announcements, drawing attention with tickers and news feeds, generating interest with attractive graphics and images, using touchscreens and video to maintain interest and create buzz. But you can do even more by launching integrated campaigns across multiple mediums.
This is something to consider when you have a message that is always valid (like workplace or campus safety), or is valid for a long time (like signing up for training packages or participating in a charity run). You can use long-tail storytelling methods to create a through line narrative that tells the story of what you want your audience to know, and keeps them interested as each chapter unfolds.
You can add to that by using multiple channels to tell your story – digital signage displays, webpages, social networks, printed posters, and so on. This allows you to saturate your audience with your overall message while keeping it all feeling fresh.
Your digital signage system is the cornerstone of good integrated campaigns. Your audience is already used to getting information from your screens, and you can drive traffic to other communications channels by simply using your displays to advertise those channels. And the converse is also true – a post on a social media site might remind people to look for some specific information on screens on a certain day. And because your audience is exposed to your digital signage many times a day, they’re a great way to get your message to stick in people’s minds, and help them remember all the different elements you bring to bear in your campaign.
First, you need to know who your audience is. Not just “employees” or “visitors”, but their demographics – genders, ages, backgrounds, and their psychographics – their interests, behaviors, attitudes and motivations. Create some surveys and polls, talk to your HR department, or just walk around and watch people who come through your facility. You need to know who they are, where they’re coming from, and what they like and don’t like.
Once you’ve figured out who your message is for, pick which channels to use in your campaign. Don’t use Facebook just because it’s in the news all the time; if your audience doesn’t use Facebook much, then you’re wasting time and resources by integrating that channel. On the other hand, if they are big Twitter users, it would be foolish not to use it. Concentrate on channels that make sense for your audience, as well as the objective of your campaign.
Your overall campaign message should tie in somehow with your core brand values and mission statement. If you’re a manufacturing company that touts speed and accuracy, try to make the campaign about workplace safety also have something to do with speed and accuracy, or about how those two things balance with safety rules and procedures.
You also need to be consistent. No one will know it’s an integrated campaign if everything looks different in each place. Choose colors and design elements that remain the same no matter where they are. Creating a specific logo or mascot for the campaign might also make it easier for people to recognize that things are part of the same overall message. Use the same or similar wording across all channels, and always have a call to action so you can measure what’s effective and what isn’t.
However, you may need to tailor some things to the specific medium you’re using. A message on your digital signs needs to be fairly short, a webpage can be longer, and a tweet is limited to 140 characters – but they all need to have the same essential information and call to action.
The different communications that you use need to be logically connected and reinforce one another. The goal is not just to hit as many communications channels as possible, but to add elements together to make something that is greater than the sum of its parts – a synergistic whole.
One way to integrate multiple channels is by using hashtags. It’s best to create a unique one that is just for your specific organization or campaign. If you use something general, like #BreastCancerAwareness, your messages are likely to get lost in the clutter out there, as many other organizations will be using the same hashtag. But how many will be using something like #HufflinBCA (meaning Hufflin – the name of your company, and Breast Cancer Awareness – or BCA)? When people encounter your hashtag on the web, simply clicking it lets them see all the other webpages, social posts and videos you’ve created and given the same hashtag to. And when they see it on your digital screens, they’ll easily remember it for the next time they’re on the web. Essentially, you’re creating a smaller sub-brand, and you want it to stick in your audience’s minds.
Make sure anything you create for your campaign, like URLs or usernames, are also consistent. You could make a webpage called something like www.hufflinBCA.com, with a log in name of “Hufflin Awareness” to access the site. Each time people use your “tagline” to log in, they’re interacting with your overall message. And then your message is reinforced again when they view all of your info on that webpage.
And you must track everything. Every single part of your campaign needs a call to action that you can monitor and track. You can then evaluate how effective each element is by the responses you get, letting you eliminate or tweak low-performing elements, and expand or augment high-performing ones.
Yes, it can be a lot of work to concept out and plan a long-term integrated campaign, then monitor and adjust it as it’s running. However, you’re probably already doing this for product marketing. And, when it’s done right, there is simply no more powerful way to get your message out there and into your audience’s minds. And then, hopefully, that translates into real-world actions.