Just as you plan your marketing program or your calendar of events, you should outline your digital signage communications strategy in advance. An effective digital signage strategy should reflect your organization’s overall goals while continuously striving to capture and retain the interest of your audience. The key is to gather and consider carefully as much information as possible about your messages and your viewers.
A well thought out visual communications plan doesn’t require lengthy documentation. In fact, a cluttered written plan can be restrictive and can work against a lively, impactful messaging program. The important thing is to work through the process and have a clear idea of what your communications will consist of, what their purpose is, when and how you will deliver them and how you will measure their success.
In general, most processes work on a structure of goals, objectives, plans, strategies and tactics. Know the difference between these items and also that the focus, or level of detail, increases as you drill down.
- Goals – Overall, what your organization hopes to achieve
- Objectives – Within organizational goals, specific benchmarks being strived for
- Plans – Outline of strategies and tactics within defined objectives and goals, considering all available input
- Strategies – Programs, campaigns or communications within a plan to help achieve objectives
- Tactics – Specific tasks related to strategies
Possible structures for your communications plan could include:
Calendar. The traditional and most popular organizational method for communications plans is chronological. By outlining your digital signage strategies in an annual, quarterly, monthly or other calendar-based sequence, it is easy to plan, execute and review your communications in a logical timeline. Other methods may include organizing under a topical system but still listing communication tactics in chronological order within those topics.
Event. Planning your communications around important happenings that define your industry can be very useful. Some entities have high seasons or special events that consume the bulk of their communications. If your messages are centered on pre-promotion, advertising and follow-up for specific events, you may want to organize your communication plans within those categories.
Departmental. Allow each contributing group to form a plan and then combine them for overall effectiveness. This will allow you to develop themes or compare/contrast various campaigns that are planned, providing needed cohesiveness. It makes sense to also consider your visual communications plan within the scope of other organizational marketing, communications, Human Resource, and IT plans.
No matter how you choose to organize your plan, remember to always reference your goals and your resources. Each visual communication should support a clearly defined purpose, whether it is a stand-alone message or part of a larger campaign. Resources, such as design personnel, bandwidth, administration and messaging hardware/software capabilities need to be considered within the scope of your digital signage strategies.
Just as planning will improve your communications, information gathering will improve your communications strategies. The level of detail to consider when formulating your plan depends on how much information you have at your disposal and how you are able to organize it:
Who is your audience? Do you have statistical information so you can plan more effectively? Plan around viewing patterns, style and content that appeals to each audience segment. Remember to address internal as well as external audiences. Gathering basic statistics can help you determine when and how to attract viewers.
Where is your content coming from? Try to get as much information from contributing sources and/or map out your own sources for content in advance. This will allow you to approximate the quantity, type and timing of content that will be available to you.
How many separate channels of visual communications you will use at one time? Consider the number of content blocks, tickers and other publishers being used. Try to determine the quantity of messages, videos, tickers, data feeds and graphics needed for a consistent flow of dynamic communications.
What is the best delivery method for various communications? You may want to assign content to specific forms of display or ensure saturation by delivering to combined endpoints. Some content is ideally suited for a certain endpoint, where other communications are more versatile.
This attention to detail doesn’t mean that spontaneous communications should be quashed. On the contrary, your plan should be formulated with flexibility that allows for adjustments as needed. Last minute communications are often essential to the timeliness of your messages and the subsequent success of those messages being viewed by your audience.
Keep your plan handy and be sure to reference it regularly. Count on making changes as your goals, objectives, and environment changes. Adjust when needed to increase the success of your communications based on feedback from specific campaigns.
No matter how you organize it, having a plan specific to your visual communications program will help you to more efficiently and effectively reach your goals and your audience.