EPISODE 23 | Guest: Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix
You’ve launched your digital signage system and everything is going well. But how do you keep things running smoothly? And how do you keep people motivated both behind the scenes and in front of your screens? Maintaining momentum on digital signs can make the difference between short-term and long-term success.
This podcast looks at ways to make sure that your digital signs are effective and appealing in the long run. We talk about how to improve and adjust what your sharing with audiences to keep them coming back, and how to plan for new content teams and system expansions to ensure that there’s no interruption in communications and no degradation of quality.
We’ll also tackle how to inspire content managers with plenty of tips and tricks, and real-world examples to maintain momentum with your digital signage.
- Learn how to keep workflows simple and fun
- Explore the impact of digital signage champions
- Get ideas for automated content and new content sources
- Hear tips for continuous training, policies and localization
- Discover how software updates can make jobs easier
Learn more about this topic in our Masterclass Guide 1: Digital Signage Systems Overview
Derek DeWitt: So, you’ve bought your system, you’ve worked it all out, you did a pilot, you’ve launched it, and everything seems to be going well. But is it? I mean, how do you know? Digital signage is a dynamic communications medium, not just that the messages change, the layouts can change, and the type of content can change, but the entire deployment needs to be agile and flexible, able to adapt and change to different needs as things shift throughout time. I’m here with Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix. Hi, Debbie.
Debbie DeWitt: Hi, Derek. Thanks for having me.
Derek DeWitt: Thank you for being on and thank you, all of you for listening.
Derek DeWitt: You’ve spent all this time and money, you got it up and going, how do we…and things are going well, I mean that first month is great, and then how do you sort of maintain momentum? How do you keep it going? How do you keep running the race?
Debbie DeWitt: Well, you’re right Derek. It’s a dynamic system in every sense. And it’s not just about the content, like you said, or even the hardware or expanding with more screens, things like that. It’s really about people, people on both sides of the system. So, the people who are driving it and the people who are looking at it. So, it’s really just about constantly updating and improving. I mean, continuous improvement’s been, you know, in our organizational cultures for a very long time now. And that’s always true with communications, as well.
So, there are just a few things to do. When I was thinking about this topic, the very first one that just seemed obvious to me is “keep it simple”. That may sound trite, but basically it just means you need to make things as easy as possible for the people who are managing the system. If you don’t make it easy, they’re not going to want to do it, they’re not going to enjoy doing it. And that loses your excitement, your motivation. And obviously, if the people who are putting the things on your screens aren’t motivated, your audience is going to notice that.
Derek DeWitt: Well, yeah, workflows, right? I mean, if it takes 15 steps to do something (schedule a message, create and schedule a message) people will, perhaps well-intentioned, they’ll say, “Oh yeah, I’ll get to that, I’ll get to that.” And then they’d just won’t.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean we all know the best way to alienate any employee is to make their job boring, you know, if you make it boring…
Derek DeWitt: Or too hard.
Debbie DeWitt: Or too hard. Exactly. So, some of the things that you can do is, to not only make it easy (but also kind of, you know, I’ll say “idiot proof it”, but take mistakes out of the process) is use things like templates, so that people can put a message up very quickly. They don’t have to worry about referencing design guides, things like that, if they don’t need to. So, you make it very quick, very easy for them. And it also makes them feel like it’s less repetitive. If you have to do something 15 steps, 15 times, that feels more repetitive than I throw up one message template a day.
Derek DeWitt: Right, it takes me, honestly, 30 seconds.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. Exactly. You can actually publish policies. You know, I talked about referencing a design guide earlier. Well you know, if you have that, don’t expect people to just know it or learn it once. You want to publish those sorts of guidelines or any simple instructions. Certainly put links out there to, if you’re using a software package like ours, we have online help. We have training, a learning management system online. You know, provide links to resources that people can easily reference very quickly.
And also, I mean training is constant. Training needs to be constant. If you’re updating your software, you’re going to be getting new features. You’re going to want to train on that. But also, maybe design training, just a refresher training or even going over those brand guidelines. It doesn’t have to be a three-day course; it can be a one hour…do it over lunch, you know, make it exciting.
Derek DeWitt: Right, like a lunch-and-learn. Or, honestly, you can just create short videos. There’s this idea in education that there are different learning styles: some people are visual; some people are auditory. Maybe making a short recording people can listen to (a podcast if you will, an internal podcast), a training thing or a video or, heck, you could even have lunch-and-learns in which, you know, Marcus has to teach the rest of the gang (’cause he’s quite good at a certain aspect of this and he teaches the rest of the gang). Because statistics show that we actually remember something like 80 to 90% of what we teach others. So, there are lots of different ways to… and also the variety, mix it up and make it feel not like, “Oh here’s another boring part of my job.” Right?
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. I mean the fact is people need to know. We talk a lot about motivation, recognition, but people need to know what’s expected of them. But they also need the tools to do that. And the great thing about digital signage is, this isn’t data entry. This is a creative process, and a lot of people who get tasked with doing digital signage, maybe they aren’t previously in a creative job. They might be admin, they might be just part of a student group, you know, they may be a Dean of a college. You never know who’s going to put this in their hands. And it’s kind of a really fun outlet if you make it that. So, don’t add bureaucracy to it. Don’t make it a slog. Make it fun, make it creative and just make sure people understand the benefits.
Derek DeWitt: Talking about ways to inject enthusiasm and energy into the system. And I know, one of the things that’s been mentioned before is this concept of “have a champion“.
Debbie DeWitt: Absolutely. I mean, you want to have a team of people who are involved in this. You want as many people excited about your digital signage as possible. But you need one person who’s really the cheerleader.
Derek DeWitt: Or two or three. I mean, it doesn’t have to be just one.
Debbie DeWitt: That’s true. If you can get six, that’d be wonderful.
Derek DeWitt: “We love it!”
Debbie DeWitt: But there’s always one person who needs to be deciding on the strategy, or a small team, usually. I mean the fact is most people don’t have a group of 12 deciding strategy. So, there is a little bit of top-down because, again, this is communications, and communications is usually tied into, you know, if it’s for external audiences, you’re going to be tying this into your marketing and on other channels. If it’s for internal audiences, you’re going to be tying it in to, you know, whatever HR is trying to emphasize this month.
So, there’s somebody who’s sort of driving the ship (or a small group) and it’s super, super important because… We’ve seen it happen, and the worst thing that can happen is you have a system that’s purchased, and sometimes championed by someone, “Hey, we need this!” They go out, they get it, they’ve read all of our guides, they do this cool content, they’re engaging, they’re engaging, they’re engaging, it’s perfect. Then they move onto another job, and it gets handed to Elise, who is told that you now have to do this on top of their other job or whatever. They haven’t been involved before. And maybe even though they like it, they’re not really a cheerleader for it. And so what happens is, that system’s going to languish. There’ll be fewer messages, they’ll be less creative. People stop looking at your screens.
Derek DeWitt: This may sound like a funny parallel, but it reminds me of cooking. I watch a lot of cooking shows and food-oriented shows.
Debbie DeWitt: Love Top Chef.
Derek DeWitt: Right, love Top Chef and all that. You can tell, kind of, when someone’s just going through the motions and doing the technical things they’re supposed to do. Because you won’t… If you really, really care about it, you’ll not only make small adjustments and tweaks as you go through the process of creating whatever you’re creating (in this case, digital signage messages, campaigns and so on) but you’ll catch small errors, you’ll make fewer errors. I mean, this is individual engagement.
Debbie DeWitt: That’s kind of what I mean is, a champion or champions, they think strategically, not just “I need to do a message a day,” not tactically.
Derek DeWitt: “How do I get, how do I get to five o’clock so I can go home?”
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. And in a lot of instances there is just one person who’s in charge of the digital signage system. So, people are saying, well, they’re the champion or what else do they need to do? The fact is they still need to be, as I say (I kind of go back and forth between champion and cheerleader), because they still need to promote that system. Because one person can’t come up with every single thing that needs to go on that screen and make it fresh and interesting.
Derek DeWitt: Crowdsource.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly, you’re crowdsourcing your content. Even if it’s one person, quite frankly, they need to go out there and assemble people from various departments to either contribute content directly or at least give them ideas.
And also promoting the digital signage internally, especially if it’s internal communications for employees, you know, surveying those employees, running contests, “Do you like these? What do you want to see on these screens?” Again, keeping up the audience engagement, keeping up audience excitement about what’s on those screens.
Derek DeWitt: I understand that this does happen a lot where, you know, a year, two years, three years in to using a digital signage system, suddenly somebody has it as their responsibility, or the staff gets cut back or what have you. As an organization; you know, I’m a manager, how can I get someone…like, there is nobody else — “You have to do this, Marcus, you have to do this. There’s no one else to do it, but I can tell that you kind of don’t care.” How can I get them enthusiastic about it?
Debbie DeWitt: Well, hopefully you’ve had past successes, and you’ve got really rocking digital signage you can show them. And they’re familiar with it and they’re like, that’s very cool. I mean, the fact is most people are creative. There’s a very, very small subset out there that are like, “”I am not interested in this at all, in creativity.”
Derek DeWitt: But then, there are people who are creative but either don’t know it or don’t want to say it (because they’re shy or whatever; they had an oppressive childhood, whatever reason). There are people who will resist that. How do I unlock that potential?
Debbie DeWitt: Well, I would say if someone is absolutely against being creative, don’t give them your digital signage to manage. That’s kind of number one.
Derek DeWitt: Right, don’t just push it down the ladder to the next rung.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. I think there are two levels of things we’re talking about. Number one is giving any employee more work, you have to motivate them and reward them for that. But for the digital signage system, I think that basically if you bought it, I hope you understand why you bought it and what the benefits and the possibilities are. You need to make sure that that gets passed on to them.
And the fact is, if you don’t have time to do that, then go to your vendor. Somebody sold you that system, someone sold you that software. I guarantee, like, here at Visix, we have a huge amount, a team of people who are here for client support, and we do a lot of blogs and we do guides and all that, and a lot of companies have more than just technical support. They have consulting.
So you can actually talk to them and say, “How do I get the most out of this?” Get some refreshers on why the company bought it in the first place. And it’s actually a perfect opportunity, any time you bring on, if it’s not replacing a person, even bringing a new person into the group that manages it, it’s a perfect opportunity to refresh everyone’s memory as to why did we get this, what were our goals and are we meeting them?
Derek DeWitt: Because you are in contact with them. They update their training modules, you’re getting updated versions of the software, bug fixes and so on. New features become available. So you’re actually, it’s not like when you buy a car, that’s it. You don’t talk to that dealer ever again. I don’t go back to Best Buy and tell them how my new stereo is.
Debbie DeWitt: Some people do, though, if you need repairs or….
Derek DeWitt: So that’s an interesting idea that if worse comes to worse, you can maybe get some more air in the balloon by simply interacting with the people who provide your digital signage in the first place.
Debbie DeWitt: Don’t have one champion; have more than one. I think that’s just good business practice. You don’t generally want any major part of your business in one person’s hands because people do leave jobs.
Derek DeWitt: Yeah, what happens when they get the measles for three weeks?
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, people do get ill. People do retire. So constantly be grooming new champions. I mean, that’s a huge thing to have, is to have a group that you can pass things around. Someone needs to go off to a trade show, someone else that’s maintaining it doesn’t need the person…it shouldn’t be the person who’s just like, “Oh gosh, I have to cover them on this.” It should be another person who’s super excited. So that there’s no lull in that momentum.
Derek DeWitt: So, that’s behind the screens, right? That’s the Wizard of Oz, behind the curtain. But of course, ultimately a lot of what determines the success of a digital signage system or deployment is the content.
Debbie DeWitt: Absolutely. And again, what you don’t want to do is get very excited when you buy your system and have your creative team put out a ton of really cool content, and it’s just super dynamic and you’re putting out press releases and you’re putting it on your intranet and everybody’s excited, and then three months later, those same messages are showing. Or you had everything was blue and it’s still all blue.
Derek DeWitt: “Happy Valentine’s Day”, in May.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. We say it all the time, “content is king”, but the fact is it’s just that simple. If your content looks bad, you’re going to lose your audience.
Derek DeWitt: Or out of date.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, bad or boring, no one’s going to look at your screens. So, I’m not going to go into this really deeply because we have a lot of other podcasts that go into design tips and content ideas and things that can help you to keep your screens fresh, but just a few little tips. In terms of momentum, you want to keep changing your look. And there are some very simple things you can do.
Derek DeWitt: Within certain broad parameters. I mean, you’ve got brand standards and things like this probably to deal with.
Debbie DeWitt: Absolutely. But you really need something new on screens every single day. And that’s actually pretty easy to do because weather changes, news headlines change, you know, event schedules change. So, it’s not too hard to do, but there should be something that’s brand new every day.
Another big thing is you don’t want to just have your layout (where things are on the screen) just stay the same all of the time.
Derek DeWitt: Right. A big content zone on the left, two small ones on the right, clock up in the upper left corner, weather in the upper right corner, ticker at the bottom.
Debbie DeWitt: Right. Because there is a thing for familiarity (like CNN always looks the same), but there’s so much on the screen. So for your screens, it can trick the viewer who’s walking by (I don’t want to trick viewers), but it can make them believe that, “Oh, something new is up there” if you simply take that content zone that you had on one side and move it to the other side.
Derek DeWitt: Just flip ’em.
Debbie DeWitt: Reverse. Yeah, you can just move your layout elements around. And what that does is people go, “Oh, something’s new.” And even if they happen to see the same message from before, maybe they didn’t see the one in the playlist after that before, and now they’ve looked, and they’ve seen that.
Derek DeWitt: So it’s like “simulated freshness”.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly, exactly. Obviously, you want to refresh your background and layout designs. We suggest at least once a year, if not every six months. That’s where you tie into your brand identity that you had just mentioned.
Derek DeWitt: Right. Even if it’s just minor tweaks, but noticeable; “Oh look, it looks like this now.”
Debbie DeWitt: Another kind of easy tip, depending on your resources for design, is if you’ve got something that’s up all of the time; “Please silence your cell phones in meeting areas”, that’s something you need on your screens every day…
Derek DeWitt: Every day.
Debbie DeWitt: Then, have several background colors, or take something that was…
Derek DeWitt: Right, different pictures….
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, exactly. Take something that was a still message and turn it into a short video, like a ten-second video.
Derek DeWitt: Or just like an animated background or a cinemagraph or what have you.
Debbie DeWitt: I mean, the point is, maintaining momentum, content’s kind of the number one thing. Because as you said, people in the back office need to be happy, you need to have policies, you need to have training. But for your audience, those screens need momentum. It needs to remain dynamic. So, do a content audit. Go back and look at all of your content, do that at least quarterly, and see if anything can be refreshed or even retired.
Derek DeWitt: All right. So, I’m getting all this stuff up, and ROI is another thing. And I know this from speaking to Visix clients in the past – a lot of people don’t actually measure ROI. It doesn’t even occur to them. Way back when, asking people questions in interviews for case studies, I would say, “How are you measuring ROI?” and people would say, “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea, we should do that.” And I’m not mocking those people, but you’ve got to know if things are working.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, well that’s the thing – it hadn’t been asked. No one had thought about it. It’s kind of like when you used to print a newsletter and mail it out, there was no ROI.
Derek DeWitt: Maybe you look in the garbage can.
Debbie DeWitt: No, but you maybe had a number of people that you mailed to, and that mailing list grew and that’s all you had. But you had no idea how many people read it. When we moved to email newsletters, you now get all these stats of who opened it, you know. If it’s video, you can see how long people watched it, that kind of thing. So, it just wasn’t thought of.
And as technology has allowed more and more to happen on screens, and also in the back-end reporting, ROI is now possible. And it’s actually really critical because it’s just part of the motivation that we talk about all the time. If you can’t see progress against a goal, it’s a task. A task is “I do this” and that’s the end of it.
Derek DeWitt: Into the void. “I did it, what happens? I don’t know.”
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. That’s the end of it. I completed the task. Instead of thinking that way, we’re thinking strategically because this is communications and so you want to know, “Okay I did this thing. what was the reaction?”
Derek DeWitt: And context, you need a little context, too. I mean the old-fashioned management style is “Do it ’cause I told you; do it ’cause it’s one of your job duties.” But actually giving people…. I think the wider view, that everybody who’s involved with a digital signage system, the wider the view they have, the better the deployment.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean we talk about measuring ROI a lot and there are a lot of different ways you can do that. The main thing is that pretty much every single message you put up (maybe not an event schedule) but any message, any communication you’re putting out, needs to have a call to action and ask people to do something.
As far as maintaining the momentum, this goes kind of back into the “content is king”. When you’re looking at that content audit, go back and look at what was successful. If you’re putting calls to action in there, how many people visited a webpage versus scanned a QR tag or brought in a coupon code to the café? Were there ROI triggers that worked better than others? Or is it a logistics thing of it’s just easier to track webpage landings because I have Google Analytics, I can’t really track this other thing we tried or… you know what I mean?
You can basically, again, it’s just continuous improvement, continuous monitoring of your ROI methods, and that’s all the way back to planning. You know, are people planning for ROI before they ever design something? Which kind of triggers are working the best and now let’s adjust as we go forward. And that’s something that you need to do all the time.
Derek DeWitt: I kind of keep thinking, I always kind of think that the ultimate ROI technology, which I don’t think exists (or not in any kind of scalable form), is if the screens could just measure how many times eyeballs looked at them. And maybe that’ll happen in the future, but for right now….
Debbie DeWitt: Maybe when we get to the “Minority Report”, they will know not only how many, but who each of them were.
Derek DeWitt: Right. Oh, Joe loves purple backgrounds. Yeah. And that, and again, the other thing is, is all of this stuff is changing. I mean, this stuff changes all the time. I know that there are some clients who, you know, they buy the product, and they kind of deal with it almost like you’re an electronics store or something, and they never really contact you again. And they don’t update their software. New features get put in there. Things change. You have to keep on top of this, right?
Debbie DeWitt: Oh yeah. You have to update regularly. I mean, digital signage is a big investment.
Derek DeWitt: A chunk of change.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, especially if you’re on an enterprise system, you’ve spent quite a bit of money and also manpower.
Derek DeWitt: Which costs money.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. You’ve put all of this in place and so you wouldn’t let it languish. No one who uses Microsoft Office uses a 10-year-old version. You have to update.
Derek DeWitt: Well, some people do.
Debbie DeWitt: You have to update. The fact is you want the new features, and we all know technically you have to update periodically; you just have to. For example, with digital signage software, sometimes a software update requires a hardware update. You know at this point, if someone was starting to develop a new software, they probably wouldn’t even test it on like Windows 7. They just wouldn’t.
Derek DeWitt: Yeah, why would you?
Debbie DeWitt: Or that might be the oldest, but you wouldn’t, not going back to 95 or something or XP. And so, you have to constantly keep everything up to date. This is part of maintaining momentum because physically your system needs to work well. You’re going to start seeing issues if you don’t keep everything up to date.
But more importantly on the CMS side, why wouldn’t you want to? I mean, it’s fantastic. You get all new features, probably your workflows are going to get improved. I mean certainly bug fixes are going to be taken care of, which is just a constant thing. But yeah, you’re just going to want to have your system be stable. And that’s another thing that ties into motivating the team that’s running it.
You’ve been using this software, you’ve got it down, you’ve got your call to action, it’s all a workflow, you’re, you’re fine with it. And then suddenly I get three new features that just made that faster. It made it easier. And there’s this other one that I could never do this before. Now I can map to data, I can map artwork. I can actually set up artwork that changes (visualizations) based on numbers in an Excel sheet that I never have to touch again. And it’s the coolest thing on earth. And everybody who’s seeing the screens is like, “Wow, Judy, did you do that? That’s really cool” And you’re like, “Yes!”.
Derek DeWitt: Newness is always a motivator.
Debbie DeWitt: I think so. It’s a great opportunity to get your team excited again. And going along with that, and we mentioned this before, new features call for new training. But even if you don’t update your software, you should still refresh training once in a while. I mean you’ve taught before, so you know more about this and I do, but people don’t just learn something once and then know it forever.
Derek DeWitt: No, that’s not how we learn.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, we do forget things, and obviously you’re going to have new employees joining your team. You need to plan for continuity, for people who are maybe going to change positions or retire.
Derek DeWitt: New people.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, so it’s, again, it’s, and every time you add a person to your team, it’s a great opportunity to train the whole team. It’s a reminder of, “Hey, let’s go ahead and do that.” Not if you did it two weeks previously, but certainly if it’s been three, four, six months. Be like, “Hey, we’re gonna just do a quick refresher on our brand guidelines, on the basic things”. And then new features, new software features (if those come along) you’re going to need to learn those new workflows and it’s great, but you might’ve been using 15 steps, now you need to learn 10 but they’re different steps.
Derek DeWitt: Or, guess what? Management went ahead and said go ahead and pull the trigger on five content subscriptions to reduce the burden on the content creation person or team and “Oh okay, well how has that work?” and all of this. So yeah, people need to constantly, constantly be updated on how things work.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean we’ve got, if you take our Masterclass Guides, we’ve got some real, actual (like six or seven, I forget how many) training tips for new users that are actually very valuable. Our own trainers did that for our own employees.
One of the things, I will say (a little bit of a plug here for Visix), but we have a training subscription and it allows, if you’re our client, anyone at your company, an unlimited number of people get access to our online learning management system as well as live classes that are held on the web for a year. Unlimited. And you can just renew that each year. That is a great way to say, “Hey, we happen to have this onboarding and training process in March, but you actually aren’t sure about this one aspect of things or you just want to get refreshed…”
Derek DeWitt: Or you forgot, you just forgot. You know, after that initial training, and you’re being hit with a lot of new information.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. So I would say this, if you’re not a Visix client, whomever you’re working with, make sure that training is not something that’s a one-time deal. Again, maintaining momentum. Training is one of those things that you need to continuously do and it’s a great opportunity to get everybody motivated each time.
Derek DeWitt: Another thing that might happen is you might “Oh, the digital signage works so well!” Again, I always think of multi-building campuses, like universities or something, but I mean it could be anything.
Debbie DeWitt: Sure, that’s very common.
Derek DeWitt: But that’s a common use, you know? Okay, so it worked really well in the sciences building and now, you know, we kind of piloted it and fine-tuned it there and got it kind of working great. And now people in the physical education department say, “We want that, too.” So often these systems are going to expand and get bigger, and that has a whole new series of things, you know, “Wow, how do we handle…? Now we’ve got to integrate into other buildings….” and maybe other cities or you know the whole thing might get bigger.
Debbie DeWitt: Absolutely. I mean system expansion is very common because most people don’t want to get 100 players with the first purchase. They’re going to get 20.
Derek DeWitt: “How do I know this’ll work?”
Debbie DeWitt: And actually, you mentioned college campuses — it is very common for the college of business to run it and then the liberal arts college sees it and goes, “I want that. Can we get a site license?” That kind of thing. So, it depends. Sometimes you can have a global system in offices around the world or campuses around the world that one person manages with cloud technology and that kind of thing. But even if that’s the case, I mean obviously if they’re going to be people in each location managing it, you need to do all the things we’ve talked about. Train them, motivate them, you know, get them up to date on design, but also keep that content momentum going with them.
But also, even if you have one person, or perhaps headquarters has a team that manages for everywhere, you still need to reach out to any location you’re putting it, because you need localized communications in addition to whatever HQ is putting out. You really want to find out, it’s going to be very different. What people in a Florida office care about versus your Hong Kong office, it’s different. It’s not just different weather, you know. It’s different cultures….
Derek DeWitt: “Happy Chinese New Year!”, in Austin.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, it’s different culturally, just different on the ground in terms of what there may be. It might even be that one is headquarters, but the other an IT hub. So, they’re not going to care about…
Derek DeWitt: Yeah, specialized locations….
Debbie DeWitt: Right. So, you’re getting a lot more of that. So, I would say for expansions, again it’s about training. It’s about continuing to engage with anybody who’s managing your system. Don’t forget about the people who are remote. Include them in any kind of motivational activities or training you do.
But the other thing we see is that expansion doesn’t have to be physical. Sometimes people want to simply enhance or expand through services. You mentioned earlier subscriptions. That is something that when you’re doing that content audit, you want more, you’re like, we are not getting something….
Derek DeWitt: “I can’t possibly make anymore! We’re out of time!”
Debbie DeWitt: Right! We need to put more on our screens, more frequently, and it needs to be current. But I am one person, or you know, that may be the situation. So, you might look at expanding sort of your input there in terms of getting content subscriptions. You can also look at getting custom creative. That whole idea of changing your layouts, changing your look; you don’t have to do it. Not every company has graphic designers on staff, so you can reach out, whether it be to Visix (I would hope if you’re our client), but you can reach out and get some graphic design help for that kind of thing.
Derek DeWitt: Sure, there’s a ton of it out there.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And we talked a lot about ROI, but also just in storytelling and that kind of thing, consultants can help. And almost every one of the digital signage software vendors have some sort of consulting. Like you said, we live and breathe this every day.
We don’t just want to sell a product, we want people to use it and love it, and we want them to be happy forever, so that they do expand and that they do recommend us. And so, because of that, people who work at the company think digital signage is cool. So talk to them, get some consulting help. They can help you with campaigns. They can talk about “How do I do our ROI? How do I keep my screens fresh?”, so you can really get some help from outsiders to enhance your system as well as physical expansion.
Derek DeWitt: It is essentially in some way, shape or form, a creative thing, the whole process, the medium and everything. And I think a lot of people, because it’s technology, they have a tendency to think of it as like, “Oh, it’s some kind of a tech thing”, which is, which is a little boring and linear workflows.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. We often see that someone decides they want or need digital signage. It is tasked to either the IT department or facilities management (because it is physical facilities and technology and networking and power), and they buy it. But then we almost always see communications, marketing, people who are actually (I don’t want to degrade the other groups by saying they’re more creative), but they tend to have a more communicative streak…
Derek DeWitt: Creativity and communications is their brief, so they have more experience.
Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. And in marketing, you’re always going to have some sort of design and campaign thinking going on in that group. So, that’s the good news is that, in most cases, we do see that it’s a group of very creative people managing the system.
And the fact is the whole maintaining momentum thing is just the same as in any other business team. Salespeople – the sales manager has to keep up their motivation and excitement. Your HR department is constantly trying to keep up morale and excitement and productivity. A government office is working on making sure that everybody is satisfied at work and has what they need. So, this is just another component of your business. And so, you have to keep up excitement and keep inspiring the people behind the scenes, so that what goes on the screens is the best it can be.
Derek DeWitt: And I would say also, one truism about people in creative professions, or even just people who are creative in their spare time…. Painters usually don’t just paint their own stuff. They look at other painters, they talk about painting, they go to museums. Writers read lots of books, filmmakers watch lots of movies.
I’d say if you’re tasked with this kind of a thing, whatever aspect of it, check out…I mean digital signage is really becoming ubiquitous. It’s in, especially in retail locations, airports, malls, shops…. Always be looking for inspiration from somewhere else because you’re not the only people doing digital signage. It’s not so new anymore that you’re the weirdos who are doing it. It’s everywhere. And everywhere you look, you can find inspiration that can also help keep that energy and momentum going inside your own head.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. And if you’re like, “Hey, I have work and I have kids and I don’t have time to go look for that”, just Google the images. Like you said, it’s so prolific now. There are so many images out there of different types of digital signage, not only where they’re placed, how they’re configured (in terms of like video walls and things) but also what’s on them.
I like to look elsewhere. I mean, the fact is like television show title sequences….The fact that we have animated layout backgrounds. I look at things like that and think “That would be a great background to have things over.” So like you said, it doesn’t always have to be one-to-one comparison. Anything can be inspiration for digital signs. But as I said, it’s really just about making sure it doesn’t become a repetitive task and make sure that the people behind it are happy. Happy workers. Happy cows make happy milk.
Derek DeWitt: Yes. They say this in California.
Debbie DeWitt: This is one of those things that, if the people behind the scenes aren’t happy, it’s going to show up. You’re going to see it on the screens, and your audience isn’t going to be happy. And again, it’s all about engaging your audience. So, engage your employees first.
Derek DeWitt: That’s a very good advice. All right, so a lot of things to think about on how to maintain that momentum as you’re going through.
Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I hope it’s helpful.
Derek DeWitt: I’d like to thank Debbie DeWitt for joining me. Thank you, Debbie.
Debbie DeWitt: You’re welcome!
Derek DeWitt: And thank all of you for listening.