“An educated customer is the best customer,” or so the saying goes at my office. At LG-MRI, we have learned that having an educated customer is the key to success.
Most of the opportunities we win occur when the client is educated about digital signage hardware, software, and content. Educated clients tend to spend more on the project, have more success in their signage deployment, and are therefore more likely to be repeat customers and advocates for your brand.
The challenge arises in how you actually educate the customer.
Education begins with in-depth product knowledge on the system integrators’ side. It’s impossible to know everything, which makes it important to rely on strong partners who can come in and speak intelligently about their piece of the “signage puzzle,” when needed. The biggest asset that a partner can bring to the table is asking the right questions.
For example, as a company experienced in outdoor LCD hardware, LG-MRI is able to ask the right questions about the external environment, required power on site, service access needed, display monitoring, etc., and to begin helping the client understand what questions they need to ask other companies pitching similar products.
When the client starts asking questions and understands the reasons behind certain features, they begin to see what differentiates one product from another. Spec sheets and PowerPoint presentations don’t always leave much room for comparison, but getting the client to know what questions to ask can truly set you apart.
We have seen many potential customers experience failed deployments because they were unknowledgeable about the product they were purchasing and never asked the questions that were critical to success. These companies learn the hard way with digital signage, and once it fails, they are much less likely to give it another shot.
It’s important to have the customer ask the right questions and lead them away from a product that won’t meet their needs. Just because the price looks good on paper doesn’t mean it will look good in the long run.
Determining the end use for the signage solution is a good first step towards asking the right questions.
We see many customers that are focused on product, price, and brand, with little thought to the intended end use of these products, their expected lifetime, or the capabilities required. For example, is the project in an outdoor environment with heat extremes? Does it require real-time content updates? Does it need remote monitoring? Are the displays installed in a location that is difficult to service?
It often happens that customers don’t understand all the pieces, which must come together to execute a successful deployment.
They begin their signage process with a smaller budget and smaller team than is required to be successful because they only focus on the big budget items like the display hardware, player, and software. They often forget things like mounting brackets, software integration services, ambient light sensors, cover glass, etc. (which add up quickly). This results in under-funded projects and requires system integrators to purchase and use inferior products in their solution—all at the long-term expense of the client.
Inferior products result in a solution that doesn’t meet the end use requirements, which means that the display won’t function as envisioned, will have a shorter life span than expected, and will ultimately cause more headaches and add unnecessary costs.
We have seen countless customers go down this road, only to find out that they need to replace the entire signage solution because it stops working after a year or two. At this point, customers have learned the hard way and their options are to either purchase the right products or (more likely than not) give up on digital signage all together.
Some of our best customers are the ones who chose the “inexpensive” route first but ended up paying much more in the long run. They now know the benefits of a solution designed with the end use in mind.
It’s not always feasible to visit every client and educate them on the digital signage industry—especially if you need the expertise of one of your vendors in order to clearly present the product benefits. Even from the system integrator standpoint, you can’t take trips to all the hardware and software vendors to search out the best solution for the end-client.
The good news is that there are many tradeshows, one-day workshops, and Webinars to learn more about the offerings in the market. Stay up-to-date on the shows that are happening and pay special attention to the speakers, seminars, and roundtable talks because these are the things that truly make the events well worth the investment.
You also have the opportunity to speak to the leaders in each field in the industry, meet potential partners, and learn about new products—all of which lead to more business in the future.
David Kaszycki is marketing coordinator at LG-MRI, an Atlanta-based manufacturer of outdoor digital display hardware. He will be a panel participant at the full-day DSE ONE New York event on October 21 during Digital Signage Week. For more information or to register for DSE ONE, visit www.digitalsignageexpo.net/dse-one.
By David Kaszycki, marketing coordinator at LG-MRI.
All photos: DSE.