When I was a kid, I remember hoping I would see one of those billboard guys rolling a new sign on any given billboard as we whizzed down the highway.

It fascinated me, the way two or three men rolled a brightly colored advertisement into place for all the world to see.

As I drive down the highway today, I still see those billboards, only they don’t require those men with the tools to roll it and glue it.

One by one, digital billboards are replacing static boards.

And that’s not the only place paper advertising is being replaced by digital signage; thousands of brick and mortar stores are ditching their posters and POS banners for the new technology.

HR departments communicate with their employees about training and compliance within minutes instead of mailing out physical copies to each location.

It sounds cool, but does it actually make sense for your business? 

Worth noting: I put together a checklist of 6 questions to gauge your digital signage readiness. You can download the PDF here to see if digital signage makes sense for your business.

1. Am I Ready For Digital Deployment?

For some brands, it makes sense to continue to use paper media like POS posters, banners, and catalogs. But for others, it’s time to jump ship. How do you know if it’s your time?

If your competitors are diving into digital waters, profiting, and expanding their business, it’s safe to say it’s time to roll up that poster and kill the billboards.

With minimum wage (or lack thereof) an issue for thousand of McDonalds employees everywhere, some believe the implementation of self-service kiosks are pushing rallying employees out of work.

And while some restaurant CEO’s believe that to be true, others argue McDonald’s is simply keeping up with competitors.

McDonald’s certainly isn’t the first fast casual restaurant to deploy the kiosks. Taco Bell and Chili’s began utilizing digital technology early on, and found it helped increase sales.

It might be industry suicide of other fast casuals like McDonald’s and Panera to not follow suit.

2. What Are the Benefits of Digital Signage?

At first glance, it might seem like the cost to implement self-service kiosks or other digital signage marketing methods, pales in comparison to current print and design costs.

But the fact of the matter is that thousands of businesses and stores are seeing an increase in sales, creating and deploying more engaging content, and experiencing greater customer interaction.

How?

Great question.

Let’s explore.

a) Increase in Sales
“You must spend money to make money.”

Roman playwright Plautus said that several times during his writing career before he died in 184BCD. Centuries later, his words are infamous on the lips of business coaches and fiduciaries everywhere.

In order to grow, financial risks need to be taken. Without risk, there is no reward.

This philosophy, coupled with the testaments of financial gain by businesses and organizations everywhere, proves that the leap to digital signage technology is only a risk to those that fear genuine growth in the digital age.

Let’s take Taco John’s, for example. In 2014, they made the decision to deploy digital menu boards.

Seven months into the deployment, they saw a 12% increase in sales.

Based on these results, they decided to add menu boards to 100 more locations. They had such a good time (and lots more money in the bank, too), they made the decision to upgrade the rest of their restaurants through 2016.

Big box stores benefit, too.

Wal-Mart jumped on the digital bandwagon early on. One of their first campaigns used two-minute messages on end caps, coupled with related products to attract customers.

It worked.

While the digital campaign ran, sales increased for that product 100%. I don’t know if that’s when the yellow smiley face they brand with was born, but I’m willing to bet management sure was smiling.

So how and why does this happen? What is so special about digital signage that it brings in more customers that want to buy more things? What is the secret ingredient that is helping businesses grow by leaps and bounds?

Simple: powerful, engaging content.

That’s the secret ingredient.

So let’s talk about that.

But wait…one more thing before we go: The investment of digital signage may appear more costly at the onset, but if you were to measure the cost of printing, the cost of distributing those printed materials, the cost of paying employees to display those printed materials, and the cost of reprinting materials that weren’t printed properly in the first place, the expenses of a digital deployment aren’t much different.

But the upside of digital is much, much higher. Making the decision more of a non-decision.

When it’s all said and done, the numbers will talk, and they’ll tell you a really great story.

b) More Engaging Content
You know how raccoons are attracted to shiny objects? So are people.
Well, most people.

If you put something colorful that moves in front of someone, and something dull and drab that doesn’t move in front of someone, they are more inclined to put their attention on the colorful thing that moves.

While pretty posters with smiling faces are nice, moving images that elicit emotion are even better. When you can elicit an emotional response that connects with your customer, you’ve got a sale.

Consider using updated content, too. Content that is relevant.

I stopped into a dry cleaner once that hadn’t quite grasped this concept. While they are certainly a business that can function quite well with traditional paper signage, the posters and signs they had on the walls were extremely outdated.

I’m guessing from the hairstyles that they were put up sometime in 1980.

My desire to use their services dwindled.

It made me realize, digital or paper, that current, relevant content is crucial in gaining the trust of the customer.

Engaging content also means well put together content. If you’re not a designer, don’t try to be. Poorly designed images or low-quality videos will hold the viewers attention for approximately two seconds before they ditch your campaign.

If this happens, you’re in trouble, considering you only have about 9 seconds to engage them before they walk away.

In the end, find someone that can help you create a powerful image campaign that tells a story, elicits emotion, and engages the viewer.

c) Greater Customer Interaction
The one thing I really love about digital signage is the ability consumers have to interact directly with the brand.

When mobile phone users can become a part of the brand’s story, it’s a good day for that brand.

In 2010, the small town boutique retailer Maurice’s launched a campaign with a call-to-action that encouraged customers to text an outfit there were trying on in-store to a specific number.

The pictures were then shared on Maurice’s social channels for all the world to see. As a reward for sharing, the customer received money saving coupons.

The results of the campaign were astounding. Maurice’s saw and increase in sales of between $1 million and $2 million dollars over the first four months of the campaign.

The marriage of digital technology and social media has made the implementation of digital signage roar. If you’re concerned about ROI when investing in digital signage, these are the kinds of stories you need to remember.

Want another one?

A perfect example of powerful digital signage and customer interaction is the 2015 “What’s in a Name?” campaign launched by Coca-Cola.

From a mammoth sign in the middle of Times Square, the industry giant encouraged New Yorkers to tweet their first name using their smartphone. Within seconds, the users would receive a personalized story about their name.

What’s more, that story would show up on the mammoth screen in the middle of Times Square.

Think about the emotion something like that elicits. Not only will those users remember that campaign every time they see a coke, but they’ll tell people about it. They’ll share the tweet on the Internet.

Kind of puts that whole “Have a Coke and a Smile” tagline into perspective, doesn’t it?

Conclusion

Not every business requires a shift in how they market their business. And while traditional signage is still effective in some arenas, businesses and retailers that find their competitors have upgraded need to consider an upgrade, too.

Making the change from paper to digital can be scary, especially if you’re uncertain if the investment will pay for itself. Unless you put together a digital campaign that is unflattering and out of date, your digital marketing campaign should take off with exceptional results.

It’s always recommended that you do your homework and investigate other digital signage campaigns launched by your competitors first. If they are seeing results and an increase in sales, it’s likely you will experience similar results.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t jump into digital waters if your competitors aren’t there yet. Someone has to be at the forefront of making the shift. If you feel it will increase sales, improve your brand, and bring your business to a new level, digital signage is an investment worth dabbling in.

Having said all of this, mixing digital with traditional signage isn’t a sin. As a matter of fact, there will likely be a happy medium between the two to a degree. Again, look at what other businesses like yours are doing and decide what works best for you.

And when you make the move, we have one thing to say: Welcome to the happy and profitable land of digital signage.

How do traditional advertising methods work for you now? How could they increase your bottom line by using digital signage?