Digital signage is on my brain day and night — yes, even in my sleep. Have you ever had one of those dreams that made such little sense it seemed like a Quentin Tarantino movie playing backwards and in French? One moment you’re on a beach wearing a green cucumber costume, and the next moment you’re throwing half-peeled potatoes off of a skyscraper into an ocean of laundry detergent. I have those all the time. Don’t worry, I’ll seek professional help someday.
Stay with me here. In my weirdest dreams, settings change, people change, and the whole experience changes in the blink of an eye. Let’s just say I’ve dreamed colors you’ve never heard of. In my first post, “Why Digital Signage Sucks,” I mention that digital signage is like playing a game where the board changes, the pieces change, and the rules of the game change every month. See how easy it is to compare NyQuil dreams to the digital signage landscape?
I’m not just writing here to get the Dear Abby Weirdo Award. I want to present real answers to real problems.
So Alex, how do you keep up with it all? Let’s make another magic bullet-point list, because keeping up with the technology is a major necessity to keep project costs low, deliver more value, and contribute to a stellar strategic business plan.
Here’s what I do:
First, let’s all say this together (but don’t yell, because that’s disruptive) — “You’ll never keep up for long.” All anybody can do is take snapshots of the industry and make educated guesses for the future.
Stay close with manufacturers and distributors. In my eyes, this is the most important. These guys have the big-picture view of what’s happening. For some of our vendors, we schedule quarterly meetings to ask a lot of questions. What new products are you testing? What seems to be trending? We had an idea of X, what do you think?
The Social Machine — I read a lot and follow social media platforms. I happen to enjoy Twitter the most (@DSMarketer), because I like to see a scary amount of content at once. I also check out what’s trending from great review sources like Tech Crunch, Mashable, Tom’s Hardware, and of course all the awesome folks here at rAVe Pubs!
Geeks – We hang out at Star Wars conventions and sneak into Magic The Gathering tournaments. Kidding. But we keep close relationships with software developers. For example, we are a network operator for Rise Vision. We keep in touch because they are great people and have neat perspective on where things are going.
Talk with your customers — (DUH. Slap palm on forehead). Ask your customers questions – especially tough ones. Then send them cookies. Surveys are also great tools. But you may not need to put together a whole campaign; if you’re pressed for time, just pick up the phone and make a call. You’d be amazed at what you can gain from a little insight.
Talk with competitors – What!? Yes, I’ve called competitors before and had great conversations about overcoming similar challenges. Think about it — if anyone is going to truly understand a specific problem, it’s someone else who’s in the same sandbox.
To sum up, train yourself to become a better chatty-Kathy. But don’t be annoying. Lots of people like me don’t have time for a million conference calls or lunch meetings. Just keep in mind that no matter how virtual and weird the world becomes, your effectiveness relies on your ability to understand others’ needs.
BE PART OF THE ACTION AND JOIN ME – I’ll be a panelist in a national Google Hangout put on by the Digital Signage Federation. It’s called “How to Make Money Selling Digital Signage.” If you’re an AV company, just throw it on your computer and give us a listen. It’s TODAY at 11 am PT/2 pm ET. It’s FREE, so why the heck not? Sign up here: http://digitalsignagefederation.org/event-1880852
Oh, and if anyone comments on this, I know it’s going to get weird. But take a break from your boring tech stuff. Tell me about a dream you had that relates to digital signage. But please, keep it G-Rated.