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How to Plan | Planning and Implementing | Building | Case Studies

Here's what else should go into planning and implementing your pilot system:

Determine your goals, how much you intend to spend, and expected ROI.

At the start, this feasibility study should take into consideration:

Your advertising or messaging objectives.
Pay particular attention to what's most critical at the start.

What will it take to achieve the desired results?
How much time and staff will have to be dedicated to getting the digital signage system up and running and maintaining it? This includes IT personnel, construction and installation staff, electricians, architectural and interior designers, graphic designers, marketing staff, and people to liaison with ad firms and media buyers, and to coordinate ad campaigns.

How much to spend?
In this initial stage, you'll want to establish a pro-forma budget in which you try to forecast early and ongoing expenses as well as your anticipated revenues (if it's meant for generating business). In addition to hardware, software, fault-tolerant servers, backup servers, UPSs, and cabling infrastructure expenses, don't forget about software licenses, stock image or footage usage fees, legal fees, and the costs associated with providing viewer audit and advertising-related reports. When evaluating your total cost of ownership (TCO), give yourself enough leeway on your line-item expenses to account for any unanticipated cost overrides, spikes in utility rates, staffing shortages, and code compliance issues. Also keep in mind: In the first year of operation, you can expect a hardware failure rate of about 3%, so you'll benefit from having backup equipment and a 24/7 staff (or a reputable service provider like Black Box).

If it's a commercial application, will it at least pay for itself?
To determine if the project justifies the expense and effort, try to establish whether the signage will lead to:
— more sales and cross-sells.
— more inquiries from prospective customers.
— more activity on the part of some that'll enable you to sell more to others (for example, will it allow you to connect with qualified buyers by getting the nonbuyers out of the way?).
— better brand building for the long term.
— increased interest from outside advertisers or third-party media buyers.
— higher ad space sales that generate larger commissions.
— better ad content, the type that'll complement or enhance what you sell.

Or in non-commercial applications, will it lead to a desired behavior among a targeted audience, which may or may not translate into a net savings for you?
Will it:
— make it faster to communicate critical information, particularly emergency alerts, to ensure the audience's well-being?
— compel viewers to behave a certain way (meet workplace goals and increase production, eat better and exercise, follow security and safety procedures, etc.?)
— help people to get where they want to go (through wayfinding kiosks, interactive visitor centers, flight or transit information panels, etc.?)
— make the audience more content by reducing perceived wait times, getting them the info they need fast, and responding to their unique needs, all of which results in higher opinion of you that helps you build loyalty?

In calculating ROI, also consider how digital signage may help you:
— reduce cost per communications, that is, deliver information more efficiently at less expense than existing channels, with no longer a need to print posters, flyers, and other promotional collateral every time.
— make better use of staff, including your creative and technical personnel, enabling them to concentrate on other tasks.
— reduce waste by no longer having to remove out-of-date materials and dispose of them.
— eliminate costly mistakes—with a better-informed workforce and public kept in touch with up-to-date info, there's a lot less chance for mixups, having to compensate and make amends, and deal with product returns.

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