“Digital Signage and the Authentic Message”
There is a word being bandied about these days on the Internet and in marketing circles. That word is “authentic.” I believe it stems from the rediscovery and re-voguing of “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” a document put together a little more than a decade ago that attempts and succeeds to redefine “the marketplace” in terms of the Internet community, corporate intranets, and the ongoing “conversation” between 1) customers and customers, and 2) customers and companies. One of its main tenets is:
“6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.”
Effectively declaring the era of mass media dead or on life support, the Cluetrain Manifesto provides useful starting points for how companies can effectively communicate with their customers. And this is where digital signage comes into play. Digital signage is the most visible form of mass communication available outside your customer’s living room. But how do you communicate “authentically” when your medium is a megaphone? Does the nature of digital signage rule out authenticity?
Communicating in an authentic, human voice to your customers or potential customers is simple when you have already done the hard work of aligning your message with why you do business. If your company, employees, product/service and message are aligned, then the conversation between you and your customers can be genuine, unpolished and productive. If you’re listening to your customers, you’ll learn a lot about your business and how to make it better.
But again, how can you have a conversation via digital signage? Admittedly, there is no back and forth between your sign and a driver in a passing car or someone walking down the street (although there definitely is a response to your message in the driver’s or pedestrian’s mind). So how could you converse via digital signage?
1) Make your digital sign’s messages an extension of the online conversation about your products.
2) Ensure your marketing people are deeply involved in the conversation with customers, which will often require ongoing conversations between Marketing and Customer Support.
3) Write your message in real terms, avoiding features and benefits, while aiming directly for the essence of your company, your customers’ expectations, questions and concerns, and your real responses to those expectations, questions and concerns.
This takes us far afield from the usual marketing mumbo jumbo. As a business owner or marketing professional, you may have difficulty finding a copywriter who can write in an authentically human “voice.” But it’s crucial to realize that nothing else is acceptable, because so many of today’s marketing messages miss their mark precisely because they sound like marketing and are immediately and automatically tuned out as a result of their ubiquity and sterility. Continue along the path of mass media-method communication at your own peril.
Lighthouse digital signage is the only “sidewalk” medium capable of carrying on a dynamic conversation. All other signs are static. Businesses employing digital signage to conduct authentic dialogue with their customers, as extensions of the online or customer support conversation, wield a tremendous advantage over their static-sign competitors.
Todd Whitaker is an author, speaker, analyst and marketing expert for the LED video screen and digital signage industry, who regularly contributes articles aimed at the sports and retail markets. His latest information articles are available at: http://www.lighthousejumbovision.com.