Ask the Board – May 9, 2016 | FRANK McGUINNESS


What technology will be a game-changer for your business in 2016 and beyond?

At first blush, the true answer to this two-part question is: “It depends” and “However you can.” This is one of those questions that I abhor to oversimplify, but I will say there are a few guidelines that hold over time.

First, immediacy of action. Digital signage holds a staggering array of different formats, sizes and capabilities, each trying to fit itself into the life of our customers and be memorable. But as we “ask” something of our customer, and we prepare to try to measure the results of that ask, the request that can be immediately fulfilled is the one that probably will. Drawing upon some quick service digital menu board examples from food courts you have: “Have you tried our Chocolate Mousse?”, “Don’t forget to grab a sweet strawberry shake!”, “Those ribs go best with this cool craft beer.” The best chances for these signage-delivered calls to action will come from their fulfillment being made as easy as possible. Is that bakery or cooler section readily found? Do they have to take the time to search for it amongst many other choices? Is there another line they now need to get into?

Look to remove the friction from any part of the fulfillment process. Every promotion, combo offer or strategic marketing effort should start with putting yourself in the shoes of the customer and finding out how easy it is for them to take action. And is that action what you are calling success, or is there the potential they will abandon some of this if it takes them another 15 minutes to gather the family and pay for everything? Understand the bottlenecks, understand the impact to your operations and take action before you ask them to take action!

Second, photos always trump words. Everyone has their own number about how many seconds a customer will take to absorb your message. Dwell time certainly plays a strong role in this, as seeing a campaign 20 times might help sink the message in, but let us assume your dwell time is virtually nothing. As long as the image of a delicious BBQ pork sandwich comes up, drawing heavily on more quick service imagery here, words are barely needed. Sure, let me know what the item is so I know what to say when asked at the counter, but less is more on tag lines and descriptions. You had me at BBQ and pork, and the rest might require an eye exam to be legible anyways. Same for any strategic fly-ins, the photo and perhaps the slight movement will win the battle, where the tasteful description will serve those who were going to read the entire menu before making a choice. So whatever your digital signage promotion focuses on, food, clothes, or other merchandise, the photo will inspire the most action. The words ensure you know where to find it and perhaps add clarity to the promotion details (2 for 1, not included in base price, etc.)

Lastly, in speaking about measurement, the golden rule is to seek out and remove the noise. I’m oversimplifying, which I said I wouldn’t do, but honestly, that is where most of the puzzle exists, the part where you feel good about claiming that heady percentage lift in profitability of your product mix. It’s not a pure 20 percent lift if the product changed since the last promotion, or attendance shifted dramatically or a myriad of other factors. Calling it a day with a simple year over year looks great on the marketing material for the next turnkey solution, but means nothing towards understanding what just happened, and do you want more of it. Work hard to figure out everything that could have shifted sales that day, week or month. If you can collect the data, you can start measuring the data, and you can start optimizing your strategies accordingly. This is definitely not a one-time event, but the start of the real fun for you and your business.

 Good luck, and have a fantastic month!

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Integration Consultant
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

End User Council

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