Free Digital Signage Pilot? Think Again.

Posted by on Jul 1, 2011 in DOOH, Industry

You have been to the restaurants where the sign (perhaps it’s now digital) reads, “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” Regardless of what industry you’re in or what product you push, there are still some common courtesies that need full adherence. As vendors scramble to and compete with one another for business–especially in this current stage of growth–courtesy becomes a byword. However, when it is time for real talk with real projects, be “real.” Otherwise, both vendors and clients become mutually frustrated and disenfranchised with one another–something that can put a bad rap on the entire industry.

In their book, “Lighting up the Aisle” Adrian Weidmann and Laura Davis-Taylor echo some of my own sentiments regarding client vendor relations. The following is a list of “never dos” as a client on an in-store digital signage project.

  • Never ask for free thinking or free pilot projects.
  • Do not give unclear direction.
  • Don’t “fail to support your vendors if someone on your team is gunning for them unfairly.”
  • Do not be a “know-it-all.” Customers and numbers are, in the end, the only source of proof or disproof.

Weidmann and Davis Taylor also put forth don’t dos as a vendor.

  • Do not give away free thinking or free pilot projects.
  • “Answer strategic questions with none of the necessary information needed to formulate an educated response. And clients, if they answer anyway, you’ve got yourself a novice…seasoned vets respect the time and due diligence it takes to formulate strategic answers and will call you out on this.”
  • Never claim skills you do not have.
  • Do not think you know it all.

I personally have no problem giving out “free information.” That was the game-changing factor that has made the Internet so great. Information and thinking on any subject are available with the click of a mouse. However, I do agree with the book’s thoughts on free digital signage pilots: they should not be allowed. Free hardware and software for five months. My hardware and software is like a expensive European car: as soon as it’s driven from the lot, it substantially and immediately depreciates by an exhorbitant amount (in most cases). The same can be said of a digital signage project. As soon as I send you some digital signage equipment, install it in your venue while you do some testing and measurement–I have lost money. You want some advice for a very poor business practice: start giving away free pilots. Unless you have venture funds to burn, I would suggest a more practical approach.

After spending months in development, $$$ in development, and time and assets procuring a hardware solution, do you think a digital signage company want to give out anything for free? If they do, then their management team needs replaced with someone with more common sense and better business sense.

So, whether your are a digital signage vendor looking for your next client, or a client seeking the best fit for your next gig, be courteous, and follow some tactful common sense rules. Seriously, do you think digital signage is a charity function?

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