Bakers Journal

Going Digital

September 23, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois

michelleeMichelle Brisebois offers advice for introducing a side order of digital media into a traditional advertising gameplan.

michelleeYou’ve probably seen them popping up in grocery stores, Canadian Tire, public transit and even on the wickets at your bank. Digital signage is taking the interactivity of the web and marrying it with traditional posters, creating a dynamic message centre capable of communication strategies that are showing great results for some retailers. You may be thinking that it’s too complicated or expensive for a smaller business but that’s not the case. The hardware is as close as your favourite electronics store and with the right web master or mistress, your messages can literally come to life.

Just what is digital media anyway? Digital messaging can be defined as offering a user experience that engages many of the senses and cannot be realized with other technologies. Digital media involves the distribution of digital entertainment as a whole category, not just digital music, and it’s a growing channel for consumers to get their entertainment fix. Many consumers are now accessing their digital content outside of the home via mobile devices, which makes the marketing possibilities expand for service providers, content providers, and manufacturers, as well as advertisers. To try a digital media solution in your operation, all you really need is a plasma screen and a DVD player. You’ll also need a webmaster to animate the images into a montage of about two minutes and then save the sequence to a DVD or memory stick. This medium isn’t intended to play TV commercials – it’s about taking the same information you would place in a newspaper ad or poster and animating it. 

First, be clear about your intended goal with digital messaging. As with any other marketing strategy, you must make sure that the message clearly addresses the business objective. If you want to intercept consumers to entice them into a store then you need to engage all of the senses. Ask your webmaster to create a digital sequence that uses music in the background with bright, clear images and short messages. It’s important that the visual still work without the music because your in-store team will tire quickly of hearing the same audio loop over and over. Do turn on the audio at peak times but tell your team it will be turned down after about an hour or so. Words like “new”, “best-seller” and “limited time offer” are surefire attention getters. A group of influential advertising executives made a list of the best ads in history and dissected the copy to glean some best practices.


They reported that good copy follows these rules:

Be five words in length.
Don’t mention the brand name (the logo will say it all visually).
Be declarative.
Be grammatically complete.
Be otherwise standard (use the same fonts and formats for all messages).
Contain alliteration, metaphor, or rhyme.

Be clear about what you want the digital signage to accomplish. If you want the digital messaging to increase your conversion rates (shopper becomes buyer) then leverage messages that speak to product bundles of several items at a special price. Use moving pictures to entice the consumer. Tim Hortons does a great job of making those donuts look extra sexy as the warm chocolate dances across the pastry while we’re standing in line. Some retailers (such as banks) use digital signs to decrease perceived wait time in line. reports that Wal-Mart tested digital screens first in 2003. Their post-game analysis showed that sales rose 17.5 per cent, versus the prior 30-day period without screens. Of those surveyed, 88 per cent said signs sparked interest in products; 72 per cent found them entertaining; 13 per cent said the ads increased interest in a product; four per cent attributed a purchase to the ads.

Digital signage can also link to your database and website. It’s possible to collect e-mail addresses with a touch-screen option. Once you collect some permission-based e-mail addresses, you may want to send electronic coupons to subscribers to keep them coming to your location(s). It is possible for you to collect user statistics from those consumers who interact with a digital screen. This is where the rubber really hits the road because it’s now possible to see what information they’re interested in and how they navigate the screen. You will be able to promote upcoming new product launches and relay ingredient listings, nutritional analysis and any allergen issues. Of course, the drawback to any new technology? Crashing. It’s likely the new technology may have its malfunctions so you’ll need to source a service provider who can repair it when needed.

Digital messaging has many advantages over traditional print. You can switch-up content depending on time of day, location, and target audience. It’s environmentally friendly (compared to print) and can truly engage the consumer. Why not try one screen to start? The cost to try a digital solution is relatively low and the potential upside quite attractive.

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in helping companies grow their brands. Michelle can be reached at On Trend Strategies by e-mail at:

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