How to Set Up a Low Cost Digital Signage Solution for Your Small Business

Digital signage campaigns make businesses more profitable. Those bright and bold digital graphics that light up giant plasma screens  are generating up to a 60% increase in at-the-counter sales according to a study by the global consumer research company, Nielsen.

For small business owners it might seem like a frightening statistic – and yet another pressure to contend with in the fight for business survival. But contrary to popular belief, digital signage solutions do not need a big investment. The reality is that ANY small business could set up a DIY digital signage solution for almost zero cost.

The Digital Signage Revolution

It was not so long ago that print advertising and a stick of chalk ruled the marketing roost. Posters, ad displays and chalkboards helped businesses relate their offers to consumers. They still do to a large extent. But, slowly, business owners are finding that it is quicker and more cost effective to reach out to their customers using ads and messaging in electronic form. It's slick; it's professional – and it saves a heap of time.

The majority of businesses that take up the digital signage gauntlet though tend to follow the expected route. Several thousand dollars are shelled out for high-performance LCD or plasma screens, along with more investment on PCs and software to run the digital signage system. Add on top system installation costs and it is easy to see why small businesses might be put off by what others are paying on the assumption that it will cost them a similar amount.

Thankfully, it doesn't have to. As long as you're ready to roll up your sleeves and break out the screwdriver your business could see a big sales boost for just a few minutes of tech DIY.

Setting Up Your Digital Signage System

So how does this work? Quite simply is the answer. All you need is a LCD screen or plasma screen, two PCs, and a hard-wire or wireless network. Some of you might already have this hardware available, in which case you could set up your digital signage system for free!

If you don't have the equipment to hand then check out eBay. I've seen used plasma screens on there selling for around $100 to $150 at buy-it-now prices. Old spec PCs can be acquired for a few tens of dollars, or even for free if you know where to look. These and some wall brackets to hang your screen are really your only costs.

Additionally, you'll need to download some digital signage software. This you can get from a reputable software provider on the Internet for free. The software is essentially divided into two components – a Manager component and a Player component.

Connecting it all together is easy.

One of your PCs needs to be connected to your LCD / Plasma screen. This will be your Player PC. It needs to be a dedicated unit that is responsible for playing your digital signage content onto the screen.

The other PC is your Manager PC. This can be any PC – for example, it could be the one you're using right now to access this article. Onto this PC you'll need to upload the Manager software component. This is used to organize your digital content and to push it across to the Player PC through your hard-wire or wireless network.

Digital Signage Content

Generating digital signage content is not difficult. Just sit down and think about the types of marketing messages you want to push through to your customers. How do you want them to feel when they see your content? What do you want them to do?

Keep it simple but make it smart. You could design something on almost any piece of software and then capture that content as a jpeg slide to use with your digital signage software.

And you shouldn't stop at just one digital content slide either. Digital signage systems give you the opportunity to experiment with different types of messaging, animations and videos. You could even use it as a platform for third-party advertising so that it generates an additional revenue stream.

Think big and play!