Is there really such a thing as free Digital Signage? Perhaps. But like most things, you get what you pay for.
Nothing in life is free.
The term is cynical, but houses an important truth - it’s impossible to get something for nothing. In fact, the origin of the term actually suggests that while the recipient thinks they’re getting the better end of the deal, the provider has actually stacked the deck in a way that helps them profit on the back end.
So what does this have to do with Digital Signage?
If you search for digital signage, you’ll inevitably find someone that promotes the service for free (most likely in the form of a Powerpoint template or software). To the shopper looking to enhance their customer experience, this sounds like a slam dunk. All the benefits of a digital display at the point of purchase with zero cost. Huzzah!
But this is where you need to slow your roll. What does a free option like Powerpoint actually give you? And is it really the best way to send your brand’s message to your customers?
Something For Nothing?
When a company markets free Digital Signage software, what they usually offer is free access to their content management system (CMS) to be able to create and edit content for a screen. After that, the cost and burden are on you.
For example, Provider A markets itself as “free Digital Signage” but hopes you’ll overlook at part of their process that says you need to download their app onto a computer/device and hardwire it to the desired television.
What if that wire gets in the way? What if the screen is on the other side of the store? What if you have multiple screens?
Not only that, but Provider A also admits that their free product is a minimized, scaled back version of their full product, which they want you to pay for. So not only are you needing to find your own computer to play the content, you’re receiving an inferior version of the product once you start using it.
Then there’s Provider B. Not only do they have the same pitfalls as Provider A, but they also allow third-party ads to be displayed on your screen! Ads which are probably relevant to your customers and are likely to detract from their overall experience.
Remember how we said providers often stack the deck so they may money on the back end? This is tactic #1 when it comes to free Digital Signage. Companies get you to install the software and create the content, then piggyback on your hard work and customers to display their ads.
The Time Suck
Another way companies are able to offer free Digital Signage is because you’re the one doing all the work. Their designers don’t work for you. Their account managers don’t work with you. You’re lucky if you can even get support on the phone for technical assistance.
Powerpoint - A Popular Choice for Businesses on a Budget
For the most part, there are two main options most businesses choose when they decide on a free digital signage option: 3rd party software, or Powerpoint.
If you’re dead set on finding a free digital signage solution for your business, you’ll probably end up using some kind of free software, or PowerPoint, or both.
Out of the two, the most popular for small business owners is Powerpoint. With Powerpoint, you just need to download free templates from the internet and upload them to your screen yourself through some kind of software or content management system.
Steps for Finding Free Powerpoint Digital Signage Templates
You can find free Powerpoint digital signage templates on many different websites - just Google it and browse until you find something that you like. Then, simply download them and make the edits you need to make. From there you will need to upload them to a third-party content management system and figure out how to edit the presentation to your specifications.
This is a straight Do It Yourself model however, and can be incredibly labor-intensive and time consuming if you are not completely sure of what you are doing. In other words, the company provides the templates -- you provide the man hours.
This means that you’re responsible for creating, editing, and maintaining all the content. It also means you will need to learn how to use the content management software, as well as deal with any third-party add-ons that come with it being free. Sometimes, this can mean dealing with another company’s ads being peppered into your own signage, at your own business, which is far from ideal.
Maybe that works for you. Maybe you or another employee have the bandwidth to regularly check-in on your Digital Signage and can create content and manage the playlist. However, if your time is worth, say... $50/hour, after just two hours of managing your own content, you've already spent more than many monthly fee models.
Worse yet, more often than not, the best laid plans don’t quite work out and that responsibility gets pushed aside. Maintaining content gets neglected and you end up with stale content which runs for months. New sales or products aren’t featured on the screen and suddenly you're no longer working towards what you originally set out to.
Which leads us to…
What Are Your Digital Signage Objectives?
If you’re considering free Digital Signage, then at some point, you made the decision that Digital Signage could serve as a strategic marketing tool for your business. When you arrived at that conclusion, what were your initial objectives?
For most businesses, it was to promote their products or services, educate and upsell customers, promote their brand message and raise awareness, or engage customers who are already engaged with their business.
What’s not usually present at the initial strategic planning is “get as much as we can for nothing.” It isn’t until you stumble up on first mention of “free” during your research phase that you begin to consider that as an option.
Budget is important consideration, but as outlined above, “free” doesn’t always give you what you need or want. So remember what your initial objectives were when considering Digital Signage, and evaluate offers based on what a company's product can do for your business as well as your overall budget.
Benefits of Premium
Let’s review. When it comes to Free Digital Signage, you receive:
- A scaled back, inferior product
- Limited support, if any
- The burden to do it all yourself
- Possibly intrusive third-party ads
- The possibility of actually losing money in maintenance/setup time
Instead of the cheap route, signing up for a premium Digital Signage software provider means practically getting the exact opposite of the list above.
- A superior product with robust features
- On demand help and support
- A fully managed service
- 100% control over your content
The exact product will vary based on who your provider is, but you can probably bet on a feature rich, content ready, fully customizable solution designed to meet your business goals.
Need new content? Send an email. Having a technical issue? Call a real support agent. Have a question? Customer service is standing by.
The point is, you don’t just want a Digital Signage provider that will cost you the smallest possible out of pocket expense -- you want somebody who is going to help drive sales and educate, engage, and inform the people in your business.
Are you ready to see what a premium Digital Signage software provider looks like? Check out Spectrio's digital signage solutions and if you’d like, we can give you a free demo to show you how our CMS can be tweaked to promote your business. If you’re interested, simply fill out the form to get started.
Interested in what Digital Signage can do for your business? Take the next step by requesting more information today.