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Hosted Digital Signage - A Profit Model for Today

By Mike Strand, StrandVision Digital Signage

Digital signage is evolving with the times. Just as the computer industry is transitioning from a client/server model to Software as a Service (SaaS), digital signage is moving to Internet hosted systems. Clearly, this has implications for resellers; however, many of you have moved through  transitions with other technologies, so you know how to build a profitable new service-oriented business model.

My company, StrandVision Digital Signage was created several years ago as a hosted digital signage company. The term SaaS was new to the vocabulary of the industry, but that was the approach that we were taking. Our service is in the cloud – making reseller and customer setup and operations easy and inexpensive.

As with most other SaaS offerings, we use subscription digital signage pricing, which substantially reduces up-front costs and generally makes digital signage a budgeted expense item for customers. The SaaS approach also substantially reduces costs by eliminating expensive onsite servers and other equipment. Customers pay only for the “customer-facing” hardware, such as personal digital signage player computers, digital media players and electronic signage digital displays. In this day and age the network infrastructure is often in place so digital signage networking costs are minimal.

Having said that, there are opportunities for resellers to sell digital signage display and computing equipment and services in support of the digital signage installation. What digital signage SaaS eliminates is the day-to-day, non-technical support, such as page updates, graphic designs and other marketing-oriented support services that resellers are generally not equipped to provide. It also makes initial installation fast and easy with well-documented processes to follow.

Our digital signage approach uses the Web to make a number of tools and pre-designed templates selectable from a menu of designs, including emergency announcements, counting slides, text and graphics layouts, etc. Once installed, customers can go directly to the site to update their slides – weekly, daily, even hourly – at no charge. The page is immediately updated and sent to their screens. The reseller decides whether or not to be involved in that process. We can even deliver customer-specified RSS feeds providing current local news as well as weather, including animated Doppler radar.

Digital Signage Provides Opportunities

So, what is the benefit for resellers? First, if you're not already selling digital signage, it's a great way to cross-sell your existing clients. Virtually every business and organization from health clubs and YMCAs to retail businesses, to doctors, dentists, clinics, hospitals and nursing homes, school and colleges and industrial distributors – any business that has customers or employees that they want to communicate with is a prospect.

Second, it can be easy money. As I mentioned, the upfront costs under a SaaS subscription model are relatively low so digital signage subscriptions are often treated as recurring budget expenses – not capital investments – while  they usually need the equipment, installation and initial setup which is very profitable for resellers and installers.

A major advantage for resellers is that it can bring in money fast. Resellers generally get a percentage of the subscription sale – in our case affiliates and partners can earn up to 30% on renewals and 50% of the first-year subscription sale if they both refer a customer and support the sale. This can add up quickly. Of course, you can charge your normal rates for installation, service and support. Many subscription services will even remind you and the customer of the renewal, making it easy to keep the renewal profits coming in.

There are also resources available to support the sale. Some digital signage companies (like us) even provide a free digital signage subscription to use in your own facility. Using your registered reseller login you can create customized demos for tradeshows or customer presentations. By simply visiting the customer's Web site and doing a bit of research you can put together a sample presentation in a matter of minutes. You can email the sample or use it in an online or in-person presentation.

For prospects that are on the fence, you can turn the sample over to them so they can run their own free digital signage demo in their offices. Then, when they decide to purchase, you can drive the sale, activate their demo account and receive the compensation.

SaaS hosted digital signage systems are custom designed for today’s world where customers demand simplicity, performance and low costs. You have the opportunity to profit from the movement. Check it out!

Mike Strand is founder and CEO of StrandVision LLC, an Internet-based subscription digital signage service that is distributed through resellers. Previously, Mike founded StrandWare, a leading bar code software and AIDC company. Prospective resellers may contact Mike at mjstrand@StrandVision.com.