All posts by Gregg

Introduction to SmarterSign Express

7 February 2017 Gregg Leave a comment SmarterSign Express

SmarterSign is pleased to release an all new version of SmarterSign Express.

• New features and widgets
• All new templates
• Same great pricing

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Design Tips for Digital Menu Boards

4 January 2017 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

Now that you’ve made the commitment to digital menu boards, you should follow best practices for good design.  No designer on staff?  No problem.  SmarterSign provides clients with hundreds of professionally designed templates to make the design process easier.

In addition to our templates, here are some suggestions when designing your menu boards.

Create your Digital Menu Board Strategy

To maximize the success of your digital signage, take the time to answer some important questions – it will help you stay focused on your strategy as you develop your design. Who is your audience – does it skew young or older, family or single? How does the design need to adapt to accommodate that audience? Where will the menu boards be placed – above the cashier, drive-thru, or in your window to attract customers? Will the screens be portrait or landscape? What are the key metrics that will impact your success – an increase in sales of promotional items, increase in check size?   Answering these questions and testing your design will greatly increase your success.

Create a Visual Hierarchy

Smartersign has developed the Prominence Pyramid to help businesses define a visual hierarchy to their content.  It’s a simple exercise to divide the content and design requirements based on the impact of your bottom line.  It will help you when designing your digital menu boards and keep you focused on your profitable items. You can read more about our Prominence Pyramid and download our whitepaper on Creating Value with Digital Menu Boards.

DIgital Menu Board Design Guide

Stay true to your brand

Your digital menu boards should be a reflection of your brand. Think about the colors, font, and imagery you use across your physical location and have that represented on your digital menus. Remember some basics of good design – don’t overcrowd your design and give your content some space. It will make your menu boards easier to read.

Design for Digital

Keep customers engaged in your menu boards by adding movement. Bring imagery to life by adding animation, rotating graphics, and feeds like news, weather, and local events. Instead of your customers staring at their phones while waiting in line, have them engaged in your content.  Feeds are a great way to display content and keep customers engaged in your menu boards.  You can tie your menu items to those feeds. For example, promote ice cream on days that are particularly hot…promote coffee/tea on cold days.  See the impact on your sales.

digital-menu-board-readability

 

Stand Back and Step into the Shoes of Your Customer

Now that you’ve taken a first pass at your design, stand back and look at your menu boards.  What stands out?  Are the items easy to read?  Now’s the time to circle back to your digital menu board strategy and make sure you’ve designed for the right audience and have prioritized items based on your key metrics.  You’ve got a great opportunity to continue to refine your design without any additional cost.  Make sure you’ve taken the time to review details – font, size, imagery, spelling – before you publish.  Spend time reviewing, but don’t get into “analysis paralysis” where you spend weeks refining a design.  You’re digital!  You’re design should be a work in progress.  Test new ideas, add new promotions, rearrange the order – and see what positively impacts your profit.

 

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Make Your Digital Menu Boards Great Again

4 January 2017 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

If your restaurant has been using digital menu boards for awhile, great!  Most likely, you’ve already seen a return on your investment.  One of the benefits of digital menu boards is the ability to test ideas quickly and see the impact on your profit and sales.

Experts from Technomic & editors from RestaurantBusinessOnline recently outlined 7 restaurant industry trends for 2017. In a digital age, restaurant operators have more information on their customers – spending trends, pricing, etc. “As a result, restaurants will turn to dynamic pricing to provide of-the-moment deals on overstocked items, charge higher prices at peak times and even adjust prices by location.”

We often tell our clients that small changes can often make a big impact on your bottom line. Here are a few things you can try without a designer, strategy team, or tech team.

Remove the currency symbol to increase your check size

Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research studied the impact of the currency symbol used on menus.  They discovered that diners spent 8% more when the dollar sign ($) was removed from the menu.  With digital menu boards, this change can be made in minutes.  In most cases, a small change like this would not require any menu board redesign.  Remember to track when you made the change and for how long you’ll monitor it before analyzing the results.

Improve Your Content

Using descriptive menu labels can increase sales by 25%, so test different adjectives and menu item descriptions.

  • Identify trends and incorporate them into your labels & descriptions.  For example, things like cage free eggs, Non-GMO may make a big impact on your customer.
  • Since customers are scanning not reading your menu, you’ll want to use adjectives that make them stop, read, and have a mouth-watering impact.  The goal is for your guest to stop and focus on your words – then buy.
  • If you use brand name ingredients, (e.g. – Godiva chocolate cake), make sure the content reflects it.  It increases the perception of quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Invest in high quality imagery that reflects your product.  Also, make sure that your imagery reflects your product.

 

Highlight High-Margin Items Through Placement, Color, and Design

Stand back and look at your digital menu boards from the customer’s perspective.  What stands out?  Does your design succeed in focusing the user on the items YOU want to sell?  Simple changes like re-ordering items, adding a border around an item you want to highlight, or even changing the font color can hold the customer’s attention and persuade him to purchase.  If you’re using imagery, does the imagery reflect your product? Studies show that including imagery next to menu items increased sales by 30%.

 

 

Sources:

7 Ways Restaurants Will Change in 2017

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5 Benefits of Digital Menu Boards

4 January 2017 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

Digital menu boards offer an easy and cost effective method for restaurants to maximize communication and efficiency. Digital signage offers you the ability to create, manage, and control your content in the most effective way.  The key is to follow a plan to create real, measurable value through your strategy.

Thinking about making the move to digital?  Here are 5 benefits to digital menu boards.

1. Easily Update Content on Digital Menu Boards

Quickly change the order, pricing, and specials based on availability and variable cost.  Do you own or manage multiple locations? Update your menus across all locations in seconds…it’s easy, efficient, and smarter.  Restaurant owners have seen a 5-8% increase in revenue from digital menu boards.

2. Highlight Promotions and Upsell

Increase sales of high-margin items by testing specials, promotions, LTOs (limited time offers) with no overhead cost.  You can test different imagery, order, and pricing to see what impacts your profit.

 

digital menu boards: Brueggers Bagels

Smartersign helped Bruegger’s Bagels with a custom digital menu board design. The design showcased their Trio promotions with beautiful imagery and animation.

 

 

3. Day-parting makes the most use of your space

Easily customize your menu boards for the breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowds. Showcase promotional content or specials based on time of day. You’ll maximize revenue and provide clear communication of the items available at any given time.

4. Reduce Perceived Wait Times

Engage your customers and promote menu boards with engaging content. Digital signage reduces the perceived wait time by as much as 35 percent. Keep them engaged with video, moving imagery, and feeds like weather, news, etc.

5. Long Term Cost Savings

Digital menu boards reduce costs and are more environmentally friendly. Print signs require the burden of re-printing, shipping, posting, and disposal each time a change is required.  While there may be a higher up-front cost to digital menu boards, there is a long term cost savings to this investment.  88.5% of business recoup their digital menu board investment in less than 2 years.

 

Sources:

http://blog.lavi.com/2014/01/08/digital-signage-infographic/

http://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/blogs/top-12-benefits-of-digital-menu-boards-infographic/

http://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/articles/ordering-up-digital-signage-benefits-at-the-drive-thru/

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Digital Signage Software and How Small Businesses Can Benefit

28 February 2015 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

Very often, I get the question “Who uses your digital signage software?” The short answer? Just about any business who wants to get a message out to their customers. Our customers range from Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop shops which keeps things interesting. Since 2006 we’ve had the pleasure of working with some great brands and been involved in some amazing digital sign initiatives. That being said, bigger isn’t always better.

The thing I like the most about working with small businesses is how agile they can be. The time from decision to execution is usually much shorter which means that they can really take advantage with the speed that digital signage can get your message out.

Some of the most enjoyable projects to be involved with are just a screen or two and use the tools in a creative way. I love it when restaurant owners experiment with item positioning in their menus during the week and compare the sales numbers. The same can be said for the coffee shop to feature hot or cold beverages on their digital menu boards based on the temperature outside.

Many small businesses don’t need the power that our core platform ( SmarterSign Standard) provides. In many cases, their needs are pretty straight forward and just want to have content appear on a screen. In many cases, they don’t have a designer on staff to supply them with high quality content. To meet these needs, we partnered with a leader in graphics software to create Corel Digital Signage

Corel Digital Signage is designed specifically for this market. Built upon the same technology, we streamlined it to meet the needs of small businesses. It’s the same award winning platform, without the enterprise tools that they will probably never use. In reality, a business with a single location doesn’t have use for location based pricing, advanced user groups or any of the more powerful features.

To meet the the content needs of a small business, Corel Digital Signage has an amazingly beautiful library of digital signage templates. Trust me, these aren’t the junk free templates that you’ll find elsewhere. Our team of designers have years of content creation experience. Each template can be easily customized within the web based content management system without any additional programs (like Photoshop, Quark etc.)

The best part? Free for 15 days. Try it.. you’ll like it.

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Digital Signage, A Revolution in Communication?

28 February 2015 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

Once again we are seeing a revolution in how consumers are interacting with information. This revolution is taking place out in the open with the growing use of  <a href=”http://54.209.20.78″>Digital Signs</a>.

During the past 30 years we have seen several revolutions in the way consumers interact with information. The personal computer changed the way we manage, store and control information in our homes. The Internet changed the way we find and share information in our homes, and now on the go with our mobile devices. The new revolution is Digital Signage. Look around the places you eat, shop, sleep and play and you will see it all around you.

So how significant is it as a communication medium? For businesses with brick and mortar locations it is monumental. Never before has a medium enabled businesses to modify their Point of Purchase (POP) communications in real time. This allows businesses to evaluate the moment-to-moment changes in business environment and maximize their communication based on the opportunities that present themselves.

Let’s look at the example of the seafood department in a supermarket. With seafood, the products on the shelf need to move quickly or they run the risk of spoilage. If the products spoil, the inventory hits the cost side of the balance sheet, but never hits the revenue side. If the seafood department can minimize this spoilage, they are helping to maximize profits. If for example, the seafood department knows that they may be at risk of spoilage for Salmon, they can quickly put up a beautiful picture of salmon on their Digital Sign. In addition, maybe they can put a recipe for an appetizing salmon dish and where in the market to find the additional ingredients. With this example, the seafood department is not only minimizing loss through spoilage. They are also up-selling to additional products in the market and increasing revenue.

With the new tools that are now available for managing Digital Signs, businesses can make these changes in seconds and take advantage of these opportunities with little effort. As the technology and businesses get more sophisticated, these kinds of communication changes can be done automatically through business rules. They will become the perfect medium for helping businesses and consumers in ways that we can’t even yet imagine.

In future articles I will explore additional areas where Digital Signage is changing the way we communicate in a revolutionary manner.

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Dollar signs on your menus could be costing you money

28 February 2015 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

When designing a restaurant menu for a QSR, Fast Casual or any other type of restaurant, there are many things to consider. One of the things that restaurants may never think of as important, is how to display their prices. A study done at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, shows why this can be a costly mistake. The study shows how the difference of whether to use a $ symbol in your prices can dramatically impact consumer behavior. So what exactly did the study show and how could this impact your business?
The study tested the consumer spending behavior in terms of total check price and spending per cover. The three formats tested were with a $ symbol ($10.00), numeric only (10.00) and written out (ten dollars). The average spend per person was noticeably different between the groups with the numeric only format edging out the other formats by a little over 8%. When you think about an 8% difference in total spending behavior, it might make you think twice about how you format your menu.

Change and Profit

For those of you reading this article who have traditional menu boards and use the $ symbol, you should call your printer right away and get your menus reprinted. You do have another alternative, and that is to make the switch to digital menu boards and have the ability to make these kinds of changes in minutes. Using SmarterSign Digital Signage Software, you would be able to make this change to your menus in less than the time it takes to read this article.
So if a simple change such as whether or not to use a $ symbol can be substantive to your revenue, what else can be? There are many things that can impact consumer behavior and these give you the ability to find those triggers quickly and easily. When we talk with our clients about the use of digital menu boards, we often describe this technology as a tool that enables iteration. By this we mean that you can experiment with various aspects of your menu to truly maximize your revenue and guide your customers behavior.

Do This!

Good Digital Menu Board Practice

Not This!

Bad Digital Menu Board Practice

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Business lessons from my one year old son

28 February 2015 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago my eleven and a half month old son completely opened my eyes up to the future. He was sitting on my wife’s lap and with a smooth and easy gesture, swiped his thumb across my wife’s iPhone to unlock it. We couldn’t believe our eyes so we locked the phone again… and again he swiped his thumb and unlocked it. So a child who can’t yet say more than a few words, is already interacting with technology in a sophisticated manner. It seemed like such an innocent moment, but what it reminded me was significant. Time changes quickly and future generations are going to be very different than current generations on many different levels.
As a business leader in this market, I need to keep this concept in mind as we help businesses maximize the value they get from their digital signage initiatives. The key concepts at the heart of the SmarterSign philosophy are Flexible, Intuitive and Transparent. These core values will help to ensure our system users can meet the needs of the coming generations. Here’s how…

Flexible

As consumers become more savvy and more ingrained in the use of technology, their expectations become more significant. Flexibility in terms of the tools and methods for creating and controlling digital signage is critical to keeping up with this demand. SmarterSign Manager is a cloud based management platform built on an extremely flexible architecture. This enables SmarterSign to move quickly toward the needs of the market and the opportunities of our clients. The approach also allows us to deploy new features in much shorter cycles. In some cases, we can build, test and deploy new features in a matter of days. This type of flexibility and speed is what the market demands, to meet the expectations of consumers.

Intuitive

Just as my son swiping his thumb across the iPhone, technology needs to be intuitive and easy to use. SmarterSign prides itself on having the easiest to use platform on the market. Typical users can learn the system in 15 minutes with just a basic understanding of computer applications. We achieve this through readily recognizable user interface metaphors, and a highly interactive and visual management environment. Many people have commented that SmarterSign Manager is very “Apple” like. This of course is a great compliment, and something that we strive to improve all the time.

Transparent

This last principal is a very important one. As technology becomes more and more sophisticated, it also needs to become more and more transparent. Technology shouldn’t feel complicated and obtrusive. Interaction with technology should feel like just a normal easy part of your day. From a consumer point of view, digital signage should feel comfortable and consistent with the surroundings. To achieve this, the design of content should be on the same level as print and broadcast media. At SmarterSign we have gone to great lengths to provide easy to use but powerful design tools to enable businesses to achieve this.

So at not even one year old, and already using an iPhone… what will two and three and four years look like? I will just have to let you know.

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Take Control Now!

28 February 2015 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

For most of you it took a lot of hard work and elbow grease to get your business off the ground. Often spending late nights burning the candle at both ends, making critical decisions on budgets and staff, and pouring everything you have into making it a success. Your business is your baby and your dream. Why then when it comes to connecting with your customers through digital signage and digital menu boards would you ever want to remove yourself from that process? Why would you ever want to have to try to convey your ideas, your thoughts and the overall feel you are looking to create through a third party running your system?

Depending on who you speak with there are different reasons a third party may be required or suggested. Certain companies have developed some great digital solutions, but in order to get the full desired effect and functionality from their product a third party is required. Those third parties are the only ones trained and familiar with the advanced techniques and programs required to operate their system. If you expand your digital system with these companies an upgrade to a more robust system may be required. This upgrade will not only include the new displays you are planning on adding, but will also include the current displays already up and running. A new third party who is familiar with the new system and programs will also be required to effectively operate the new platform. All of this increasing your total cost of ownership.

Other companies have decided on business models which rely heavily on the addition of services. This type of model may offer an extremely low set up fee but charges for updates, edits and additions to your digital signage and menu boards.

SmarterSign has taken that worry off the table and placed the power and control in the hands of the business owner. For this reason SmarterSign has helped a large number of companies convert from their current complicated and expensive platforms to an easier less expensive solution. Decision makers see that SmarterSign’s digital solutions bring the individual business owner face to face with their customers, placing the operating power directly in their lap. Business owners personally create a message they know their customers will relate to. The simplicity of the system allows them to test price points, LTOs, and product placement quickly and easily without having to consult and coordinate with an administrator. Location managers can be granted specific permissions or denied permissions when it comes to changing price points or LTOs depending on market conditions. The power truly lies with the business owner on how they want to deploy and maintain their systems.

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Serving up high-value Digital Menu Boards… One location at a time

28 February 2015 Gregg Leave a comment Uncategorized

In a recent article on digitalsignagetoday.com about the value of digital menu boards, the number one benefit of this type of solution was centralized control of content. It is this very category that SmarterSign leads the market and gives business operators exactly what they need. The whole mission of SmarterSign has always been to provide the easiest to use tools for any size business. With more than 65% of SmarterSign’s clients using the system for Digital Menu Boards, this mission is clearly being achieved in the food service industry. Typical changes can be made in a matter seconds, whether you have one restaurant or thousands.

Ease of Use

The primary day-to-day users of the SmarterSign system are actual business operators. The main reason for this is how easy SmarterSign is to use. Whether you are a Mom and Pop or a multi-national franchise, you still need to control your message. With SmarterSign’s cloud based tool SmarterSign Manager, logging in and taking control can be done from anywhere. The What You See Is What You Get (“WYSIWYG”) tools give business operators a clear and easy way to make updates with confidence.

digital-menu-boards-benefits
Compliments of Digital Signage Today

The Whole Enchilada

As far as value creation goes, SmarterSign doesn’t just stop with the number one value. In fact, we are helping customers with each of the top 12. We consistently receive phone calls from clients with great stories of how our menu boards have transformed their business. All of the top 12 value creation concepts can easily be achieved using SmarterSign, and our clients all over the world are the proof.

See For Yourself

We always recommend that business operators get a chance to see the tools they will use on a day-to-day basis. We can provide you with a Web-based demo that will clearly show you the SmarterSign difference.

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