The digital asset foodservice operators want from you

HPC-podcast-artFive years ago customizable POS was all the rage in the foodservice industry.  Food manufacturers loved to show off their slick online systems that enabled restaurant operators to print out and/or order table tents, menus, placemats and other disposable promotions.

The concept was frequently a miserable failure for a variety of reasons.  Often the imagery didn’t align well with what an individual operator served.

      Foodservice Digital Signage

Other operators didn’t want to waste valuable tabletop space that emphasized the manufacturer’s brand over their own joint.  And usually the systems were still relatively limited in how much a piece could be customized.

A lot can be learned from those early trials now that an alternative promotional platform has arrived on the scene — in-store digital signage.  Operators from fast casual and sandwich shops to college cafeterias and hospitals are installing digital menu boards and promotional displays because they’re easy to operate, low cost and leverage the adage that “consumers eat with their eyes.”

The great news is digital signage removes many obstacles and offers several opportunities for brands to offer support to loyal operator customers.

Over the last few months, I’ve been involved in no fewer than four digital signage projects.   Here’s what I’ve learned to make the concept valuable:

  • Provide generic imagery. Operators tell me they need basic digital assets, not highly stylized and branded images.  An enticing slow motion shot of your sliced tri-tip product falling onto a clean white plate is perfect.  A highly stylized “plate shot” is not useful because it undoubtedly won’t match their actual menu item.
  • However, still offer a customize-ish approach. Offer examples of messaging ideas an operator can consider.  Provide a close-up of your hot steaming biscuit with a second version of the same scene that flies in a header that says…  Warm, Tasty and Fluffy — Try Our Biscuits Today.  This provides the option to use a built-in call-to-action… or provides an idea that the operator can tweak using their own font within the digital signage system.  From a video production standpoint, creating several versions of the same scene is close to free.
  • Commodity product’s best friend.  Need a differentiator for your commodity product?  An elegant shot of milk pouring into a glass.  Fresh lettuce being dropped into bowl.  A close-up shot of hot steaming fries.  Simply offering some beautiful imagery of your product gives operators a reason to pick your product over the competitor as operators constantly look for ways to refresh their digital signage.

Providing digital signage assets is not a direct brand-building exercise.  It’s a product value-building opportunity.  And that’s a good thing because your brand ultimately will benefit when operators see you’re offering to help build their businesses.

Best of all, offering digital signage assets is simple, inexpensive and highly measurable.  No complicated software is needed like customizable POS systems of the past.  Offering downloadable assets is a no-brainer from most websites these days.