We've all likely been down this road with a client before in the sign industry. The client wants the best product with the most features at the lowest price possible. When I got started with custom signage, I was given an old photocopied image which had obviously made the rounds in fax and other forms over the years. On each side of the triangle was a single word. "Good, Fast, Cheap." At the bottom it simply stated, you can only pick two. Let's take a deeper look at the triangle of Quality.
When you're looking for quality, speed isn't usually an option. If I want something which'll get me what I need (not necessarily what I want) and my time is limited, I'll turn to fast food. Is fast food good for me? No, not in the least. It is quick and cheap though and it meets my immediate needs. I'd be better off planning my day a little better and going with an option which takes a little more time but has a better overall payout/experience. Digital Signage (DS) is the same. Sometimes we need a quick fix, but we have to look at the overall cost. It may be better to place a rush on a quality system and pay for it than buy something which is ready now, but is a lower-end solution. Sometimes, businesses can get caught up in the expedient "need" and the result is not what they really wanted, it's what they got.
Almost everyone wants the best product at the best prices. I have a friend who scopes out "Black Friday" and "Tech Monday" sales for November MONTHS in advance to save a few hundred dollars on the new TV/Stereo/Computer/whatever. With time on your side, you'll often find it's possible to get a quality system at a fair price. Sometimes it's not always about the timing though. DS is expensive (the lowest end LCD indoor solutions are still several hundred dollars and the higher-end interior solutions and/or exterior LED Signs can be hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in scope). We're not going to kid anyone by saying the overall cost for the investment is low. As the "go to" people in the industry, we can give clients a "good/better/best" approach to options for their solution. We can (and should) present options which will meet their immediate need and be "good" for the long haul and an option which meets their need now AND will be a solid solution years down the road. Technology improves all the time and the only thing we can do is work to stay ahead of the curve and get the best system not just for now, but for the five, eight, or ten years down the road when the system will still be up/running. Nobody likes to hear their system looks old/dated after only a few years after it's been installed.
Here's the tricky one. I get this question quite often, "How much do 'those' things cost?" In response I'll pull out a quarter or ask if the person has a new quarter on them. The face of the new quarter, that's the value (where it says, "Quarter Dollar" at the bottom). The back, that's the value (the state, the slogan, whatever). Digital Signage is a lot like the quarter. At first you only see the price, that dollar tag which can be as low as a few hundred dollars and as high as several million. The thing to think of is what's the value? The LED sign which costs a business $10,000 is an investment which will net an instant return by growing their business and brand and will often have a return over the lifespan of the sign which far exceeds the initial investment cost of the display or DS solution itself. A "regular Jane/Joe" would see the cost as excessive (it's better for me to buy a 50" flat screen than a DS solution). A business/community gets a lot back for their initial investment with DS. The question asked isn't really, "how much will this cost?" I've learned the real question is often, "What is there to gain by having this solution?" Answer the second question and the response to the first question is much more appealing.
LED Sign manufacture and DS solutions have come a long way over the years, but a good system still takes some time to produce. When you're on the buying-end of the solution, make sure to keep the "best two" in mind when reviewing manufacturers and sources for DS systems. If the company is promising a "trifecta" of "Good/Quick/Cheap" ask yourself if the "cheap" part isn't just money but the system itself. Is this something which will carry you and your company for 5-10 years or will you be carrying that system once it's up/running?
*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.