Why do we make digital menu boards so difficult?

A few days ago I was reading several blogs and articles on digital menu boards. Many of them were about how to layout the content, what colors to use, what fonts to use and several on the content strategy and what you should do and consider before you purchase them. While reading them I asked myself “why are we going through all this again?”. Why do so many of us make digital menu boards so difficult?

As I have stated before digital menu boards are still menu boards. My team and I spent several months training marketing teams in a major soft drink company on how to best use digital boards so they could help their customers. At the conclusion of the training, I thought one statement they made summed it up very well. That was “Best menu board practices still apply”.

Switching from old style to digital boards does not change the way you lay them out or what you put on them. They are still menu boards! All the things we have learned over the past 40+ years still apply. They simply have more capabilities and are more effective if you use the extra features properly. The only thing new you have to learn is how to use the extra capabilities. If you do that, they will be a great investment for many but if you don’t you are wasting your time and money.

For the most part, all the blogs, white papers, and articles are written because the supply chain has totally switched. The old style menu board suppliers were experts on how to best lay out the boards and what to put on them. They managed all that for their customers. However, the digital screens now come from a completely different industry that has little or no experience in the menu board industry. There may be a few exceptions but generally speaking, this is true.

Many people resist adopting new technology or even fear it, so they resist it as long as they can. It does not help this situation if we try to go back and change everything when we don’t need to. Some new technologies are disruptive and do change everything. We are fortunate that digital menu boards are a simple progression of what’s been learned over the past four decades. In fact, digital has made the whole process much simpler, quicker, easier and less costly (except for the hardware).

What prompted me to write this was a small QSR chain I know wanted to update and totally change their menu boards. They made the decision to install new old style boards instead of switching to digital boards, mostly because they thought switching to digital would be too complicated and they did not know enough about them. Although digital menu boards may not be for everyone I believe they made a big mistake.

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