Digital menus: Do you fear something you already know?
Editor's Note: A version of this blog original appeared on Pizza Marketplace's sister site, Digital Signage Today.
A few days ago I was reading some articles on digital menu boards. Many of them were about how to lay out 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 whether this wasn't all over-complicating a subject that most pizza restaurateurs have mastered: How to compile a great customer-captivating menu board.
What prompted me to write this was a small quick-service 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.
Now digital menu boards may not be for everyone, but I still believe the retroactive leap that chain made could have been a mistake. After all, as I have stated before, digital menu boards are still menu boards and as my team and I heard after training a marketing team at a major soft drink company on their use, "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 and all the things we have learned over the past 40 or more years still apply. They simply have more capabilities and are more effective ifyou use the extra features properly.
The only thing new you really have to learn is how to use the extra capabilities. If you do that, a digital menu board will be a great investment for many pizza restaurateurs. But if you don’t, you are probably wasting your time and money.
For the most part, all the blogs, white papers and articles on this topic are being written because the actual menu board supply chain has totally changed. Old-style menu board suppliers were typically experts on laying out boards and board content, and they usually managed all that for their customers.
But digital screens now often come from a completely different industry whose players often have little or no experience in menu board usage, or how pizza restaurateurs ultimately employ them. As a result, many operators end up resisting the new technology or even fearing it.
But the risk is that if we try to go back and change everything when it's not needed, we could do more harm than good. Granted, some new technologies are disruptive and do change everything, but pizza restaurateurs are fortunate because digital menu boards are really just a simple progression of what’s been learned over the past 40 years, only digital boards are ultimately much easier, faster and — aside from that hardware — less costly to use.