Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Digital Signage Sales 101: No Free Lunch, Only Buy and Sell Quality LED Displays

- Mike Prongue

No Free Lunch!

My blog posts always attempt to discuss the realities of the LED display industry- the good, the bad and the ugly of what you may find on the streets in your city. But there is one thing that continues to irritate me, and worry me late at night, as I count LED displays before I fall to sleep. It’s a false belief that will not die with Sign Companies- There is such a thing as a free lunch when it comes to purchasing LED displays!

What do I mean? The acronym TANSTAAFL (There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch) was introduced many posts ago and it means that even when you think you’re getting something for “FREE”, there are real costs involved that have to be considered- nothing is FREE. These unspoken, undisclosed costs can add up to total more than the most premium LED display product available at full retail.

How often have I heard Sign Company “X” say, “We had to buy an imported LED display from The Cheapest Kid on the Block because the customer could not afford a good one?”

Come on, you’ve heard it. You may have even said it.

When a compromise such as this ensues, a myriad of repercussions may occur which harms the customer, the dealer’s reputation and also results in a monetary loss. Think about it- “We had to buy an imported LED display from The Cheapest Kid on the Block because the customer could not afford a good one?”

That’s a little bit like an automobile consumer saying they could not afford air bags or that they could not afford a clean-technology engine and an old smog producer would have to do. “No, I am adamant! I do not want seat belts in my car- they add $75 to the price and that puts me over my budget!”

So, wow… I can’t wait to ask this question: It’s okay to make a sale, putting a known “cheap” quality product on your customer’s pole? Pick how that LED display got “cheap”. Something had to be shortchanged:

  • Inferior software that costs the customer more in lost man hours than the price difference between the “cheap” display and a quality display? 
  •  Poor quality LED modules that may be re-manufactured, or will fail far sooner than their stated 100,000 hours of use?
  • Extended delivery and installation times?
  • LED display cabinets made of pre-rusted steel or worse- cabinets that actually leak?
  • Limited-range wireless systems which are intermittent?
  • Electrical wiring that looks like it was made from re-constituted and painted dirt?

And the list goes on. How do you explain the weekly service calls? That is not only embarrassing but there is a real cost that someone pays for- you, the sign company, or the customer. We all know that there is no such thing as a free sign repair!

Here are three prior blogs, previously written here, that may help you learn what to look for in a quality LED display and the characteristics of an outstanding manufacturer partner.

Take a look:

Product Consistency and Long Term Success with LED Sign Manufacturers

Digital Signage Learning Curve, How to Tell a Good Manufacturer From a Questionable One

Is Anything Really ‘Made’ in the USA?

Really, we all know what happens when we sell poor quality a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. We put some money in our pocket today, but by tomorrow, it starts to jump back out of our pocket as a result of poor warranties, defective hardware, excessive training and re-training costs, trip charges and time wasted dealing with unhappy customers and obstinate product manufacturers.

Only buy and sell quality LED displays and keep your profit! While many young wishful girls may believe unicorns are possible, most grownups are wiser and know that there is really no such thing as a free lunch- first rule of economics!

These comments are my personal perspective and do not reflect the opinion of Vantage LED, Inc. or SignVine, Inc. or any other person or organization. If you have constructive feedback please email me at  - Mike Prongue

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Digital Signage Need to Know: Why Digital Signage is Important

-Deacon Wardlow
On-premise advertising (signage) was king up until the late 30s (when radio advertisement for local stations became cheaper), then TV came along and gave organizations another venue for community outreach alongside newspapers, radio, and community message boards (boards in the middle of town used for advertising good/services and community updates).

Signage declined because of the other mediums available. People weren't putting as much into their storefront sign because there were so many other outlets for communication and advertising options. The 21st century has changed a lot of that and on-premise advertising/outreach is, once again, more important than ever.

Think about your daily communication and where a majority of people go for info. They likely turn to their smartphone for news and updates. More people are declining cable packages and upping their internet connections to access Hulu, NetFlix, and other online entertainment services. newspaper is in a constant tailspin and many of the larger agencies are selling off their assets (resulting in fewer options for print media and higher ad cost). Profit and non-profit organizations are looking for ways to recapture the community's attention and Digital Signage is one of the best means to do this.

A digital Sign (LED Sign outside of an organization or strategically placed interior LCD/other displays) gets immediate attention from the community around a client's location. Schools, towns, and churches see the importance of the medium and are part of the fastest growing segment for LED Signs and interior digital wayfinding/signage systems. C-Stores, gas stations, restaurants, and other businesses are purchasing more LED Signs than before as they effectively communicate  the goods and services available to the community. LED Sign systems are also picking up services from FEMA and other national organizations so the displays can be used in emergencies to get safety information to the public expediently.

Digital signage is so much more than a return on investment for an organization - it's a return to effective communication for the masses and a tool to help bring communities closer together. When the real potential of a DS system is realized, it's amazing what can be accomplished. DS is much more than a pretty picture... it can be a lifeline for a business and community. I'd rather see a great LED Sign effectively communicating a business' goods and services and helping the organization thrive than people holding the "flip signs" for a going out of business sale.

Please comment here or send questions or requests for information to Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (, 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.attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Digital Signage Need to Know: Demand Attention and Target Your Audience With Outdoor LED Signs

- Scott Hofheins

Outdoor LED signs are communication tools. In a matter of seconds, they let the public know about your organization, directly and indirectly through scheduled content. The impression you leave with the viewer will help them understand and answer certain things your organization like your physical existence, what you do, and why it should be done with you specifically. Your content, and the way it is scheduled will play a large role in the viewers response. By targeting both aspects, the content and the scheduling, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of your sign.

The Scheduling
The options you have and how easily they are implemented are often determined by the manufacturer of your LED sign and the software they provide. Unfortunately, many sub-par manufacturers rely on outdated software, or software developed overseas with limited options and is difficult to use. This has been a harsh reality for many end users who paid a lot of money for a sign manufactured by an entity that viewed software as an afterthought. This can make it more difficult, but still worth the effort to make sure your scheduling content that is targeted to your audience.

Fundamentally, you want to reach your audience by giving them information relevant to their situation. Certain types of people drive past your sign during certain times of the day. By scheduling specific messages to play during these times, you can speak directly to them.

Rush Hour
This is the most common, and my minimum recommendation for scheduled content. Every LED sign should have least some content specifically for, and directed to rush hour traffic. This is typically from 7-9am, and from 4-6pm in most locations.

You want to schedule messages that talk directly to these drivers. Do some research, and try to determine the demographics of these drivers.

  • Where are most of them traveling too? Tech jobs? Manufacturing jobs? Tailor your content accordingly, talk to the techies, talk to the skilled factory workers, what is important to them?
  • How fast are they traveling? If you have a consistent “stop and go” situation near your sign, take advantage of that time, and modify the play length, or quantity of the content accordingly.
  • If you have trouble isolating certain groups, you can always go to the one common trait: they are driving. Create content that speaks to them, let them know they can take a break from traffic and pull into your place for coffee and donuts. They can beat the traffic on the way home and join you for happy hour specials. Take some time, and think of some ways you can incorporate their immediate situation, with what your organization has to offer.

Lunch time is another consistent time frame you can schedule for. If you're a restaurant, it’s pretty straightforward, let them know why they should come in NOW! Advertise your lunch specials and the reason they should spend their money with you, instead of the competition.

For other businesses, you can still market to this group. These drivers may have some time to stop by your place to do some household shopping, get their hair cut, or attend a midday church service. Remember, it’s not just workers who are out during lunch hours.

School Time
Are you near any schools, day care, or other youth facility? You may have certain drivers dropping their children off in the morning, or picking them up in the afternoon that drive by your sign. What demographic is picking them up, and dropping them off? Who is riding with the parents? Look into your specific location, and let your sign talk to them during these hours.

Conditional Scheduling
Software provided by some manufacturers supports the ability to play certain messages depending on conditions, like temperature or weather. This can be a useful tool to grab the attention of drivers with messages like “It’s cold today! 10% off all coats for a limited time!” or “Looks Like Rain! Tire Safety Inspections Today!”.

Specific Situations
Think about other situations that you can target and schedule content for. For example, local events like music festivals will give you a certain groups to target. Holidays are also a good thing to link your content too. What is going on around you, and how can you incorporate it with your messages?

The Content
This is a well documented factor in the effectiveness of your LED sign, and we discuss it often. Remember, you are fighting for attention against cell phones, tablets, and other forms of communication that incorporate colorful and attention getting graphics. You must adjust your LED sign content accordingly.

The content must be beautiful, readable and relevant. The days of text only LED signs are going away. People just don’t notice them as much any more. They are looking for larger fonts and bright text, with a clean and active colorful backdrop. Animations are a plus, and the advertisement really needs to “pop” to get their attention.

Professional content is becoming more important as consumers expectations continue to rise. This is true for both indoor digital signage, and outdoor LED signs. Hiring a graphic designer, or using a content creation service will save you time and effort, and help get you the results you need to stand out from the other signage in your area. Good, tasteful content is key to turning heads, and will make any LED sign better, and a good sign great.

If you have an existing outdoor LED sign, make sure you're allowing it to reach its full potential by targeting your audience with scheduling, and good content. If you're looking at getting an LED sign, make sure the sign you buy will provide you the tools to schedule and market your organization effectively. As I mentioned earlier, an LED sign is a communication tool for your organization, make sure your voice is heard loud and clear!

-Scott Hofheins

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Power of Communication for Non-Profit Organizations

When you step-back at look at the incredible transformation of our world in the past 20 years, there is one component of change that cannot be ignored- communication. Communication is messaging, data, financial, voice, and any other exchange of information that can be thought of. This driving force is behind everything from the establishment of a cadre of billionaires, to the emergence of China as potentially the greatest economic force in history. 

Without communication, the networks come down, the Internet goes dark and we revert back to campfires and scratching on cave walls.

Meanwhile, few people would argue, that non-profit organizations are the back bone of our communities. They help raise our children, support the less fortunate and provide spiritual direction. They are important, however you slice the proverbial pie you must acknowledge that they do help people and society benefits from having a strong non-profit presence.

Most non-profit organizations seem to operate with:
  • Budget constraints
  • Reduced staffing
  • Restricted hours of operation
  • Lack of other resources that for-profit organizations take for granted
Knowing this, it would seem obvious that every non-profit organization would strive to increase efficiency and do everything in their power to improve communication:
  • Operate in a cost-effective manner at all times
  • Maximize productivity of the staff they do have
  • Communicate at light speed and keep all those with a vested interest in their affairs informed.
How can a non-profit do this, with reduced money to spend?

SMART is always the acronym for any solution:

S- Strive to accept technology
M- Make every dollar count
A- Act rather than delay
R- Realistic expectations
T- Timely implementation

Since our business is LED signs (or you would not be reading this) and the LED sign industry (few would disagree), it’s paramount to realize that what we represent fits nicely with what non-profits require. Who are the largest consumers of LED signs? This is an anecdotal statement but schools, churches, government institutions buy a lot of signs. Is this an accident or do they realize that LED signs make them more efficient, reduce the need to say the same thing over and over again, and save them time (which is money)?

It’s a perfect marriage, a perfect fit- non-profits with quality LED signs and advanced control software and network control systems to make them work. Save money, improve operations, keep those involved informed all with an LED sign. Yes, Virginia, it is just that simple.

The opportunity is waiting for every Sign Company. Establish a relationship with your non-profit customer, and discuss their options. If they can’t afford that LED sign, suggest crowdfunding, financing, leasing, and other options to help them raise funds for it. Take your non-profit customer into 2014 with not only a competitive bid, but a way to easily afford the solution.

These comments are my personal perspective and do not reflect the opinion of Vantage LED, Inc. or SignVine, Inc. or any other person or organization. If you have constructive feedback please email me at  - Mike Prongue