Thursday, February 28, 2013

Digital Signage “Need To Know:”: Explaining LED Sign Technology Simply and Effectively to Your Audience Directly.

-Scott Hofheins

Effectively explaining LED sign technology can be difficult. Many people have trouble with technology they use every day like smart phones or personal computers, let alone a full color outdoor LED sign system. Digital Signage is a new subject for many people, and the misinformation prevalent in the industry does not help matters. So how do you effectively explain virtual pixel technology, embedded vs. IPC systems, conformal coating, and other tech items without your audience’s eyes glossing over?

Speak the Language
Sternocleidomastoid. If you're a doctor, sports trainer, or paid attention in Human Biology chances are you know what this means. We can have a great conversation on human anatomy and the inner workings of the human body. But maybe you had a hard time staying awake in biology, with little interest in the details of how we function. I can then tell you it is a large neck muscle that helps you tilt, and turn your head. We can then move on.

It’s important to know who your talking to as soon as possible. If you’re talking to a tech, then talk tech. If your talking to a big picture guy, then talk big picture. It’s important to be strong in both respects, and be able to find the right middle ground for your audience.

Sum it Up
This is important when talking to anyone. Stick to understandable terms that matter to the audience, but still explain facts. Then sum it up with how that specific technology will affect the audience directly. If your audience was starting to gloss over, the summation will clear it up every time.

This is important for both tech guys, and big picture guys. The key is to focus on them specifically. The tech guy will be happy to know that high quality power supplies mean less troubleshooting and repair work. The big picture guy will appreciate that these power supplies mean consistent up-time with the sign, generating more visibility for the business (thus more money). It's the same technology, but benefits people in different ways. Keep your focus, sum it up and explain specific benefits to your audience directly. (I practice what I preach.)  

Back it Up
“Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick...” is one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt. You need to back up your talk with real data. Even a big picture guy will usually make sure a tech looks at your stuff at some point. Be ready for this with your knowledge of the product (see Deacon's post) and by having good access to white papers, articles, case studies, etc...

Don’t do all the talking. As you explain certain items, stop and ask the audience: is this making sense to you? Don’t be afraid if the answer is no, be thankful you got that feedback before you wasted more time going the same direction. Listen to your audience and change your approach as needed.

By listening, you can also pick up on misinformation they may have received from another party. It’s unfortunate that we have so much of this in the industry, but it goes along with the territory and you have to account for it. If you're listening, you can address it directly, and make sure they have the correct information to make an truly informed decision.

The LED sign industry is still evolving at a rapid pace. It’s up to us as manufacturers and dealers to keep it going in the right direction with clear and understandable marketing and explanations of the technology that drives our products. I hope this post has been helpful, and I look forward to writing more on the subject. Remember who your talking to, summarize your explanations, backup your claims, and listen to your audience. If you do these things, to finishing the quote from Teddy Roosevelt, “ will go far.”


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**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 stated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LED Sign Sales- Closing Technique Suggestions- 1 of 3

- Mike Prongue

The reality of working in America today is that you have to be a multi-talented, creative, communications-oriented person or be left behind. 

As my career evolved, there were many times when there was a “break in the action” and I looked up to ask the proverbial question “who are these people and how in the heck did I get here?”  If you have never asked yourself a question like this, then I would suggest that perhaps you have a few more miles to travel on the old career odometer.

Job “A” leads to job “B”. You learn, you get some education- either in a school or on the street in the “school of life”. You get promoted, you take a chance and you take a leap of faith to open your own business. You risk money and time and start to generate some revenue to pay the bills. A year passes and you have a business that not only survived but is starting to actually succeed! 

Good job.

You know a lot of stuff, but can you be an "expert" in everything- probably not so much.

You are probably very hands-on, perhaps more technically oriented, perhaps familiar with how to state the facts and “nothing but the facts” but how much time have you spent learning the fine art of closing the sale? So you don’t need that “slick talk stuff”?

I’m going to give you 9 techniques to close a sale. No, not all here today because I know you’d be out on your boom truck by item 4, so I going to give you 3 techniques for 3 consecutive blog postings.

Some of these will not work for you. Some are not your style. Some are cumbersome. But if you read all 3 blogs and consider all 9 techniques, you may find 2 techniques that you feel comfortable doing. 

It’s a buffet! Take what you like, leave the rest in the pot, on the table for someone else!
Here we go- remember to find 2 techniques of the 9 that you like:

#1 Sets of 3


Use “3” as the magic number for bullet points and summary. Think of what has worked on you- “good, better, best” for example?

The “3” points may be feature, function or benefit. Or perhaps price, delivery time or warranty.

The points may be related to drive home a common point, or disparate to “shotgun” a wide sales presentation area.

Three (3) is the perfect business measurement to make your point.


This LED sign is made in America, has a 5 year warranty, and can be delivered in 6 weeks.

Our installers are certified, experienced and friendly.

Purchase today and you will get a end of year tax deduction, a 5% discount, and a great deal on an in-stock P-16 full-color LED sign.

#2 Sleep on It! 


Smart soldiers live to fight another day. Defer today’s sale to a future sale. If you have a good product and a secure relationship with the customer then what's the harm in giving them time to think? LED signs are a large investment and they may need time to consider your words and review the quote.

How and When to try this:

  You know they are not going to decide today anyway!
  The offer is on-the-table and you are pretty sure they will give your offer very serious thought.
  Tomorrow may be better from a money standpoint for them- budget constraint, revenue pending, etc.
  Don’t let them make a bad spontaneous decision and damage the relationship!
   Making the sale today is not life and death for you. Don’t get married on the 1st date!

The sun will come up tomorrow and there is always another meeting!


I know this is a big decision for you’ll and an immediate answer is not a great idea- think it over for a few days. Can I call next week to see when I can come by?

The “Sleep on it” close is particularly easy to manage when the sales person visits the customer, and a break in the tension may be required. A quick exit is not always a bad idea.

#3 Financing Makes it Affordable!


Overcome price objections by demonstrating that they can afford it!

Determine what they can afford. Show them that with financing that they can afford it. Break it down on a dollar per month  or a dollar per week basis. Make an assumption that the display will improve their sales by 15 percent and do the "profit math".

Also discuss the reallocation of existing advertising expenses from newspaper or radio to an on-premise LED sign.

The “too expensive” objection may be more of an excuse than a real objection. Remember that you can overcome objections but not excuses and if they don’t really want to buy, you at the beginning of a long list of excuses.

Don’t try to use approaches that you are not “cool” with or that feel awkward. You are a unique person and you have to find your own way.

Stay tuned for the next blog and suggestions 4, 5 and 6.


These comments belong to me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why LED Signs: A Road-Map to Success is Important With Digital Signage

-Deacon Wardlow
Texts, emails, blogs, chat, IM, posts, Reddit,, etcetera. We're networked, connected, online and plugged-in almost constantly now. Content is rapidly updated and there's a significant feeling, a need to have information available quickly and readily. The last time a website took longer than 10 seconds to load, did you feel it was taking too long or a really slow site? Did you go to a different page/site?

We live in a world where information is fast and readily available. Print publications are still scrambling to find readership and retain their numbers. Radio loses more listeners everyday to iSomethingorOther or the latest satellite system. Television is trying to reclaim viewers by going online with on-demand viewing from websites and mobile devices. How are you moving your business forward in the 21st century?
This is the age of the Jetsons (dating myself a bit there). We've got better communication devices than what most people saw growing up on Star Trek or Buck Rogers. Customers and communities expect email updates from businesses, teachers, towns need to be online and yet, we still see static signage. Readerboards and push-in letter menu systems. The change is coming and it's faster than you'd think.

Digital Signage systems are capable of scanning a crowd and reporting back the median age of the group and estimated age, gender and racial statistics of individual people and using this information to push digital advertising specifically targeted at the varying client-base. Cities are starting to integrate automated and integrated alert systems into Digital Signage solution (both LCD indoor and LED Outdoor) to reach communities to alert them to emergencies or general public service announcements.

With all of these changes, it's more important than ever to make sure your partners have your back. Speak with your manufacturer and make sure they have a "geek speak" specialist on board. Make sure the team you're working with can translate complicated concepts and ideas into simple formats for you and your clients to get to the solution they need. Is the company you're working with now a source or a resource? A vendor or a partner. What are you to your clients?

Quick quiz:

1. When was the last integration or innovation implemented with your company?
2. What testing did you go through to ensure the product/service was ready for the market?
3. What is your two, three, and five year road-map to ensure you're keeping up-to-date with changes in technology?
4. What are you doing now which will heavily affect change months and years from now?
5. How are you a leader and innovator?

These are questions we should all have ready answers to. Your partners should especially have answers ready because if they're not moving forward, they're falling behind and taking you with them. Look to your road-map, is it clear and concise? Can you handle an unexpected turn? Is your partner looking to not just their future, but yours and your clients as well?

If you can't get a quick, solid answer from the company you're dealing with, perhaps it's time to change. In the fast-paced realm of the 21st century, you do not want to be left behind because it'll be your competition who surges forward.

*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at 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 stated.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Digital Signage "Need to Know": The Cloud, Cloudware, and LED Signs

-Scott Hofheins

What is “The Cloud”, what is “Cloudware”, and what do they have to do with the LED sign business? I hope to help answer these questions and maybe give some insight on the future of the LED industry in general.

The Cloud
This has become a popular term in recent years. It comes from the term “Cloud Computing” where multiple devices can access services from centralized equipment that “host” the services and provide the infrastructure. The other devices (like your laptop for example) can access the system and use all the services (storage, applications, collaboration tools, etc...) without having to install or operate the infrastructure. This can be done on a local business network, but when people refer to “The Cloud” they usually mean over the internet; the largest “network” in the world.

This is a play on the word “Software”. Software is installed locally on a computer and used by that computer to accomplish tasks (edit photographs, play music, write documents, etc...). It is local, and uses your own computer’s resources. Cloudware is also installed on computers (servers), but they are “off-site” and provide the services through the internet so your own computer doesn’t have to use all it’s brain power and storage.

When you want to read a book, you wouldn't build a library in your house to find and read your book. You would drive your car on the street (the internet) to the library (the website) use your library card (user name and password) to access and check out the books. All the organization, upkeep and storage is done by the library. You (the computer) can focus on the important stuff, viewing and accessing the information.

LED Signs
What does this have to do with LED signs? Well, not much historically because LED signs weren't as sophisticated as they are now. In the past most LED signs were only connected to local networks, or in most cases connected directly to a computer. They didn't use as much data because they were mostly one color, text only signs.

These days, we have tighter resolutions, brighter LEDs, faster controllers, and millions of colors. Most high quality video boards are controlled by Windows based industrialized controllers, so they are by nature “internet friendly”. Times are changing and manufactures are feeling the pressure to provide better solutions. Solutions that are effective, secure, user friendly and easy to access. The Cloud is the foundation for these solutions.

I've been privileged to be a part of Vantage LED’s efforts with the SM Infinity collaboration, and although we are the first to do it on a large scale, I know we won’t be the last. This is a good thing. Healthy competition results in a better product for everyone, but this post is really about the concept in general. I am absolutely sure that most of us in the industry have at one point or another thought “ Wouldn't it be great to have internet based software.” I know I did when I first entered the industry, but the technology and infrastructure wasn't there to support it. Now it is.

This is the future of the LED sign industry. We have to move forward and embrace technology to provide the best experience to the end users. We bank online, we pay bills online, we learn online, people want to control their signs online. The challenge has been declared, and manufacturers are going to need to answer with a loud and clear “ can”.


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**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 stated.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Digital Signage Safety- Statistical Analysis of the Relationship between On-Premise Digital Signage and Traffic Safety

- Mike Prongue

I live, work and play on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the Gulf Breeze and Destin area. Not only are we blessed with great weather, and a great quality of life but we continue to experience these despite an abundance of LED signs. 

The world has not ended, dogs are not sleeping with cats, and we have not turned into “Tokyo at Night” or “Sin City”.  Life is better with attractive digital signs and colorful content rather than unreadable and dated old-school static displays and reader boards with missing letters.

Dentist offices have them. Insurance companies have them. Destin, FL a regional tourist destination has an abundance of LED signs on hotels, restaurants and water parks. Schools and churches have them as the rule and not the exception.

We have areas here where they are closely regulated- historical districts and scenic areas. But the acceptance of the LED sign in NW Florida is amazingly leading edge. Compare this LED-liberal mindset to Miami, FL (for example) and we seem to be light-years ahead.

Once concern that impacts the community’s acceptance of on-premise LED signs is- does LED signs impact traffic safety? Many a permit has been denied or a restrictive sign ordinance written by well-intentioned elected official because of this unfounded fear.

A post to the International Sign Association’s Facebook page, dated, January 9th, 2013, reads:
The first-ever research on how on-premise electronic signs (EMCs) impact traffic safety has been officially released! It confirms what we all already knew – that EMCs DON'T cause traffic accidents.

Great thanks to Texas A&M University and the Signage Foundation, Inc. for conducting this groundbreaking and valuable research. We’re already using it to educate local officials all over the country in order to help draft reasonable and beneficial sign codes.

See the research here: mid=501


Two previous LED sign industry safety research studies were completed in the last 12 years- one in 2001 and the second in 2009 with the results and conclusions somewhat disputed due to statistical methods and assumptions made within each study. This Texas A&M study report describes the flaws and limitations of the earlier studies if you are interested.

This new report is dated December  17, 2012 so it is contemporary, but it’s  also statistically vetted and draws positive conclusions.
The 41-page report boils down to the one line we all care about on page 35:

“Based on the analysis performed for this research effort, the authors are able to conclude that there is no statistically significant evidence that the installation of on-premise signs at the locations evaluated in this research led to an increase in crashes.”

I invite you to read the study, promote the study, and include this study in your arsenal to diffuse the fear and old-school mindsets that still limit the growth of our industry in some communities.

Happy Valentine’s Day- stay out of the candy!

These comments are humbly submitted by me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Digital Signage "Need To Know": Educate yourself and your clients, before the competition does it for you!

-Deacon Wardlow

One of the great things about childhood, nobody expects a child to know things. We accept a child is generally ignorant of the world and things which are contained within it. A child can walk around blissfully unaware of anything and everything and people (generally) take extra efforts to help children learn and overcome their ignorance of things. It’s harder being an adult. At some point, between childhood and adulthood, ignorance isn’t acceptable anymore and it’s quite embarrassing to be caught off-guard. Why? What happened along the way?

Richard Feynman (a great philosopher, physicist and human being) was entranced by the unknown. He saw it as a personal challenge to explore and discover things. Feynman was amongst the mental giants of our history and he openly admitted to ignorance and the joy discovery can bring. The difference between childhood and adulthood is choice and knowledge. People are often afraid to admit ignorance because they don’t want to appear “lesser” in other’s eyes. Unfortunately this means we sometimes won’t admit to ourselves when we need to knuckle-down and bear into a new subject to overcome a lack of knowledge and familiarity. As a child, we didn't have as great a fear of failure. 'Can't' wasn't part of the child's vocabulary until someone taught it to them. We have to step up and reclaim the fearlessness and rid ourselves of the worries associated with learning something new (and potentially difficult to take in).

When you take that step towards overcoming any fears about taking on a new subject, you’ll see loads of new opportunities. Digital Signage (DS) is a rapidly growing segment in the sign industry as well as advertising and general mass communication systems. The problem with DS is there’s both an astounding lack of simple, concise explanations to learn more about systems and an increasingly insane amount of advertorials masked as educational information which do nothing to educate and everything to muddy the waters further.

There’s hope. You’re taking the first few steps by reading the blog and searching for information. There are a growing number of resources out there available for you to take advantage of. Check out the past blogs (I’ve posted a quick summary blog for easy reference here). The ISA has great resources on EMCs and a DS overview. The USSC (United States Sign Council) has several publications available to learn more. There are several free resources and people willing to help out; write myself and/or the other bloggers (Scott/Mike) if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered (we appreciate feedback and are always open to topic suggestions). Especially take time to join sites like LinkedIn or The Sign Syndicate (a great group of sign pros who are quick to share their experiences) and other professional networking groups online or in your municipality. There are loads of professional groups and individuals happy to give a little of their time to help you along.

By reading this blog and others, exploring and finding trusted educators willing to share you’re taking a step out of the darkness and into the light. Clients will come to you as the expert and expect you to drive out the ignorance and educate them on the best solution and fit for their needs. A little time invested now in this education will pay off immensely when you’re able to easily explain concepts and systems to the client while the competition struggles to get beyond the basics. Knowledge is power, make sure you're fully charged!

*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at 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 stated.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Digital Signage Need To Know: How an LED Sign Manufacturer's Approach to Design and Engineering Can Affect Installations

-Scott Hofheins

Other Topics in this Series

It takes a team of people to design, engineer and produce almost any product. By utilizing  the strengths of many, companies have been able to create some pretty cool products. LED Signs are no different. To make a quality sign, you need good engineers, good designers, and good production personnel. The end result is a reflection of the people who make the product, how well they communicated, and their preferences for how a product should work. In the end, the dealers and end-users see the results first hand, good or bad.

This is the first, in a series of articles about how different approaches can affect specific aspects of an LED Sign. This post will focus on sign installation and how the manufacturers engineering, design, and production can mean the difference between a 3 day ordeal, or a quick 1/2 day installation.

A small oversight in the initial design of a product can mean huge headaches for an installer, or end-user. Poor documentation can waste time and money on the job site. Over engineering can increase installation and service costs. Inadequate quality controls mean down time on broken signs, and immediate installation issues.

Simplicity is king. The best designs are simple, effective, and take the long term operation of a sign into account. Signs have to be serviceable but still maintain an efficient production build and sealed cabinet design. Component locations should be documented and easy to access. Structural features like mounting angle, or brackets should be standardized to allow installers to be well prepared before the sign ships. Data and electrical entry points should be easy to reach, and clearly marked. Anything that can be pre-connected to the sign should be, allowing the installer to focus on what they do best, fabricating structures and physically installing the sign.

If Simplicity is King, then Balance is Queen. Drawing a good balance between design factors is difficult. Some do it well, and others do not. If you fall too far on one side, you could have a sign that is extremely easy to service, but is always broken because the cabinet design is flawed. Or a sign that easy easy to install in one location, but difficult in another due to random changes in structural design.

This is a key component of a successful installation. Not only in terms of the actual install, but the planning stages as well. There are obvious problems with the many overseas manufacturers having little to no documentation, usually translated poorly. But I would like to focus on the less obvious issues when you are supplied documentation.

Relevance is key when talking about documentation for sign installation. Installers need to focus on their job, installing the sign. Over zealous technical writers can work against this goal with large in-depth manuals that are impressive at first glance, but are seldom used at an installation site. Installers need to get relevant information as quickly as possible, without having to sift through pages of technical information and legal statements to get there. A good on-site installation manual should be visual, quick to navigate, and easy to read.

In addition to traditional manuals, the sign itself should be labeled and clearly marked to guide an installer through the process. Communications, electrical and accessories should be pre-connected when possible, and any access points clearly labeled.

Engineering Approach
It’s important to be aware of a manufacturer's engineering approach.  Under-engineered products will have problems, but over-engineering has its own issues. Balance and simplicity are major factors, just like in the design. Overly complicated signs can decrease installation options increasing time and cost for your installation.

A good engineering method allows for scalability and innovation, while minimizing points of failure in the system. Sometimes its easy for engineers to get carried away with a certain aspect of their design, and end up causing problems in other areas because they weren’t looking the big picture.

Production and Quality Control
Standardized production is important to make sure each sign arrives on-site with everything that the installer expected from the shop drawings and other pre-production material. Component locations are where they should be, documentation is there,  and accessory devices are setup correctly and ready to plug and play.

Good quality control is assumed to be in place with every manufacturer, unfortunately this is not the case. There are many who see it as an afterthought and do not put as much emphasis on it as they should. Poor quality control will turn your installer, into a troubleshooter as they diagnose and try to fix a brand new sign. Although good signs can have issues after installation, these will be simple fixes, usually caused by shipping or the installation itself.

If there were such thing as a perfect LED sign, it would be powered by oxygen, use anti-gravity (no installation required!), have an infinite resolution, and cost...nothing. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen, but good manufacturers will strive to make there LED signs as easy as possible to install and support. They will have a balanced approach to design and engineering while keeping their eyes on the big picture, and always remember that the sign must work in the real world, not just on paper.


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**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 stated.