Thursday, March 28, 2013

Digital Signage “Need To Know”: Professional Content is a Must!

Robert Smith III, was a young lawyer in his third year with a big law firm in Houston, Texas. Today had been on his calendar for months- a chance to play golf with the “old man”, the President of the company. Robert wanted to impress his boss and he had the time and the money to do so. His strategy was to buy the most expensive golf club set in the world- a Japanese brand HONMA “5-Star custom fitted set”.

Sure, they were made out of platinum and gold and Donald Trump and Jack Nicholson each owned a set. But Donald and Jack typically made their investment pay off by utilizing them with an ample amount of golfing skill!

Robert’s Honma clubs caught the attention of the President and so did his score of “65”. Unfortunately for Robert that “65” was on the front nine holes!

The moral of this totally fictional scenario is that sometimes people invest in a product, spend great amounts of money, buy the best and then sabotage and devalue the potential of their investment by failing to spend a just few more dollars to “put it to work”! In Robert's case, an extra $100 for a golf lesson might have helped.

In our world, not Tiger Woods' world, where do we see this? LED signs are sold by many sign companies by stating that “the investment will pay for itself by driving new business through the door”. Is this true?

It can be. But when they buy a $40,000, full-color, P-16 resolution (with virtual technology) LED sign and run content made at home using MS Paint they are doing a huge disservice to themselves!

On the other hand, when a business with a small LED sign uses professionally produced animation and content, they squeeze every nickel out of their investment. This is a perfect contrast- one business unaware just how important content is turns a $40,000 investment into a $10,000 “flashing reader board”; while an astute business transforms their smallish $10,000 LED sign into an attention-getting, brand-building, digital marketing center.

How many small LED signs in your community “pop” visually with correct color choices, animation, proper text size, short ads and proper slide timing? Perhaps you have many! Okay, now, how many larger LED signs look terrible? Wrong color choices, slide timing wrong, too bright at night… and you name it! Many LED sign owners will not make an additional investment in professionally produced content. 

What does a graphic designer worry about? I’m not a graphic designer. I thought it was one of my many self-proclaimed fortes’ before I met a real graphic designer. Then I immediately decided that my design skills were similar to the first caveman with the first chisel on the first rock. But here are a few compelling reasons that very few amateurs “get right”:

  • Color- A dark blue background with a bright yellow foreground does not make the display “pop”.  Also, many amateur designers confuse light coloration with paint coloration. There is a difference as one uses an additive approach while the other employs a subtractive approach to achieving a color mixture. Here is a color theory link COLOR
  • Rule of thirds: Many designers just do this. They don’t think about it, and it comes naturally. But the canvas (physical or electronic) is divided into 9 equal squares- 3 rows of 3 squares. Using this rule directs the eye to the center point of attention. Take a look at this link for an easy explanation THIRDS
  • Technical design using popular software packages is a bottomless pit of learning, massaging and mastering the rules. I’ve used Adobe Photoshop for years, and still have not scratched the surface on the capability and complexity of this package. There are 4-year degrees offered on this software package and it truly has the capability of creating wonderful visual products. Just owning and using  the Adobe Photoshop software package does not guarantee an effective slide for the LED sign however. Using it as a tool, with learned skill, not unlike a paintbrush in the hands of a talented artist is the key here.

I’ve listed a few realities of producing your own content. At the end of the day, doing in-house content is expensive, time consuming and just not worth it to maximize the performance of an LED Sign for most small business owners.

Don’t let your customer run poor content on your watch! As a LED sign expert you can significantly influence the success of your customer’s LED sign marketing program. Discuss this early with the customer and let them know that even the best set of golf clubs won’t create a winning return on investment (ROI) scenario without being used correctly. For an LED sign, that means spending a proverbial extra nickel to harness the advertising power of their LED sign investment.

In an ever-expanding LED sign industry there are extremely cost-effective options available  for businesses to put their LED sign to work with professionally produced content. Put the "Googler" to work to learn more!

Consider attending the ISA  Sign Expo in Las Vegas next week, April 4th, 5th and 6th to learn of exciting new content options coming to the LED sign industry. Here is the ISA link to learn more ISA EXPO 2013

I’ll see you there!

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 


Deacon said...

Advertising often fails us as a whole. Infomercials show how "difficult" something is in daily life and how buying a particular product will simplify your life. Commercials, advertisements, sales pitches on products constantly push how a product or service will make the target buyer's life/business/everything simpler, easier, cheaper, better than they could ever have imagined.

In the sign industry, we're sometimes guilty of this as well. We promote solutions (like Digital Signage (DS) interior, LED outdoor signage, etc.) without always going into the nitty-gritty of how the system needs to be maintained. Business (rarely) grows on its own. A business needs a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and (often) tears to grow and improve. DS can definitely help businesses, but like any tool it won't be effective unless it's used properly.

Mike's right on the money (literally) with this. When promoting a DS solution, we all need to ensure the buyer understands what ends to go into the system to get the most out. The adage from my computing days comes up here, "Garbage in, Garbage out."

Anonymous said...

A lot of feedback I receive from sign dealers when discussing this is "oh no, they won't pay extra for this!"

I think that decision should be left to the end-user, the business man, once the complete story is told and the true cost of producing in-house content is "put on the table".

Customers spending $30-$40k+ on a complete LED sign system need to realize an ample return on their investment. So, while their "whiz kid" is great on the computer, as far as he concerned, why gamble on his graphic design skills? Buying an LED sign is a huge deal for many customers and every option must be made available to put it to work.

Also, as the market expands, as it is, the anomaly of owning a LED sign is wearing off. So to catch people's attention, not only are grayscale (single-color)LED signs becoming passe', replaced by full-color, but some businesses have to dig deep for creative content to "stand out".

I submit that few businesses can produce their own content to put that LED sign to work.

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