Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Digital Signage Need To Know: Use Content and Scheduling to Target Your Message On Outdoor and Indoor Digital Displays

-Scott Hofheins

Targeted advertising works, and advertisers know it. Why waste time trying to bring your message to an audience that may or may not want your product? Every successful advertising campaign targets specific groups of people. Age, gender, politics and social class are just a few examples. The internet has taken targeting to a level that would render the advertisers of the 50’s and 60’s speechless with the possibilities.

In the same realm, digital signage (outdoor and indoor) has revolutionized the way we talk to audiences that aren't necessarily captive to a radio, TV, or newspaper. We are advertising to people on the road, people who happen to be in our store, drive-thru window, or waiting for a plane to arrive. Without targeting the message,we are just noise in the background of their busy world.  They need a focused message that speaks to their needs and wants

While there are many critics of the advertising industry, a case can be made for the benefits of relevant advertising to the consumer. Many people would rather see a larger percentage of messages directed at their actual interests, then a barrage of general ads for products they will likely never use.

We now have so many ways to target to these people. It’s not just one ad on billboard for three months, it’s a cycle of ads targeting different groups throughout the day. It’s messages on a church sign that offer comforting words to people experiencing a variety of life's challenges. It’s a local restaurant advertising lunchtime specials to drivers, and night time dinner options for families. Responsible, tasteful, and targeted advertising can truly improve the communication to our audience, helping to combat the stigma of ‘flashy’ and/or ‘annoying ads’ often tied to digital signage, particularly outdoor LED signs.

Frequently updated, fresh content,  is very important to effectively target your message. Current events are constantly changing. Styles and attitudes are always evolving and effecting your audiences understanding of the world and how to react to it. Keeping your content in line with this evolution is key to making an impact.

There are a significant number of groups to target, but not just age, gender or other life attributes. There are groups of people who are going to lunch, groups going to a specific region of a city, and traveling to or away from work. You have to take a multi-pronged approach when designing AND scheduling your content.

Decide who you want to talk too in your content. Is it a stay at home mother, driving to a grocery store next door with young children? Talk to her, let her know you have a place for the kids to play while she can relax and enjoy lunch. Are you talking to drivers on their way home from work, stuck in traffic? Let them know you’re open late, and they can get that oil change they've been putting off, done now, while they enjoy a free bottled water and sports magazines in your lobby. Use your indoor digital signage to remind them to ask a sales associate about your monthly maintenance program. Take the time to think about who is looking at your display, and try to find some commonality you can use to focus your messages.

In addition to targeting your audience, you must also entertain them. The content has to be simple, direct, and beautiful. Did you put in all that work to target your audience, just to fall short in the quality of the content itself? We talk about this a lot, but it is so very important to have quality content on your display. Invest in it. Sign up for a content service, or a hire a designer to take the load and make you look great. Unless you’re using an old single color text only display, you will stand to benefit from quality content, regardless of the size of your display, outdoor or indoor.

Take advantage of the technology at your finger tips. Cloud based software makes it easier than ever to manage your displays. New approaches to message scheduling allow you to target your content throughout the day, week, and years with much less effort. Higher resolution displays and outdoor LED signage is getting more affordable, providing significant power to smaller business who would normally be out priced. Use this to target your message, talk to your audience directly and let them know: I’m here, I have something you could actually use, for a fair price, served with a smile!


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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Digital Signage Sales 101: The Gold Rush Continues

As a guy, I have to admit that I’m addicted to reality TV shows on the Discovery Channel such as Gold Rush and Bearing Sea Gold.  What red-blooded American male does not want to see if Parker Schnabel , the 18-year old gold mining prodigy will make his season quota? His 93-year old Grandfather has taught him all the secret stuff the “old timers” knew, so I’m sure he’ll win!

The introduction of LED signs to the outdoor advertising industry has been called a modern day gold rush by some due to large amounts of new revenue being driven to independent sign companies. Just look around your town to see those shining golden nuggets going up on walls and poles all across your town!

Gold Rush, the TV show, focuses on several groups of small gold-mining operations, all with their own unique quirks and curiosities but despite the show’s cheesiness it reveals that Murphy’s Law is alive and well. Mr. Murphy said that “whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time.”  I restate Murphy Law common knowledge just in case you’re coming back from a “flat earth society” meeting and may be the last person on earth who never heard of Murphy and his "law". 

For the gold miners, bulldozers get stuck in the swamp, large gold sorting machines get knocked over by errant excavators, personalities make it even worse and then you have the “know it all” experts leaning on the mining operation.  For sign companies- LED modules burn out, controllers fail, signs burn down and computers fail. The similarities between the two businesses are real.

Sign Companies remind me of the separate teams of gold miners on Gold Rush. Most sign companies are relatively small business operations, have invested in expensive equipment and have trained personnel familiar with a hands-on job. And, like the Gold Miner in Alaska, many cold climate sign companies have a “season”. Cold weather in the northern parts of the USA makes it nearly impossible to dig a hole in frozen soil. If the ground’s not frozen, then the snow might be blowing so hard that it makes life on the street miserable. So some sign companies have to make 12 months of revenue in 9 months just like the miners in the frozen north or the ones in the jungle facing a rainy season.

The winners on Gold Rush seem to share one common characteristic- they focus on digging and capturing the gold and avoiding mechanical and operational disasters.  The winners win because they’re “in the game” more and they stay as focused as a reality TV show allows!

What are the winning characteristics of LED sign companies “out in them thar hills”? How do the best LED Sign companies make it every day? The top 10 common tactics and strategies:

  1.   A solid relationship with a LED sign manufacturer who delivers custom built, reliable product quickly.
  2. Product that is differentiated from other brands and models. 
  3. State-of-the-art control software that is powerful but easy to use so your customer can take complete ownership for the operation of their LED sign. 
  4. Professionally made, exciting LED sign content that can be easily ordered by the end user. 
  5. Long-term on-site service with every LED display sold. This reduces out-of-pocket service expenses and makes for happy customers. 
  6. Select an LED manufacturer who does not take your sale and then pay you some token amount to install the LED sign sale they grabbed from you. 
  7. Customer education- say it, explain it, teach it, help them, say it again and again until they understand. 
  8. Keep promises, keep all promises all of the time. Do not make statements that can’t be verified. Write it down, provide written quotes and have any work order additions or subtractions signed by the customer. 
  9. Charge fairly. It’s not necessary to retire on one sale. Charge the customer fairly and they’ll use you again. Over-charge them and they’ll be a “one-shot wonder”. 
  10. An intelligent, creative, and sustained advertising effort is essential. You are in the advertising industry but that does not mean you don’t have to also advertise!

Whether your company needs to mine 1000 ounces of gold or sell 100 LED signs for a successful season you need a good team, a solid strategy, and a way to differentiate yourself from the other miners. For an LED sign company that differentiation is working with a manufacturer who is a partner, not just a seller of LED signs. Do your homework, ask the manufacturer some tough questions and call others who buy from them.

The LED sign ‘Gold Rush’ is still very young. There are some great claims to stake and millions of LED signs to sell. Go for it!

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Digital Signage Need to Know: Digital Signage is more than a dynamic commercial - it's about communication.

-Deacon Wardlow
A lot of communities are often against LED Signs (and even interior Digital Signage (DS) LCD/OLED/Projection systems). They cite "Vegas-style" flash and a disruption to the community. When focusing so hard on the negative changes and what a DS system "takes away" from a place, many communities overlook what Digital Signage adds to the mix.

An LED Sign is very visible (hence the common "Vegas-flash" fears of a community). This is a good thing. Imagine if that LED Sign were linked to the iPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) so communities were alerted through the sign (in addition to their phones, radio, and TV) about upcoming dangers and what to do. Communities could also use time on displays to promote events to bring the community together (i.e. festivals, fairs, BBQs, field-days, etc.). By giving up a little time on the sign (even 1 out of every 10 messages makes a difference), the community can see the LED Sign and/or interior DS solutions as a great addition to their lives.

Sharing time on an LED sign seems to be a hard decision at first. The business owner sees a massive investment in DS (anywhere from a "low" of $8,000 to upwards of $500,000+ for an LED display). The business owner (rightly) wants to see a return on that investment. Content should be about the organization and what it brings to the community. The sign should promote goods and services and help grow income. Just as communities get stuck in a rut of what DS "takes" from the community, many business owners are so focused on ROI (Return On Investment) that they forget to deliver the ROO (Return On Objective). Business owners (not all, but many) forget there are BIG returns to be gained by reaching out to the community and that new (or existing) LED sign can help bring the community together in new and fun ways.

DS isn't perceived as a form of communication to the broader public. They see it as another, newer (and intrusive) form of commercial advertising. By a simple addition of community-based content, DS can turn from being viewed as only a commercial form to being more; it becomes a communication form for businesses and organizations to reach out to the community and for the community to reach out to itself.

Share the road. It means giving up a little space (sometimes that space crosses over into your comfort zone), but the returns will be well worth the time! There's room on the DS road for all to be happy and win.

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, February 5, 2014

Digital Signage Need To Know: How an LED Sign Manufacturers Approach to Growth Can Affect Your Own


-Scott Hofheins

Other Topics in this Series

Do you want your business or organization to grow? Most will answer with an excited “yes, of course!”, but it is the follow up question that really matters.…How?

Growth in any arena of this existence isn’t always easy, and the path never straight. There are many variables to account for, and challenges that must be dealt with and adapted too. The approach you take, the strategies you implement and the direction you turn all affect the results, good and bad.

This also applies to the partners you work with. Their strategies and choices about growth will affect you in many ways. For some, they are your biggest fan helping you to grow, and thus helping themselves. For others, the manufacture is a silent bystander, unapproachable and satisfied with just selling a product and moving on. In other cases, the manufacturer can be a hindrance. Unwilling to see the big picture, listen to feedback or help promote you.

Nobody is perfect, and all manufacturers have good and bad days. However, there are some key points reflect on about your current, or potential partners in the LED sign business. Are they going to support your growth? How?

Growth Investment
You want to work with people who have a plan, and the ability to financially and logistically implement that plan. Just selling more product may grow a company on paper, but how they choose to reinvest and utilize their resources is key to their success.

You want to work with organizations that not only invest directly in their success, but are willing to invest in yours too. They realize that your growth is tied directly to theirs and invest in partner programs, hardware, software and technology innovations accordingly.

Timing and Balance
It’s important for organizations to have a balanced approach to growth, and know when to jump and when to wait. Invest too soon and they become over exposed, invest too late and business has gone elsewhere.

You are affected significantly by this balancing act. When a partner does it right, you reap the benefits of a stronger supplier able to provide what you need with the quality you expect. They are financially sound and ready to support your business.

Long Term
Partners who are growth oriented and manage it well, are in it for the long run. They realize that the industry needs them to support their product over time, and stay in the game. We have too many pseudo manufacturers selling cheap product with no long term support.

A manufacturer's long term approach to growth will help ensure positive feedback from customers, building your reputation as a quality provider. You can sell signs with complete confidence that parts will be available, and support is just a phone call away, in the same country.

Can you grow to fast? Absolutely. Should that make you afraid to grow? Absolutely not. Your partners shouldn't either. An attitude of growing, expanding, and planning for change is essential to the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great. Embracing growth and it’s associated challenges with a good attitude and a focused mind will provide the balance needed for success.

That attitude and balance will be present as the manufacturer listens to feedback on how they can make your business grow. They are not afraid to make changes and improve their system to help you succeed. Your opinion matters. 

Make sure your partner is as excited about growth as you are, willing to invest in your success as well as their own. They listen too you, and care about your business. They have a plan, and are ready to anticipate and adapt as needed to bring out the best in their company, and yours.


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.