Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Digital Signage Review: All the blogs in one place for your convenience!

-Deacon Wardlow

The last two+ years have been busy for everyone here. It's been excellent meeting readers of the blog out at tradeshows and events and getting your (overall positive) feedback on the education/information we've been working hard at presenting every week. A lot of ground has been covered and we have even more coming up this year and next. Also check for Scott & my blogs at our Spectacular Media company site ( It's possible a lot of this information will be formalized into a ebook/PDF (set for release in 2015), drop me a line if that's something you'd be interested in reading/receiving -

Thank you for reading and for all the supportive comments and feedback. If there's something we're missing or haven't covered, let us know and we'll be happy to write it up for you and everyone else to share and use. Below are the last two and 1/2 years of articles, broken down by category. 181 articles posted from 4/7/12 to today's posting (that's 1.5 blogs/week over the last 117 weeks since the first posting). Read, enjoy, share, and feedback is always appreciated!

Digital Signage Sign Tech & Spec:
  1. What to Expect when you're expecting your LED Sign...
  2. Providing Correct Power Voltage to LED Signs and Why 120 VAC and 240 VAC are Both Important
  3. Power Supplies
  4. Don't get screwed, modern module securing systems
  5. Front Access Design Considerations for Digital Signage and Hinged Faces
  6. Factors Affecting Image Quality on Outdoor Digital Signage
  7. How Color Values are calculated
  8. Viewing Size vs Cabinet size (big differences can add up to false $$ savings)
  9. Controller options for LED Signage
  10. Virtual Resolution (aka pixel sharing)
  11. LED Sign Components
  12. Service Access options for LED Signs
  13. The truth behind "ultra bright" LEDs
  14. Communication Methods for LED Signs
  15. Myths and Misunderstanding about LED Signs
  16. The good and bad of LED Signs and how to tell the difference
  17. Powder Coating
  18. New Coating materials (Dragon Skin)
  19. Make sure you have the right tools for DS!

  20. Help! My sign isn't communicating! Steps to a solving communication problems.

Digital Signage Content:
  1. The New Expectations for LED Sign Content
  2. Professional Content is a Must!
  3. Real World Effects of LEDs per Pixel on Outdoor Digital Signage
  4. Time and Temperature on LED Be or Not to Be
  5. Quality LED Signs Managed Responsibly Improve the Community
  6. Professional Quality Content on LED Signs Benefit Resellers Directly
  7. How 'LinkedIn' is Digital Signage for you/your clients?
  8. Why DS Fails
  9. Keeping Content Current/interesting
  10. Ensuring text comes through LOUD AND CLEAR
  11. LED Signs & Free Speech
  12. Create a call to action with Digital Signage
  13. The benefits of PSAs (Public Service Announcement)
  14. Get the most from your website (Digital Signage is online as well)
  15. Being a good neighbor with LED Signage
  16. Content scheduling/creation (planning ahead)
  17. Use Content and Scheduling to Target Your Message On Outdoor and Indoor Digital

  18. DisplaysCustom Content -vs- "Stock" or In-House Content

  19. CMYK vs RGB and Other Design Factors for Digital Content on LED Signs.

Digital Signage Sales 101:
  1. Without a defined desire, there is no sale.
  2. ADAPT the sales technique
  3. Be a "go-to" person; know your LED Sign and DS information!
  4. What does Digital Signage Cost?
  5. Sell your company first, product second...
  6. Why Cheap LED Signs Sell Well But Fail
  7. Door to Door is Dead
  8. Sticker Shock Syndrome; dealing with cost objections
  9. LED Sign Sales- Closing Technique Suggestions- 1 of 3
  10. Closing Technique Suggestions- Installment 2 of 3
  11. Closing Technique Suggestions- 3 of 3
  12. Objection Handling Part 1 of 2
  13. Objection Handling Part 2 of 2
  14. Stop selling and start solving - Customer Centered Selling
  15. Better is Better, Always!
  16. Value Based Selling Is a Win for Local Sign Companies
  17. The cost of a system - Good/Quick/Cheap... Speed, Quality, and Price with LED Signs/DS Solutions.
  18. Wow Your Customer
  19. Build bridges, don't burn them
  20. Business Relationship Suggestions
  21. What Is True Customer Service?
  22. The Tech Train is Leaving the Station

Why LED Signage?:
  1. Use Outdoor Digital Signage to Give Thanks, Spread the Holiday Cheer, and Grow Your Organization.
  2. Outdoor Digital Signage Helps Focus and Sustain Advertising to Potential Patrons
  3. A Road-Map to Success is Important With Digital Signage
  4. Common Misconceptions About LED Signs
  5. How an LED Sign can help business
  6. LED Signage earning potential
  7. Be different, Be Branded, Be Seen with Outdoor Digital Signage

Costs for Digital Signage:
  1. How much can an LED Sign Cost?
  2. Short term gain, long term costs (cost of a "cheap" LED Sign)
  3. "Value Line" vs. Single Level of quality (i.e. why there aren't iPhone or Droid "lite" versions)
  4. Is an LED Sign (or any Digital Signage) an investment or a purchase?
  5. Selling the value of a Digital Signage Solution (LED Sign, LCD, or other)
Digital Signage 'How To':
  1. Networking Basics
  2. Securing Wireless ( WiFi ) Communications for LED Signs
  3. System monitoring obstacles and options
  4. Check The Power! Electrical Supply and Outdoor Digital Signage
  5. Basic LED Sign Troubleshooting and Logic
  6. LED Sign Permitting Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
  7. Finding a reputable installer for LED Signage
  8. Sourcing the best LED Sign manufacturer for your business
  9. Calculating Power Costs
  10. Information on the National Electrical Code as applied to LED Signage
  11. Electrical Safety Certification Marks explained
  12. Different LED Sign Sales approaches
  13. Project Management with LED Signage
  14. Embracing new technology for business
  15. CRM/ERP Options for your business
  16. Simple LED Sign troubleshooting
Digital Signage 'Need To Know':

Quality vs Cost
  1. What makes a good LED Sign?
  2. How an LED Sign Manufacturer's Approach to Support Can Affect Your Reputation
  3. What's the best solution for a Digital Signage system?
  4. How an LED Sign Manufacturer's Approach to Design and Engineering Can Affect Installations
  5. China Manufacturing Stumbles
  6. When comparing LED Sign solutions (EMC/EDS/CMS/Etc), make sure you're getting what you expect
  7. Is Anything Really ‘Made’ in the USA?
  8. Domestic LED Sign manufacturers vs. off-shore
  9. Importing from China
  10. Low quality systems' affect on business
  11. Supply Chain Logistics on components
  12. Beware of a "bait-and-switch"
  13. The cost of going cheap on component choices from a manufacturer
  14. How an LED Sign Manufacturers Approach to Growth Can Affect Your Own

  15. Digital Signage Learning Curve, how to tell a good manufacturer from a questionable one

  16. China, Stack 'em Deep, Sell 'em Cheap

Warranty and After Service
  1. Heat
  2. How to protect against heat
  3. Power (undervoltage)
  4. Physical Factors for Effective LED Sign Use and Installation.

LED Sign System Controls & LED Sign Sales Success
  1. Isn't "The Cloud" the Same as Wireless Connectivity?
  2. Make your LED Sign Stand Out From the Pack
  3. Why cloud control for your LED sign is better than using localized software
  4. Notes on Successfully Implementing an LED Sign Program
  5. Why simple software is better with DS.
  6. FAQ about LED Signs for IT Professionals, End Users and the Industry
  7. New technology making things simpler with LED Signage
  8. Explaining LED Sign Technology Simply and Effectively to Your Audience Directly
  9. The Cloud, Cloudware, and LED Signs
  10. Statistical Analysis of the Relationship between On-Premise Digital Signage and Traffic Safety
  11. Exponential Growth for the LED Sign Industry?
  12. You Deserve to Make a Profit on LED Signs
  13. What does Web App/Cloudware mean for Digital Signage/LED Signs?
  14. Own It! Be The Trusted Authority on LED Signs and Educate Truth
  15. The Ghost of LED Signs past (the cost of going with the cheapest option)

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.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: Qualities of a Good LED Sign Provider, and How to Choose One.

- Scott Hofheins

For many, the search for a good LED sign is a new experience often filled with confusion, ambiguous terminology, and uncertainty. Our industry is frequently compared to the car business, where consumers don’t buy directly from Ford or Chevy, but from a Dealer who is authorized to sell those brands. While our industry is similar, it doesn't take into account some important differences that significantly affect the consumer’s experience. Here are some tips on finding a good Dealer (sign provider) who will deliver product from a quality manufacturer.

The auto industry has been regulated and standardized over the course of many years, unfortunately this is not the case for the LED sign industry. Although this situation is improving, we’re not there yet. The responsibility of vetting potential providers and understanding the terminology is still the main responsibility of you, the consumer. There are associations and organizations that help with this, but it’s never a guarantee that your chosen provider will be satisfactory.

Do your research, and take notes. This is a theme we push constantly, for good reason. Learn as much as you can about the product you are looking to purchase. What is pixel pitch, what is pixel matrix, and how do they affect a sign’s viewability? What is the difference between an embedded controller, and an IPC (PC Controller)? Research online and talk to existing LED sign owners. Get your information from multiple sources, and dig deep. You will start to see some common themes. Some of these may include:

  • Avoid buying from direct overseas suppliers.
  • Signs need a good long term warranty.
  • Good content is important for a quality image.
  • When used correctly, LED signs will increase business.
  • Poorly manufactured LED signs may look good at first, but decline quickly over time.
  • Broken LED signs make you look bad.
  • Everyone does not use the same measuring standards.
  • Some specifications are used purely for their marketing value, not because they are important.
  • The sign control software should not be overlooked.
  • LED signs are proprietary by nature, with virtually no “aftermarket” hardware providers.

This is just a brief list, but there are many more that you will find. Write these down, and apply the lessons learned from your own research and the experience of others.

Education and Truth
Quality providers are not afraid of the truth. They want you to be an educated customer because they know that the more you know, the higher the chance it you will purchase from them. They care about your specific installation, and want to provide you want you need, not just fill a sales quota. Good providers expect to be involved with you for the long term, after the sale. They choose manufacturers who will do the same.

How responsive are they to your needs and questions during the sale? Do they answer questions clearly, and and in a timely manner? This can be a key indicator to how you will be taken care of long term. A well organized sales staff usually means a well organized support staff. This is not a guarantee, but something to take into account.

Referrals and Previous Work
Sign’s are by definition, a very visual and public product. Quality providers are proud of their work, and are happy to show it off. Ask for customer referrals, and/or recent examples of work they've done. Ask for pictures, or places you can drive by for a look.

Documentation and Support
Can the provider back up their product with documented information like white papers, drawings, spec sheets and brochures? Domestic manufacturers provide this documentation to their dealers, in a clear and concise manner, written in standard English. This makes it easier for them to provide the information to you directly, or through their own media and publishing. 

Providers who use overseas companies, or direct distributors for these companies often have documents that are outdated, disorganized and poorly translated from another language. Make sure your provider is using a domestically engineered, manufactured and supported LED sign product.

Take the Time
Don’t get rushed into a purchase. Stay calm, and make sure you’re getting the quality product you need, from the right provider. Give yourself enough time to do the research, ask the questions, and understand the product. Trust the facts, and go with the provider who will is willing to be your partner in the process.

The bottom line is, quality providers take care of their customers and partner with them to provide support in the following areas:

  • Education on the LED sign industry and products.
  • Guidance on the right product for you.
  • Documentation to back it up. 
  • Utilization of a nationally recognized, preferably domestic, high quality manufacturer.
  • Warranty and Support after the sale for both Hardware and Software.

The internet has changed the way we do business. It’s bringing us closer together and gives us access to an impressive amount of information about products and companies. Utilize this medium, and learn as much as you can about your potential LED sign investment. It may seem overwhelming at first, but the truth has a funny way of cutting its way through the mess if you keep your mind and eyes open.

Support your research with direct contact with existing sign owners, and the providers themselves. Ask questions that focus on the areas above, and make sure the facts support your feelings and always remember, an LED sign is a long term investment, not short term purchase.


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, July 16, 2014

Digital Signage Sales 101: China, Stack 'em Deep, Sell 'em Cheap

- Mike Prongue

In a prior life, long ago and far away in 2011, when I dropped that envelope into the mail box I knew it was real. The address on the label was a Chinese Visa Processing Center in Houston, Texas and this Florida Boy was actually going to the 2012 LED China trade show in the city of Guangzhou. After the trade show the plan was to visit our LED sign manufacturer in Shenzhen.


Doing business directly with a Chinese LED sign supplier is an adventure of astounding proportions. Since this is the 21st Century, by my calendar, it’s obviously impossible to visit the early days of the California Gold Rush. But, my imagination can take me there and it had to be like doing business with a Chinese LED sign supplier.


First you have to get there. “There” is only 9,500 miles away from Pensacola, Florida and would require flying to New York City, then on to Anchorage, Alaska, to Taipei, Taiwan, then to Hong Kong. You cross the border into China and find some way to get to your destination. We were doing the trip “on the cheap” so we rode a train. It was a great social experience but unless you want to drink warm Tsingtao beer on a crowded train for 3 hours.  I’d recommend taking a direct flight!

 The trade show, LED China, was amazing. Every aspect associated with an LED lamp was on display. You could talk to every Chinese manufacturer of LED signs, and see products on display from LED snowmen for your front yard to the most leading-edge LED applications you could only dream of! It was an awakening to the true scope and enormity of the LED industry that we are a subset of!


But alas, the glitz and glamor of the trip was behind us and we took the train back down to Shenzhen to meet our Chinese project manager contact who had always been our primary “face” of the company we purchased from. A nice enough fellow, with Americanized language and habits he was, and he picked us up from the lobby of the Marco Polo Hotel near the train station. 


Actually it was his “Girl Friday” who found us, sipping yet another Tsingtao (this time ice cold) in the lobby of the upscale hotel, and she ushered us to his waiting car. The city of Shenzhen was a welcome sight- modern, clean, with a great transportation infrastructure and the persistent air quality problems found in Guangzhou were not to be seen. The air was so bad in Guangzhou that there was actually a creosote-smelling film on the interior of the lobby windows. This was not the case in Shenzhen, a modern city, the first Special Economic Zone in China. It had exploded into a modern city of 10 million people, from the previous rice paddies, in less than 25 years.


We ate lunch at a local restaurant, tucked away on the second floor of a non-descript building overlooking a busy street, the first authentic Chinese meal we’d had since arriving. After lunch we were whisked off to the “factory”.


Clean, efficient, austere, coordinated, machine intensive, labor intensive and a developing force were my first impressions of the facility. If you wanted it, tell the man what you desired and for a price they would do it!

 Would you like?

  • Your company’s name on each printed circuit board?

  • Your company’s name and logo on each LED cabinet?

  • Your choice of cabinet locking mechanisms?

  • Your choice of controller or computer?

  • White, gray or black cabinets? Any color you like for extra.

And if you wanted a better price, they never said “no”! How they arrived at a better (cheaper) price was the “trick”. For the price point we were offering to purchase their LED signs at, I wondered if they would provide cardboard cabinets in the future to meet that price point!


They would definitely “Stack ‘em Deep, Sell ‘em Cheap” for you once the wire transfer was complete. There was no doubt they could make them!


The conversations and negotiations with our Chinese host never touched on the subjects of “quality”, “failure rate” and “promises not kept”. I suppose for the dollar per square foot we were offering for their LED sign product, they thought we were not concerned! Perhaps we were not!


Any sign company back in the good old USA, who were actually purchasing these signs for their customer should have been waking up in a cold sweat right about then!


In the LED Sign Industry, the holy grail of reasonableness regarding LED sign selection is called "The 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage".  This list is embraced by the Digital Signage Federation and the list makes a lot of obvious sense:  Hardware, Software, Connectivity, Content, Operations, Design and Business (


The Chinese supplier, granted evolving as they were, did not really meet the threshold of any of these 7 Key Elements. The hardware had high failure rates, the software was complex, the connectivity was simplistic, there was no provided content, operations were whatever they wished to do or say, the design was cookie-cutter, and the business plan was essentially “wire us the money”.


So, that is reality. Will China someday perform like the high-quality USA LED sign manufacturers? I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know what the present delivers.


While China was a tremendous learning experience for me, what I really learned was we have it pretty good here in the USA. Not only for our freedom and way of life but also for the products we manufacture.  Sure, it can be argued that all American-manufactured LED sign products include some globally acquired parts. So do our automobiles, the Boeing 777 Dreamliner and many other “USA Manufactured” products. That is the way of the world these days.


But what some USA LED sign manufactures add to the "7 Key Elements" is strong partnering. When these factors combine you can rest comfortably knowing you are delivering a 5 star product to your customer!


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