Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blog #199 - the year+ in review, start 2015 off with some solid education resources!

-Deacon Wardlow
All said, I lived in Japan for about 12 years. The time, people, and culture definitely affected the way I look at the world. Every December, Japanese get ready to send out their "O-sho-gatsu" (New Year's) cards. A card is sent out to the people in their life, both personal and professional contacts. The card is a way of keeping in touch with the people who've touched their lives in some positive way. Gifts are also given to people who've helped them in some way in the year - a kind of year-end accounting and "thank you" to everyone who helped them get to where they are. I love the tradition and, while I no longer send out a stack of cards each New Year's - I appreciate taking stock of the year past and acknowledging the many people who've helped, challenged, assisted, and gotten me to where I am.

This article makes #199 in the series started about two and a half years back. My thanks to my fellow "Special Ops" Director of Spectacular Media (Scott Hofheins) and our associate/friend/all-around pontificate Mike Prongue of Signvine. Our thanks go to Vantage LED for giving us a place to rant, rave, educate, elucidate, and help bring a little order to the chaos that is Digital Signage (without having to write advertorials or "sponsored" pieces, but rather sticking to the truth and helping people get educated on what matters most for LED and other Digital Signage). It's been a long road with a longer one ahead and we're glad to have you, our reader, out on the journey with us. If you read our articles and have a question - drop us an email or line (email - - or We all like to hear from you and appreciate feedback.

This will be the last posting for the year (we'll start up a little after the new year). I've done my best to sort the articles we've released into categories so you can find helpful info a bit faster. If there's some way we can help out, a topic we've missed or something to delve into deeper - let us know (we're happy to have more to write about and the year ahead promises to be a full one). If you have a moment, checkout the SignVine site (these are guys who know a lot about giving and lending a hand) -

We wish you a safe, happy, and most excellent year-end. I hope your holidays are full of friends, family, and happiness. Problems are simply challenges helping you along the path to success and hopefully we've written something here which can help you overcome the obstacles you're facing (or will encounter down the road).

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. Standards for Outdoor LED Digital Signage

  21. 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

  23. The importance of being "in" the know with Digital Signage

  24. Your Customers Return The Investment You Make In Them

  25. Keep it simple

  26. No Free Lunch, Only Buy and Sell Quality LED Displays

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

  8. Power of Communication for Non-Profit Organizations

  9. Why Digital Signage is Important

  10. How plazas, malls, and multi-tenant locations benefit from LED 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
  17. Importing from China (buyer be very wary).
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. 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)
  16. Digital Signage is more than a dynamic commercial - it's about communication.

  17. The Gold Rush Continues

  18. Financing & Leasing Options for DS

  19. Creating Lifetime Fans

  20. Demand Attention and Target Your Audience With Outdoor LED Signs

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, December 11, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: Your Digital Signage, an Extension of Your Brand

- T. Scott Hofheins

Branding in essence is just a symbol that everyone can immediately identify. While branding cattle is pretty much permanent, branding an organization or person is a much more fluid process, a process that needs to be updated and managed proactively over time. Extending your brand to digital signage is an important part of your approach that should not be forgotten. This is true for both indoor and outdoor signage.

While it’s easy to see successful branding efforts, it can be harder to see the others because they are...unsuccessful. Good branding will include as many outlets as possible including, print, radio, television, web, and digital signage. What tends to happen with digital signage, particularly outdoor, is operators forget to keep it updated and fresh. When it’s new, it’s exciting to use and program, but as time goes on it can turn into another thing “on the list” that get’s pushed aside.

When people see you, they want to feel comfortable that you are going to provide what they need:  food, car repair, A/C service, medical care, religion, and many more. Consistency in your message is key to this and why branding is so important. It shows your viewers that you are organized and care about your product, service and customers. Continuing your brand image onto your digital signage is important to maintain that consistency.  

This is your calling card to the general public, and may be the only way some of your potential customers are able to be reached. It makes sense to treat the sign as you would any print, radio, or TV commercial. This is sometimes hard to do because of the smaller format, but worth the effort.

  • Don’t be scared to simplify the message. Take the root meaning of your larger format ads, and bottom line it for the viewers.
  • Maintain the same colors and font types as your existing ads, but tweaked for the special nature of LED signs. Some fonts may look good on print, but too thin on an LED sign. Avoid white backgrounds to maintain the viewers focus on the message itself.
  • Trust the pros. If you have a graphic design team use them for the sign too, or use a content creation service. It’s worth it.

These displays are a bit easier to extend your brand too. They are typically higher resolution (HD) and much of your existing advertising media can be converted directly, but there are still some important items to consider.
  • Keep them looking. In many cases, these viewers are already customers or have already made a decision to be one. Continue the branding and keep them happy, confirm that their choice was a good one.  
  • Continue to simplify the message. While not as drastic as outdoors signage may be, indoor digital displays still need to be to the point and readable. Make sure they flow with your existing branding.
  • More fonts and design approaches can be used. You've got a larger canvas, your media can be more content rich with videos and artistic flair to draw the viewers in.
  • Identify the role. Digital menu boards, point of sale displays, waiting room displays, and information kiosks, are some of the many ways you can use indoor digital signage. They all have different roles to play, make sure your content is displayed accordingly.
  • Trust the pros (again).   As I mentioned before, utilize your in house graphics team, or contract a service. Good content can mean the difference between a passive digital display and a powerful advertising tool.

Make sure the platform you choose to create, manage, and schedule your content will allow you to fulfill your branding goals. To do this, the platform should provide an easy and logical way to manage your digital network, outdoor and indoor. My good friend Deacon Wardlow made a great point recently when we were discussing the subject. He compared it to a tool belt, where you have certain tools for certain jobs, some platforms work well for certain applications, while others work for different ones. The key (as we always promote on this blog) is to be educated.

Don’t Forget
If you pull nothing else away from this article, remember this: Don’t forget about your Digital Signage. It is truly an extension of your brand, and should reflect the image you have worked so hard to create. If you are new to digital signage, I recommend you take the plunge and look into the advantages of this technology. If you’re already in it, take a look at what you’ve got and see if you can make it more effective, consistent, and branded.


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, December 3, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: 'Tis The Season To Maximize Your LED Sign's Effectiveness.

The end of year Holiday Season is a prime time to maximize sales for retailers. While the future of the US economy may not hinge on every dime collected, as the media promotes, December does boast at least a 25% increase over the average monthly retail volume. And for some small businesses, strong December sales can be the difference between “ongoing” and “defunct”. Effective use of an on-premise LED sign by the business owner can add that extra boost that everyone is hoping for.

For churches too, the Holiday Season is prime time for LED sign usage- events, information, and spiritual messaging! This is their time to put that LED sign to work and recoup their investment by great communication and information sharing. Churches have different parameters for success than a retail operation but new worshipers, smiling board members, and a spike in Holiday giving makes everyone happy.

Here are five quick suggestions to maximize LED sign effectiveness during the Holidays, or really on any day:
  • Show- Don’t Tell.   Drivers have seconds to view your message, that is a very short exposure time.  Advertising is imagery and drivers may have the time to read words and translate them to your intended image. Or maybe they won’t have the time or focus. Just display an image. Attention spans are also short at 45 mile-per-hour, so be efficient and shoot your best shot. I always recommend professionally produced content.
  • Color Is Better. The impact of a full-color LED sign is 300 percent that of a single-color display with grayscale shading variations. With the price of full-color LED signs approaching the cost of a single-color display the extra cost is more than worth it. Go color, color is much more effective.
  • Brevity- Keep It Simple. In keeping with bullet point "Show- don’t tell", if you are using a text-oriented display message, “less is more”.  If you’re selling hot dogs (for example), leave your creative writing skills at home and opt for “Delicious Hot Dogs .99” instead of “Come on in and sample our delicious hot dogs, only .99”. Like the Geico commercial, everybody knows this, but why do so many LED signs require messages that scroll on and on and on?
  • Be Community Friendly. So many LED signs are blinding at night and that can be a nuisance to drivers trying to drive safely. With all the normal Holiday distraction, being momentarily blinded by your LED sign is not the way to attract new customers. I know several LED signs around town like this and why the owners insist on annoying every night-time passerby is anyone’s guess. Also, why waste money when there is no traffic or minimal traffic- turn the sign on and off via your scheduling software.  Use that software also to turn down the LED sign brightness at night. Remote network control is a plus- you no longer need to be at the office computer!
  • Political Correctness. And finally- relegate your political opinion, religious beliefs and humor to your online blog, church, or man cave. At best you’ll alienate ½ your customers with your political opinion. Watch your attempts at humor, as well, because you may not really be as funny as you might think and people are easily offended. Everyone already knows what the true meaning of Christmas is supposed to be so if you need to remind them, do it gently unless you are, of course, a church! Your goal is to increase sales and you need all of your customers to do that.
So, if you are using an LED sign to boost your sales or promote your organization- the Holiday Season is a perfect time. Be smart, and follow a few common sense ideas to make it work for you. Remember Santa is “making a list and checking it twice…” and he knows if you’ve been LED sign “naughty or nice”.

This blog post represents my personal perspective and does not reflect the opinion of Vantage LED, Inc. or SignVine, Inc. or any other person or organization. Thank you to Vantage LED for allowing me to pen a guest blog every 3 weeks. If you have constructive feedback please email me at  - Mike Prongue