Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank you one and all!

-Deacon Wardlow
Thank you. Thanks for reading our blog, our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter posts - Thank you to Vantage LED for hosting a space for open, honest, and transparent discussion of Digital Signage issues. Thank you (the readers and contributors) for being inquisitive and wanting to know more.

It's Thanksgiving in the USA and this is an excellent time to reflect on the many things in our lives to be thankful for. Work can definitely be a roller-coaster ride of ups, downs, and a lot of unexpected turns (even when you see something coming, it can still hit you hard). It's important to remember there's a lot to be thankful for.

Even when I've had businesses fail, deals fall apart, and been as low as I thought things could get (boy was I wrong there... things always had another layer of "down"), I found the things I was thankful for were the lessons my mistakes and failures gave me; the friends and family who supported me through the rough times, and the simple things I enjoyed which didn't need money or anything other than a little time set aside to enjoy.

Wherever you are, I invite you to take five minutes (or more if you've got it). Think of the simplest things which give you happiness and be thankful for them. Think of the people who've helped you out along the way in your life and think about the lives you've touched. If there's an opportunity to give thanks by giving some time or resources, do so as you'll find the rewards may not be tangible, but they are definitely amazing and give life the richness and wealth which no amount of money or things can reward you with. The biggest and best part of Thanksgiving isn't necessarily being on the receiving-end of things, but rather the opportunities to give back to those who've given us so much.

I was recently reminded of this when a partner of ours had a special request. Feeding America was looking to expedite an order with Vantage LED, but the non-profit didn't have the money for a rush request. A great opportunity for me to help an organization which helps so many throughout the year. I spoke with the CEO of Vantage LED (Chris Ma) about the situation and he said he wanted to give back something, but what could I do in exchange? I offered 1,000 push-ups to help the client - If I went a bit above and beyond by giving my time and efforts directly in the form of push-ups, perhaps Vantage LED could do the same and push the build through. Chris agreed! I've done 600 of the 1,000 (four more days of painful giving) - while it definitely hurts (I'm reminded I need to get back into shape) - the giving and reward for the non-profit feels great!

Thank you to you and yours this Thanksgiving week. If you have a moment, share what you're thankful for here (it's humbling and inspiring to see what others are doing - so please share as you're able). For those in the USA (and other places) celebrating this week, safe travels and happy Thanksgiving!

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. Direct emails can be sent to for queries and/or assistance.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: Property Owners Benefit From Operating Outdoor Digital Signage for Multi-Tenant Sites.

- T. Scott Hofheins  

I was reading a recent article about new outdoor LED digital signage in Times Square, and the approach many property owners have taken to generate advertising revenue...partner with the tenants. This is not a new approach, we see this in many non Las Vegas/Time Square multi-tenant and single tenant locations across the USA, but the approach is nonetheless solid and logical.

This approach gives you some good options. You have a built in customer base with a vested interest in onsite advertising. This is especially true with larger malls and shopping centers, where it’s worth the money to stand out from the crowd. You can share the upfront cost of the signage with your tenants, or put it up yourself and charge for time slots on the display, or a mixture of both.

These sites can also have some great advantages with regard to regulations and permits. Many sign codes allow for increased square footage specifically for these types of properties. This is typically put in place to allow for better visibility for all the tenants.  Additionally, the length of the street frontage and property size can also provide advantages for increased height and size. This can be used to help get the most exposure from the LED sign.

While it is important to keep the traditional identity signage, using some of that space to increase the size of a high quality LED sign is really a win-win scenario for everyone long term. It brings more people to the site in general. Shoppers may initially stop in because of a certain advertisement on the sign, but as we all know, shopping is rarely a single event, but a chain reaction. Getting more people on the property is good for everyone.  

This may also be one of the best ways to generate advertising revenue for the property owner. Multi-tenant properties have the unique benefit of being able to advertise more than one business on a sign, but it is still considered On-premise advertising. This means the property owner not only has access to lease revenue, but can also gain advertising revenue from the display. Good signage like this also helps retain existing tenants, as well as ensuring the site is attractive to new ones. It is a solid investment when operated correctly.

Keep in mind, this isn’t just for large sites, it is just as effective for smaller locations. Having  5-7 tenants just means they potentially have more time on the display. Again, keeping your site attractive for existing and new tenants. This also doesn’t just apply for traditional shopping centers or malls. Signage works great on vertical office spaces as well. I’ve personally seen this work well for building owners and their tenants.

This is not unlike operating a mini-billboard. Digital billboards aren’t just for the big boys anymore. It’s been exciting to see the success of many smaller private operators in both traditional digital billboards, and on-premise multi-tenant sites. It’s no secret that there is a lot of money to be made in advertising. It’s a huge industry for a reason, and LED signs are a part of it. If you’re a property owner who hasn’t taken the plunge, take a look and you may find a new source of revenue, and a powerful advertising asset for your tenants.


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, November 12, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: Brand Enhancement Using LED Displays

It does not matter if your company is a multinational operation or you work alone in the backroom of a small shop, you already have a "brand" whether you like it or not. A brand is nothing more than the world’s perception of you and your business.

Some say that “perception is reality” and it is derived by those who use your products or services, travel by your storefront, hear what’s being said about you on the community “Coconut Telegraph” and know how your business behaves when the chips are down. Somehow, either by your deliberate efforts, or by lack of attention to the matter, your “brand” has already been created!   

Yes, you can still influence the world's perception of your business, of course. And, you may as well start today, right now, after reading the rest of this article.

Branding has been called your “identity” and it’s the accumulation of all that you are.  It’s the way you are defined internally and externally. If you have not worked to create and improve your brand, then you should consider some strategies which can help:    .

        1)   Identity and Definition: Who are you? Where does your business fit into the marketplace? Think of your brand as a person, or even yourself,  and define your values, appearance, dialogue and goals.    
        2)  Customer Communication: How do you speak consistently to your customers and what do you say? What can you do to influence the customer perception and improve the relationship and lock them in for longer term? How do you respect their intelligence in your message and also create excitement?
        3)  Values and Originality: Don’t be afraid to be original, and stand up for what your company believes in.  Don’t copy other brands- who wants a copy? Always consider what the company is about and what are the values that drive decisions and actions and promote that. Just putting your logo onto everything does not create a brand.

These items point to one key word- Communication. If you are in the Sign Industry then you already realize that it’s a proven fact that on-premise digital LED signs are highly effective in communicating with passersby. Studies done have  proven that digital LED signs can generate enough new business to actually pay for themselves.

But are digital LED signs really the complete answer to branding? Of course not! Branding is the sum total of how your business is perceived but a digital LED sign is a great start to establishing a strong well-known brand, or repairing the brand image you currently have in your community.  Here are 5 suggestions, or rules, of digital LED signs that must be followed for the branding  “magic" to happen and to "Wow" those who pass by your location:

        1)     Quality Content   
        2)     Consistent Messaging
        3)     Hardware Reliability
        4)     Warranty
        5)     Network Control

Quality Content- The fact that quality content is vital cannot be overstated. Professionally created custom slides and videos are mandatory to establish a credible brand. Ten years ago, it was okay to have ANY message on an LED sign as they were “new and cool” and simply owning one re-enforced your brand. That is not true today.  Unless your entire audience is the 9th grade class at your local JFK High School, do not use content created by a student from that school, no matter how talented. Using professionally created content can make a $10,000 sign as effective as a $30,000 sign, and vice-versa.

Consistent Messaging Remember that customers are smart. They may not wish to think about the message you had on the LED sign last week, but part of their brain forces them to recall it when the new message is displayed. Don’t repeat the same thing over and over, but a certain consistency is important. It’s easy to spot the source of new TV commercials before it’s revealed to be Coke or  Geico. The sound is similar, the colors may be similar, the way the ad “feels” is consistent. So, as your team formulates an integrated advertising campaign remember to be consistent and build the brand.

Hardware Reliability- Not all LED signs are alike. If your LED sign fails with regularity, you probably are trying to build a brand using bricks made of marsh mellow.  Do your research before purchasing an LED sign. Use the Internet but also use the telephone- call some LED manufacturers and see which ones will speak with you. If you are perceived as that Taco Stand with the LED sign that flickers constantly and is blinding bright at night, your brand is in trouble.

Warranty- With a solid, long-duration warranty, one that is insured by a 3rd party and is guaranteed to exist, even if the manufacturer does not, you can keep the LED sign looking “perfect”. If you have an LED sign and you have a small problem  that may cost several hundred out-off-pocket dollars to repair, are you less likely to have it repaired? It’s only a couple LED modules that are out! Can’t  you wait awhile? Sure you can wait but can your brand wait? Several thousand cars travel by your business daily and they see what you stand for- procrastination, if you delay repair. But with a great warranty it’s fixed for no charge or a token charge. Having a sign that partially works is like having a sales rep that wears torn blue jeans to call on customers. The warranty protects your brand.

Network Control- An LED sign is a tool- not a lifestyle. It should work for you, not you for the LED sign. Flexibility in changing the message is important. Do you have to do it from a computer at the office? Really? What happens if you need to change the message on the weekend?  iPad platforms exist these days, and for the on-the-go businessman of 2014, being an “office lizard” is non-revenue generating annoyance. Do research on what is available- it’s far more than a gimmick, it is a mandatory access method.

Building a brand is a long-term effort that requires everyone understanding that everything they say and do impacts the brand. Good is quickly forgotten and bad is always remembered. Be careful, go slow, and use a quality, USA manufactured, LED sign to help jump start your brand name and image.

if you are a sign company, it's not good enough to just plant an LED sign into your customer's parking lot and leave it at that. You should champion these rules and educate the customer to help them create a strong brand. 

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. The images for this post are mine and I retain all copyrights. 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 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Digital Signage 101: Do not leave sales to chance, know your partner and your product.

-Deacon Wardlow
While some element of chance (whether fortunate or unfortunate) plays into our lives, winning or losing an opportunity rarely comes down to luck. Timing, ability, proficiency, and competency all come into play regardless of what's being sold/bought.

Repeated winning isn't a miracle or lucky draw. The salesperson who's a constant winner has an excellent team supporting them and (more often than not) has taken it upon themselves to be an expert in what they're representing.

In a market where it seems like there's a new competitor with a new offering at a lower price right around the corner, sales can be daunting (and it's even more daunting for buyers who see 100+ options and don't know which way they should go). Education is the key here. Competence = confidence for both the seller and the buyer. We must take it upon ourselves to learn as much as we can and stay on top of things so we can give fast (and simple) answers to complicated questions. A knowledgeable person can slim the choices down and eloquently explain why their particular solution is the overall best option for a buyer.

This doesn't mean a salesperson has to go out and become an expert in whatever they're selling (nor should the buyer study long and hard on options before a purchase). Buyers and sellers need to know enough to be confident, the companies who produce the things being bought/sold (in my instance, Digital Signage systems and software/cloudware - but perhaps it's computers or lighting or something altogether different) - those companies should be the "go to." The partner to the seller and buyer should be the provider of product who can quickly and easily thin the herd of choices and make it clear why their product stands out as the best choice.

Don't wait for a miracle solution to come along, don't trust in luck of the draw or being first to the table. Knowledge and expertise is key. Manufacturing and product providers need to deliver more than what they make, they need to support you and the end-user with experience and education. When you need an answer quickly, can your partner get the right people involved to deliver or are you left in the dark? First to the table is excellent, but don't get beat out by someone coming in last minute who has a bit more industry knowledge, better technology, and a stronger partner. Test the waters when you can, ask questions which may seem crazy because one day, someone will ask you that same question and expect an answer. Don't leave it to the moment you need help to test whether you'll get it or not... Make sure your partner is educating you whenever possible and available to answer the hard questions when they come around.

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. Direct emails can be sent to for queries and/or assistance.