Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Digital Signage Sales 101: The Tech Train is Leaving the Station

When everyone was “day trading” stocks during the hot stock market, back in the late 1990s- I was there. I eventually became a stockbroker but cut my teeth on day trading tech stocks. I was enthralled with emerging technology probably more so than actually the financial technicals of the underlying equity- DSL, communication systems, cellular system evolution and manufacturing the machines that make the machines.

As with any market there was a underground of scallywags who manipulated the penny stock market with false stories and message board posts. A common title might read “The train is ready to leave the station, all aboard!” So foolish investors would rush in to buy, and drive up the price of the penny stock. Then the scallywag sells out, makes a pocketful of loot, the stock price plummets and the late investors get burned. It happened all the time.

But regarding technology, when do you jump on that train? Note that the “technology train” never really leaves the station with you standing on the passenger platform waving goodbye. It’s track is a circle so it leaves the station to the North, just as it’s caboose enters the station to the South. You can’t really miss technology, it just depends when you want to jump on board.

Why would an LED sign end-user not buy today? Why do so many pizza joints and doctor’s offices still stand on the passenger platform in that technology train station and watch the train go by, over and over again.

I think the primary reason is that end-users (and perhaps their sign company) really still fail to see the LED sign as paying for itself with superior, cost-effective advertising, and increased sales revenues. Do you believe it?

Many of you are expecting me to toss that old Small Business Administration (SBA) study that everyone uses down onto the table and quote it verbatim. I could, because it’s correct, but I’ll do my own worse-worse case scenario on revenue generation.

Quoting only one line from that study:

“ Businesses who added an outdoor LED sign enjoyed typical sales increases of 15%-150%.”

Let’s say they only see a 10% increase in their business. Further, another SBA report says that the average sales revenue of a small business (100 employees or less) is $3,000,000. We all know that is very high because so many very small businesses are viable customers. So, let’s divide that number by 10, and say the average sales revenue is only $300,000, per annum.

Math time:

Sales increase of $300,000 x 10% is $30,000.

Assume a margin of 33%, ie- every dollar brought in, 66% is used to cover the cost of goods.

So, about $10,000 of increased income  is coming from those hot ads running on the LED sign.

If a $25,000 LED sign is financed for 4 years at 8% interest, the payment is, about $600 per month or $7,200 per year.

So if you can increase profit by $10,000 for a $7,200 expense, is that a good deal, or what? And, what if this “worst-case” scenario is too conservative?

Think about it. What happens after the 4 year financing period? The display will probably last a lot longer than that assuming the pizza joint doesn’t want to re-visit that technology train early and get a better one. Say it lasts 8 years. Years 5-8 don’t have any payment or interest charges associated with them. “Free Money” so to speak.

My guess is that the sign company either doesn’t show these facts to the pizza joint owner, or the sign company doesn’t believe it. Another possibility is that the sign company estimator is not that used to this simple scenario and could benefit from some role play on improving  his presentation. A simple “fill in the blank” worksheet could help and it’s simple to create.

Somehow you have to convince your customer that now is the time relinquish all fears and  jump on that “Technology Train”. Some manufacturer’s make it easier on the customer by providing professional content and easy-to-use, yet powerful, software.

Remember too that you can overcome customer objections but not excuses. Fear of complex technology is an objection- make it simple for them by doing your homework and finding the manufacturer that is shifting industry paradigms. Professional content and great software is not a promise of the future its out there right now.

Do your due diligence and figure it out!

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 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Digital Signage 101: Digital Signage doesn't work! Here's why...

-Deacon Wardlow
We've seen success and we've experienced failure, if you haven't experienced failure then just wait around a bit and it'll catch up to you soon enough. We learn from our mistakes (and, when we're lucky, the mistakes of others). As Zig Ziglar said, "If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost." Try to tell your clients that though...

Digital Signage (DS) can be awesome, amazing, subtle, powerful, pointed, quiet, and a multitude of things, but more often than not, it's a failure. Why? Why would I write this when so many people tout the great leaps and bounds int he market. The huge market share DS is taking up... The gains DS is making within various industries (both profit and non-profit)? Obviously something is working for somebody. Here are the big three.

Feed the beast or it'll eat you alive. Content not only needs to be fresh, interesting, and timely, it needs to be good. It's not enough to slap a picture on a screen with a witty saying or a pricepoint. Where's the call to action? Why put up,"$0.99 hot dogs," when you can say,"First 10 customers - $3 for 2 hot dogs and a 16 ounce soda!" Give people a reason to take advantage of an opportunity (and help them identify an"opportunity when it happens). You can lead a horse to water, but the trick is making him drink when you need him to.

We live in the age of amazing tech where a toddler can pickup a tablet and get to their favorite game or TV show before they can even speak! SIMPLE IS BEST. If the system seems too complex and there's no direct benefit, see if there's a better (simpler) way to do things. The simpler a system is to use, the easier it is for the clients (the organization using the DS solution) to manage and update. The more the DS solution is updated with fresh and interesting content, the better its chances are of achieving that return on investment (ROI) or return on objective (ROO) the organization had in mind when they first envisioned having a DS solution in place.

Too many cooks in the kitchen
I was recently speaking with a DS client who had a great system (a combination of LED displays and LCD interior systems which were synchronized and had a solid, consistent brand and message running throughout the locations). I noticed things were looking splicy (fonts were different, the branding was confusing, and the message outside wasn't consistent with the content inside). Specials advertised on the LED Sign weren't synced up with the LCD displays and the information wasn't correct. I asked the manager what happened. They replied management decided to have one department manage the LED displays (to bring in customers) and another marketing team would handle the interior LCD displays. The teams weren't talking and there was nobody in charge of the complete package to ensure the message was constant and consistent across platforms. The regional manager eventually got everyone to go to a site and they agreed to have one person be responsible for the overall program. When too many people are given control, nobody really has control. Make sure the DS system in place has a definitive person and/or place where, "The buck stops" when it comes to management and content choices.

DS is awesome to work with. After attending the CES (Commercial Electronics Show) in Las Vegas this month, my brain is flooded with the amazing possibilities to integrate new technology to make DS more interactive, more dynamic, and not just about the LCD screen, but the overall experience. The failure of a technology isn't in what it can deliver, it's in how the technology is managed and used.

Make sure whatever DS solution is recommended, the client is comfortable with the system and confident in how to use it to get the most out of their displays. The reason Digital Signage doesn't work isn't because of the displays, or the content, or the systems. At the end of the day, the reason is as simple as someone not taking the time to speak with a client and make sure they get what they need. There's an urge to sell everyone a sports car when they really need a pickup truck. Listen to the client and deliver the right system for their situation and you'll come out with a much better solution at the end of the day.

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, January 15, 2014

Digital Signage Need To Know: Full Color LED Signs vs Single Color Red or Amber

-Scott Hofheins

Full color LED sign,or single color (monochrome) sign? Decisions, decisions; what is the better investment? This is an important question presented to many potential LED sign buyers that will have long term consequences. Traditionally, single color signs are less expensive and you can get a larger physical size for the same amount. Unfortunately this is where the benefits end, and the reality of the current trends in LED signage begin.

Look just above the following pictures, not directly at them:

Which one draws your attention more? For most people, it will be the color graphic. Human instinct tends to focus on the most prominent object in a given area, perhaps an ancient survival tool used long ago. The public is going to make the decision to look at your sign, based heavily on their peripheral vision.
Which advertisement looks more appetizing? Its a proven fact that colors communicate specific messages to the human subconscious. Fast food companies like McDonald's and Wendy’s have been capitalizing on this for decades.
Which message communicates love and peace more effectively? Its not just corporations that can use colors to maximize the effect of their message. Supporting graphics, and colorful text add much more meaning to the LED sign content.

Separate Yourself

In a world of static signs and manual copy boards, single color LED signs create quite an impression. However, in a world of higher resolution full color LED signs, single color signs just don’t stand out like they used to. The public is much more picky about where to divert their attention.

This is not to say that single color signs are completely out of the game, far from it. They still have some very effective applications that focus on pure data delivery and where viewers are somewhat captive. Locations like factory floors, outdoor way-finding areas, stock tickers, loading bays and security checkpoints are all great examples. However, when it comes to demanding the attention of the public, full color signs are the way to go.

You want to separate yourself from the others. Drivers have plenty to look at, why choose you? By using a color sign, and rich content, you give them the push they need to see your messages. It’s not just text anymore, they are seeing close up shots of great food, great products, or important religious symbols. Simple text advertisements are replaced with a fully branded call to action, colorful and exciting.


The cost gap between full color and single color is continuing to close. New technologies, manufacturing techniques, and the proliferation of LED signs across the globe have been extremely helpful in making these signs affordable to churches, schools, small businesses and municipal organizations everywhere.

This means that the extra investment in a full color unit is much more valuable (in most cases) than the money you would save on a single color.  If you intend to advertise anything on the sign including products, your organization, or offsite ads, you're going to want to lean toward a full color unit, especially if you are in a high visibility location.

An LED sign is a long term investment, and it’s worth a little more upfront cash to ensure a maximum return on the investment over the lifetime of the sign. I recommend you really look at the reasons you need an LED sign. Are you trying to draw attention to your location? Are you advertising products, people, events or righteous path? Is your sign have access to a large number of potential patrons or advertising partners? If the answer is yes to any of these, seriously consider a full color unit.


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, January 8, 2014

Digital Signage Sales 101: What Is True Customer Service?

One July day, many years ago, I crawled up a ladder to change the plastic letters on a reader board at my family’s car stereo store in Rockledge, FL. It was late in July and the aluminum ladder had been baking in the direct sun for hours. I stepped onto it and grabbed the hot metal rail and so began an hour of pain. 

“Speed Trap Ahead- Cobra Radar Detectors $99,” eventually appeared on both sides of the 4’x8’ reader board. Other businesses admired our changeable, on-premise, outdoor media. But they were not the poor schmuck who had to sort through the box of letters, crawl up the ladder, line them up and then put it all away in the 95ยบ heat.

Thank God some smart person invented LED display technology and adapted it to outdoor messaging and digital display.

Beware still because even with all the resources available, all LED sign manufacturers are not the same. There are many ways to differentiate between them- price, reliability, USA or foreign, technologically advanced, but most importantly is customer service.

What is customer service? It’s everything that’s not a customer disservice. Fundamental to true customer service is what’s found deep in the heart and soul of the company. Many companies preach “the customer is King” but their “castle of promises” is made of sand instead of limestone. The first little wave and they crumble hopelessly. It’s not always good to be “King”.

Is a company doing all they can every day in every way for their customers?  How do they make the customer experience memorable, or is each customer just a fattened steer in a cattle chute? Do you think some companies ever consider the world through their customer’s eyes or do they just sell a commodity LED sign? Then, each night as they lock up they have a group prayer so in the morning not too many angry customers will call. I've seen this before, it’s not pretty.

Everything a Company Does Builds their Legacy

"Every Breath You Take"
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you!

This song by the English musician Sting summarizes it. Companies are held accountable for everything they say and do. In today’s digital age there truly is no carpet to sweep mistakes under. Accountability comes in the form of a diminished reputation which translates into missed sales. Prices are well known, mistakes are instantly on some group chat, and when a company says “no” instead of “heck yes” a digital black mark is recorded somewhere. 

This means a company has to be proactive with their treatment of customers and try to offer solutions, excellent product, leading-edge technology and do it before the customer asks for it. They have to be committed to making the customer’s life better and easier.

And, oh yes, the best companies enjoy doing this and appear to have fun delivering service to the customer. Make it fun; easy to say, but hard to do for some organizations.

Don’t Sell an LED Sign, Sell an Advertising Solution

The company that made the old reader board with the changeable plastic letters sold a sign.  They probably thought that by selling the steel commodity they were selling an advertising solution and, for that era, they may have been correct.

But now, 2014, so many LED sign choices are available, global choices, many with similar hardware and decent reliability they all begin to morph into a “digital wheat” of sorts – a commodity.

Smart LED sign manufacturers, proactive, customer-service focused LED manufacturers realize that a glowing metal box is not an advertising solution. They live for a day in their customer shoes and inject added value components into their offering that go beyond the hardware alone:
  • Professionally produced content. The customer does not have to waste time and resources making their own messages, slides and animation.
  • On-site service plans that ensure the LED sign is not a recurring drain on resources. Even the offer of this type of service plan speaks to the underlying reliability of what they sell.
  • Remote access of LED sign networks from various electronic platforms.
  • True “bend over backwards” support from initial on-site demos to customized software.
  • Easy to use software that allows the end-user maximum control with minimal learning.
By creating an advertising solution the smart LED sign manufacturer creates a unique niche in the market place and virtually guarantees the end-user that their LED sign will work hard for them and provide a return on investment. Also by offering these advantages the LED sign manufacturer creates a loyal following in the marketplace and carves out a lofty position in the industry.

This is real customer service- provide a solution. Of course you have to do all the other stuff too. Why? Because customers are watching you and they are informed and smart!

Do your homework before establishing a relationship with a LED sign manufacturer. Check them out, call their home office and see how long it takes before speaking to someone “in the know”. Every company tells you who they are, in one way or another. All you have to do is listen.

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