A decade ago most of us sat in awe when viewing a huge full color full motion video screen at a professional sports stadium, or at a concert by one of many famous international musical groups. That cutting edge technology is available today at a fraction of the cost of products manufactured ten years ago, and the visual experience is far superior! If your company has an annual advertising budget of $50,000 or more, the question is no longer “can we afford an electronic message center”, it has become “can we afford NOT to invest in an EMC.?
Consider the following facts from the Small Business Administration:
1) According to the Small Business Administration, sales increase between 15 and 150% when an electronic message center is installed.
2) Electronic message centers allow an unlimited number of message changes and variable controls, all easily completed with a computer. The result is lower labor cost and elimination of the physical liabilities often associated with copy changes on traditional reader boards.
3) Electronic Message centers communicate variable messages as people pass by, allowing greater flexibility in communicating to the public.
4) With their automated dimming and focusing systems, electronic message centers can respond to the visibility needs of the public, increasing safety and conspicuity day and night.
5) The flexibility offered by electronic message centers means your business can advertise specials while also displaying public service information or other items of public interest.
6) Electronic message centers can quickly "brand" your business site in the local community.
7) Electronic message centers are an investment in your business and provide the best and most cost-effective forms of paid advertising. The only form of advertising that may be more powerful is word of mouth (although it can be neither purchased nor controlled).
8) The effectiveness of an electronic message center is not limited by space or surface area constraints as with a reader-board.
9) Electronic message centers act as your "salesman on the street," attracting new customers to your business location.
10) Electronic message centers allow you to market your products and services to your immediate trade area and prevent wasteful advertising expenses.
11) The business owner can change the message as needed to provide information to specific retail customers, and can be used for political, social or community events.
12) Software is available that enables a business owner to display sophisticated logos or images on the EMC precisely as planned.
An Answer to the Challenge of Changing Demographics
The public - your existing and potential customers - is on the move, both literally and figuratively, and sometimes catching their attention is like hitting a moving target. Consider that approximately 18.6% of Americans move every year. Whether they move a short or long distance, they usually change their basic trade area. Add to that the fact that 15-35% of the traffic on a given street is "just passing through"(vacation travelers and such), and you can see the great potential for single stops by those unfamiliar with the area. An electronic or variable message center offers a unique way to capture the attention of these passers-by. An EMC allows you to communicate more effectively with the typical person passing by at a particular time day by changing the message and graphic of your sign to match the profile on the street. The local airport in Monmouth, NJ offers a clever example of this flexibility. The airport used its display to advertise price specials at peak hours to those traveling by on the freeway on the way to and from work. During shopping hours or after-school traffic, the airport changed its display to offer community service messages. This kind of flexibility increases the readership of a message unit, as it can correspond to the traffic profile by the day of the week, the time of day, or the season. With the right software, virtually any message can be created and displayed. The demand by businesses for these electronic or variable message centers is increasing because these signs improve the economic viability of difficult commercial sites with limited space. Municipalities that wish to prevent urban sprawl or deterioration of urban land are passing enabling acts that require optimization of urban space, and thus are more willing to look at EMCs as a signage option for businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions about EMCs
We have a sign; why does my business need a message center?
Consider for a moment the speed at which traffic passes by the average business. A motorist has only a few seconds to see and comprehend any given sign. For example, on a street with traffic passing at 45 miles per hour, a car that is 500 feet in front of a given sign will have only 7.6 seconds to read the sign before it passes, under normal driving conditions. A business' sign must be conspicuous if it is to catch the attention of passing motorists within the limited amount of time available. Motorists often spot electronic message centers quickly because the copy changes, the letters are illuminated, and the signs have traditionally been used as public service devices.Additionally, electronic message centers may have greater visibility from further distances, especially in poor lighting conditions, giving the motorist additional time to read the message displayed while safely maneuvering his or her vehicle. Message Centers act as a consolidating type of advertising. In other words, they offer businesses a way of posting a variety of information in one place rather than relying on numerous signs and banners displayed in windows, for example. This can be a real advantage for a business located in a district with strict rules about temporary signs. Most importantly, the electronic message center almost always increases a business' share of revenue. This is a result of the "Branding" of the site through the use of specific logos, reinforcement of other advertising messages, allowing for public service notices, generating exact impulse stops, and helping to change customers' buying habits once they have stopped.
Is an electronic message center a cost-effective advertising medium?
Yes. Businesses often select their advertising medium, and messages, based upon the cost per thousand exposures of their message to the public. ON this basis, no other form of advertising comes close to matching the efficiency and cost-effectiveness, dollar for dollar, of an electronic message display. Compare the figures below:
· Newspaper advertising - the cost on average is about $7.39 for 1000 exposures within a 10- mile radius of the business location.
· Television advertising - The cost on average is approximately $6.26 per 1000 exposures.
· Radio advertising - The cost is about $5.47 per 1000 exposures.
· New LED electronic message center display - The cost is less than $0.15 per 1000 exposures. How? Assume, for example, that you spend $30,000.00 on this type of system, and that its useful life is about ten years. The amortized daily cost of the message center would equal about $2.74. Add to this the daily cost of electricity for this new LED unit (approximately $0.20), thus giving your business a daily message center expense total of $8.82. With a daily traffic count of 20,000 vehicles passing your business, you would have a cost of less than $0.45 per thousand exposures (counting drivers only)!
Best of all, with an electronic message center, a business does not have to worry about missing its target audience, becoming "yesterday's news," or facing expensive production costs for changing its message , as happens frequently with the other forms of advertising mentioned.
With an electronic variable message display:
· The business owns the form of advertising
· The advertising works for the business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
· The sign acts as the "salesman on the street" attracting customers into the business
· The advertising speaks directly to the potential customers as they drive past the business location, and the EMC makes the business a landmark in its community. Finally, many message center manufacturers provide leasing programs, which include service and maintenance, thereby providing another option for covering the cost of usage.
Please contact the Small Business Administration for more information.
Before you decide that these incredible devices are beyond your scope of understanding or ability to operate, consider the fact that, with a rudimentary understanding of personal computers, within a couple of hours of "hands on" experience you will have a firm grasp of what it takes to run your new electronic message center. If you have the ability to use Microsoft software, electronic message centers will provide little challenge.
A common misunderstanding is that there must be constant communication between your computer and the electronic message center. In reality, this communication is only necessary when the user changes the message schedule, and it takes about 5 seconds for the transmission.
Electronic message centers range from small simple "time and temperature" displays to full color boards with the ability to show movie clips. You may choose between Mono(single color/text only), Gray Scale(single color with varying number of shades that allows basic graphic display), and Full Color, which offers beautiful realistic renderings of just about anything you can visualize!
One of the most exciting parts of owning an electronic message center is the ability to target your advertisements specifically to the potential customer passing in front of your location, by time, date, Holiday, or any other variable you choose... and if you use your imagination, and devise very tempting ads, that customer will come in your door immediately while your ad is still on his mind. Instant gratification!
One of the most frustrating advertising issues is coordinating ad dates with delivery of product. As a business owner, how many times have you spent thousands of dollars to run advertising on a new and exciting product, only to have the supplier "drop the ball", and not deliver the goods on time? It's happened to all of us... With your new electronic message center, until you push the "send" button your message doesn't change.
How about the other side of the coin... A vendor calls and has acquired one of your best selling items at a tremendous savings and wants to get them out of his inventory very quickly. It's a cash deal, so you want to turn your investment within a short period of time. Your ability to rapidly set up and get ads running on "standard" media is very limited, and could add weeks to the amount of time needed to sell the product. With your new electronic message center, you can target tens of thousands of passersby per day immediately! This provides a real advantage for you, when your competitors don't own an electronic message center.
Time and temperature and public service messages will draw viewers to your electronic message center. Adding "non-sales" oriented public service messages to your schedule will cause those who use your street as a regular route to become accustomed to turning to look at your sign to get the latest updates, which is exactly what you are trying to accomplish.
Bottom line? You can own an electronic message center for less than the yearly cost of a full page Yellow Pages ad. The cost of a yearlong full coverage television or radio advertising campaign could dwarf the investment made in an electronic message center that will last for years, requires very little maintenance, and runs on standard 110 volt AC current.