How To Program Your LED Signs For Maximum Effectiveness

I wanted to spend a few minutes writing about some of the principle of programming your Outdoor LED Signs effectively. Here is a short 5 point list that will keep you on the right track, if you follow all the points:

  1. Use ALL CAPS
  2. Avoid Confusing Abbreviations
  3. Make sure the message is up long enough for you to read it out loud, at your NORMAL reading rate
  4. Avoid reverse copy (this is when all the LEDs are lit except the ones which form the letters of the message)
  5. NEVER use a script font

In truth, all five of those points illustrate one of the cardinal rules of Outdoor LED Display Signs: MAXIMIZE READABILITY!

You want to make sure that a driver passing your Sign will be able to read your message at a glance. You do not want him/her to have to strain to read your message. If people can’t read your message at a glance they will stop trying, not just with that message but all future messages. Make it hard enough and you will train people to NOT read your sign and that is definately not what you want.

The absolute acid test for your messages is if people are pulling in to your business because of your sign. If you think something might be amiss our you want to be absolutely certain your message are programmed to maximize readability, hop in your car and drive up and down your street a few times and pretend you are a prospect.

Can you easily read your messages? Do the make sense? Will they be enticing to prospective customers? If you cannot answer “Yes!” to each of these questions you might need to rethink your messages.

Remember, there is no magic to LED Signs, there are only 2 things you need to do make them work:

  1. Maximize Readability
  2. Train People To Look At Your LED Sign

If you do those two things you will make money from your sign so write every message with those two things in mind. There are refinements and specific techniques for accomplishing those things. For some suggestions on the second one, read my article about making your LED Sign a community landmark or look at the Marketing with LED Signs category to the left for even more ideas.

Once you know how you need to program your messages, you need to learn what to program.  What will maximize the number of people coming in to your business? Well, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What specials am I offering?
  • What makes my business different than my competitors?
  • What are my prospective customers looking for?
  • What hidden products or services do I have that would interest people?
  • Are there alternatives to my business and if so how is my business better?

You can probably see where I am going with this, what is your Unique Selling Proposition? Were you voted the best <BLANK> in town? Do you offer free add-on services with every purchase? Do you have a price guarantee?

Tell them why they should pull in and if your reason is good enough, they will!

That is the “what” you should be programming.  Sales, Specials, Advantages. Sell YOUR sizzle and watch your profits soar.

P.S. For those who are interested, I have also set up a blog on my commercial website. So if you are looking for more information about LED Signs, check out my other blog. It will be similar to this one but I will try to make sure I do not write about the same topics in both blogs!

Color LED Signs For Car Dealers, A Perfect Fit

Car Dealerships are one of the industries where I recommend Full Color Outdoor LED Signs. This is because they can sell their products with pictures and videos instead of words. A video of a convertible driving down the coast will evoke an emotional response from anyone who is interested in a convertible. In fact, they will probably be mentally picturing themselves driving that convertible down the coast!

Another advantage to car dealers is they can advertise their exact inventory. Car dealers put the cars they are ‘pushing’ or trying to get off the lot out by the street. Why is this? Because they want all the people in all those cars who are driving by their lots to see those cars. They know the cars by the street will sell the quickest. The problem is there is only so much space by the street. LED Signs allow them to advertise an unlimited number of cars. When they sell one all they have to do is take its advertising frame off of the LED Sign.

Take a look at this video of a Color LED Sign at a car dealership. Do you understand the power this has for the dealer?

Back when I was a traveling salesman I would take a trailer with LED Signs mounted on it and set it up at a business in the town I was working in. That business could advertise on the LED Sign and I got a local demo location. I noticed that when I did this at car lots, the inventory would go quickly. Why? Because they were advertising their specific inventory. When someone saw a car advertised that they were interested in, they would pull in. People can’t read the sticker price in the window of a car but they sure can read it in big bright letters and numbers on an LED Sign!

If your business, like car dealers, can sell using images and video you should consider investing in Color LED Signs. The question to ask yourself is “When selling my product is a picture worth a thousand words or does it take a thousand words to sell my product?”

Restrictions On LED Signs, How Short Is To Short?

I just read an article which said that LED Signs are now allowed in Minooka, IL ( However, the village has placed restrictions on the programming to limit how often frames can change, animations are not allowed, no flashing, no blinking, no scrolling. Is it still financially worthwhile to have an LED Sign in Minooka?

I would answer that question with a loud YES! That probably won’t surprise anyone as I am in the LED Sign business but I do have good reasons. Let me explain.

LED Sign Showing Time And Temperature

LED Sign Showing Time And Temperature

LED Signs have only one purpose: To Make You Money. Anything else they do is just a means to that end.

They accomplish this goal by by getting drivers to read timely, relevant, targeted sales messages on the displays.

The purpose of the animations, flashing blinking, scrolling on programmable LED Signs is to get people to look at the sign where they will read those messages. Whether you are trying to put up an animation which will keep people looking and asking “what will they do next” or just trying to make your sign stand out from the crowd, all that animation on the sign is just to get attention.

Are animations, flashing, etc. the only way to get attention for your sign? NO!!!

If you use a careful mix of time/temperature messages, community messages, and sales messages you can still get people to read your sign. Remember, most of the people who are driving past your business live in your community. They probably pass your sign on a regular basis. They only have to notice your sign once and if you have given them information they want or need, they will look each time they pass by.

In the case of Minooka they also placed a 5 second minimum on the interval between frames. If this is the case in your city as well, it is okay. You just need to carefully consider how many lines of text and how many characters per line you will need to display an entire message in one frame.  That is still 12 messages per minute and 720 message per hour.

In an environment like Minooka it is even more important to keep your LED Sign content fresh. Make sure there is new information on your sign at least once a day and preferrably twice a day.

If your city has even longer intervals between changes you will want to take a look at Outdoor Color LED Signs and consider if using images might help your LED Signs effectiveness.

Sometimes you have to be creative but LED Signs make sense.

Do You Own A Fast Lube? LED Signs Are A Perfect Fit!

It has been a while since I posted but I have a good excuse…I have been sick. Not to worry everything is better now!


Today I am going to write a post about a specific industry: the fast lube industry. If you just a little bit of imagination I am sure you will be able to take this information and apply it to your particular industry.


I won’t name any specific ‘brands’ but I am sure you know what I am talking about, the places where you pull in and get you oil changed.


The economy is tough right now for everyone. People are spending less and going longer between oil changes. That means tough times for oil change facilities. Or does it?


The Perfect Industry For LED Signs


Oil change businesses are in a uniquely great position. Here is what I mean:


Everything Single Car That Passes Their Shop Is A Potential Client


That is huge. Very few businesses can make that claim.


The trick is diverting that traffic into the facility where they can capitalize on it. Many oil change businesses have an arsenal of advertising ‘tricks’ they use to try to boost their sales volume.


They will put out ‘Half Off’ coupons in the local papers. They will have a ‘Ladies Day’. They will put a dancing blow up thing in front of their shop. And on and on.


The problem is that people can bring in the coupon at a high volume time and demand ½ off tying up a bay that could be servicing a car at full price. The same thing can, and does, happen with ‘ladies day’. As for the inflatable dancing whatever, that is just tacky and makes the business look bad.


What these businesses really want to do is control WHEN they offer the specials. If the bays are all empty, put up a message that says ‘Bay Open – No Waiting” or “Half Price oil Change Ladies – No Waiting’.


I am sure you get the idea, don’t allow your ‘high volume full price’ times to be used by ‘half price’ customers. YOU need to control when those specials are available.


LED Signs put you in the perfect position to do that.   You can instantly create specials and you can instantly stop specials. Outdoor LED Signs allow you to have complete control of your pricing.


While you are at it why not advertise some of your hidden products and services such as wiper changes, radiator flushes, winterizing, etc. Remember, you can put out weather and season specific messages on your LED Sign. If it is raining, advertise wiper changes. Is it almost winter? Better advertise your winterizing specials!


LED Signs allow you display up-to-the-minute message to those hundreds or thousands of cars passing your facility.


If you would like to read a longer article on this topic, check out this link:


LED Signs for Fast Lube Operators

How To Increase Your Profit Margins Using LED Signs

I recently had a a prospective client tell me they were already doing as much business as they could handle. They said they didn’t have time for more work. Sounds like a good problem to have right?

Why would this person possibly want a business producing LED Sign  in front of their business bringing in more business when they are already swamped?

In their case the benefit is in changing the type of work they are doing.

Let me explain. This company is an fast lube/mechanic. They are currently doing a lot of engine and transmission rebuilds. I asked them if they had other types of work they would prefer to do, work that was less time consuming with a higher profit margin. They replied that they would prefer to do more, smaller jobs because there is a better margin and less time required.

From there the benefit for them became obvious to me (and probably you the reader as well). They could advertise their higher margin, less time consuming jobs on their LED Signs. That would drive in business for those jobs they would prefer to be doing. Suddenly they would find themselves in a position where they are making just as much or more money but they are working a lot less to make the money! Now that is a situation I would like to be in!

LED Signs allow you to ‘push’ the products and services you want. Using LED Signs you can increase your sales of your higher profit margin products and/or services.

Here is what I recommend you do:

  • Look at all of your offerings
  • Figure out which ones give you the best return/margin
  • Figure out which types of services or products you would PREFER to sell
  • Advertise those products and/or services on your LED Signs

If you do that you start finding yourself with the problem of having to much time and money!

For more information on LED Signs, visit my commercial site

Do You Have ‘Hidden’ Products or Services? Use Your LED Signs To Promote Them!

Many businesses have ‘hidden’ products and services. For instance, most people know fast lube store can change your oil but maybe you don’t know they can change your wipers, or flush your radiator, or check your exhaust. Likewise everyone know you go to a travel agent for tickets but not everyone knows you can also get trip insurance, or savings on bundled travel packages.

These are types of products and services are hidden, not everyone know you offer them.

So what can you do to let them know? Put them on your LED Signs!

Using Outdoor LED Signs For Promotion

When you are considering what to advertise on your LED Signs, ask yourself these 2 questions:

  • What products or services does everyone “know” I offer?
  • What related products or services might they not know about?

If you own a restaurant that is know primarily as a dinner destination, advertise your lunch specials. If you are a church, advertise your small groups. If you are an auto dealership, advertise your mechanic services.

I think you get the idea. You want to let the hundreds and thousands of people driving past your location know about everything you have to offer that they might not have known about.

Using Indoor LED Signs For Promotion

Okay, you have people in your business, now what? Use an indoor display to keep advertising to them! You have a fantastic window of opportunity as they walk to your front door and once they are in your store to let them know about your ‘hidden’ stuff.

The last thing you want is for a customer to leave your business to go somewhere else to get something you offer, especially if the only reason they don’t get it from you is because they don’t know you offer it!

Once they are in your store (or walking in to your store) keep hitting them with sales messages! Tell them about your specials. Tell them about sales. Tell them about all your hidden products. Never stop telling them. Like the saying goes: “The more your tell, the more you sell”!

You can read my post on Maximizing Sales With Indoor LED Signs to read more information.

Programming Your Monochrome LED Signs & LED Displays Effectively

Today I am going to spend some time on how to effectively program your Monochrome LED Signs and LED Displays.

There are two major categories for programming LED Signs, Color LED Signs and Monochrome LED Signs. Grayscale LED Signs follow the same basic rules as Color LED Signs.

The way you program Color LED Signs and Monochrome LED Signs EFFECTIVELY are different. If you want to get the most bang for your buck you need to be sure you are using the right techniques.

I will cover Color LED Signs in a later article.

Start With The Basics

This might seem to basic, but:

  • Make sure your whole message is visible

You would be surprised at how often I see LED Signs with letters clipped off. This not only reduces the effectiveness of your message but it makes your business look bad. Remember, not everybody is going to buy from you today so part of your purpose of your LED Sign is to create Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA) so when they need your product or service they will think of you. If you have left a bad impression with them, they will not think of you the next time they need what you offer.

Next, make sure your message makes sense. Don’t be clever, be clear. Make your messages easy to read and understand. If your prospects can’t read and understand your message ** at a glance ** you have wasted a message and maybe lost a sale.

Mid Level Programming Steps

Your messages should be in ALL CAPS. You want to do this because it maximizes the size of the letters on your display which maximizes the readability of your message. Burn into your brain right now that your main objective is to get your messages read and understood. Anything you do with your LED Signs needs to be done with this in mind.

The next thing to do is use the boldest font you can and still fit your message on the LED Sign. Just like with the last tip this is to maximize your readability and hence your effectiveness.

Which font is best? I can’t give you the name of a specific font to use because people have different fonts on their computers. What I can do is give you some guidelines for selecting which font you will use.

First, NEVER use a script font. These are almost always hard for your prospects to read. Remember, make your messages clear and understandable for your prospects.

Second, use a Sans Serif font. Arial Black is an example of a Sans Serif font and Times New Roman is an example of a Serif font. I recommend this because it adds a slight edge to readability.

Third, make sure your messages stay up long enough to be read but not for to long. The rule of thumb I use is: read the message out loud, if you can read the message before the frame changes, it has been up long enough.

Top Level Programming Steps

To scroll or not to scroll, that is the question.

I personally recommend staying away from scrolling messages unless they are absolutely necessary to get the whole message out. Here is why. Can you read the following:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

The human mind is an incredible computer and can figure things out faster than you would believe. Scrolling a one line message will take longer than using 3 lines to display the same message all at once. For the same reason your able to read the scrambled paragraph above your prospects will be able to read a message at a glance.  That means you will be able to get more messages in front of your propsects by NOT scrolling messages.

Make sure you include Time/Temperature and community messages. These types of messages are what train your prospects to look at your sign every time they pass. Obviously they have to read your sales messages while they wait for the time/temp and community messages. You should have a mix of (1) time/temp, (1) community message, and 6-8 sales messages.

To Sum Up

Here are my programming tips in a list (this is for the Anal Retentive people like me):

  1. Make sure the whole message is visible
  2. Make your messages clear and concise
  3. Use ALL CAPS
  4. Use a bold Sans Serif Font
  5. Do NOT use a script font
  6. Make sure your message is up long enough to be read
  7. Avoid scrolling messages
  8. Mix in time/temp and community messages

There it is, my top 8 programming tips.

If you would like to see some well programmed LED Signs and LED Displays check out these links:

If you would like more information on Outdoor Monochrome LED Signs, just click the link!

If you have any questions please leave a comment and I get you an answer.