Wednesday, 08 February 2023

Morgan: Digital signage can help business

Something needs to be done to make the traffic coming and going on Highway 29 through Middletown stop and shop. But, what can be done?


Some have suggested that Caltrans re-route the traffic through the downtown area making the main street through town one way. If nothing else, this would provide more space for parking. But, is more parking space really the problem?


While the parking space available in Middletown needs improving, I do not believe that alone is Middletown's problem. Middletown needs to promote itself better.


The fliers for the town are out-of-date. For example, the wine tasting room featured on the Middletown brochure is now a candy store. Nevertheless, even if the brochure was up-to-date, I doubt that would be enough to make traffic want to stop and shop in the town.


Something more forceful and dynamic needs to be done. Middletown needs digital signage. For that matter, all of Lake County could benefit from digital signage. But, let's start with Middletown the gateway to county.


For months, the Middletown Area Town Hall has been talking about digital signage as a means to draw more attention to the local merchants. You could have one outdoor sign adjacent to the Middletown sign at the north and south end of the town. These signs would alert drivers to what the town has to offer them BEFORE they enter the town. Being dynamic, these signs would change just like a slide show on a computer screen. One sign could tell you a lot about the businesses that are on the main street and the planned activities in the town.


Please be advised, digital signage does not simply work its magic along the highway. It can work its magic along a storefront and even within the post office bulletin board via a flat screen LCD monitor. If you have ever ventured into the Clearlake Wal-Mart and been back in their TV section, you have witnessed digital signage at work. No, that was not a commercial network TV station all those TV sets were featuring. That was digital signage a computer program all those TV sets were running.


Digital signage even works its magic on the Internet. Want proof? See what Kevin Comora, president of Vizicast Multimedia, created for Middletown the last time he came for a visit. Visit www.sftv.com and play the video link, “Middletown USA.” Just be sure to download the "powered by Scala" plug-in before you play the link. Otherwise, it will not work.


Lake County, as reported by this publicationi, want to record meetings with a webcam and place them on the Internet. Well, what the county should do is edit that video BEFORE placing it on the Net. Research has shown that most people do not want to listen or watch anything on the Internet that requires more than 30 minutes of their time. The idea of placing a hour or two-hour session of a Board of Supervisors meeting is definitely a mistake.


But, put up just the highlights? That might work very well. And, digital signage via a program like Scala InfoChannel Designer provides the way to get that done. That is the digital signage software used by more businesses around the world than any other. It is what makes kiosks work in hotels. It's what you see in modern shopping centers and airports.


Lake County has three Visitor Information Centers. One is in Middletown at the Calpine Visitor Center. One is located in Lucerne and one is located inside the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce Office. Well, a touchscreen multimedia kiosk would do wonders for providing up-to-date information about what Lake County has to offer its tourists in all those locations. Want to find a good restaurant or hotel? Just press a button on the touchscreen and you get to see all your options.


What is really awesome about this is that one system can run an unlimited number of screens. Each screen could be running the same multimedia program or one uniquely its own. The same could also be said for Web sites.


But, there's more. The software program can be used to create wonderful multimedia DVDs to be included in Lake County's press kits. Last year, Lake County's Department of Economic Development sent a press kit to Roger Ailes, chairman of the Fox News Channel in support of a letter-writing campaign by Middletown High School students geared to bringing Fox News to Middletown for "Middletown Days."


While the campaign proved successful Fox News sent correspondent Adam Housley to speak at the parade there was no dynamic signage DVD in the press kit. Instead, it simply included a CD with PDF's on it. A dynamic signage DVD would have been much more impressive.


This Saturday, during "Christmas in Middletown," inside the Middletown High School Multi-Use Room, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Kevin Comora returns to educate the local business community on digital signage and what it is capable of doing for them. Since Lake County's Board of Supervisors has proved funds to give Middletown new lights downtown, I think the time has come to give the county NEW marketing resources.


There is currently a moratorium on billboard signage in Lake County. But, according to District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey, there are no rules on the books regarding digital signage. Why? Because Lake County's signage rules have not been updated for 20 years!


Well, I think the time to bring digital signage to Lake County has arrived. What do you think? Before you form an opinion, see digital signage in operation up close and personal this coming Saturday at "Christmas in Middletown." I think this amazing technology will impress you.


Lamar Morgan lives in Middletown.


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