We Have Moved Our Offices!

After about 10 years at our old offices in Clifton near the university of Cincinnati we have sold our buildings and moved to the up and coming downtown neighborhood of Over The Rhine (OTR for short).  We are located at 1428 Race Street just a half block north of Washington Park and across the street from this historic church that will soon become the Taft Ale House (yeah, not bad eh?).  Thanks to 3CDC for helping us get into the new Westfalen II building on Race Street.  The building was just recently completed with condos above our 1st floor retail office space. Since we just moved days ago our new space is not ready to show yet.  Boxes everywhere, white walls, etc.  But we will host an open house soon when we have the place looking spiffy.  Also, the new street car construction is happening just outside our front door so its a little dirty outside right now.  But that should make it easy to get from our offices to Rhinegiest brewery, the banks or many other downtown attractions and lunch spots. If you are visiting, try street parking out front first.  There are usually spots during the business day.  But otherwise there is a great underground garage under Washington park and you can walk a half block north on Race to our offices at 1428 Race street.

Promoting your product on a budget

Occasionally I see a product promotion that strikes me as genius.  And this was one of those times.  In the local Cincinnati supermarket beer aisle there was a glaring hole of white shelving where beer cases should be.  And in place of the beer were signs telling shoppers that a new product was coming soon.  Just weeks away was the oldest brewery in America… Yuenling.

This beer has been popular with Ohioans and many others across the country but it has never been available for sale before.  We always enjoyed it when we were in Pittsburg, Philadelphia and many other east coast cities but it could not be sold in the midwest.  So on many of my four hour drives to Pittsburg I would bring home a case to use as gifts.  I can remember an employee of mine years ago who had family in Philadelphia brought cases of it back to me as a gift along with a t-shirt from the factory.   That’s how special this beer was.  And let’s face it… it’s good beer… but this is just beer.  A bottle of refreshment you consume in about 20 minutes.  And then it’s gone (unless you have a case).  Yet consumers loved the brand.  Cherished the heritage as the oldest American brewery and spread the word of this brand to other beer lovers.

The folks at Yeunling (or their agency) are pretty smart.  For years they used the marketing tactic of scarcity to drive demand.  This exclusive product that had to be “black market” smuggled into neighboring states.  They let their advocates and fans spread the word for them without the need for a national marketing budget.

And now they were using this low cost promotion to announce their wider distribution of their long sought after product.  A blank grocery shelf with a sign reading “Yeunling Lager – Available October 31st”.   In two weeks I can get my hands on this widely lauded brand without having to drive eight hours round trip.  I predict that after they load up these empty shelves with Yeunling they will soon have another empty spot in this aisle.  The stock boy had better be ready with another pallet of product in the back room.

And all they’ve done is used a $5 sign to drive awareness and demand.  It goes to show that in a time of a down economy there are creative ways to promote your product.  Yes, they have it easy because they have an existing brand with demand.   So perhaps they are just smart not to spend thousands of dollars on promotion and keep that marketing budget for other necessites like making more product!   But even a new or less known brand can be creative and use low cost guerilla marketing methods to drive awareness.  Consulting with an agency such as ourselves can open up the doors to many ways to promote online, digitally or using social media to let advocates tell your story for you.

So I raise a toast to you and your brand.  May the coming year bring you more sales and profit.  May your company be able to hire new employees and help turn this country’s economy around and make us the economy of envy that we’ve lost over the past decades.  Governments can not turn around a down economy, legislators can’t do it.  Businesses and consumers are the only force that can make that change.  So put on your marketing thinking caps and create something that people want, need or desire.

Accel Advisors Website Redesign

AccelAdvisors.com viewed in FireFox

AccelAdvisors.com viewed in FireFox

We originally built (but didn’t design) Accel Advisors’ website way back in 2006 and recently tweaked the layout and color scheme a bit and also updated the code to take advantage of some of the new css3 properties like rounded-corners and drop-shadows* (translation: the site downloads a bit faster and is easier to maintain).

Visit AccelAdvisors.com

*These elements don’t display in the current versions of Internet Explorer but do in all modern browsers and will in IE9, which Microsoft is releasing later this year.

Kentucky Libraries Get Digital Signage

We recently integrated a digital signage management system for the Kenton County Public Library system in northern Kentucky.  The project included a content management system to allow the library staff to create or upload media and schedule that content for individual screens across all of their branch locations.  The browser based tools allow for setting content via a scheduling tool to push out media to each screen at a chosen time.

The energy efficient commercial grade LCD screens can be set to automatically turn on and off when the library opens and closes and they have smart cooling systems to help preserve their lifespan.  Each screen has a networked player appliance that receives the content from the digital media server and outputs it to the screen as scheduled.

This is another example of how to digitally communicate with a broad audience and cut down on the time to deliver content versus the traditional printed methods.  Digital signage is often used for museums, retail and corporate communications.  Libraries are an excellent place to communicate to the local community and keep them informed of local and regional events as well as news, weather and library related topics such as the NY Times Best sellers list.

Photos from this installation:

William Durr Branch Interior Signage William Durr Branch Interior Signage 2

Erlanger Branch Interior Erlanger Branch Interior 3William Durr Branch exterior Covington Branche Interior

For more information about how your organization can utilize digital signage to communicate to your audience, contact us via our web site.  If you are interested in some of the hardware available you can visit our new hardware catalog at www.TouchScreenHardware.com

Do you have a comment?  We’d love to hear from you by commenting in the blog below.

Nominate a School Today to Win the “Ultimate Technology Hub!”

Our vendor, Ergotron, is promoting a give-away for a deserving school of your choice. We thought we’d share:
One lucky school will receive a complete classroom solution including a TeachWell® Mobile Digital Platform, a Samsung SAMCAM 860, Dell S300w Short Throw Wireless Projector, and a Dell Latitude 2100 Netbook—a prize totaling over US$3000!
Through June 30, 2010, you can nominate a school of your choice. It is easy. Simply visit http://promos.ergotron.com to fill out the online form.

We sell a good amount of Ergotron products which are high quality and really like this give back program. And it integrates another of our partner’s products: Samsung. Samsung is another great company.   Nominate your child’s school, your neice or nephew’s school or the school down the street.  And let the school and other parents know about the promotion so they can rack up more nominations!

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Arbitron Digital Place Based Video Study

Arbitron has released a new study that gives some interesting measurements on out of home video and the audience’s ability to retain the message.  I attended a webinar where Arbitron Senior Media Research Analyst Diane Williams discussed some of the key findings in this year’s report. Very interesting stuff!

You can download a copy of the report here.

Enjoy!  And don’t say I never give you anything.

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New Kiosk Hardware Catalog Coming Soon

For years we have offered hundreds of hardware options to our clients but have found it difficult to show everything we offer on our site. So we’ve been working in the background to build an online catalog that will enable us to fully showcase the different kiosk hardware and digital signage hardware components in our line card.
This includes everything from full kiosk enclosures, panel pc’s, LCD panels, mounts, stands and more. Everything from IBM & Samsung to Ergotron and Premier mounts.
So keep an eye out for our updates coming in the next few weeks. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask… we probably sell it.

Windows Embedded for Kiosks and Digital Signs

People that are not familiar with retail kiosks and digital signage networks are often surprised to see that 85% of the kiosks and DS systems in place are using Windows.  All they can think about is the horrible experiences they have with their laptop or home PC that their kids use for gaming and downloading of who knows what!   I would also lose faith if that was what was being suggested.  But what most do not know is that the version of Windows used is often a flavor of Windows Embedded.

What is this you ask?  It’s a scaled down installation of the basic Windows framework with only what you need for that specific hardware device  and nothing you don’t need.   The installation is often customized by the hardware provider to include appropriate device drivers and custom components of Windows needed for the application (JPOS, UPOS, etc) and is very stable.  We have some units running on kiosks out in the field that have been going for over three years with not a single problem or visit from our IT staff needed.  It runs on anything from a hand held scanner for warehouse operations to a touch screen kiosk, digital signage media player, or any number of other devices. It is essentially a skinny version of Windows XP.

XP Embedded

XP Embedded

The old version was was often referred to as WEPOS (Windows Embedded for Point of Sale)  but they deemed that too narrow focused.  A newer version is called POSReady which I don’t think is a much better name, but it includes much of the newer technologies from more current versions of Windows.  Now, with the release of Windows 7 to rave reviews (it is mucho better in our staff’s opinion)  there is even a newer version coming out called Windows Embedded Standard 7 and is built on the Win7 platform with newer .NET support.  There is even a version for Windows CE.  It may be easier to view this grid comparison from Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/products/default.mspx

With all of these choices it can be confusing.  Ultimately, it depends on what is offered by the hardware vendor since they must first invest a lot of time and effort into creating a custom “image” that works on their hardware.  Some hardware may not have the newer versions available yet, but most due.   Since many of our kiosk and media players use this version of Embedded I have posted a document that explains the difference between the older WEPOS (still available) and the newer POSReady that also shows the end of life support dates.  Download it here for FREE.

If you have questions, or really want a Linux system instead (we still love you) give us a call or drop us an email and we will help provide the appropriate system and software for your needs.   And here is a link to my older Kiosk Blog post on various OS systems (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc) used for kiosks.

Have you had good or bad experiences with Windows Embedded or Linux for Kiosks, Digital signage or other similar devices?  Use the comment feature below to tell us about it.

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KioskCom & the Digital Signage Show

Well, its that time again when we pack up touch screen kiosks and LCD screens and rush to get our software apps ready to display at the upcoming www.KioskCom.com trade show in Las Vegas on April 14 & 15th 2010 at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino.  We’ve exhibited at this show for many years and  are happy to be a part of it all again.  This time we have a larger 10 x 20 booth and have one of our many hardware partners who have offered to share the booth with us.  The good folks at www.Zivelo.com are providing their kiosk hardware for the booth including the C10, C2, C6 and the NEW C5 model being built just for the show!  We resell all of their models and are always impressed with the quality of the craftsmanship.  We often partner with Zivelo and provide the software applications for many of their clients.  Come meet Ziver and Ross from Zivelo at our booth.

Also, you’ll see our www.Lobstr.net product that has been rebuilt with new CSS3 based programming and a new pricing model for local operation (no subscriptions!).  And a new kiosk application that offers SMS coupon and lead generation services to drive traffic to your store, along with many of our past projects for various fortune 1000 clients.

Some news, next year the show will have a new name and location.  Goodbye Las Vegas, hello San Francisco! And the new name focuses more on the customer and less on us vendors:  Customer Engagement Technology World which will be at www.CETWorld.com . I like the new direction and the guys at JD Events who put on the show are some really nice folks that do a great job!  We are looking forward to the new format next year. See the press release here.

Are you planning to come to the show or perhaps still on the fence?  Well, let me offer you a free pass into the Expo show floor so you can come visit us  and our peers in the industry.  We will be in booth #205 right across from our business partners at Samsung.  Use the discount code at checkout of:   2LV49F and you’ll get the $50 expo fee on us.   Stop by and see us!  Register at http://www.kioskcom.com/register.asp

I hope to have some good photos and interesting products to discuss after the show, and you can follow my tweets on Twitter during the show at:  http://www.twitter.com/KioskGuy

Do you have a comment?  Add your comment below and I’ll give you a special shout out at the show!

Client Launch: Web Site for PR Firm

New web site for PR Firm

New web site for PR Firm

We’re pleased to announce our launch of a new web site for our client: O’Keeffe PR a PR firm that really knows how to tell your story.  The new site includes a nice WordPress framework to provide an easy to use CMS tool and integrated blog.  This puts the customer in charge and enables them to change content just by using their web browser.

I also had the chance to sit in on a recent social media seminar that Mr. Dan O’Keeffe presented to a Cincinnati based Vistage CEO group.  It was very enlightening and there were some great examples of how social media can help a business with PR, Marketing and customer service.  You should have seen these CEO’s having their “Ah-Ha” moments right there in the meeting.  I bet Dan got 3 new clients out of that seminar.  Great job Dan!  What a wonderful company you have and your employees are very good at what they do.

Check out their new web site at: http://okeeffepr.com

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