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Eric E. Larsen

What to Do When Your Client Wants an EMC on a Changeable-Copy Budget

Use this sales tactic to ease their sticker shock.




WE HAVE ALL RUN into the customer who would like the latest and greatest for their sign but have a budget for something considerably less. People just do not understand the cost of signs. We all have assumptions about things we do not know about.

We as a sign industry only think of signs and never think twice at selling an EMC (electronic message center) for tens of thousands of dollars. And to us, it must seem as though our customers who sell plumbing, electrical, medical or any other goods and services do not think twice about the cost for the customer when they are selling their products.

“It’s only a sign, so why does it cost so much? … It’s only a steak, so why does it cost so much?”

But surely, they get the same look from their customers as we do from ours: Eyes go wide, jaws hit the floor and a look of disappointment spreads across their faces. “It’s a [whatever], so why does it cost so much?”

I used to come back to our clients with whatever business they were in and ask the same question. “It’s a car; why does it cost so much?” “It’s a steak; why does it cost so much?” Or my favorite — I actually asked this once while planning for the future with a funeral director — “It’s a casket; you’re just going to bury it. Why does it cost so much?”

When your customer is asking for an EMC on a manual changeable-copy budget, you can do something to ease their sticker shock. Tell them you can design the changeable-copy cabinet to be upgraded in the future for an EMC.


A few tweaks in any design can be accomplished so that in the future you can remove a couple of bolts, disconnect the cabinet and slide an EMC in place. Simple planning in your design for running additional circuits or adding a few clips to be used later can facilitate an easy installation in the future.

Sure, EMC units change as technology advances. When, down the road, you are removing the manual changeable-copy cabinet to install a shiny new EMC, you will find that you have spaces to fill up. This is a good thing. Using steel mesh or a perforated aluminum sheet, you can paint to match and install around the EMC. This also provides additional air circulation for the new unit.

So, next time you have a customer telling you, “It’s a sign; why does it cost so much?” Put the option out there of giving them a manual changeable-copy now, and in the future, replace it with an EMC.

Your customer will be happy because they are within budget, and you get to go back in a few years with another sale.

Eric E. Larsen is the Lead Designer of the Historic Theatre Marquee Division of Wagner Electric Sign Co. (Elyria, OH).



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