I am not sure there is a better example for how to design and market products right now in the ProAV market than how Milestone AV Technologies – parent company for Chief Manufacturing, Da-Lite, Vaddio, Sanus and Projecta — is doing it.
I won’t bore you by going through each and every product case over the past few years, so I will focus on two biggies: Chief’s debut of their ConnexSys mount line and Da-Lite’s newly released FastFold NXT.
When Chief launched ConnexSys touted it as a design driven by customer and user feedback. Ho-hum. We’ve heard that forever from nearly every company — it’s a marketing strategy. Claim that the customer inspired the design and garner more attention as it actually came from user-feedback, etc. Blah, blah, blah.
But, truth is, that’s exactly what Chief did. They actually went into the field and watched installers use their mounts, asked them what was good and what was bad, what needed improvement and how they could make the install and alignment (think: video wall alignment) faster and easier. And, they took them literally. They actually added the features like simpler leveling, single strut hanging, a tool-free latching, etc. from actual user feedback. And, as they evolved different designs, they kept going back to the users and asking for more and more feedback.
Same with Da-Lite and the FastFold NXT. Is there anything more boring than a rental-screen? Commonly referred to as snap-screens (due to the way the screen material snaps — yes, using snaps) to the frame, the FastFold was the market leader for like 20-years — in rental and staging screen applications where you put up and take down screens constantly. And, the design as remained relatively the same for over 30 years.
Well, at this year’s InfoComm, Da-Lite relaunched the FastFold screen as the FastFold NXT (I assume for “next generation”) and they literally re-invented the way a portable screen works. No snapping, no pinched fingers, no cranks, no pull-table and no rivets. It slides together quickly and the screen stretches to the frame without hurting the thumbs of the rental tech!
How’d they do it? Easy – they simply went to the users and asked them to be honest about what they hated about the snap-screen and how they’d improve it. And, they listened to the free advice and built an all new FastFold screen that every rental company I spoke to at InfoComm claimed they were going to buy.
And, best part about this for Milestone AV is that this is truly marketing genius. Why? Well, they can market these products as actually redesigned thanks to customer/user feedback but, more importantly, those customers they actually talked to will feel OBLIGATED to buy they, too. It was their idea — how can they not use it themselves.