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Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

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ken mcneill
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Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by ken mcneill »

The kite video has become ubiquitous in our circles. They're used to teach, to document, to show off, to inspire, and for folks that do what I do, to sell. If you don't mind, I'd like to tap you for thoughts and opinions about how I can better communicate the features and capabilities of my kites with a focus on transparency.

I don't watch a lot of kite videos. To be honest, I usually watch 15-20 seconds of most of the videos I click on. It's a rare video that shows something I haven't seen before. The worst are the videos posted with the intent to sell something. So many of them, mine included, are mostly 'same thing, different click'. A hot-shot flyer doing the same set of tricks and transitions that we've seen a thousand times. They are more about the flyer and the video production than they are about the kite.

Let's take the videos I've posted featuring the Tsūru. Very nice flying and they do a pretty fair job of showing some of the advanced capabilities of the kite, by this flyer, on this day. Below is a slightly edited response I posted a couple of days ago, replying to a comment on one of the Tsūru videos.
Please keep in mind a few things - Devin's getting some very cool stuff out of the kites, but your mileage may vary. I know mine would! I still don't consider the Tsūru to be a trick kite, but a 'performance kite'. It was conceived and crafted with the mid-level to advanced flyer in mind, along with pairs and teams. My main goal was to gear the kite towards the kind of flying we do for a crowd at a festival, because I believe that flying for and with other people is the way to grow kiting.

From graphics to performance, if it couldn't be appreciated by the grandfather and his 12 year old granddaughter in the audience, it wasn't a prime consideration when developing the kite. The fact that an exceptional flyer like Devin can pull more from it than I ever envisioned is a delight for this old stitcher.
In another conversation with a friend a couple of days ago, I talked about what I'd spent most of my Friday morning on -
I've been writing copy for new kites for the last couple of hours. My least favorite part of the process. Like pulling teeth! I can build them, but I hate to talk about them. I was always the 'put the lines in their hands and step back' guy.
That 'put the lines in their hands and step back' approach is still my favorite, but it's getting harder to do all the time, especially this year. I hope you'll consider taking a moment and help me find a better way forward.

I need to wrap this up for now, but I hope we can keep this conversation moving. Oh, for what it's worth, no comment or question for me is off limits. If you ask me something I don't want to, or can't, talk about, I'll tell you.

craigkite
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by craigkite »

The idea of sending a demo kite around the country is a good one. Michigan folks gather about once a week and could easily reach 6 potential customers. I know, you got most of them at Maumee. A lot of kite people have been gathering more on the local level since March2020. The videos are helpful for buyers to get peer confirmation to buy a new kite. It also helps if you have a great "word of mouth" reputation. Designing kites is a whole lot easier than marketing them successfully. The current market challenges EVERYTHING we thought we knew about getting things into the hands of the consumer. I do respect your observation that you normally only go 15 seconds into videos. Your new designs are good for pairs and teams in a time when that style of flying is generally being done on a "pick up" basis. I do not envy any of your tasks in promoting toys crafted for decades of fun.

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jdenz
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by jdenz »

May I suggest to ask a friend who enjoys talking, writing ✍️ about your kites?

Most makers and designers like you have someone else to produce a video for them and more often than not just for the exchange of a kite ... :idea:

We are all good at what we like doing, but we can’t be good at everything. :ugeek:

Ca Ike
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by Ca Ike »

Well obviously any of us would love to get the chance to test out a demo kite, especially those in clubs like me that can get many different hands on the lines. Print copy should always give the kite specs and a synopsis of the kites design goals and capabilities. Beyond that, reviews from flyers on the real world feel make a difference for me.

Videos can help, however, they rarely highlight the designed performance goals and even if they do, filming close ups of the kite only gives a sense of tricks and not the overall flight. To truly gauge precision you really need to see the majority of the flight window with the flyer doing precision and the camera still. I have gotten many kites that look to have good precision in videos only to find they can't track very well at all and it's the fact that it's a close up view along with the camera movement masking some of the flight characteristics. Adrian Bickerstaff, all the guys that run IckyTV, do a good job of combining close ups of tricking and full view precision flight in the same videos. I fly ballet style even when just out horsing around so overall flight balance is important to me, but I'm more old school in that regard.

From talking to people at a few kite shops, what makes then consider a kite first is looks. I personally think you have that nailed though Ken. The panel layout on the Tsuru lends itself to many different color combinations and a few different patterns. I haven't yet found one that looks bad other than the colors not going well together. Looking back over your history of kite models, they all have very eye catching simple layouts that are a pleasure to look at even just sitting on the ground. The sample pic you posted up on the Facebook post with all the different combos would honestly do more for initial interest in your new kite than anything else in my opinion.

Edit: One thing I very rarely see in any marketing video is footage at different wind ranges the kites are supposed to be able to fly in with the wind speed shown. Or at least the wind speed during the footage used in the video. I often get asked why a kite says it can fly in say 3mph but can't fly like the video they saw where the wind was more like 10mph.

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ken mcneill
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by ken mcneill »

Thanks Craig, Jurgen, and Anthony. Good points!

Allen Carter
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by Allen Carter »

Hi Ken,

First and foremost a really good description from the designer on the goals of the design. One of the things I rarely see mentioned from a maker with a long history of well known kites is a comparison (in the mind of the maker) to some of their other kites. Like “previous kite X was not quite as good at something, or not as well suited for this or that and I wanted to make new kite Y to fill that gap” or something like that.

Videos are not particularly helpful with out a LOT of context. Perhaps take the time to get the pilot on zoom Call or whatever and record them talking about the video and the kite and then put that audio track on the video.

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ken mcneill
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by ken mcneill »

Thanks Allen!

jaybee
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Re: Design, Sales, Transparency (part one)

Post by jaybee »

The problem with videos as has been pointed out is that its an master flier doing a series of advanced tricks. The problem is that its hard to distinguish between the fliers skill and the characteristics of the kite.

One of my resolutions this year was to fly more often. I wanted to add a new kite to the bag. Most of the videos if not all were frustrating because they lacked basic information about the kite.

The first thing I am curious about a kite is how does it fly? Is it more about precision or is it set up to trick?

Next, how does a kite spin? Flat or tail down?

After that I appreciate it when a kite is held in the fade and turtle. How stable is the fade? How deep is the turtle?

Finally how does the kite look over all? Are the tricks crisp and clean or are they loose? Kites designed to be trick friendly to my eye the tricks appear loose.

Until somebody comes up with one of those "It's brilliant but simple solution", videos are the best way to demonstrate a kite.

The more video about a kite, the better. Along with the advanced flier, include a medium and even a beginning flier. As an older flier, I would appreciate a video that included us old guys and gals.

It would also be helpful to see the flier with the kite. How much footwork was needed to do a trick?

Written reviews typically are a description of the kite with a list of tricks. They are useful in pointing out characteristics of a kite that are not readily visible in a video. Does the kite have a problem with a particular trick? Falls out of a turtle easily. Flic-Flacs need to be tended.

Reviews from long time fliers, basically members of this forum, would be appreciated. I'd like to hear what Ian Newham, Alan Carter, and Ca Ike' thoughts are about a kite.

Jay

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