How To Market Your Drone Business During A Pandemic


Market your Drone Business 2020

How to Effectively Market your Drone Business during A Pandemic.

 

In the midst of this pandemic, many folks who had plans of starting their own drone business have been forced to put the idea on the back-burner.   But, for those brave souls who are forging ahead anyway or for those who already got their business set in motion before the Pandemic started, here are some tips to help you find opportunity and nurture your investment?

Maintain Relevance!

Let people know your plans and, even in the face of a pandemic, you’re moving forward.  Ultimately the difference between success and failure of your drone business will rest on how you market yourself.  Not, how accomplished or qualified you are as a pilot.  J.K. Rowling didn’t make Millions by writing great books, she did so by selling them!  Let people know you’re open for business. 

This article aims to help you think about the major areas you’ll need to cover in order to promote your business well.  We’ll cover market positioning, websites, promotion, and service delivery.  Get these things right, and you’ll be well on your way.

Position Yourself in the Drone Market

There is a multitude of ways you can earn money with your drone.   Drones are currently used in a wide number of sectors; Agriculture, mining, surveying, oil & gas, industrial inspection, and that’s before you add in all the creative photography opportunities.  

But this doesn’t mean you should sell yourself as a general operator. When you want to install a new shower in your bathroom, you’d hire a plumber, not a handyman.  The plumber has specific experience in the work you need done, and has studied all the skills required to perform the task well.

So, if a farmer needs an orthomosaic photo created for her crops, will she choose a specialist who has studied and practiced for the task, or someone who has only a basic understanding of the job?  The specialist will get the gig nearly all of the time and also do a better job.

Of course, when you are starting out, you will need to experiment with various fields to see which suits you best. But once you have a feeling for the area that interests you the most, position yourself as an expert in that sector.

When you first learn to fly your drone with confidence, create some footage at your favorite scenic spot.  Try to emulate the cinematic drone footage available on YouTube, and practice the typical drone moves to capture the footage.

As a drone operator you need to become proficient at:

  • Aerial Pan Shots. Panning left or right while the drone is flying forward or hovering still.
  • Tracking Shot. Usually used while moving parallel with the subject, such as tracking a moving car, bike, or motorcycle.
  • Pedestal Shot.  Much like a reveal shot, though the Giball is stationary.  The drone rises and ‘happens on” the subject as it rises.
  • Fly Over.  Choosing a subject, such as a bridge or a pond.  flying forward while incrementally adjusting the camera to keep the subject in the frame.
  • Reveal Shot. Introducing the subject by revealing its characteristics slowing while flying over it.

If you live in a rural area, you could ask a local farmer if you can produce an orthomosaic of his field, using a free trial of something like Drone Deploy or Pix4D.  

You might be able to leverage the knowledge and contacts from your previous job.  If you worked in construction, then you are ideally placed to break into the sector and should have some connections to get you going.  You might even find someone who will let you practice on a construction site to gain experience. 

If you want to specialize in the field of real estate, then ask a friend with an impressive property if you can film their home. You will have the luxury of time to practice all the various shots that make up an excellent sales package.

A Drone Website is Essential.

There is no way around this – Your website is your portfolio.  It’s vivid, It’s sharable, its Money! 

Your website should show potential customers what problems you could solve for them.  Don’t make your website a love letter to yourself, telling the world what a great drone pilot you are, potential customers aren’t interested in that. Prospects are going to be intrigued when you illustrate to them how you are ‘the person’ who can solve their issue.

House was on the market for more then 6 months with no offer, and your great cinematography skills helped sell it?  Share that!  Make a blog post with; before and after pictures and what you did to increase awareness that ultimately sold the house.  This is solving your client’s problem! 

Make sure your website text persuasively states how you can solve these problems.  Can you save them or maybe make them money?  Fulfill an emotional need, like wedding photography?  Perhaps you can mitigate the risk of working at higher altitudes?

Have two methods of contact on your website, so potential customers can easily get hold of you.  People are different; some are happy to fill in an online contact form, whereas others prefer to speak to someone.  Having both contact options maximizes opportunities for visitors to your website.

Make it easy for people to see that you are Part 107 qualified and insured as soon as they land on your website. People will want this reassurance before they contact you. Hiding your qualifications and insurance on your ‘About Us’ page could mean you lose a customer to a competitor who has made this information clear at first glance.

People are easily distracted online.  Your website has about three seconds to capture their attention before they navigate back to the search results.  Don’t make them guess what it is you do.  If you shoot real estate, then the title for your website should be something like this:

Springville Drone Services – ‘Our Drones Highlight the Spendor of Springville’

Simple, clear, and impossible to create confusion.

Back this statement up with a solid portfolio.  You should devote a whole page of your website to your portfolio, and it’s essential that you demonstrate your capabilities in the service you sell.  ‘Show not tell’ is a phrase often used to illustrate this point.  So, it’s essential to have a minimum of two portfolio items when you are starting out.  And as your drone business grows, add to your portfolio regularly.

When people buy services online, something that helps increase sales is what marketing professionals refer to as ‘social proof.’  Think about the last purchase you made online, did you read any of the reviews before you made your final choice?  Most people do, as they want an independent opinion for purchasing decisions.  In the case of selling your drone services, ‘social proof’ will mean getting customer testimonials.

Customer testimonials confirm your reputation and ability to do the job.  When you start out, it’s best to have full control of the reviews appearing on your website, rather than use a third-party service like Trust Pilot.  A bad review can kill a business in its infancy.  So if you have done a great job, even for family or friends, add a written testimonial to your website.

Promote your Drone Website.

Once you have created your website, it can take a while for it to get ranked in Google’s search results.   And if people can’t find your site, you guessed it, they can’t hire you.  

You could pay for advertisements on the Google search results page, though these can be tricky and expensive to get right.  If you don’t have a great deal of start-up capital and can afford an expert to do this for you, then this is best left alone until funds allow.

Instead, think about where your customers ‘digital eyeballs’ are hanging out, but don’t rely solely on this to get business.  Spend less time in drone forums, and more time networking with Realtors, wedding photographers, and even farmers.  Farmers are actually pretty interesting people, and worth your getting to know, I promise!  

Make sure that your drone business has accounts on the big social networks.  Don’t use your private accounts to promote your drone business, having ones specifically for your business looks more professional.  

Instagram is ideal for a drone business, especially if you are focusing on the creative photography side.  Drone photographers win business on this network regularly, so only put your very best efforts on your account.

Twitter is a useful medium to use for joining in the daily conversation on the sector you service. This helps with your maintaining relevance, as previously discussed.  But it’s important not to solely spam your company services on there. Instead, add to the discussion giving your opinion about the matters of the day, you will be viewed as an expert over time, and your standing will grow amongst those who work in your target sector.

For networking directly with companies, LinkedIn is a good option. If you are specializing in industrial inspection, then work on building a network of contacts here. Post articles and opinion pieces on the latest technology and practices to establish yourself as a market player.

Many people who work in your target market will also have a Facebook account. If you set up a business page on Facebook, then you’ll be able to access the Facebook groups where your customers hang out. Again, join in the conversation first to establish the unspoken rules of the group before you pitch your services.

If you are feeling brave, you could set up your own YouTube channel.  You can create videos to show what you do and sell the benefits for the industry that you serve. It can be scary at first to talk to a camera and then share it with the world.  But in the beginning, you won’t have too many people watching, and you’ll get better with practice.

Look at the YouTube accounts of people you already subscribe to and scroll back to the first videos they uploaded.  You will notice a big difference in quality if they have been doing it for a while.  It takes practice and time to become comfortable with the medium – you will improve!

Do some ‘Pro Bono’ Drone Jobs

Everybody has to start somewhere.  The Beatles started out as a band called The Quarrymen playing church gigs while developing their skills.  If you don’t have any connections in the industry you want to serve when you start your drone business, then it is likely that you may have to do your first few jobs for free.

This also relates to your website portfolio. How do you get those first vital pieces on your website to demonstrate your skills?  Can you convience family and friends to let you film their property, or maybe shoot some footage at a friend’s wedding?

How about calling on all of the Real Estate businesses in your area and offer them a free shoot?  You only need one or two to say yes, and then you are on your way to breaking into the sector and gaining valuable experience.

If you are keen on Agriculture and ‘Smart Farming,’ then you could offer to produce an orthomosaic for a local farmer free of charge.  You get to educate someone in the industry who may not fully understand the benefits of drones for agriculture. You could even win yourself a regular gig, as farmers will need repeated aerial data collection as the growing season continues.

Breaking into any new industry can be tough, and the first few jobs you do will be the hardest to win.  Offering your services at no cost in the beginning in order to demonstrate your capabilities could help you get your foot in the door. Once you have those crucial portfolio pieces and testimonials, then you can begin to charge for your services.

Get Out from Behind your Computer Screen.

This coincides with “Maintaining Relevance” as I noted earlier.   Today it’s easy to misinterpret that all business is won while sitting behind your computer screen.  Face to face networking has been the mainstay of building human relationships throughout our history, and many organized groups meet for the purpose of networking.   Your local Rotary Club and Local Business Associations hold regular sessions where people build relationships that help grow their business.  Many groups also offer the chance for people to promote their business in exchange for an informative presentation on an interesting subject.  Can you put together a 30-minute presentation to educate a group about your drone and pitch them your services at the close?

Drone Service Delivery is a Form of Marketing.

When a customer of yours tells a buddy over a beer about the great experience he had using your services, that’s marketing.  Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing there is.  To get these referrals, you need to deliver your service professionally from the start.

So, to make sure your customer’s experience is the best it can be. Only take jobs that you feel confident in doing, and if you don’t think you have the skills for a particular job, politely refuse it.  When you do accept a job, show up early, dressed in clothing that promotes your brand, and armed with all the equipment you need to do the task.

Go above and beyond with your final product.  You could email a folder of photographs in a Zip file and consider your job done.  But, is there a better way to present your work and enhance the customer experience?  It could be as simple as organizing the photos in logical folders and include a short report.  Or maybe you could add some bonus footage you recorded as your drone returned to you at the end of the shoot.

You might also consider a formal referral program, where a customer can recommend you to another person or business and receive something in exchange.  This could be something like a discount on your daily rate or a ‘free upgrade’ to a more comprehensive service package.  

Marketing a drone business is hard work.  You will be competing against many other operators, who will probably have the same DJI drone as you.  When you start out, most of your time will be spent on marketing, and once established, you will still have to devote time to winning new business daily. 

Try using these Platforms to drum up business:

Drone Freelance JobsDrone Freelance Jobs

Structure your ad, like this:

Drone Real Estate

If you follow these guidelines when starting your Drone Business, I promise you will get business.  Real Estate is still selling, crops are still growing and need monitoring, and roofs still need inspections…Even during a Pandemic.  It’s about hustle!  The one who hustles the most, gets the business.  Remember JK Rowling and her inspirational success story. 

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