How to Market Your Drone Business: Successful Drone Company
Just as with running a business in any field, marketing is a crucial element to making your business offering drone-based services successful. Think of it as the way for you to reach out to potential clients and customers – showing them what you can do, what you’ve done in the past, and what you can offer them.
It hardly needs to be said but being a good professional drone pilot takes more than just flight skills. If you want your drone business to take off, then here are some of our tips to help you market your services.
1. Decide on a niche
Drone pilots who are just starting with their professional careers often ask – how can some drone pilots thousands of dollars per hour for their services? The answer always comes down to two elements: specialization and experience.
A drone pilot who can offer services that few are able to offer can command premium rates and gain a captive market. This becomes even more pronounced as you build up your skill level and experience in your craft. To reach this level, it’s important to identify a niche that you think you can be good at.
There are a couple of questions you can ask yourself. Do you have a good eye for photos? Can you shoot aerial videos and edit them at a professional quality? Do you have an interest in aerial mapping or industrial inspection? Perhaps you are more interested in nobler pursuits like search and rescue or disaster response?
It might take a while before you can find a specialization, but it’s more important to learn and develop that skill as thoroughly as you can. Once you’ve been recognized as a respected name in the field, you’ll probably have clients coming to you instead of the other way around.
2. Start with a business plan
Every successful pursuit starts with a well-thought plan. Once you’ve decided on a niche, a business plan should be your next priority. This is a fairly easy step and will help you through all the succeeding steps of running a business.
A good business plan should cover all the essentials of how your future drone-based business. It will contain a detailed description of the services you are offering and the market you are targeting. Just as important is an accounting of all capital and recurring costs of running a business, which will then be the basis for the rates at which you’ll offer your services.
A business plan is also where you’ll be setting milestones – the goals that you are striving for and will constantly be monitoring at prescribed periods. By settings goals, you can gauge how successful your business is going and assess if there are changes that need to be done to your strategy.
3. Have a website and social media profiles
We are in an era where most of your marketing will be done digitally. There are several platforms for you to choose from. Our advice is to take advantage of as many of them as possible.
Nowadays, social media presence is king. It’s the easiest way to get your name out there and to have people sharing your content for you organically. At the minimum, you will want to have business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you are focused on industrial clients, then a LinkedIn profile will also come in handy. In any case, it’s important to have consistent branding across all platforms and to be active in all of them.
Although a lot of people will say that maintaining a professional website is old-fashioned, we believe that there’s still value in this practice. A website is still the best way to present your business just the way you want it. From your logo to your layout and how you present your work portfolio, a custom-made website is a reflection of your brand and will serve as the central hub of all your content.
4. Let them know that you’re licensed and insured
Getting into the more technical side of running a drone-based business, there are two necessary things for you to secure – a Part 107 drone license and the appropriate insurance.
The license is a legal requirement for you to fly drones for profit. Established and implemented by the FAA, the Part 107 rules serve as the legal framework for commercial drone operations. It is as much a tool for documentation as it is a measure for maintaining the safety of national airspace, especially considering how many drones are being sold nowadays.
Insurance – specifically drone hull insurance and liability insurance – is something that all professional drone pilots must have. This is a means of protecting you from unexpected financial obligations that could come about because of a drone-related accident. On the part of the client, an insurance policy will provide better assurance that you can get the job done, even if something untoward happens during the process.
Considering the importance of both the drone license and insurance, it makes sense to include details on both in all your marketing materials. It doesn’t take much – just mention that you have insurance and quote your Part 107 license number. This might be the first filter in the minds of potential clients when picking a service provider, so it’s best to have all the relevant information out there.
5. Bring business card whenever you fly
Let’s say you’re already out flying your drone while doing a job or even just for fun. The thing about drone flight is that it always manages to make the people around you curious. In a few minutes, you’ll probably have a group of people looking at your drone or asking questions about what you’re doing. This is the perfect time to do some marketing.
Yes, handing out calling cards may seem old-fashioned. There’s also a very small chance that the person you’re handing a calling card out to will genuinely be interested in hiring you. However, you might still get lucky and randomly come across a person who needs their roof inspected or someone who’s working on construction.
In any case, the power of networking is something that you will not want to underestimate. If you can hand out calling cards to twenty people on a single afternoon, they could easily come across more than a hundred people and tell them about the person they met who was randomly flying a drone in the park.
6. Engage in forums
Whether in Facebook groups or in Reddit forums, there is no shortage of online forums of professional and hobbyist drone pilots. The conversation may range mundane matters like the usual sharing of professional photos, but serious talks about drone technology and drone-related laws may pop up every now and then.
If you’re starting a drone business, then it’s always a good idea to join these groups and actively participate in discussions. More than just getting your name out there, you want to get more people to recognize you as a person of authority and expertise in the field. When an opportunity comes for a job opening or a collaboration, then you can more easily slide your name in for consideration.
Some of the people in these groups are also high-profile drone professionals with more experience than you. Reading through their posts and messages is often a good way to pick up lessons from their experience. More importantly, you can create networks with these prominent figures. Who knows? You might end up working with them eventually.
7. Know your clients’ needs
This isn’t a piece of advice that’s specific to just drone-based businesses – it applies to just about any business that offers a service or a product. When engaging with potential clients, it’s important to talk with them from a perspective of wanting to address their needs. This is a more reliable approach than just being focused on making a profit, which is an attitude that most clients would pick up on.
Ask relevant questions. What are the client’s objectives in hiring a drone service? What type of output are they expecting and what are they going to do with the data? How many photos do they need and at what angles? Do they need the data to be processed or the videos to be edited? Give them options and be flexible in adjusting to both their needs and their budget.
It would also help for you to ask questions about the client’s field of work or simply do prior research. By genuinely knowing your customers, you will also gain an idea of who your market is.
8. Have a referral program
Satisfied customers will naturally re-hire you for more jobs or tell other potential clients about the services you provided. Our recommendation is to not stop there and outright incentivize them to refer you to other clients. This is a way for you to have other people do your marketing for you for a minimal fee.
This is a simple and effective strategy, and there are several different ways to approach it. Upon successful referral, you can either offer a discounted package, a free service, or even an outright commission. Just remember to make it easy for anyone to make a referral. Referral codes are very common nowadays, but discount cards are still in fashion.
9. Don’t stop learning and growing
Once you’ve gained some success, it’s easy to be complacent and just continue doing what you are doing. However, having a stagnant set of skills isn’t going to give your drone business the boost you’re looking for.
For any business to grow, it’s essential that you also grow as a drone pilot and entrepreneur. Taking certification courses relevant to your line of work is always an option. If you do photography and filmmaking, then you might want to learn about editing or color grading. If you do industrial inspection or construction, then why not upgrade your skills with thermal imaging? If you offer real estate advertising, then perhaps you can dedicate some time to learning how to fly indoors.
In most cases, upgrading your capabilities will require a significant financial investment. This goes for both training and additional equipment. It’s not uncommon for experienced drone pilots to have three to four professional-grade drones to choose from, as well as an array of possible payloads and accessories. For your business to grow, you’ll have to pour in more capital – that is simply a truth of business.
10. Take a drone business course
Being successful in a drone business comes in two parts – being a good drone pilot and being a good entrepreneur. Drone flight skills can be trained either through experience or formal lessons. Lessons in running a business, however, are often learned painfully. To avoid mistakes in running a business, it would be best to consult the experts.
Pilot Institute offers a Drone Business Made Easy online course which is geared towards building a strong foundation for budding drone entrepreneurs. Through seven hours of instructional videos and 25 assignments, students will learn how to create a business plan, how to find business opportunities, the legal issues of starting a drone business, and how to run its day-to-day operations.
The course is designed to be as realistic as possible. A drone-based business is not a one-way ticket to success and financial security. You will need to put in a lot of work and make smart decisions along the way. What this course provides is a solid starting point for coming up with ideas for a business and finding customers.
For a limited time, the course will be available for a discounted price of only $79. This provides lifetime access to the course contents, as well as options for both desktop and mobile access. The course will also provide a template for a business plan and various examples of important financial documents. Once you’ve finished the course, Pilot Institute will provide a Certificate of Completion which should firm up your chances of getting that first client.
Running a drone-based business isn’t really all that different from running any business. You have to learn the fundamentals, develop your skills, talk to the right people, and meet your client’s needs. As with any business, marketing is an essential part of the business.
The good thing about drones is that the technology is still relatively novel, which means that there’s still a high level of curiosity surrounding it. This is something you can use to your advantage – if you can show off what you can do, then you can people to start talking about it. Relying on this buzz is not enough, of course. You’ll still have to put your name and your work out there.