Most drone operators are following their passions as pilots – not sales and marketing professionals. But if you want the opportunity to fly, you’ll have to invest a certain amount of time in setting up a good system of driving business. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. With the five tips in mind, check out many of the tools available to help new drone businesses with marketing, invoicing and delivery. Dronifi, for example, offers a wide variety of sales and marketing tools specifically for drone businesses and is integrated with DroneDeploy‘s app market; Optelos (also integrated with DroneDeploy) offers workflow management and a professionally-branded portal for delivery of drone data to clients; marketing tools like Hubspot, MailChimp and Constant Contact are easy to use and offer robust support.
#1. Have a site. Any site. For many operators, their product is imagery – and they show it off via Instagram. While that’s an effective way of showcasing your portfolio, you still need a basic website. Here’s why: in the “Sales 2.0” environment we live in, over 90% of buyers will search for you on the web before they ever call you. You need a simple space to indicate clearly that you are certified, insured, and professional. Indicate your specialty, region of operation and area of expertise. Include a contact capture (an easy and often free add-in to a simple WordPress site) and above all, good contact information including a phone and an email.
When you’re thinking about the information to include, consider how you would search for someone like you on the web. “Drone real estate photography,” is a one way; “Drone real estate photography in western Massachusetts,” might be more effective.
#2. Have a strategy. Any strategy. When you’ve got a site up and running, you need a marketing strategy. This doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can easily do it yourself. The point is that you need to set aside some time each week to pursue your marketing goals, and you’ll need a blueprint to follow. A simple marketing strategy includes both inbound and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing means helping customers find you: reaching out to influencers, participating on social media forums, or answering questions on other sites will help. Remember, don’t stick to the drone community that you feel comfortable in – reach out to the community of your customers: realtors, marketing agencies, wedding planners, or construction teams as appropriate.
An outbound strategy is about telling people about your company. You can advertise inexpensively on Facebook or in industry publications; and you will need to communicate with your own list of contacts. (You develop the list by capturing every contact that comes to your website.) Send out a simple email once a month to touch base with your list and let them know what your company is doing.
#3. It’s Not About You – It’s All About Them. Approach all of your communications and processes with the understanding that your focus must be on the customer. Figure out exactly what kind of deliverables they need, what kind of information they need from you to purchase, what kind of project tracking that they do. That will inform your own processes – and will give a significant boost to customer satisfaction and your repeat business.
You find out simply by asking. If you don’t feel comfortable with a lengthy phone conversation, send an “orientation email” to every new prospect asking 4-5 questions. When you start out with “so we can serve you better” you generally get a positive response.
#4. Get Your Systems in Place. There are a lot of aspects to a drone project: scheduling, flying, data processing, delivery, invoicing and payment are just the most obvious pieces. It will pay you to put systems in place while your business is growing to ensure that you have an easy way to be reliable, consistent, and predictable. There are many tools to help – use the information that you get from your clients to match your systems to theirs as much as possible. For example; if most of your clients use PayPal to pay, set up your account; if they need to pay against a Purchase Order by check make sure you can accommodate.
#5. Make it Easy. They say that people buy from people they know and people they trust. That may be true, but people also buy from companies that make it easy for them to do their jobs. If doing working with you is far easier than finding a new vendor and even easier than doing it in-house, you will have no problem maximizing your repeat business. That means you’ll need to take on as much as you can of your customer’s process – which won’t be hard if you’ve set up your systems correctly. For example, a construction manager might need to accurately track all expenses associated with each project, and track the expenses for each vendor on an annual basis. If you’ve set up good customer management systems, you’ll be able to generate those reports (or even just a clear email with all of the information) in a few minutes, saving your client significant time and aggravation.
Following these five tips diligently will go a long way towards providing what customers need to hire you. And while you’re building your business, remember that the industry is growing around us. Set up your site, strategy and systems now to be ready to ride the wave when it crests.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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