Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | The Latest Buzz for the Appraisal Industry

Marketing Yourself for Aerial Inspections

This month, I’m sharing tips on how to market yourself as an aerial pilot. My adoption to using drones was easy, but one thing I did lack was experience in the different ways to market myself.





Marketing yourself can be the curse of a remote pilot trying to break into the drone industry. It is often overlooked because most entry pilots get into aerial inspections, photographs, and videos because they have a client.  

Remember, clients pay for data. Try to develop the skills to produce the highest quality data for their needs. You may have to get started with an established drone business first, and that is not always a bad idea. Starting on your own is tough. I can’t count the number of times I have lost business to cheaper, faster and even better operators than myself. There is also signing up to become part of a drone pilot network. But warning: there is very little money to be made when you start. I have seen fees as low as $85 for an assignment. However, you will be gaining valuable education on what the market requires and developing necessary skills in filming and flying. This also helps you to develop your portfolio. 

When it comes to marketing, here are some things to think about. Put together a business plan. Think outside the box. One aerial operation can produce enough actionable data for a variety of industries. One such industry, of course, is real estate. Develop a vision statement so that you will always deliver a consistent message. For example, the vision statement of Drone Education Services is to “Open Minds to Drone Technology.”

Create a demonstration reel. If you are just getting started, you probably won’t have enough industry-specific material, so produce one that showcases your skills at filming and flying.  Present your best videos and photographs. Be sure that you use only videos that show you flying in a safe and responsible manner. Some of the shots that you think are cool may show you in a different light to a potential client. Remember, high risk maneuvers can be viewed as recklessness.

Make sure to have your credentials in a compliance folder that goes with you on every operation. You are required to have your part 107 certificate, your recurrent training certificate, drone registration, and a form of state or government ID. It also helps to have copies of your resume, flight logs, and if needed, your insurance. 

Have an informational sheet on what to expect the day of an operation, including a checklist or employee information flight operation procedures in risk mitigation in emergency procedures. Be sure to include a cancellation and rescheduling policy as well. 

Put together a pricing sheet and have a sheet for photographs, videos, or a combination of both. Be sure that you have a video shot checklist to show your clients so that they can see what they might obtain in a video, and have a demonstration video available that will showcase those different shots. Grab a photo shot checklist displaying the different types of shots you can get with a drone.

Another great way to get started is to do pro bono work for family and friends. Remember, most drone operations start off with one client or as a proof-of-concept model. The more material you have, the better the chances that you can have a broader appeal. You have to prove the value of your product to get paid for the results. Think about planning weekend trips close to areas of interest that you might be able to film and fly.

Join groups and attend meetings. Groups and organizations allow you access to other members where you can discuss the aerial needs of different industries. This collaboration of ideas can help you discover the needs and concerns of your clients and how drones could be the practical solution. Create presentations to gain business by being an expert in the field. Utilize social media. Find those social media outlets that pertain to your business. Be sure to carry business cards. Also, a recognizable logo can go a long way. 

You will need a website. Building a quality website is difficult and you might want to consider hiring a professional that will continue the maintenance. You will also need to get social media such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  I suggest that when you decide on a company name, then make sure you go and grab all of the names before someone else does.  I have seen great company names that didn’t capture all of the social media networks and then were associated with subpar companies.  

Word of mouth is the best way to get your name around. Be sure to ask for reviews of your work after completing an operation. Even though we all want the most positive reviews, negative reviews will actually help you to improve. Developing a thick skin is necessary.  Remember, business is business and as long as you are trying to improve you will see positive results.

Finally, cold calls are when you step outside of your comfort zone and contact someone you do not know. At first it can be scary. Be sure to have the ability to showcase your work, because they will be asking for it. Educate them on the benefits of using aerial technology, and promote only those deliverables that you can actually produce. 

If you get past the cold call stage, do not over-promise. Focus on the positives of the operation and manage your client’s expectations. Only give solutions to problems. You may have to decline a few due to unreasonable expectations. Clearly state the expectations on what you are wanting to obtain from and for the client.

Marketing is tough, but it is necessary to be able to stay in the aerial inspection business.  Real estate professionals have the advantage of being able to inspect a variety of different projects in a variety of different operational environments. The growth of the aerial inspection industry continues to expand, with new opportunities being discovered every day.

Jim Morrison

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