If you own a drone business you already know how challenging it can be to drum up new customers. While it’s true that some drone pilots are able to start small and scale their business quickly, for many drone pilots it can be a challenge to find new work.
We hear from drone pilots all the time with tips and creative ideas for how they’ve managed to grow their client base, and we’ve collected those tips into this list to help you grow your business.
Here are our seven tips to help you win more customers for your drone business—let’s dive in.
TIP 1: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
The first step in the process of growing your customer base is knowing who your customer is.
Before you start creating fliers, a website, or hitting the pavement to get customers, take a step back and make sure you understand who your ideal customer, or customers, are.
Maybe it will be realtors, or farmers, or maybe it will be local car dealerships who want aerial footage for their ads.
Make sure to consider the needs in your area—who do you think will actually hire you? This will help you define your ideal customer, and help you start to plan your business.
Determining your ideal customers is the first crucial step toward helping you figure out how to actually go out and get them.
TIP 2: KEEP COLLATERAL ON HAND
Keep business cards and a one pager on hand at all times. This is pretty simple, but really important.
Just think about it—if you’re out flying somewhere and someone asks if they might be able to hire you, you don’t want to miss that opportunity.
Having a business card and a one pager listing your services to give to that person on the spot could be the difference between you getting a new client or not.
TIP 3: PROVIDE A PREVIEW OF SERVICES
If people in your area seem wary of trying out drone services, explore the option of providing potential customers with a preview of your services.
One way to do this is to create a demo reel so that people can understand your skills. A reel is always a good way to show people what you can do.
But if you’re just starting out, you may not have enough footage to create a reel. One commercial drone pilot we know who was just getting started set up appointments with all the realtors in his area when he first launched his aerial services business and offered to do his first shoot for free.
He did a small project for free, a realtor loved it, and this led to an ongoing relationship and one of his biggest accounts. Nine months later, he’s still getting work from that realtor.
On the other hand, some drone pilots feel like giving away services undervalues their work, and prefer not to go this route. At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you and what you think will be most effective to get you new customers.
TIP 4: ALWAYS BE DOING OUTREACH
By outreach we mean contacting people who might be interested in your services. This could be calling, emailing, or leaving your card and one pager at their office.
Make sure you’re addressing their needs when you reach out—this means not just talking about drone services in general, but talking about how aerial shots could help a realtor sell more properties, or a construction foreman better understand the locations of his assets on site.
If they don’t get back—and many won’t—you can always try impressing them by sending them a few sample shots of relevant work that might appeal to them.
When it comes to sales, you want to walk the line between staying on someone’s radar and annoying them. But you can’t find new customers without a little hustle, so don’t be shy to get out there and contact people.
To give you an extreme example, we know one pilot who courted a new customer by taking sunrise shots of their castle in upstate New York. Up until that point the team running the property had ignored him, but when they saw his pictures they hired him shortly afterward.
TIP 5: DON’T BE AFRAID TO NETWORK
This also might sound obvious, but it’s another thing that’s really important when you’re trying to grow a client base for your business.
When you approach networking, don’t be casual about who you might know that does this or that.
Instead, try writing out a list of contacts you have in industries likely to need drone services. Then, instead of contacting them off the cuff, think about their particular needs and how you might be able to showcase the value you can provide for them.
Don’t just assume that knowing someone means they’ll hire you or refer you. Instead, put in the legwork and wow them with your professionalism.
TIP 6: TRY REFERRAL PROGRAMS
One of the easiest ways to grow your customer base is to leverage your happy customers by giving them an incentive for telling other people about your services.
There are lots of ways to structure a referral program, and you’ll probably be able to discover what works best for you through trial and error.
Try offering customers a discount, a free package, or some other incentive for every referral they give you that leads to work.
And remember to make it easy on those customers doing the referrals—provide some kind of card or code, or some way for the people they’re referring to easily identify where they found out about you, so your existing customers can easily get whatever reward you might have promised for the referral.
TIP 7: LISTEN MORE THAN YOU TALK
All of the tips up to this point have covered ways to bring in new potential customers and let them know about your drone services, and this is really important.
But it’s also important to know how to sell—that is, to know how to get a potential customer to actually hire you.
While some people might say that sales means knowing your talking points and sticking to them, the truth is that most people don’t want to be talked at. What they want is someone who will listen to their problems, and try to find solutions.
Before meeting with a potential client, try to do some research on their business and have some idea about the type of work they might need. If you really want to impress them, take a few test shots and have them on hand for the meeting.
During the meeting, ask them what they need, and remember that they might not fully know. Talk them through different options, and hold off on talking about money until you really understand what they’re looking for, so you can propose a price that will actually address the full scope of the work they need.
By listening less than you talk, you’ll be nurturing a long term relationship, and over time you’ll get more customers this way.
We hope you found this list useful for your efforts to grow your client base. Now go out there and get some new customers!