Avoid The Drone Race To The Bottom

Drone over airfield

How are you going to make a living flying drones?  More and more drone operators are entering the market.  Every week there is the new claim of “we are the oldest and most trusted operator in the market.”  In 20 years, I’ve heard it all.  So where is this going to leave the market.  In short – in a race to the bottom.  When what you do is no longer unique, how you do it becomes the unique sales proposition.  Let me explain, let’s take real estate photography as an example.  Aerial shots were around $500 for a portfolio.  Drones entered the market and prices dropped, and dropped and well last week, I had a customer quote me $50 for a job.


“if your clients don’t make at least twice as much as they are paying you – you don’t have a viable drone business”

So how do you make a living on $50-$100 a day?  Easy, with another full-time job.  This is where the drone industry must smarten up.  The novelty of drones is over.  And when did this happen – when major department stores stocked them.  And with CASA introducing new rules in October 2016, now everybody can be a drone operator.  So how do you make your dream of flying for a living become a reality?

Stop Talking Tech

In short, stop talking technology, start talking product.  No one wants a drone.  The market want imagery or intelligence cost effectively.  Start putting yourself in your client’s shoes and think how they think.  What’s important to them is important to you.  It doesn’t matter if this is the 50th job you’ve done – it’s their job so make them know it’s important to you.  Remember the old saying No One Cares What You Know Until They Know That You Care.

Drone over coal production

UAV inspection of coal assets to reduces maintenance downtime.

Start Talking Benefits

How are you going to make the clients life better?  The discussion must focus on perceived value – that is value to the client or end user who is paying for the service.  For example, “we can reduce your mining operations downtime by conducting non invasive asset inspection via drone, which then allows targeted maintenance”,  describes the benefits better than “we have a drone and can fly over your mine”.  No one cares how the imagery was obtained – from a selfie stick, a drone or a P3 at 20,000 feet, the only thing the client cares about is that they have the right product at the right place at the right cost AND how that is going to make them money (if your clients don’t make at least twice as much as they are paying you – you don’t have a viable drone business).

Don’t Do Everything

Don’t advertising yourself as a “one stop shop”.  Focus on what you do best, then excel at it.  If you can really fly an aircraft well, link up with someone who excels at aerial photography.  If you understand video editing and post production, consider getting a drone pilot to help out on complex jobs.  And very important for most drone operators, if you love flying the drone, why spend all your time marketing and having meetings to make sales?  Think about outsourcing the business development to spend more time doing what you love – flying!  Find help or outsource what you don’t do well and fulfil what the client wants – this will keep your clients sticking with you and more likely to develop long term repeat business.

The industry is maturing, there’s room for everyone and its only going to get bigger.  Click here to register to learn more and start growing your business today!

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