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Lorrie Cozzens, Vice President of Marketing Communications and Sales for DroneAscent, was invited to participate in the “Guest Takeover” issue, which published October 22.

When you work for a smaller company, one does not have the luxury of a perfectly linear and defined job description or title. Multiply that sentiment by daily pop-up situations when you are also co-spearheading a startup company, and you quickly learn to adapt. After nearly three years with DroneAscent LLC, I have worn hats ranging from marketer, researcher, database and administrative coordinator, human resources, reception and sales, estimating and operations assistant, and-most importantly when it comes to the topic of drones-educator.

If your product is a service, everyone is a potential ambassador for your services, and it is up to you to ensure that your message is simple and memorable enough for someone else to think of you and mention you when the appropriate situation arises. Therefore, it is always your job to overcome initial presumptions and objections. This enables you to build your brand, forge your reputation, and grow your business.

When I meet folks out in the world through networking, or they spot the company magnet on my car in the grocery store parking lot, the first thing people typically say is, “Oh, so you must do a lot of real estate.” Although drones are still emerging in public opinion as something more than sheer entertainment or an annoyance and privacy threat, the fact is, the real estate market is fairly saturated already. Real estate was quick to be a first adopter of aerial photography, and most skilled real estate photographers adapted immediately by adding a drone to their panoply of services. While we gladly take on real estate work, our main focus is elsewhere.

The second thing people historically say is to express concern that you are taking naked pictures of their wife while you do your job. No, that isn’t a joke. Despite having an endless supply of “smart” responses, I convey every professional assurance I can: our pilots are FAA Part 107 licensed and insured for up to $1,000,000, have a specific level of professional equipment, and have logged at least 50 hours of flight time before being considered experienced enough to join our team. Part of our protocols include posting a NOTAM, and when appropriate, notifying the local police station that we will be flying at X location in a specified time frame for commercial purposes. Our pilots are not lurking behind your shrubs waiting for your wife to emerge.

Which brings us to the real meat-and-potatoes of drones, and the ways they can be of service on a business-to-business level.

Our primary focus revolves around surveys. With proper control points secured in advance within the specified grid, millions of data points can be gathered in one drone mission. The aerial drone survey provides civil engineers and builders with essential data for site preparation. This especially increases efficiency for large-scale projects by allowing firms to save roughly 60% over traditional survey costs, and it reduces coordination errors.,The final product, whether an orthomosaic map or a 3D model, seamlessly integrates into CAD.

With builders, flying periodic drone missions reflects construction progress, and the results are uploaded to project management systems, so subcontractors are on the same page with the general contractor. There are also progress videos to be made for investors, but those are strictly for bragging.

Our secondary focus is centered on inspections., This is broad by design, as it is an opportunity to be all things to just about all people., Drone use reduces time and costs for dangerous work, while increasing efficiency and eliminating company liability and employee hazard. Getting to hard-to-access areas, drones easily identify fractured frameworks and offer accurate data collection with highly detailed images. Think electric grids, cell phone towers, bridges, levies, commercial buildings, home owner associations, and anything insurance companies might want a closer look at for claim documentation. 

Thermal inspections use a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera, coupled with a 4K sensor and captures both thermal images and high-resolution video. By highlighting heat or vapor loss, and quantifying it with precise non-contact temperature measurement, we can measure critical or hazardous objects at a safe distance and provide a visual qualification of damage in roofs,  residential and commercial buildings, bridges, solar and HVAC inspections, and detect electrical/transmission issues. Of course, thermal cameras have capabilities to evaluate plant and soil conditions, and aid in search and rescue missions for people and pets. 

While there are a myriad of other ways to discuss drone use in business, I leave people with the “pretty pictures” for marketing. Any outdoor business, from architecture, construction, roofing, landscaping, and playground design benefit from drones to display the details and quality of your work. For showcasing the fun aspects of destination marketing, venues like premier sports parks and music arenas, golf courses, luxury resorts, or vacation destination spots can convert more online curiosity into cash-paying tourists by adding drones into their marketing mix.

Drone marketing video campaigns and creative visual storytelling are the new art form. Businesses make themselves stand out with breathtaking, captivating content to set their brand above others. Educating people as to how their business can reap this benefit is my focus, and that, in turn, builds our brand. And during in-person conversations, I wrap this up the three descriptors in under a minute, per the rules of the elevator speech. They usually know someone to whom they refer me, and that is the purest form of success I can think of for getting my message across.