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My name is Jim Brammer and I am the owner of Soaring Vistas Media Aerial Photography, located in the Los Angeles area. Single biggest challenges, listed in order of priority . . .

1) FAA 333: Petitioned the FAA in mid September, 2015, for my FAA 333 exemption and still waiting for 333 exemption grant. 

2) Pilot License: Until the FAA implements a certification process for drone pilots, I either need to get my pilot license or hire pilots. Challenge is finding pilots who want to partner with me. 

3) Pricing: Still trying to figure out rates for pricing. Could use some help here - want to set competitive rates but also need to be profitable. Need to be able to pay for equipment, insurance, marketing and, of course, to legally staff a mission, I need to factor in the cost of a licensed Pilot and Visual Observer at a minimum - maybe more staff depending on size and complexity of the mission. 

4) Competing against non-333 businesses: I've done some test marketing to real estate agents in my area and found that there are a lot of folks out there without their 333 exemption who are willing to shoot aerial real estate jobs for a lot less than I need to charge to make my business profitable. 

5) Customers: Need figure out my target markets and get out and network in the community.  

Looking forward to Alan's new Biz course!!

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Jim, thanks - I'm having the same challenges with price points.  I've considered trying to get some real estate folks in the same room and discussing what would be 'fair and reasonable'.  Had not thought too much about the non-333 folks who could undermine the business, so perhaps I need to consider that in the marketing angle.  Hope you get a lot of feedback and suggestions on this!  Jon

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3 hours ago, Skymaster said:

Jim, thanks - I'm having the same challenges with price points.  I've considered trying to get some real estate folks in the same room and discussing what would be 'fair and reasonable'.  Had not thought too much about the non-333 folks who could undermine the business, so perhaps I need to consider that in the marketing angle.  Hope you get a lot of feedback and suggestions on this!  Jon

Great idea...asking RE agents directly how much they'd be willing to pay.

I'd make a specific goal of putting together an informal survey and calling at least 10 RE agents over the next 7 days to get this information. Setting specific, actionable goals like this helped me go from $0 to six-figures in my first service-based business of marketing / sales strategy for companies.

@Jim Brammer...thanks for posting!

This part is fascinating to me:

4) Competing against non-333 businesses: I've done some test marketing to real estate agents in my area and found that there are a lot of folks out there without their 333 exemption who are willing to shoot aerial real estate jobs for a lot less than I need to charge to make my business profitable. 

If I were in your position, I'd be conflicted. No one wants to be a whistleblower, but when business is being taken away from you by folks who aren't operating legally, I'd want to be proactive about this.

This is a lofty idea, but it can't be that hard to get a list of RE brokers / companies in your immediate area, and to develop an educational marketing/sales campaign that addresses some of this stuff.

I'm spit-balling here, but you could put together a resource like "Need Real Estate Aerial Photographs? Here Are 8 Questions to Ask Your Next Drone Pilot." That resource, whether it's an article on your website, a downloadable PDF, a one-pager, a brochure, a short video you shoot--there are a lot of ways to share content--would help you cover topics like regulations, insurance, experience, demo-reel, image licensing, etc. and would help to position you as a premium, legitimate company without explicitly throwing your competitors under the bus.

You don't want to be chasing the low-end of the market. Everyone can claim to be a drone photographer, but only a select few can cater to and successfully work with the premium end of the market. That's where I'd focus your energy.

So you could develop that resource, and share it with your list of brokers/companies...then follow up with a phone call a few days later to see what they thought, and curiously, how much they'd feel comfortable spending on aerial photographs that help their high-end listings shine / sell a lot faster.

What do you think? How will you move forward from here?

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