Going to Market with Emerging Technologies

The first in an occasional column on bringing products to market in emerging technologies, by industry marketing expert Amy T. Wiegand: Go-to-Market Propeller.  
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DroneLife recently highlighted feedback to our top-of-mind question, “How will the FAA enable the next generation of flight ” – including what the FAA plans for drone integration – and what will happen with Remote ID.

Commercial Drone Alliance Executive Director and Leader of the Global UAS Practice, Lisa Ellman, began a recent keynote by acknowledging industry frustration with the FAA processes and rulemaking, which has seemed to stall around issues such as flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and type certification.
“We all are here because we share a common goal,” said Ellman.  “…The advancement of drone technology benefits all Americans.”
Ellman went on to outline critical steps the government can take in the next few months.

We realize our industry is not the first to be affected by regulations and restrictions, and when regulations restrict business development, it can be challenging. What can we do, and how do we lead our teams to participate in constructive action that will help us with our goal – profitability?
10 revenue-generating action items that are a must for every leadership team:
1. Educate your audiences
Understanding how regulations and restrictions affect our business is paramount, and helping our audience understand is essential. Explaining how regs affect our customers’ business is crucial to helping them understand the impact of the solutions we provide. We also want to educate our internal teams, especially our ambassadors for public relations – investors, executives, and the revenue generation teams – customer success, community engagement, product, marketing, business development, and sales. Partner with your internal teams and other businesses with similar goals to share resources and knowledge on compliance and revenue generation strategies.
Revenue generation teams are no longer siloed to the sales team. When executing strategies, envelop and align all internal teams who “touch and influence the customer.” Bring customer success, community engagement, product, marketing, business development, and sales together so they are champions of the regulation story that aligns with your brand. When we do this at the onset, we can drive outcomes faster and more efficiently. Aligning these teams is crucial to understanding regs, and that alignment becomes a winning foundation for team ownership, furthering adoption partners and ultimately improving profitability while waiting for regulations.
2. Invest in media & public relations
Start by training internal teams on how to speak about regulations and restrictions in our industry with State, Local, Tribal, Territorial (SLTT), and federal governments. Help them understand the solutions available today, the strategies in place, and the goals that can support meeting the customer where they need to be today and tomorrow. Founders and executives who champion the brand story and help lead strategy with their revenue generation teams will create a higher-velocity action plan.

Know the press – Build relationships with the press. Understand the media outlets that are right for your business objectives. The fastest way to build success with the press is to hire an in-house public relations specialist or contract a professional media firm. Reporters receive hundreds of submissions per day. Newsworthy articles selected are a matter of the current press cycle, news that is worthy, subject lines, and relationship building.
Exercise publicity – Build a positive public image. Take a stance and confidently speak to it on your website blog; submit for speaking engagements; and seek leadership-authored industry news articles. Help regulators with research and development and share that analysis to help educate audiences. Create or co-create progress-driven publicity with data and results from research and development initiatives.
Utilize social media – Social media platforms can be the most effective public relations play for your business. Tailor your stance to the best channels for your audiences. Be dedicated to the right messaging by knowing the audiences served and then offer value – awareness, educational development, and customer solutions.

3. Explore diverse revenue streams – Explore opportunities for diversification. Diversifying is not easy when it comes to the business of National Airspace (NAS) regulations. However, several leading companies have done this well by implementing go-to-market strategies for service or product-market-fit in the early stages of their development. If you haven’t, it’s not too late. Research the market and pivot from a heavily regulated niche while you continue to prepare and remain engaged in your ultimate pursuit. Ask what problem your customer needs to solve now. Find that niche and commit. If your business is exceptionally good at compliance and adheres to higher standards than required, use it as a selling point. It will build trust with customers.
4. Deploy digital & content marketing – Utilizing online marketing strategies to reach a wider audience without geographical limitations is beneficial to broadening the conversation and collaboration. Beyond SEO, social media, and blogging – video and podcasting are tools that need to be used to drive awareness to your business today. Create channels, menus, and playlists dedicated to addressing regulations and restrictions.
5. Identify customer partnerships – Engage customers for support to shape a positive public perspective. A customer advocacy strategy prioritizes the customer experience. When cultivating advocates, we create brand advocacy that drives brand growth. Adding how regulations and restrictions affect our customers’ growth to our strategies keeps us focused on what we can achieve in the short and long term. It’s paramount to continuously gather feedback too: you can adjust our revenue generation strategies based on customer needs.
6. Invest in community relationships – Ensure you have a community engagement strategy to support compliance with SLTT and federal governments. The effort you add to community involvement may be of the greatest importance to your short and long-term revenue generation goals. Commit to this team’s alignment across departments for the best outcomes.
Matt Beatty, Principal Consultant with Advanced Aviation Alignment, has spent the last decade in-market educating community stakeholders on NAS initiatives.
Beatty states, “The markets that are targeted for expansion with advanced drone technologies, do not have a cookie-cutter script that effectively resonates with the diversity of stakeholders required to realize the promised benefits of employing those technologies. Every community is a mosaic of needs and challenges. Operators must understand and address those needs within the scope of existing regulations and with an eye on where the regulatory environment will unlock those promised benefits in a horizon that justifies the focus, investment, and engagement of municipalities, counties, and regional transportation planning authorities – like metropolitan planning authorities (MPOs). Whether it’s drone medical deliveries to mobility challenges or the economic and workforce development impacts on jobs created, there needs to be an integrated plan that understands the voices and desired goals of those distinct communities. Successful implementation and integration rely on creating frameworks that will continuously engage with and incorporate State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) governance and community-based interest groups to make sure the technology is tailored and employed in a way that responds to public needs. The best starting point I’ve reviewed in helping to categorize those public needs (and the regulatory and industry corresponding focus) has been NASA’s AAM Community Integration Considerations Playbook. The goal is an ongoing dialog with community stakeholders to ensure technologies are employed in a way that aligns with the diverse and evolving needs of these communities.”
7. Join advocacy organizations  – Join industry associations or advocacy groups that work toward regulatory changes that benefit your business. A collective voice is impactful with policymakers. The drone industry is fortunate to have several: AMA, AUVSI, Commercial Drone Alliance, DRONERESPONDERS, the Drone Advocacy Group, the Drone Service Providers Alliance, and GUTMA.
8. Commit to social responsibility – Support charitable causes that benefit from your services or products gaining regulatory compliance. Giving back and championing a cause that will benefit from your business thriving is always a good idea. Also, leading with environmental, sustainable, and governing compliance, better known as ESG, provides value to everyone involved.
9. Seek legal counsel – Consult with legal experts who specialize in our industry to find out if there are any public relations and marketing considerations that are prohibitive when publicizing regulatory matters. Many in our industry have done this successfully. Creating a strategy to implement how your revenue generation team needs to evolve legally is important.
10. Monitor, adapt & communicate – Staying updated on regulatory changes, adapting our business objectives and strategies, and communicating with our teams accordingly is key to sustainable growth.
While generating revenue in a regulated environment has its challenges, it’s essential to know our audiences, align teams to drive successful public relations initiatives and profitability, adopt customer and ecosystem partnerships, commit to community strategies for unique stakeholders, get involved in social responsibility, and maintain brand integrity by consulting with legal experts to keep all revenue generation teams and initiatives compliant.
Amy T. Wiegand is a go-to-market professional, having worked with the best of tech start-ups and notables like Walmart, The Coca-Cola Company, NATO, UPS, local, state, and federal governments, colleges and universities, top ad agencies, and more. She has realized revenue generation growth throughout her career and champions brand management, pipeline strategy, organizational process and implementation, content, product and digital marketing, public and investor relations – and profitability. Amy is also a project architect and master director, having developed award-winning programs in aviation and UAS in public safety, special military, and commercial drone operations. Amy was the first person to facilitate a sUAS training program for The State of Virginia in 2014 and is an enthusiastic leader of STEM initiatives. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn. X:@amytwiegand
 
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
TWITTER:@spaldingbarker
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