Modern Marketing for Drone Industry 2024

The second in an occasional column on bringing products to market in emerging technologies, by industry marketing expert Amy T. Wiegand: Go-to-Market Propeller.  The deep dive on how buyer behavior has changed for drone industry startups- and what to do about it to turn marketing dollars into revenue.
By Amy T. Wiegand
Marketing has undergone significant transformations in the last ten years, driven by advancements in technology and changes in buyer behavior. Meanwhile tech start-ups have endured start-up challenges and changes in the economy and fundraising markets. In many cases, marketing functions are transitioning to adapt to these changes which impacts revenue. As we evaluate changes, we also plan for 2024 with the same age-old question:

How do we meet our revenue goals?
The stakes are high. Perhaps finances and profitability aren’t what you want them to be. We all want success. Radical and rapid success. And we strive for TenX+ success adjacent to our favorite key phrase – enterprise value. So how do we get there faster?
While major transformations happen around us, many organizations still regard marketing as a bound function – a small team that is responsible for sales support. This dogma is an echo of the past. Growing fast means marketing experience is most valuable at the rev-gen table with seasoned marketers. And we often think of growth as an outcome. Yet growth starts with a beginning – a go-to-market plan that focuses on customer-centric initiatives to meet business objectives, therefore positioning marketing as an investment arm for the organization in which it will also earn returns that generate revenue.

How do I help my marketing org transform into an ROI machine?  
Start at the beginning with your revenue-generating team together – sales, marketing, product, and customer success and evaluate how your target industries, their audiences, and your current customers’ behavior have changed and how that impacts revenue. Then ask how the team’s objectives and KPIs collaboratively adapt to these changes to meet revenue goals. In that conversation, you will find answers to what is not working, what is working, and what can work better. If you are just starting, do not skip this step, leverage resources to understand your ideal customer profiles and practice in-depth customer and market discovery. Otherwise, ad dollars are at risk of being thrown on a fire from what Harvard Business Review’s Tom Eisenmann calls a false start.
Since most of us are in business to make a profit, the best indicator of why we are or are not reaching our goals is to look at the industries we serve, their audiences, and how buyer behavior influences decision-making to buy our products or services – buyer-market fit.
How are we staying agile to adapt to changes in the market with our intended buyers?
In recent years we have seen some of the following changes in B2B buyer behavior:

Buyers have adopted digital channels for vendor research, evaluation, and purchasing decisions. World Business Research states, “67% of B2B buyers purchasing decisions are done digitally, and B2B buyers are 50-70% through their buying process before they contact sales.”
Due to the rise of remote work, buyers have shown a major shift towards virtual interactions for basic communication, product demonstrations, sales presentations, and negotiations. Gartner came out with a report that found 75% of B2B buyers prefer a rep-free sales experience.
Buyers are emphasizing they need to demonstrate a clear ROI and value in product and service offerings as mandatory while scrutinizing purchases to ensure they align with their strategic business objectives.
Buyers are expecting personalized customer experience and exceptional customer support. In a sea of new tech options, this is where the rubber meets the road.
Buyers are seeking eco-friendly and sustainable solutions and want to work with companies that share those values and ethical practices.
Younger buyers have changed the buying landscape and knowing their buying behavior is vital to how they are reached.
Buyers are experiencing market fluctuations and tighter budgets.
Buyers are more collaborative than ever before, including multiple stakeholders across departments in the buying decisions. Gartner’s B2B buying report states, “The average enterprise B2B buying group consists of five to 11 stakeholders, who represent an average of five distinct business functions.”
Buyers need to understand the regulatory landscape for purchasing decisions and how it affects their profitability.
Buyers need to understand our value through our pricing models. They are adopting subscription models or pay-as-you-go’s that align with cost usage offering flexibility and scalability.
Buyers are relying on data-driven insights to make purchasing decisions. 99% of B2B purchases are driven by organizational changes — such as a digital transformation or operational changes — and 66% of B2B buyers say the amount of change in their organization is overwhelming. Providing data that supports the buyer’s transformation is critical.
Buyers are adopting new technologies to integrate into traditional methods and systems. They are seeking savvy professionals who can help with implementation which includes training services.

Understanding who our audiences are and how they function on their buying journey can make or break an organization that needs to build fast. If we skip understanding our audiences, we miss revenue opportunities and the ability to move quickly. Understanding our audiences from the beginning means as we grow and pivot, we can do so with agility because the bulk of the work has been done – we’re simply updating instead of starting from scratch.
Because organizations are embarking on new tech adoption and there are significant changes in buyer behavior, modern marketers are championing a new way to reach their audience in a cookieless world.
“How are modern marketers championing the transformation in buyer behavior?”
Modern marketers are educating leadership teams to reevaluate demand-capture plans like pay-per-click advertising, gated content, request for demos, and lead forms, traditionally used for those ready to make the final buying decision. Yet they are increasing demand-creation activities like content development including video and podcasting, ungated content, and targeted event participation.
Moreover, all plans, now more than ever, need to be internally aligned, customer-centric, and more personalized to our targets. The old way was not as people-centric, separating sales and marketing, and focused on form fills that led to booking a sales call in a world that wants to spend more time online before setting-up a call with sales. Buyers have also caught on to form-fill tactics in which inbound, in most cases, can’t win quality leads without a significant understanding of targets – industries, market segments, and the buyers themselves. Lead quality over quantity is the only way to quickly acquire a valuable pipeline and budgets must be set to reach our buyers where they are the most active.
Before budgeting, the following will help the entire organization win faster:

Align the revenue generation teams – sales, marketing, product, and customer success.
Work backwards. Pull effective reports from across the organization and examine data with the revenue generation team to align on 2024 outcomes.
Ask who is ready to buy now. Create a plan just for that segment.
Discuss missteps/wins. Move on quickly to understand what will support building a high intent pipeline.

New product? Product changes?
Uber personalized sales calls? Fewer superstars and more defined team-driven playbooks?
Account Based Marketing? Laser-targeted marketing content? Adding additional marketing experts?
Consistent customer feedback loops?

Segment your targets.
Plan for targeted multi-touch marketing attribution for each segment.
Set-up marketing as a proactive investment function that will provide success and returns.
Determine how attribution impacts ROI.
Track ROI.

Because buying behaviors have undergone a transformation in environments that are also realizing significant changes, marketing must be empowered with capabilities and budgets to function as an investment arm of our organizations to see returns. And the best outcomes begin with internal alignment and a clear understanding of the buyer and how we build our products and services to solve their challenges, so that we message and reach them effectively for profitability.
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.
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